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Teen Homeless Ministry: Meredith Medlin



Meredith Medlin serves sandwiches-but her goal isn't just filling empty bellies. She also hopes to feed hungry souls with time and attention.

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(Locator: Nashville, Tennessee)

(Teens make sandwiches) "Bag it up and put it in the bread bag."

Meredith Medlin: My name is Meredith Medlin. I'm 18 and I'm about to go to college at Boston University. I get more God out of Monday afternoons than I've ever gotten out of a Sunday morning.

(Teens make sandwiches) "More bread? Yes."

I just had this idea and I said to my friend that we should go, you know, to like downtown Nashville and just hang out with the homeless people. And she said, 'You should probably take some sandwiches.'

(Teens make sandwiches) "Perfect."

We've been doing that at least once a week ever since then.

We usually have one carload. So there's a total of 5, maybe 6. We've had as many as like 15 or 16 go at one time. A lot of parents worry about the safety, and I've never had an issue with it.

(Teen gives sandwich to man) "You have a good day. See you soon, okay?"

Yes, we give them a meal, a sandwich, a bottle of water. The relationship is the much more important part to me, and being in community. So that's why we call it "Feed our Souls."

I came up with this idea after reading a book called The Irresistible Revolution. It's by Shane Claiborne. And he calls himself an ordinary radical. He says a true community is a togetherness of one. So we're all the same and we're all together. And I really like that idea. And I wanted to be in community and have relationships with people that on the surface it looked like I had nothing in common with.

I buy two loaves of bread and then a 24-pack of cheese. And we make as much as we can.

(Teens hand out sandwiches)" It's a turkey and cheese sandwich, okay?"

For Christmas, my grandmother gave me a gift card to Kroger. So I used that. And sometimes people donate things. With the exception of those few donations, my paycheck goes to gas for my car and food for the homeless people.

(Teens approach a large group) "Hi guys, how you doing? We got some food. All right! We got turkey and cheese sandwiches and water and lollipops. Thank you!"

I think they're just really thankful for the food, obviously. But also for somebody who's willing to listen because they're very used to getting ignored.

Homeless man: "&ellipsis;he had a horse farm on one side and a cattle farm on the other&ellipsis;"

I really like that part of it-the talking and the interacting.

It shocked me the first time that we prayed because a lot of times the homeless people want to lead the prayer, which is just great. And all they do is they praise or give thanksgiving. They pray for the armed forces a lot, because I think a lot of them are veterans. They pray for their families, that they'll see them again, and things like that.

Unconditional love is something that everyone needs. And that's what I try to give. Like, when you ask me what my calling is, I think it might be to love and to serve without boundary.

Male teen to homeless man: "I remember I met you a long time ago. Maybe a year ago."

These people know that we're coming every week. They know to count on us to be there. Rudy's funny about it. If we're like 15 minutes late he's like, 'Where ya been? What's going on? You were supposed to be here at 3:45. I don't know what you're doing.' It's just really great to have that kind of relationship with people that I never expected to be friends with. And I can honestly say that I'm friends with them. It's just ... oh, it's great.

Posted: August 5, 2010