What began five years ago by Darleen Jackson and Bud Ewing handing out bags of food to those in need in North Idaho has blossomed into a small independent nonprofit, non-governmental, non 501C3 group of Christian men and women called the Living Sanctuary Ministry.
Located right here in Boundary County, the work they carry out helps the homeless and disadvantaged not only in North Idaho but has spread to Spokane and is as far reaching as South Dakota.
“As the need continued to grow and the blessings of helping others impressed the hearts of those who started the ministry as well as others, God blessed us with more opportunities and provided us with more resources to be able to reach out to many others in need,” says Robert Johnson, Living Sanctuary Ministry team member. “Everything that was provided to us was given to those in need.”
They have established a food pantry and clothing closet for those in the community, whether someone has lost a job and is in need of some assistance or others who just need a helping hand. “We not only help the physical needs of the people but also the spiritual needs of those who request prayer or guidance,” says Robert.
Another facet of Living Sanctuary Ministry is going out into the streets to meet those people in need directly. The group starts by purchasing needed items such as personal hygiene products, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and other items that we all use daily but others, unfortunately, cannot afford. Additional items such as medical supplies, new socks, underwear, clothing, hats, gloves, sleeping bags, blankets and tarps are also collected through personal donations, different businesses and two local thrift stores. The clothing is collected, sorted, washed (if needed) then distributed. Each week, the ministry visits shelters from Bonners Ferry through Spokane, with some of the clothing sent as far away as South Dakota.
Once a month the group gathers together to make at least 150 bag lunches packed with many food items, including the staple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Once the lunches are packed, they are taken, along with an entire trailer filled to capacity with clothing, shoes and newly purchased items, to the homeless in the streets of Spokane.
“We have recently been blessed to have added to our team licensed medical professionals who are willing to go and help those needing immediate medical attention with issues such as open sores, colds, wound management, blood pressure checks, etc.,” says Darleen. “We set up the trailer right in the streets of Spokane and the people come. They start out few in number, then before long many hear the good news and come. It is a wonderful time to talk with the people and share the goodness of our Lord and his many blessings.”
More recently, Living Sanctuary Ministry has begun working with other groups in the area in order to provide even more. Others have been providing meals twice a day for the homeless and disadvantaged in the Spokane area as well as portable shower units and just recently have been asked to provide clothing for a Native American tribe in South Dakota.
Their inspirations for the charitable work they do can be found in the Word of God, Deuteronomy 15:11 quoted, “For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee saying, thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to the poor, and to thy needy in the land.”
“We are always in need of prayer and precious hands to help in the work,” says Darleen. “We would like to thank the following businesses and loving people who have made donations and contributions both in the past and at present. First and foremost our Lord Jesus Christ who makes all things possible, then in no particular order a shout goes out to Safeway, Super 1, Dyck’s Chevron Station, Dr. Hank Willis, Dr. Mark Beazer, Walmart, Dollar Tree, Second Chance Thrift Store, Dr. Daniel Moore, Boundary County Hospital employees, Sater's Auction and patrons, Yoder’s Market, Clover and Company, MaryAnn & Sandi's Thrift & More. The members of the Mennonite community and the many individuals through the years who have supported the ministry is greatly appreciated.”
Over the years, thousands of homeless and disadvantaged people have been blessed by the resources Living Sanctuary Ministry has been able to acquire. “The real blessing is upon us as we serve God and provide a token of the needs of those we help,” says Robert. “There can never be enough that can be done for God tells us that there will always be the poor. We just do what we can with what we get and praise God for the opportunity to serve others.”
Living Sanctuary Ministry is truly a blessing to those in need. Monetary donations, new or gently used items (such as socks, blankets, sleeping bags), hygiene products, medical supplies, non-perishable food (rice, canned and dry foods) are all greatly appreciated. If you would like to donate or help the ministry in its endeavors, you can contact Darleen Jackson at 208.267.8188 or Emma Fields at 208.267.6010.