FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — “My job is to give them something that a lot of men and women don’t give them. And that’s the opportunity to be loved.”
That’s how Victor Waters explains his ministry work with people who are homeless, living in motels, or recently released from prison. He works a fulltime factory job but his ministry office is a bright orange camper he restored himself. He named it The Freedom Trailer.
“I had no financial help from the city, state, or federal government. I took my own work and money and built this trailer because I believe in these people, because people believed in me.”
Waters was in and out of jail starting at age 13. He credits his turnaround to people like Daniel Schreck, the Executive Director of Living Free Recovery. Waters says he was a gang leader. “I was terrible. I was what you would call a dark element in the streets. I fought with the police constantly.” Now, he counts many police officers as friends and he’s using his past as a strength.
“When I talk to a gang member, when I talk to a drug dealer, when I talk to an addict, they understand me,” says Waters. “And I understand them because I’ve been where they are. My job is to keep going back out and minister to them, let them know that you can change your life, you can build a different lifestyle, you can change your mindset, you can grow your life to be better than what it is today.”
Waters says the Freedom Trailer is normally parked at Joshua’s Temple, 4202 Hessen Cassel Rd. He often takes the trailer on his rounds through some of the less expensive motels on both ends of Coliseum Blvd. He estimates he knows 80% of the people who are living there “for $24.99 a night.” The clean and bright interior of the trailer allows him to listen to people and have meaningful conversations. “We got hope in here. Everything here signifies hope.
“Some of them cry. A lot of them are hurting so bad…” as his voice trails off. “Most of them just want a job.” Waters has connections with area employers who are willing to hire folks with criminal records. He recalls one married couple living in a motel when he met them who are now both employed and renting an apartment. “That brings me a tremendous amount of joy.”
Waters is tough to miss. He wears bright orange prison garb. “I put on this orange jumpsuit not to signify confinement, it’s to signify freedom. This suit should not confine you to anything.”
He has plans to grow the ministry. He has purchased and gutted a class-C RV that needs a lot of love. “This is going to be a mobile food unit/soup kitchen, where we will go to all the hotels and feed the homeless. We don’t have the finances to get it done but we’re going to try to raise the finances to get it done. You will see: this will be the Freedom Trailer Mobile Food Unit. We’re taking any volunteers to help build it, to help finance it. We’re better together.”
He has started a Go Fund Me page* to collect donations. His confidence is rock solid.
“When God told Noah to build the ark, he told him to build it because the storm was coming. I feel as though he told me to build the Freedom Trailer to let men and women know that their storm is over.”
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