For the past eight years, Bart Tilly has been sleeping on the streets. Luckily for him, it is a once a year tradition held on the Friday before Thanksgiving. The goal is to raise awareness and funds for the homeless in his hometown of Wenatchee, Washington. The event’s purpose is to benefit Lighthouse Christian Ministries, who are dedicated to reaching out to people and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lighthouse reaches out to the poor and needy by operating a soup kitchen, food distribution, emergency and transitional shelters. The ministries include a preschool program, as well as mentoring, education, and financial services.
Bart shares, “My journey with Lighthouse Christian Ministries began eight years ago on a cold and rainy night in January. My youngest son and I just completed a father/son dinner and were headed home when a random thought popped into my mind about visiting the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen. This thought led to a detour that has changed my life forever.
From the moment I walked in the door of The Lighthouse, I knew that something special was going on. I was expecting to encounter a grim environment that would be uncomfortable at best. To my surprise, I witnessed heartfelt love, compassion and encouragement for those in need of a helping hand. The joy I saw in the Lighthouse staff and volunteers was overwhelming. Right before my eyes, I was witnessing reality to the words “it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.”
This random visit has blossomed into a major pillar in my life. Getting an opportunity to be part of a broad community effort to help those with the greatest needs is beyond rewarding. The Night In A Box event is a great example of how our community has pulled together to raise awareness for the challenges associated with homelessness. Here are five things that everyone should know about this very important event:
1. Night In A Box started in December 2012 when Shawn Arington (Lighthouse Executive Director) told me that he was going to sleep on the sidewalk until we had raised the required funds to open the doors of the Gospel House Emergency Shelter. I thought that this was the craziest idea I had ever heard which meant that I, of course, had to join him. Todd Strahm and Kevin Kennedy also joined in the fun.
2. Our community rallied behind this great cause which resulted in the Gospel House doors opening in mid-February 2013.
3. The Gospel House Emergency Shelter has capacity for 85 men and women/children.
4. A Night In A Box has helped us to raise the funds required to purchase the Gospel House building.
5. The Gospel House charges a small fee for nightly visitors. These fees help the Gospel House to be nearly self sustaining.”
Sadly, due to COVID -19 restrictions, A Night in a Box cannot be held in it’s full glory. Lighthouse Ministries director, Shawn Arington, has invited our community to participate in “NO Night in a Box“! Homelessness and the needs of people cannot be forgotten during this pandemic.
Fortunately there are stellar humans, like a team of 7th grade boys who are trying to raise funds for Lighthouse Ministries, even though the annual event cannot be held this year. In addition to this squad of young boys, there are many from Sage Hills Church youth groups that plan to join Arington on the roof of the Lighthouse Ministries, to sleep in the frigid temperatures. They hope to bring awareness to the fund raising efforts, and will bear the winter nights multiple times in the coming weeks. Because the scope of efforts are not on the large scale that A Night in a Box is accustomed to, the donation drive will run until the end of December.
I am reminded of the Bible parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, a Jewish man was traveling on a dangerous road when thieves attacked him. He was robbed, beaten, and left on the side of the road to die. Men passed by the injured man, but they did nothing to help.
A Samaritan man came upon the man, and had compassion. The Samaritans and the Jews didn’t get along, but that didn’t stop the Good Samaritan from helping the man. The Samaritan bound up the man’s wounds, set him on his mule, and took him to an inn. Not only did the Samaritan rescue the Jewish man, he continued to support the victim’s recovery.
I am touched by the examples of modern day Samaritans, like Bart Tilly and his friends, Lighthouse director, Shawn Arington, and the team of 7th grade boys who make efforts to rescue those by the wayside in need of assistance. Thanksgiving is upon us. In a year of hardships I am certain our hearts will be comforted and the world can heal as we reach out to touch the lives of those we pass by. We can be Good Samaritans and help someone today.
*if you wish to donate via the 7th grade team, simply write “7th grade squad” into any phone number space on the donation page
To learn more about the Lighthouse Ministries, and the many individual programs they offer, please visit them here: Lighthouse Ministries