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South Side Mission

"South Side Mission" Continued...

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

"We know that there will always be some of those who will never be in a position to give back," said Newton. He named Cindy Passwater and Steve Swearingen (see sidebar), who plan to volunteer with Adopt-A-Block and Hope Builders, as examples of people whose lives and attitudes changed after receiving acts of service and God's grace: "They were consumers, and now they're givers. I wouldn't be surprised if those two were hitched by the end of the year."

Up from rock-bottom

Cindy Passwater, a muscular woman with windy, brown hair and Blackfoot blood, didn't like missions of any kind, and would jump on her bike and pedal in the opposite direction whenever Adopt-A-Block teams visited her neighborhood. She and her partner, Steve Swearingen, moved often because they spent their money on dope and alcohol instead of rent. When Swearingen's mom left him enough money to buy a modest home, he and Passwater made three years' worth of payments but "screwed it up" and lost possession. When the previous owner boarded up the house with all their belongings inside, they moved into a shed in the backyard and used power from the neighbor to run a fridge.

"We hit rock bottom," reflected Passwater. She and Swearingen began attending the South Side Mission's free dinner and professed their faith during chapel. They also befriended Craig Williams, the mission's director of external ministries, who does Three Stooges impersonations and often rolls down the window to yell at acquaintances while driving around town. Williams helped them legally repossess and then repair their home, and now the couple has attended Williams' church for eight months. "God has blessed us in so many ways," Passwater said. "We're not crack-heads no more. The police just stop by to visit us because we never get in trouble anymore." Their new friend Williams is pushing for one more change. After 28 years and four kids, the couple is still not legally married. "You know what I'm working on," Williams told them.

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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