Rooted In Love

From our Campus Pastor, Michael Booth:

Eph. 3:16-19 “… He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you being rooted and grounded in Love may be able to comprehend…..and to know the love of God which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled up to all the fullness of god..”

“When I purchased my home in Lancaster city I told a friend about my desire to plant a garden. He promptly told me “good luck with that, nothings gonna grow back there.” He said that the property that the house was built on was previously a vacant lot, where people dumped trash and that the soil was probably in bad shape. I had to rent a commercial tiller and turn the ground over to discover that there were rocks, metal and various other types of debris that would have prevented root development and plant growth. I then had to bring in new soil, compost, and other nutrients and work them into the soil before I could begin to think about planting the following spring.

Since becoming an avid urban gardener, I understand that the key to successful plant growth is the development of a good root system. To develop a good root system requires a good soil mix, nutrients and a good water supply. Just like plants, humans have a root system. Roots are the lifeline of plants and humans alike. Roots seek out and drink in water and nutrients. They also provide stability in the time of storm and soil damage.

Unfortunately, many believers come into the kingdom having been rooted in the rocky soil of guilt and shame. Roots in this soil become bound. They can’t sustain growth and are not able to take in nourishment to be sustained.

The sanctification (transformation) process for many us is like a gardener taking a potted plant and transplanting it into new soil. It has to be pulled out of the old environment. God sometimes has to pull us up out of the dry, rocky soil of shame and then plant us in the soil of His love. In the rich soil of love, fragile roots can begin to stretch, grow and take hold. In this soil real nourishment (His word) and real stability are possible.

Transplanting a plant looks like a simple matter but it’s not and sometimes it causes stress on the plant and it may take a while for the plant to recover and start growing again. No matter how gently God pulls us up out of the soil of shame, there will be distress. And sinking roots in new soil will feel like an unfamiliar and risky adventure. As our roots sink deeper into the soil of God’s love we will begin to experience growth that never could have been achieved in the soil of rejection and shame. We will become “rooted and established” in God’s Love. I believe that this is the goal every day when we come to WSM. To help uproot and remove the residue of guilt and shame from our guest and help them to become established in the love of God.”



An Update from Jack 5/4/2020


Dear Friends,

Throughout this season, we have encountered a number of challenges in operating our shelter safely. Thankfully we have been blessed to see no community spread among our guests. This is due not only to the work of our team, but also the ways that upgrades to our facilities came at just the right time.

For example, Providence Shelter, which opened in November 2019, provides additional spacing and a top-tier air filtration system. We have also been able to implement the same air filtration standards in our dining hall prior to the most recent wave of COVID.

Because a high percentage of our guests have preexisting health conditions, we have had to be diligent in our safety protocols, doing our best to ensure their safety. For us that has included implanting all CDC disinfecting, masking and social distancing from the very beginning. This has led to major changes in roles and responsibilities of staff. Staff have taken over disinfecting in shifts all over campus. They have also delivered much of our support services and programs through zoom, hosting counseling sessions and classes virtually and meeting in-person with plexi-glass dividers only when necessary.

For meals, we’ve changed preparation and delivery to help minimize interaction of guests who live in different facilities. At times that has meant delivering meals to certain Residential Floors so we can keep smaller groups in the dining hall. We have also had to restrict guests’ travel on and off campus to only essential trips such as going to work, the doctors, shopping etc., in order to minimize unnecessary exposure.

Another change in this season has been how we do intakes. Currently, the intake process requires new guests to be tested for COVID-19. They await their test results in a separate temporary shelter we have set up, before entering Providence Emergency Shelter.

All of these changes have been made while severely limiting the number of volunteers on campus. At one point, all volunteering was completely put on hold. Now, we are running with a third of our normal volunteers.

And it’s been tiring, for both staff and guests. We have had times where many staff were working remotely due to their own health risks. Other times where staff or guests have been quarantined due to exposures. But even with all of the schedule changes, increased overtime, and cross-shift working, our team has done an amazing job persevering through all of the challenges.

What to Expect This Winter Typically we have over 200 total guests on campus, over 100 in our Residential Programs over and 100 in our Emergency Shelters. Although our Residential capacity remains about the same, we have had to reduce the available beds in Providence Shelter to ensure safe spacing overnight from about 75 to 55.

Winter always presents its own challenges, so we anticipate this year will be no different. Women in our Providence Shelter have moved over to the shelter at St. Mary’s across the street, run by the Lancaster Food Hub. During their stay there they have full access to all of our services, including showers, food and staff support. Not only does having women shift to St. Mary’s enable us to free up additional beds for men, it will help us keep the shelter populations separate and limit the risk of spread.

Thank You We have been so encouraged by the support we have received this year. Without a community coming around us and our guests, we would not be able to keep our guests safe and continue to guide them in their restoration journeys. We truly couldn’t do what we do without you.

Jack Crowley