On the surface, the staff of Word Made Flesh might seem easily pigeonholed as standard-issue evangelicals. These are the kind of Christians who close their eyes and raise their hands while singing worship tunes. The stereotype is that these are also the kind of Christians for whom faith means only individual piety. But these young people are choosing to live in the world's most destitute urban slums, among the poorest of the poor. Why? Because the Bible tells them so.
In Galati, Romania, Word Made Flesh's largest drop-in center is a fully functioning three-ring circus of street kids, staff members, and stray dogs. The center has the usual services, but also offers amenities that are meaningful to children who sleep in alleys - laundry facilities, an art center, a woodworking and stonemasonry workshop, and individual lockers. The Galati center also has a terraced garden for which the children share responsibility. "[It will] teach the kids a usable skill as well as provide food," staff member Bill Haley notes. "Part of their learning is to participate in the work of...the place that is meant for them and is truly theirs."
In El Alto, Bolivia, initial research revealed that women in prostitution were receiving little attention or care. After visiting brothels and becoming acquainted with the women who worked there, Word Made Flesh built a drop-in center that has become a safe haven and lunchtime gathering spot. The women named it "House of Hope," and in addition to the reading groups and social gatherings it hosts, it will soon offer free medical care, counseling, legal services, and job training to the women and their families.