Grace Seaford Church: Rescue the Perishing

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SEAFORD, De. — Like many other houses of worship, Grace Seaford Church, Delaware, opens its doors during cold weather to provide housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. Rather than providing a week, however, Grace offers shelter to women from December 1 to March 15. This year, when the last day rolled around, there were no women left. The church had helped most find long-term housing, and some entered rehab facilities. Three have been baptized.

Working through the Love INC Code Purple program, the church hosts the women’s shelter from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. each day. They provide a warm, safe night’s sleep, and other local churches partner by bringing food.

Site Coordinator Katie Mueller ministers to women experiencing homelessness. She can empathize. (Photo courtesy of Grace Seaford Church)

Most nights, there are six to ten women. Grace Seaford Church Senior Pastor Larry Davis said, “We’ve had as many as 15, and every once in a while, you’ll have ladies bring children with them. It’s always hard to see a family that is homeless bringing kids to a shelter, but it does happen.”

One of the primary reasons the women were able to transition to other housing is the work and commitment of the church’s Code Purple Site Coordinator, Katie Mueller. She took time to go above and beyond the requirements while working full-time, caring for her daughter, and going to college.

Davis said, “Katie is the perfect, passionate leader.” Like the women who seek shelter, she too had nowhere to lay her head. She has a story to tell.

Katie Mueller baptizes Tiffany, one of the women she ministered to at the church shelter. (Photo courtesy of Grace Seaford).

Mueller shared, “I started drinking heavily when I was 14, and from there went to Percocet, heroin, and coke.” She was in a downward spiral. Several years ago, she and her fiancé, Dustin Taylor, were experiencing homelessness, sleeping under bridges, in abandoned houses, wherever they could, and doing anything needed to get by. Circumstances worsened when the couple got MRSA. Mueller had it on her legs. Taylor had the infection on his arms and it got bad. When he became delirious, Mueller called an ambulance, and Taylor was in the hospital for 51 days, fearing for his life.

Mueller continued using drugs and said she was lost without Taylor. She had no one else.“I tried killing myself. I had shot three grams of coke and still didn’t die. I should be dead,” she said. But then Mueller’s little brother showed up with her daughter, and everything changed. Mueller knew she had to get better for her daughter. She sees now that God orchestrated that turning point.

“My daughter was staying with my dad, and he wouldn’t bring her to me. So when she showed up, I thought, ‘This is my lifeboat. I need to get in it.’ I went to rehab, then a halfway house.” In rehab, she began studying the Bible. Taylor recovered, and the couple started working in a chicken factory while living in a hotel.

God led them to a recovery meeting at Grace Seaford Church, and they felt they were coming home. “We fell in love with Danny Guzman, pastor of family ministries and recovery. “He’s the ‘realest’ person we’ve ever met. We’ve stayed sober for two years.” Mueller said the church became their family and a second home. “We have an accountability team, and coming to Bible studies keeps us focused on the Word. We’re here for a reason, and we are telling our story.”

When Davis chose her as the site coordinator, Mueller was nervous, but she said the church gently pushed her forward and supported her.

She discovered that not all of the women who came to the shelter were addicted to substances, but many were. “A lot of people I ran with on the streets came through the doors. When they saw me sober, they asked me what happened, and I said ‘God happened.’ I couldn’t save myself.”

Volunteers include Janet Littleton and Ellie Bradford (Katie’s daughter, who was baptized at Grace Seaford Church). (Photo courtesy of Grace Seaford Church)

The shelter’s basic requirement was to give the women a safe place to stay at night. Mueller knew from experience that the women needed more. Though there were other overnight volunteers, Mueller was there most nights.

She spent time with the women, talked with them, and cared for them, and she would share meals with them. “A lot went to Bible study and church. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of asking them.” Mueller also asked if they needed rides to rehab. People who are in need often want someone to walk them through the processes to get on their feet. “It wasn’t just a place for them to sleep. They had fellowship, and they saw hope.”

Mueller says in recovery, they say you have to be rescued from a burning building — then you have to go back and rescue the others that are trapped. That’s what she’s trying to do.



Feature Photo: Licensed Canva

Sharon Mager serves as a BCM/D communications specialist and editor of BaptistLIFE.