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Needmore ministry serves those who need more

December 16, 2000

Needmore ministry serves those who need more



Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others.

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


NEEDMORE, Pa. - Every Saturday morning Timothy L. Swindell Sr. travels 100 miles from his home in the small town of Needmore to the streets of Washington, D.C.

His destination is usually a park near the White House where dozens of homeless men and women are waiting for Swindell, his wife and members of his ministry to feed them and talk about Jesus.

Swindell, an ordained minister since 1993, began the Free Indeed Ministry about three years ago because he felt God was calling him to minister to the homeless, he said.

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In the summer his wife, Elania, makes sandwiches and snacks. In the winter months they fill up trays with hot foods and take socks and toiletries.

For Christmas, Swindell will take about 100 backpacks filled with shampoo, sweatshirts, tissues and other staples when he makes the trip on Dec. 23.

"It doesn't matter what people have done to get them in this place. It matters that they are there and they can't just snap out of it, they need help," Swindell said. "We take the food to comfort them while we preach the gospel."

Swindell said he sees the homeless in a different way than most people do.

"They are hurting on the inside, so they can't deliver on the outside. Only preaching of the gospel can set them free," Swindell, 41, said.

The owner of Advance Auto Tech in Needmore, he said he started the weekly treks into Washington April 18, 1998, after having several dreams about going into the city and handing out food.

At least 11 churches in the Tri-State area donate money on a regular basis to help pay for the food.

Swindell said he occasionally hears from someone he helps.

"One guy wrote me a letter and said he used to come out just to eat our food and take advantage of us. But he said somehow the word of God came into him and now he doesn't drink or smoke, and he got an apartment," Swindell said. "All that happened in less than a year, and he knows it must have been the Lord who did it for him."

He said the homeless can use extra spiritual and emotional support during the holiday season.

"I know what it is like to be on the outside looking in at Christmas at a family who doesn't want you," Swindell said. "Some people haven't had a hug for a long time. I just stretch my heart out.

"There may be a brother or sister at home praying for them. We might be the person God sends to help them," he said.

For more information on Free Indeed Ministry, write to 656 Johnson Mill Road, Needmore, PA 17238, or call 717-294-3188.

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