By Amanda Boston
In his thick and unmistakable Boston accent, Charlie McGowan declared, “This ministry is not for everyone, and that’s okay.” The Apollo Beach resident is a Massachusetts transplant that took up the cause to serve and love the homeless, and in doing so, has bloomed where God has planted him.
In 2009, McGowan established Kay’s Ministry, a homeless outreach on the streets feeding bread into hungry mouths as well as the bread of life into their starving souls. In John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” The ministry shares more than a meal—it shares the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
Named after his mother Kay, the ministry assembles every Sunday in a parking lot in downtown Tampa. McGowan ministers to the needs of the homeless while providing a meal and a biblical message. From the humble beginnings as a one-man ministry serving bologna sandwiches out of his car, the outreach has multiplied into a legion of volunteers handing out many necessities.
Those who regularly serve alongside McGowan consider him a special servant of God. Conversely, McGowan views himself in a much different light. “I am no one to put on a pedestal. That’s not what I want. I tell people I am a dirt bag from Boston that Christ hit the reset button on during my mid to late twenties. He straightened out my life and the reason why I do this is to help someone else,” he said.
McGowan pulls no punches, and his candidness is precisely the disposition required for street ministry. His practical approach to the gospel reaches those on the streets as well as those serving on the streets. Using a football analogy, he conveyed that serving Jesus is like ‘running the play’ on a football field.
“In football, the coach relays to the quarterback the play, and then the quarterback gives the play to the huddle. Nothing happens until they leave the huddle and run the play. The church is like our huddle where the pastor gives the play from Jesus Christ, but for many years, I left the church and never ran the play,” he said.
Today, McGowan is no longer waiting in the huddle. Instead, every Sunday, he ‘runs the play’ for Jesus Christ. His obedience to follow God’s playbook makes an everlasting impact on the lives and souls of the less fortunate. God has a specific plan for all of His children—so are you on the sideline, in the huddle or running the play?
For more information on how you can donate or volunteer with Kay’s Ministry, please visit www.kaysministry.org for a list of needs and a calendar of volunteer opportunities.