The rich and poor have this in common, the Lord is maker of them all. - Proverbs 22:2
If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? - James 2:16
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. - Proverbs 14:31
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. - Matthew 25:40
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” - Hebrews 13:2
How it works
Room in the Inn-Memphis recruits local communities of faith to open their doors to unsheltered neighbors during the coldest months of the year—November through March. The Room in the Inn-Memphis staff selects and screens guests and hands out vouchers for overnight stays at area churches.
One night a week, each congregation site sends a van or volunteer vehicles to a designated location downtown, where they pick up 12 to 15 guests who have been oriented to the program. They take them back to their location, share an evening meal together and stay with them overnight. Some sites offer showers and a clothes closet, but these features are not required.
In the morning, most sites provide a quick breakfast and a snack bag, and then return their guests to the same downtown location by 7:00 A.M. During this experience, the guests and volunteers get to know each other through conversation and other activities.
What it is not
Room in the Inn-Memphis is not an attempt to resolve all of the issues of the homeless. The problems are too deep and too personal.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is not a program through which a congregation takes one or more homeless people “underwing,” providing them with economic assistance, job training, and personal spiritual direction. These gifts can be offered in time, as relationships develop.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is not about establishing another large shelter downtown where hundreds of people are cared for nightly.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is not a social service agency. It is a ministry of love.
What it is
Room in the Inn-Memphis is a way for more people in every sector to understand the problems of the homeless by becoming directly involved with people who are experiencing homelessness.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is a means through which congregations of every faith open their facilities to welcome 12 to 15 homeless people as guests on cold winter nights.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is about changing people, guests and hosts alike. It creates an environment and an opportunity for the guests to learn that there are people who care and for the hosts to come to understand that the faceless figure on the street corner is more than a statistic.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is about serving without prejudice or pride. It is about accepting everyone.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is about people of religion putting the tenets of their faith into practice.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is not about giving; it is about receiving. It is about everyone, both guests and hosts, receiving a blessing—an encounter with God in the midst of suffering, hardship, pain and grief.
Room in the Inn-Memphis is an opportunity, not an answer. It is an experience, not a solution.
In short, Room in the Inn-Memphis is an opportunity to experience the presence of God in a different way.
Finally, Room in the Inn-Memphis gets its name from a story in the Bible about a family coming to a small town called Bethlehem and not finding any room in the inn. We cannot go back in history 2000 years and change that story, but each night we are open in Memphis we can change that story’s ending by providing room in the inn.