TPR’s Jerry Clayton recently spoke with Pastor Alex Fleming, who came up with the idea for an app that helps volunteers coordinate resources to help bring people in from the cold.
Jerry Clayton: The winter weather can be a challenge for anyone, but for San Antonio’s homeless population, the cold can be a matter of life and death. One of the groups helping to keep people warm is a coalition of churches that has developed an app that helps organizations coordinate their efforts. Pastor Alex Fleming of Life Restored Church came up with the idea to develop the app. He joins us today. Thanks to be here.
Alex Fleming: Whenever. Thank you for.
Clayton: Pastor Fleming, from your perspective, what is the homeless situation like in San Antonio?
Flemish: Man, you know, last time we checked, there were like 3000 here, but it seems like more and more other states across the country are giving their homeless people bus tickets to come here. . So we are seeing an influx. And so with each new influx, more help, more creativity, more ingenuity, more resources are needed to manage the problem.
Clayton: I know your church has an outreach program. Tell me about how it works, with the other churches involved.
Flemish: So we’ve seen an average of five homeless people a year come off the streets and move into their own apartment or place of residence. And the way it happens comes from the, I guess, conventional way of doing things. We are literally changing the identity, meaning attacking the false narrative that people have of themselves. What we call this is the humanization phase where we just remind people, you know, that they are made in the image of God. And that’s not what God has for you to live that way. There’s more for you, just to reach your maximum capacity. So we do it in several ways. One of the best ways will be to go through osmosis, to hang out with people. We heard that you are the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with. So we give people that opportunity, don’t we? And you know, we see great things happening there with our showers, with our winter shelters for the night, with our meals and all the while they are surrounded by people talking about life. Speaking of hope, hope, something so underutilized yet yet so powerful that everyone has the capacity to do.
Clayton: Tell me about the app. Where did the idea come from and how did it come to fruition?
Flemish: So we started building winter shelters about six years ago in our church. Hardly anyone did at that time. And the Lord is the Lord. I am the pastor. And so, you know, the Lord told me to welcome the homeless. That’s what a church is supposed to do. We did this the first night. It was crazy, but it turned out well. And then after that, the next two years, we started training. Other churches and other churches joined to open their doors, and we showed them the processes and procedures. And all of that prepped for last year, which was the “snowvid” we had in Texas. So all the churches and ministries that we formed before were ready to be locked and loaded, ready to go. And so in the middle of that, we were calling each other, we were texting each other, you know, can I drop people off here? Do you have beds available? We need food. All that. And again, I recognize that the Lord has given me the idea that, you know, let’s put this into application training. You know, we are all of that in one thing. And so the app is pretty much that it lets first responders know that these are the places that welcome the homeless and lets them know the available places in real time. It also gives them the opportunity to reserve a seat, so they don’t lose a trip. And then, ultimately, all the winter shelters in our winter shelter coalition, we can communicate with each other through a specially designed winter shelter group chat about what resources we need .
Clayton: And where can you find the app and what is it called?
Flemish: It’s called the Winter Shelter Coalition. It is downloadable for Apple, for Google, so go to your app store and you can download it there.
Clayton: Pastor Fleming, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.
Flemish: Thank you very much sir. Appreciate it.