A Blessing in Disguise

Many of you know that the founder of Joy Junction, Dr. Jeremy Reynalds, was homeless at one point in his life. As we commemorate his legacy of working with the homeless, I’d like to share how it all began.

England-born Jeremy came to the United States to share the Gospel in 1978 and became a citizen. He worked, married, and then, through some unfortunate events, became homeless. He made his way to New Mexico by hitchhiking and worked various jobs until he could afford to have his family move from Florida to Santa Fe. In 1983, he lost his job and thought he would become homeless again.

He was told by a former manager of the place he had worked that the layoff might be a blessing in disguise. It caused Jeremy to wonder if it was time for full-time service to the Lord. Although he had a family to take care of, he felt he needed to try.

After searching around, he found a place to lease for a few hours each weekday evening and began handing out free coffee and donuts or burritos to the homeless men on the street. He told them that Jesus was the hope for the lost and forlorn.

A handful of Christian people helped with the supplies, Bible teaching, and music. When many homeless people began to come on a regular basis, most of the supporting people began to feel uncomfortable and left.

Seeing the number of people who needed continual help, Jeremy’s desire was to turn the ministry into an overnight shelter. He thought he had to find a different location, though, because the current space was being used a few days a week by the main tenant (during the day) and on weekends. He prayed, and left it in God’s hands. Soon, the main tenant moved, leaving the place available for the desired overnight shelter to be opened, for about eight men at a time.

He began feeding and housing them until they could find a job and move on with their life. During their stay, they were required to attend a Bible devotional service, because teaching about Jesus was Jeremy’s main purpose for reaching out to people.

When a person gets to the point of being homeless, their inner self feels broken down and worthless. The shelter’s teachings focused on building them up so they would begin to feel responsible enough to go out and continue their life again.

Seeking employment was a requirement for staying there. They were allowed to remain in the coffeehouse shelter for up to 14 days, unless their daily efforts for searching for employment were not bringing any results, then they could extend their stay.

He ran the place for about four years, without taking time off, exhausting himself. At that point, he felt the Lord leading him to put that ministry behind him and move on. He needed to begin again, and planned to leave that type of work in his past, never wanting to work with a shelter again. The constant outpouring to others can truly wear a person down.

Never tell the Lord “never.” After seeking employment in other areas, and coming up empty, he decided to contact a previous acquaintance who ran a homeless shelter on Albuquerque’s Kirkland Air Force Base. He worked there for a few weeks, and gained knowledge.

Although he wanted to ignore it, he felt the Lord moving him to consider opening up another homeless shelter again. He felt the urge to start looking for a place to do that. He remembered an old property south of the city that used to be a school, and at that time, had recently been used as a drug/alcohol rehabilitation center before closing down.

He went out to look at it and was impressed with the space and buildings he saw. He contacted the owners and found that they had been hoping the property could be used for just such a thing.

Jeremy felt God had closed all the other work opportunities he had sought so that a homeless shelter for families would be an answer to his prayers for employment. He moved his family onto the property, called the ministry “Joy Junction,” and began setting up the interior of a building for feeding and housing those who needed help.

The Kirkland AFB shelter and another one in the city both closed about that time. Homeless people needed a place to go. Joy Junction became the only family shelter in the entire city of Albuquerque at that point. Jeremy taught a regular evening Bible study each day, and continued to feed, shelter, and care for those who found their way to Joy Junction for years after that.

Jeremy believed serving the homeless and hungry was God’s calling on his life. He and his dedication are missed every day, but we will continue his legacy for as long as God desires.