Rebuilding lives, one tent at a time

Rebuilding lives, one tent at a time

Not far from downtown Tyler, there's a campground most outdoor-types will never visit. For many, it has become an unexpected place to find God.

When the weather is like it was Monday, it can be easy to give up.

But Tim Harris is a missionary who found his calling close to home, among a small cluster of tents. Along with the sleeping bags and spare tents, he's packing bibles and strong beliefs.

Inside his humble home is where the story gets interesting.

"I'm okay with me now," he said. "I'm no longer beating myself up because of my bad mistakes and my poor choices in life."

It took nine years in prison--and some failed plans.

"I had a gun and I planned on killing myself," Harris said.

But just over a month ago Harris met someone who cared--a donor who gave tents and tarps. All the while, Harris could have been living in his home. Instead he continues to live with the homeless.

"Homelessness is a constant state of survival," Harris said. "And so you don't look for people to be extremely generous."

That generosity found its way to Brittany Garza and Shane Trull. The couple said a lost job, an eviction and a love for 'all the wrong things" was a quick way to find rock bottom.

"Our first night here, we slept on a blanket," Garza said.

It was Harris who gave them a tent. And the tent just happened to be filled with hope.

"I couldn't imagine us standing here talking about God's blessings a year ago," Garza said.

"Seven months ago, I would have told you there's no way there's a God," Trull said.

Garza and Trull are like a lot of people from what's called "tent city."

"We definitely don't plan to stay out here forever," Trull said. "And our ideal goal is for no one else to stay out here forever either."

They are a reminder that when life is torn and tattered, there's always a way to sew it back up.

"[I'm] helping them get home," Harris said. "Whatever that is."

Harris calls his camp site P.S. 91 after the 91st Psalm in the Old Testament. That verse talks about God as a refuge and a fortress.

If you'd like to help Harris with his outreach you can reach him through the Gateway to hope day shelter in north Tyler.


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