Faith runs strong at The Welcome House
By: Howell Dennis
Part three of a four part series recognizing Homeless Awareness Week
MAXIE - Rev. Roy Kibodeaux makes sure that each resident at The Welcome House strengthens his/her relationship with God.
“Church and Bible study are mandatory,” he said Wednesday. “We have two chaplains, Stacy (Miller) and Gil (no last name given) who do an outstanding job. We’ll bring in different ministers from different churches. We don’t care about denomination. ”
Kibodeaux went on to say that it is very rare that a resident doesn’t get directly involved with the shelter’s church.
“In 36 years we’ve maybe had two people who refused to get involved,” he said. “They learn enough to where they can turn their lives around.”
When speaking with The Welcome House residents, it becomes apparent that their faith has grown by leaps and bounds since finding The Welcome House.
“My relationship with the Lord is a whole lot better than it was,” said Anthony who has been at the shelter for over a year. “I’m reading the Bible more and a whole lot of things are beginning to happen.”
He described his relationship with Kibodeaux as “top of the line.”
Chen is a 42-year-old oriental man who’s English is sometimes hard to understand. His smile, however speaks volumes. He has been at The Welcome House for over four years.
“Yes, I’m getting much closer to God,” he said. “I really enjoy the church services.”
Chen went on to describe his relationship with Kibodeaux as “very strong.”
Robert described the church services and Bible studies at The Welcome House as being the most informative of his life.
“They understand parts of the Bible that others have never been able to explain to me,” he said. “They really make it interesting.”
A.J. Bellow, a manager of The Welcome House along with his wife Theresa, described the inner growth he has experienced while at The Welcome House quite simply - with a smile and two thumbs up.
Abbeville native, Tara, is a particular engaging person who got some ribbing Thursday morning from fellow residents for being on the front page of Wednesday’s Crowely Post-Signal. She was baptized into the Pentecostal church in December. However, she said her relationship with God “has grown a lot since she moved into The Welcome House.”
“God brought me here and now I feel like I have a family,” she said. “I came here with nothing and now I have more than I ever imagined. It’s made me very humble.”
Lynn has only been at The Welcome House since last month but says her spirituality has grown considerably during that time.
“Brother Roy has had a huge influence on my life,” she said.
One of the more interesting stories to come out of Wednesday’s interviews comes from Jeannette, a native of Pensacola, Fla. She had moved to Alexandria where her house caught on fire. She was forced to jump out of a two story window and suffered serious injuries. She feels fortunate, however, in that she lived through the ordeal. She acknowledges a past history of drug and alcohol abuse but she has been clean since January 7 of this year.
“I should have died in that fire...most of the times people don’t wake up because of the smoke,” she said.
She went on to describe her new found faith.
“I was raised Catholic and I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing that religion at all,” she said. “But since I’ve been here I’ve discovered people who look at me and meet me with acceptance.”
“God meets people where you’re at,” she continued. “Not only did he meet me but he put some wonderful people in my life. I can’t say enough about the manager here (Theresa Bellow). Every morning she greets me with a hug.”
“Before I came here it had been a long time since I had a hug.”