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'Saved my life': Small ministry works to get homeless off Nashville streets, one at a time

'Saved my life': Small ministry works to get homeless off Nashville streets, one at a time (FOX 17 News)
'Saved my life': Small ministry works to get homeless off Nashville streets, one at a time (FOX 17 News)
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A small homeless program in South Nashville might be the perfect model for getting homeless people back into the world as productive, happy citizens.

Matthew 25 believes the last piece of the homeless puzzle is providing housing.

“If only I had a home? No, don’t start there. If I could beat this addiction problem, if I could get some mental health help, if I could get a job and hold it and then a key.”

Dan Rule is so grateful for this little bed in this little room. Being taken in by the Matthew 25 homeless program in South Nashville stopped his free fall.

From husband and father and air traffic controller, to down and out homeless just looking for enough money to get drunk.

“What went wrong? Where do I start with that? I can’t say exactly what went wrong. It was a progression. Sure. It started out as fun. Became a way of life, then it became a necessity in my life and then it became a tragedy in my life,” said Rule.

Rule is new here. He has a long way to go, this is just the beginning.

“You're not sleeping tonight in a tent, you’re not sleeping tonight in an overnight shelter, you’re sleeping in a housing facility that is going to be here in the morning, and breakfast will be ready for you. And then starting there,” said Jim Ward, Executive Director of Matthew 25.

Did you catch that? Starting. The bed and food is just the start.

Rule is in an intensive addiction program. They don’t even want him to have a job or an apartment until he gets that demon in a firm submission hold.

He is deep into that process right now.

“That confidence lost was the biggest thing for me. What’s that? I realized the problems that I had, they were in my face and I was facing them every day. My confidence just sunk, sunk to a point where I just wasn’t comfortable in anything I did,” said Rule.

Down the hall, Jeff Andrews is in a much different place. He is at the end of his stay, he has a great job and he is about to leave with a key to a new apartment and new life.

“When you think about that key, the key to your own apartment. I even dream about how I am going to decorate it. How am I going to put up the pictures? I already have stuff in my room to go into the apartment. I’m always scared they’re going to say Jeff, you’ve got too much stuff. Get out of here. I want to move on with my life and see what God has in store for me,” said Andrews.

And this from a man who was living under a house on Music Row, and tried to kill himself before winding up at Vanderbilt’s psychiatric unit/

“Now I have a very good job and good outlook and things are going great. It’s all because of Matthew 25. They really saved my life.”

Dan Rule isn’t there yet, but that doesn’t mean there have been incredible changes.

FOX 17 News: “What’s the biggest change in you? In 30 days.”

Rule: “I smile. That’s the truth.”

He smiles. For the first time in years, he can look in the mirror again and face all of it and actually smile.”

“I don’t want to see that person ever again,” said Rule. “Ever.”

And that didn’t come from just having a roof over his head. It's because people here have been tending to his heart. They fix hearts here. And that, as you might expect, changes everything.

“Ultimately, we bring them in off the street. And we know we’re successful, and they’re successful when they leave here, employed, and they have a key of their own place in their pocket,” said Ward.

This ministry is named after a bible verse: Matthew 25:35.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.

If you would like to help with the ministry, click here.

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