People in our community and their giving spirit to others often go unnoticed as “Unspoken Heroes. Our Spoken Heroes gives the community the opportunity to recognize these everyday heroes and their accomplishments. Without looking for something in return, these heroes are often only rewarded by knowing that others benefit from their efforts.
By Dwight Hobbes
Evangelist Etta Christon devoutly believes in the Genesis 4:9 premise that indeed she is her brother’s keeper — and her sister’s as well.
Through the Victory Disciples Ministry in Minneapolis, where she is a pastor, Christon does community outreach administering spiritually to the unfortunate as well as putting food in their stomachs. She finds herself helping folk from all walks of life.
The stereotype of the lazy, shiftless homeless person can not, of course, be applied across the board, especially in an era of homeowners being routinely dispossessed that finds even working families subsisting in shelters. Whether you’re trying to pull your weight or not doesn’t make any difference to her.
“There is no judgment. It’s not my job to ask questions, but to do what God commands me to do. There is a great need there,” a need Christon does her best to meet. She may or may not change people’s lives, but a sandwich can make a big difference in the day of someone not sure where the next meal is coming from.
She acknowledges, “[In] a lot of families, the husband and wife have lost their jobs. There are people who can’t [help] themselves mentally. The system doesn’t always provide. That’s why someone [else] has to. That’s why I [get involved].”
Sister Christon has been involved almost 25 years, starting with her outreach in Mississippi, where she made herself a resource for the homeless for 20 years. That’s where she came by an iron resolve to help those who have trouble helping themselves.
“I am dedicated to this because that’s how I was raised down South. That’s all I saw, with my mother and my father, others in the neighborhood. If one had, all had.
“My family always provided in the community. That’s how my parents taught me: to do as they do.”
Christon herself has seen hardship and had to overcome it. “I’ve been through times when I didn’t have gas, didn’t have electricity. There was someone that came by to lend a helping hand. I haven’t forgot that. So, I turn around and try to help the next person.” After Mississippi, she decided, “My next assignment was up here.”
In June of 2005 “I was brought to Minneapolis by way of my daughter who lived here. I started visiting churches, supporting their ministries, helping out. Doing ministry, doing street ministry by going out to different areas and witnessing to people, lifting them up in prayer [and helping them to] build their self-esteem back up to the rightful place.”
A year later she was able to begin feeding people. Along with food, her ministry encourages the down and out to find a way to their feet. “It’s tough times, but you can still be self-sufficient. You can find a job.”
Etta Christon takes great delight in another role at Victory Disciples Ministry, that of youth pastor. “Our youth department,” she extols, “is awesome. It is directed by Mrs. Tiwanna Thrass. They have a biblical-lesson play, food, games, prizes and fellowship. We teach them proper etiquette, how to be respectful and learn to be all they can be.”
In a day and age when teenagers frequently have no manners at all, instilling proper etiquette is quite an accomplishment. She acknowledges that far too many of them are standing around on corners with their pants hanging half off.
“We have a lot of youth standing around on the streets. So my job is every Tuesday, Friday, [and] every Sunday, at 1537th and Glenwood, feeding, being there for them, passing out Bibles.”
She emphasizes that the Tuesday and Friday classes for youth are free, from 7-9:30 in the evening. “I have such a love for our youth. They come from broken homes, single-family homes, looking for love. We [let them] know that they are special and loved. We have an opportunity to help them to understand their parents’ views.”
Other resources available to the young include food, clothing, and the guidance of a caring adult. “If your parents can’t provide,” she says, “come to the ministry versus going to gangs or someone on the street that can lead your life to disaster. You don’t have to be what the systems says you have to be.”
She adds, “I see our youth being transformed, getting saved and giving their lives to Christ, and becoming obedient to parents and more understanding to their parents in their home situations. Most of all, they have learned to love and have respect for themselves.”
Outside of tending to these ministries, Christon is a full-time hair stylist who sets her own hours. She also does full-time foster care. Up front and center in her life, though, she attests, is “Doing the Lord’s work.” Doing what she can to make a difference in other’s lives.
Look for future stories on people in our community who are doing important work — caring for others. And look for a follow-up interview with our Spoken Heroes on KMOJ radio.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.