Lighthouse Ministries

"Lighthouse Ministries" Continued...

Issue: "The audacity of real change," Aug. 23, 2008

Two years later, Hafford has benefited from the strict schedule of chores, mandatory church, and classes. At the Lighthouse Thrift Shoppe across from Lakeland's day labor site, Hafford sat in the office and tapped her acrylic fingernails on the desk. She described how the ministry's adult learning program prepared her to earn a nail technician's license and helped her make living arrangements with Salvation Army's transitional housing program.

Surrendering to the ministry's rules wasn't easy for Hafford, but she did it. "I have an attitude problem," she said, and living with the other women and children can be aggravating-but "we're all there for each other." She hopes soon to celebrate her own independence day.

Back at the men's chapel, Price sat in the back row and listened to the minister, Willie Hayes, speak of his crack-addicted life on the streets. Alcohol and cocaine take hold spiritually, he said, and you need the Holy Spirit to battle them. "Man," he pleaded, like a father to his son, "give Jesus a chance. We just can't do it all by ourselves. We need Jesus, amen?"

Then Sutton Smith, a program resident and former Marine, invited each guest by name for dinner. Price eyed Smith's every move, then stood up and hovered by the entry of the black and white tiled dining hall. When he finally heard his name he turned on his heel and sped inside.

Not 30 minutes later, Price emerged from the kitchen, moving much more slowly and with his hand on his belly. He returned to his chapel chair and watched the others climb a narrow cinder-block staircase. At the top they received a towel and a bar of soap for a shower. Price hadn't worked at day labor for a few days and blamed the economy. Ten dollars can be hard to come by. So when another overnighter invited Price to have a night on his tab, he jumped up and darted toward the stairs--perhaps taking a small step out of his past life.


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