Living at the River Bottom

One Sunday afternoon a homeless woman stopped at our Bible table at the beach.  Said her name was Bonnie and she lived at the river bottom.

The river bottom is a popular dwelling place for the homeless in our community. It’s in a jungle of thick brush and trees covering a wide area next to the river. I asked her about living conditions there. I was curious.

She said it’s a pleasant place to live!  People create privacy boundaries around their living spaces, using boxes or existing bushes. Some even have furniture—chairs, mattresses and chests of drawers! Most have their own ice chests for food storage. “But if you don’t have a lock on it, watch out!  Your peanut butter is sure to go missing!”

Bonnie and her husband Tom have lived there for three years. She said they are both followers of Jesus and read their Bible together every night. Their only problem is their addiction to alcohol.

“We panhandle during the day, but we use our money to buy food first, before we buy booze!  Our only drug is alcohol!  In fact, Tom and I are the only ones living there who don’t use drugs. ”

She said that one guy has a guitar and they enjoy evening singing around the campfire. “Recently after singing, Ol’ Chuck announced that he was going to take his life. We all watched him swallow his pills. We figured he was dead by 11 PM,  but  we didn’t call the cops ’til morning.”

Bonnie and Tom have two young children being raised by her parents in another city.  Every Christmas and Easter her parents bring the children and rent a motel room for three days, so they can spend the holidays together. “I love seeing our kids. It’s also a good time for us to take showers and wash our clothes.”

She said she would like to be free from her addiction to alcohol.  She shed tears as I prayed that she and Tom would find deliverance from this bondage. I then shared with her some contact information so they could get help from Teen Challenge.

I explained that Teen Challenge is the most successful drug rehabilitation program in the nation. “Many programs recommend a higher power—but if your higher power is not Jesus Christ, then your higher power is not genuine and will not be lasting.” I assured her that Teen Challenge is not for younger teens. Participants must be at least 18.  Most in the program are in their 20’s and 30’s.   She was encouraged to learn that in some locations they offer programs for families so they can live together. Bonnie and Tom would fit right in!

  • Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.           Psalm 82:4
  • Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.       Galatians 6:2
  • Learn more about Teen Challenge:
  • Do you have a homeless population in your community? How are they being helped?
  • SONG:  DEAR LORD OF LORDS – Click on story’s title to listen: 



    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:  and


About Kathleen

God delights in working through His people as they submit to Him. Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone (Mark 16:15). No matter where we live on this planet, people are separated from God because of sin. We ALL need a Savior, and there’s only ONE. It brings me great joy to share Christ with the lost and lonely. Over the years I’ve learned a great deal while facilitating Bible studies. I’ve found myself on college and university campuses, the beach, the streets, the hospital, the jail and the juvenile facility for incarcerated teens sharing God’s message of love. I also serve as an online missionary with Global Media Outreach. I’ve seen countless lives transformed when people turn away from sin and turn to Jesus. The changes God makes are real and lasting. These are some of my experiences. NOTE: My stories have been altered, removing any and all identifying factors. This includes names and other particulars in order to protect confidentiality and anonymity.
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7 Responses to Living at the River Bottom

  1. Linda says:

    Having worked with the homeless in the past this really resonated with me. But I didn’t realize Teen Challenge had a program for families. Thanks for that information.

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