“I was spiritually homeless and God provided a home for me. He’s put a burden on my heart for the homeless. Many of these people have been rejected by their families and cast aside by their communities.”
A United States pastor is reportedly facing criminal charges for ‘violating’ zoning laws by keeping his doors open to help the poor and others in his community.
“Pastor Chris Avell was handed 18 criminal charges for violating the city’s zoning laws, the city is going after him, because, earlier this year, Pastor Chris opened the church 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He’s seeking to serve homeless people,” First Liberty news said in a statement.
“In November 2023, the city sent a letter ordering the church to stop allowing overnight guests or face criminal prosecution. the statement continued, “this past Sunday — on New Year’s Eve — police showed up at the church. They handed the pastor a packet of multiple charges and violations.”
Pastor Chris, the pastor of Dad’s Place, a church in Bryan, Ohio, said he’s willing to face those charges for the sake of the church’s mission.
Speaking with Fox News on why the church allows homeless people, the pastor said, “I was spiritually homeless and God provided a home for me. He’s put a burden on my heart for the homeless. Many of these people have been rejected by their families and cast aside by their communities. So, if the church isn’t willing to lay down it’s life for them, then who will? This is what we’re called to do.”
“The city would rather kick these folks to the curb in the cold outdoor months of December and early January than allow the church to remain open 24/7 to those who need it the most,” Dys said. “It’s unconscionable. We’re going to hold them accountable.”
“This isn’t a homeless shelter, it’s a church,” said Pastor Chris in an interview with The Village Reporter. “But we have put in things people can use, like a shower and a small ability to do laundry. Some who found this to be a home for them have stuck around.”
The Pastor says he began opening the building this way, because the local homeless shelter was often full, which led to the needs of many vulnerable people not being met. He says at least a hundred have been helped in some way by his church being opened 24/7.
“Through some things God had done and what we were seeing we decided that … it was time to do it so that people can come in day or night and find true rest,” he said. “[And] come in and pray at any time of day.”
The church had been receiving calls from police in the middle of the night to ask if the house of worship would take in people facing domestic disputes and other issues.