"...Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise."  (Luke 3:11)

'Festival News' Magazine

[The following story appeared in 'Festival News' Magazine in November, 2005]

The Church Without Walls

New York Actor, Kurt Erickson, Hears God's Heart for the Homeless

'Lord, what do you want me to do?' This was the question I cried to God in 1986 from my tiny flat in Hell's Kitchen, New York City. The Lord instructed me to look out my window. As I did, I noticed for the first time, the long line of homeless men sitting on the pavement right across the street. I heard him say, 'Go and feed them'. I had very little expenses and did not know exactly how to go about feeding all these men. I began to feed these men sandwiches, fruit and juices. For the last 20 years, it has been my passion to seek out the most afflicted and poorest within our urban centres.

Over the years, I have been privileged to spend countless hours on the benches, shooting galleries, coffee shops, 'wet houses', derelict building estates, and hospital beds. I have spent my life speaking to the lonely in crowded train stations; hearing over the phone the voice of the suicide, at three in the morning, standing only a few feet away from Waterloo Bridge ready to jump; listening to the request of the mother at midnight, through tears, asking me to come to hospital quickly and pray as her daughter, laying in intensive care, while she is being resuscitated once again; seeing the man standing at my front door without a jacket in February, shivering silently, stretching forth his hands with dirty nails soiled and stained from months living on the streets, expecting whatever comfort I could give him; and holding a shoeless woman eight months pregnant, in the early hours of the morning, sitting on a cold blanket upon frost covered grass, next to a park bench which she had just fallen off.

The Church Without Walls

Every Saturday morning we meet around a brick wall, under a tree, alongside London's historic Westminster Cathedral. One particular morning it was so cold, so bitterly, bitingly cold. The temperature had dropped considerably during the night and many of the homeless that greeted us stood shivering and desperate for change. Some of the homeless were clothed with mismatching wool hats, very thick winter jackets, and no gloves. Only a few of the dozens of men and women had any proper clothing to meet the elements. Many were without jacket or scarf and some did not even have a pair of shoes. Many come hundreds of miles to seek a new and better life. Leaving all, risking everything, they make their way to London, in hopes of a fresh opportunity, a new breath of life, another sunrise hoping to be unlike any other. Many more abide in a reality without hope or direction, a reality of broken dreams and solidified lies, abiding with a sorrow beyond sadness.

Throughout the years, this ministry has established a fixed meeting place in the heart of the city. "The Church Without Walls" (CWW), as the homeless affectionately call it, has been ministering the gospel to literally thousands of London's homeless and street community. Our team arrives early every Saturday morning with a tea urn, sandwiches, chocolates, eggs, fruit, clothing, Bibles, tracks, and above all, the love of Christ. It has been estimated that over the years, CWW has served over 34,000 cups of tea, distributed 19,000 sandwiches, 18,000 hard boiled eggs, 5,000 Kit Kat bars, numerous boxes of fresh fruit as well as countless sweaters, gloves, shoes, jackets and hats. We have also assisted our transient flock in the distribution of many rail and telephone cards.

Our workers gather from all over London and from all walks of life, occupations and lifestyles. Over the years, our team has consisted of pastors, evangelists, ex-addicts, ex-offenders, property consultants, accountants, and computer programmers, small business operators and trade brokers. All share the common belief that God can and will make a difference to anyone who calls upon His name. This dedicated and growing team meets early in the morning for a time of prayer and intercession. Once beneath the tree, there is the usual scurrying of greetings and introductions, especially to the new faces and to those returning to London. The main message is the love of God, found only in Christ, available to all that turn to Him in repentance.

To the dozens of the street sleepers, homeless and jobless; the drifters, outcasts, ex-offenders and social misfits; drug users, alcoholics, and those addicted to any life controlling problems; to all the lonely, displaced and misunderstood persons who gather every week we are the only church they have ever experienced. Here under the tree in the middle of central London, like many a tree that Jesus might have sat beneath, we expound the Word of God, pray for the salvation, healing and deliverance of everyone who comes. This "Church Without Walls" has also aided in the process of bringing families back together and restoring marriages. There is an unspoken membership, an acceptance, a belonging to a fellowship of believers, and a strong community of faith. Truly, God calls everyone who is lonely, afflicted, broken-hearted, and searching, to come to him and find fulfilment, hope, and renewed life.

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