Rick Cole, pastor of the megachurch Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California has ditched the comfort of his home and has pledged to live on the streets of the city's downtown area for up to two weeks or until he has raised $100,000 to help fund a program called "Winter Sanctuary" that provides food and shelter for the homeless at churches in the area during the winter months.
"Tomorrow, I'm going downtown on light rail, I picked up my light rail pass today…I've never ridden light rail in my life, not even once, not even for fun, and so that's gonna be my mode of transportation for the next two weeks and we'll adjust as we go along the way and we'll communicate to you as we go along the way," Cole explained in a sermon to his congregation Saturday.
"That's what I believe God wants me to do and what we're gonna do together," Cole continued. "I'd like us just to make our prayer about God's power to touch our city…This idea is not very old, probably about two or three weeks old and every step along the way it's only gained momentum and excitement. My wife even has grown Ok with it. That was a miracle all by itself so we are excited about the many things I think God wants us to do with this particular project and how we can grow and impact this community."
A Sacramento Bee report explained that Winter Sanctuary, is a program directed by Sacramento Steps Forward, a nonprofit of which Cole is the chairman.
"The ultimate goal is there are some hurting people, really hurting and we're taught by God to help 'em. Go to them, make a difference. When you do this to the least if these Jesus said you done it to me. You want to get close to Jesus get close to some hurting people and when you help 'em in His name then you've just touched him in the most profound way," Cole told his congregation Saturday.
A website established for the Winter Sanctuary fundraising campaign notes that the overall fundraising goal for the program is $300,000. As of Monday morning, the campaign had raised more than $10,000.
Pastor Cole told the Sacramento Bee that he is hoping that people will go to his website – www.revonthestreet.com – donate quickly so he can get off the street earlier than later.
Despite his pledge to live like the homeless, Cole won't be left completely friendless on the street or unprotected.
He has invited Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to join him. Johnson hasn't yet agreed to the request. Jacoby Shaddix, frontman for the rock band Papa Roach and a member of Cole's 4,000-member congregation, will be with Cole on the streets for a while apparently.
Former Police officer, Tom Platina, who works for the church's winter shelter program, will be travelling with his pastor to offer some protection.
Cliff Humphries, who was once homeless, told the Sacramento Bee that he felt, Pastor Cole's plan was "a little crazy," but explained that "if it's a God appointment it will work."
"We believe in the Holy Spirit and angelic protection," said Humphries. "It's a learning situation, that's for sure."
In a video report on his first night as a homeless man filed on the church's Facebook page Monday morning, Cole said he didn't sleep too well at the Union Gospel Mission where he shared a room with about 50 people.
"In the middle of the night, probably about 2:30, I woke up and thought maybe it was morning and unfortunately it was not…I just could hardly go back to sleep, things just kinda spin through your mind," he said.