KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Imagine not having a place to sleep last night, and waking up outside to negative four degrees. Your belongings include just a few items and the clothes on your back.
That's a reality for many living on the streets in the Kansas City area.
One man, Bridge of Hope Pastor Luther Eatman, is using his experience to bring hope to people who are homeless.
Eatman isn't the type that shakes hands; he says hello with a hug.
"He's the type of pastor that's a doer," church member Willie Davis said.
Many of the church members at Bridge of Hope are experiencing homelessness, some have done jail time, and suffered from drug and alcohol abuse.
"It's a church that focuses on a church that society casts out as no good," Eatman said. "'Cause that's how I felt. I felt as though people cast me out cause I was no good."
According to the Mid-America Regional Council, Wyandotte County has the highest poverty rate in the Kansas City metro at 21.4 percent.
It's the second highest poverty rate in Kansas, behind Riley County, which is 22 percent.
Eatman and his team are trying to change that. Throughout the winter months, the church will open its doors as a temporary cold weather shelter when it gets below 20 degrees. It's open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Volunteers and organizers provide toiletries, warm clothes, showers and a meal.
Growing up, Eatman went through many of the things his members are going through now.
His first drink was at 12 years old. From there, it got worse.
"I just lived that type of life for a long period of time but then all of a sudden, I became — I started using my own product," Eatman said. "And then I was hooked. I was a crackhead about 14 years."
For eight years, he was homeless, living on the streets. He said one day, he just prayed.
"I said 'If you real, my grandmother prays to you, my mom prays to you, they always mentioning you,'" Eatman said. "'If you are God, show me why I'm here,' and I left it at that."
He said later, everything changed.
"And then I hear God speak to my heart and say just go walk down the street," Eatman said. "I gave my life to Christ that day and I never looked back, ever. Didn't smoke again, didn't drink again."
In April 2007, he and his wife planted Bridge of Hope in Kansas City, Kansas, they said to connect people who are going through what he did with God.
"Our focus is the marginalized and I don't care what color skin you are, I don't care what kind of language you speak, God wants us to love you," Eatman said.
With laughter and love, the pastor and his team are helping people such as Davis cross a bridge of hope to a better tomorrow.
"Every part of my life, especially since coming to Bridge of Hope has helped me," Davis said. "Cause it's other people that dealt with what I dealt with going through it, so we're strengthening each other."
The church offers different ministries to help people get back on their feet. Some of the wrap around services include: A food network, transportation, clothing pantry, day camps and resources on transitional living.
Last year, Eatman said Bridge of Hope had roughly 130 people that walked through their doors who were experiencing homeless. They were able to help 50 people get off the streets, get a job and back on their feet.