By a Joy Junction Staff Member (JBF)
Waiting is hard. It just is…
We live in a fast-paced world where we expect a “microwave result” and don’t feel we have time for a “crock-pot solution.”
When we are going through a rough patch of life, the waiting seems even longer. There’s just no guarantee that what we are wanting will ever materialize.
Homelessness is one of those times when a person may feel that their circumstance will never end, and their “real life” will never start.
This month, as we commemorate the legacy of Jeremy Reynald’s work with the homeless, think about the people you see on the street and how you might be able to help them.
Being homeless was a rough part of Jeremy’s life, as you may imagine. All the plans he had made when immigrating to the U.S. from England fell by the wayside as he tried to find work in various fields…and still wound up not making enough money to provide the necessary essentials for a normal life.
Trying to start anew, he made his way from Florida to New Mexico by hitchhiking – struggling to survive every step of the way. He battled the weather, the strangers, the dangers, and the nights filled with loneliness. The growling of his stomach reminded him every day that he was without food.
Jeremy believed the Lord had His own way of preparing him for the work of ministering to the poor and needy, which was one of his main reasons for coming to the U.S. There really was a plan behind all the loneliness and misery he felt during his journey. It was definitely a hands-on experience. Jeremy has been known to state how wonderful it is that God weaves into our lives the very circumstances He will use to enable us to serve Him.
At the time, Jeremy was not thinking about God using his homelessness for a future of building a shelter to house others who had lost their homes and/or livelihoods. He was just miserable and wanted God to help him out of the circumstance.
Having no money to purchase food or a bed for the night, he found shelter wherever he could – even in a shed located behind a store, at one point. He was grateful for any kindness from strangers who offered him the simplest of meals, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
He was grateful for the compassion of others, but found it was rarely shown to him. Being judged as a possible moocher was not something Jeremy was used to. The hurtful experiences he went through never left his heart.
Being homeless taught Jeremy how to depend on God for every single thing he needed: food, shelter, provisions, trustworthy people, etc. It was a difficult journey to learn how not to lean on his own understanding and ability, but to rely on God. That concept would become the foundation he used to eventually start up a ministry to help the homeless.
There is much to be learned in the waiting.
Jeremy had so many plans when he first left England. One of his plans was to seek out those who wanted to hear about God’s love and share with them the salvation they could have.
Instead, he found that having plans, and being able to fulfill those plans, are two different things. Sometimes, a plan’s path winds around detours and rerouted avenues in order to finally arrive at the intended location sought after. He went through many experiences before he was led to northern New Mexico. Jeremy felt God, apparently, still had more for him to learn before opening up an opportunity to share the Gospel in a public way. The waiting was hard.
When he finally made it to Santa Fe, he settled in, with the help of a church. Soon after, he pulled from his experience of knowing what it felt like to be hungry and alone, and decided to set up a ministry called His Place, with the church’s assistance. It provided hot coffee, donuts, and burritos for the homeless of the area. Later on, His Place began to house homeless single men.
The desire of Jeremy’s heart was to share the Gospel with anyone he could, while helping them in whatever circumstance they found themselves in.
Coming from a homeless background, he was able to understand the emotional roller coaster ride many homeless people experience with the ups and downs of daily survival. He wanted them to know that there was a God who would never leave them and would provide for them…even if it was in ways they were not expecting.
Many lives were touched during that time of growth and maturity in the field of caring for the homeless of that area.
In mid-1986, Jeremy felt the Lord leading him to resign that ministry and he moved to Albuquerque where he founded Joy Junction. Jeremy felt led to focus this new ministry on homeless families, a fast-growing segment of the local homeless population.
Jeremy said many times that as hard as the lessons were to learn, his homeless experiences helped him shape the ministry of Joy Junction. That’s why he insisted there be a transportation service to pick up new residents. He remembered the many times when walking the distance for potential help was just too much for him to contemplate, so he did without. He also made sure that anyone who arrived at Joy Junction after the normal meal time was still given something to eat, no matter the time of day or night.
During the many years of full-time experience ministering to, and advocating for, the homeless, Jeremy positively impacted many thousands of lives. He and the staff of Joy Junction worked tirelessly to break the cycle of homelessness, one life at a time – and his guidance continues to direct the staff to this day.
Jeremy is still considered an expert on the homeless and hungry. He died on July 10, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. He is greatly missed every day.
Please join us as we commemorate Jeremy’s legacy and continue the ministry of caring for the homeless and hungry of our city.