The founders of a ministry with a focus on building a church with the “least of these” as described in Biblical scripture directed a play about the lives of homeless men and women.

The play is a riveting story of men and women living on the streets of the District as they become untangled from the bondages of drugs, alcohol, crime and prostitution to live free in Christ.

“Nearly every home has a member or friend who struggles with substance abuse which can ultimately lead to homelessness and street life. Current efforts attempt to rehabilitate these individuals through homeless shelters and 30-day treatment centers that basically serve as revolving doors and offer no real permanent solutions,” said the Rev. Milt Matthews, founder of Back to Basics New Hope Ministries.

Several times during the week and on Sundays, the ministry’s bus picks up homeless individuals at the Center for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) in the District and takes them to its facility to relax and empower themselves.

“Back to Basic Church Ministry provides an atmosphere where homeless people can be themselves by giving them biblical teachings necessary to transform from homelessness to sufficiency,” said the pastor. “We discovered that through a consistent application of God’s word, people can be totally functional and transformed from being addicted to drugs and dependent on public assistance to being independent and productive in both the church and their communities.”

In the play, one character comes out of his makeshift cardboard home to sit on a bench and smoke crack with another homeless friend gossiping about street life which is quite busy with trickery, violence and tales of hopelessness.

In the second segment the down trodden speak of their new ways to cope with stress, addictions and street life. They give earnest testimonies about their transformation under the guidance of Back to Basics New Hope Ministries.

A male choir sings joyful praise about their redemption.

“Normally, homeless people get lost in a traditional church setting. This is quite different because we allow the homeless to run the ministry to help themselves out of their drug and alcohol additions,” said the Rev. Linda Mathews, director of Back to Basics New Hope Ministries.

The ministry hopes to expand and acquire a large facility in the District to address homelessness in its unique way.

“This is what we really need,” said Arafa Speaks, a homeless advocate. “The majority of homeless shelters and programs treat adults like children, prisoners and slaves. If you think and articulate your disapproval of established policy, you are kicked out. We should be able to design our own programs that fit our needs.”

Speaks said she would like for the DC government to allow Back to Basics to operate CCNV.

According to the office of DC Councilman Jim Graham, who chairs the Committee on Human Services which oversees homeless issues, there are approximately 6,500 in the District.


Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO