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An interview with Steve Skeet
Seen here Steve Skeet the
founder of Street Gospel Ministries
What role did Haggai Institute play in the
setting up of this powerful evangelistic initiative?
Could you elaborate on your recent statement
that you founded Street Gospel Ministries (SGM) in
1995 as a “direct result” of the training you
received at Haggai Institute?
SGM is indeed directly related to Haggai Institute.
When I returned to my country, I wanted to be obedient to the program’s
request that I pass on the training. I had made a commitment to
train 250 leaders a year. After several years of service with Youth
For Christ, Barbados, I resigned my position as National Director
and founded SGM. I have been taking an evangelism training program
to churches and youth groups all across Barbados, and through this,
meeting and exceeding the annual targets to which I committed myself.
What was the genesis of this ministry to drug abusers,
deportees and former prisoners? How is the place funded, since residents
obviously would not be able to pay for their keep?
An important part of the evangelistic training I
conducted was to take the students directly into the mission field
for on-the-job training. That was when I became exposed to drug
addicts, homeless and mentally ill persons who were living on the
streets. I was already acquainted with the need for rehabilitation
of prisoners since that was part of my ministry. I was concerned
that many men, on leaving prisons and drug rehab centres, had nowhere
to go and so were forced to turn to the streets; ditto for deportees
who had no one to turn to. I could not ignore or suppress the intense
urge to see lives transformed and people cared for comprehensively.
As a result I started Street House, a home for homeless men.
Shelter is a basic human need,but a home provides
more than shelter; it supplies warmth, encouragement and care. At
Street House we strive to maintain an environment whichis conducive
to growth, development and accomplishment. People find God and themselves,
but they also learn to love and appreciate others.
Describe in brief how you converted your vision
First, I shared the vision with like-minded persons
and based on these discussions I wrote out a comprehensive Project
Proposaloutlining the purpose, mission, aims and objectives of Street
The second step was to make the business plan, including
what it would cost to launch and run the program for the first year.
A kind-hearted businessman gave the first donation to cover the
first year’s rent.
After securing a suitable facility, we solicited
furnishing, utensils, appliances and linen even as we welcomed volunteers
to assist with the program. It was amazing how the Spirit of God
stirred the right hearts at the right time.
After interviewing and accepting our first resident
(an ex-prisoner looking for an opportunity to change his life),
we launched the program.
What response to your efforts, if any, did you receive
from the government in your country?
In 2006, two years after the program started, we
received a significant grant from a governmental agency. Other care-giving
groups responded positively, and drug rehab centres helped us secure
suitable residents. Churches supported with pledges and prayers.
Describe an average day in SGM. How is the mental,
emotional and financial stability of residents measured during their
stay? Is accepting the Gospel mandatory or an option?
Street House normally accepts men between 26 and
55 years. A resident has to:seek full-time employment, save 50%
of his earnings, enrol in an educational program, attend the church
of his choice, receive at least two hours of counselling per week,
perform all household tasks assigned to him, and obey all rules
governing the running of the House.
Each resident has to produce a monthly income and
Church attendance is mandatory and non-negotiable.
Each individual is informed of the Christian nature of the program
at the very first meeting. We believe and emphasize that there is
no real or lasting change without Christ.
What is the success rate of the program?
On an average, there are about eight persons in
residence each year. Ours is a “transition house”: the
objective is to move residents from institutional life to independent
living, using Street House as an intermediary stage. Of the persons
who have been residents of the House, only six have returned to
the street. The others have all done well. It is not unusual for
men leaving the program to be reunited with their families or relatives,
or find a supportive family in their church prepared to offer them
residence. At least three former residents are now married; one
has built his own house – a huge achievement for someone who
left drug rehab a year before taking up residence at Street House.
List some of the major challenges you had to overcome.
How did the Haggai Institute training help in this area?
The biggest challenges of SGM are: (1) The strain
of having to deal with difficult adult males on a daily basis. (2)
How to fund the program month after month.
At Haggai Institute I was taught basic fundraising
skills to help with the latter, and the power of prayer to deal
with the former. I have put both to good advantage.
What makes it worthwhile is seeing men redeemed,
and transformed and knowing that the work of salvation is eternal
work. There is also no greater joy than hearing someone thank you
for being there at a time when no one else seemed to care.
Earlier this year we held a graduation ceremony
for a resident who completed a year at Street House. The ceremony
was attended by our very first resident, a former prison inmate
who spoke to those in attendance about his time in the program.
He also did something that had not been done before – he made
a financial contribution to SGM, saying that he wanted to give back
to the ministry that had given so much to him.
This act of giving by a former prisoner, demonstrates
the Power of Christ to change lives and fill the heart like nothing
Information sourced from www.haggai-institute.com