Pastor Faces Criminal Charges for Helping the Homeless

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Billy Hallowell and CBN News

A Christian pastor reportedly facing criminal charges for violating zoning laws is refusing to back down from keeping his doors open to help the poor and others in his community.

“[Pastor Chris Avell is] facing 18 criminal charges for violating the city’s zoning laws,” a First Liberty news release read. “The city is going after him, because, earlier this year, Pastor Chris opened the church 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He’s seeking to serve homeless people.”

The statement continued, “In November 2023, the city sent a letter ordering the church to stop allowing overnight guests or face criminal prosecution. This past Sunday — on New Year’s Eve — police showed up at the church. They handed the pastor a packet of multiple charges and violations.”

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Avell of Dad’s Place, a church in Bryan, Ohio, told CBN Digital why his church decided last year to open its doors around the clock.

“Through some things God had done and what we were seeing we decided that … it was time to do it so that people can come in day or night and find true rest,” he said. “[And] come in and pray at any time of day.”

Avell said the church had been receiving calls from police in the middle of the night to ask if the house of worship would take in people facing domestic disputes and other issues.

This is one of the reasons Dad’s Place decided to expand its operations. However, authorities began taking issue with purported zoning violations this fall, with the Bryan City Zoning Commission reportedly expressing concern just months after that decision.

Since the church doesn’t have bedrooms, the zoning commission said the house of worship could no longer house the homeless. Avell said, though, that he’s tried to work with the city to remedy any concerns.

Regardless, he said the results of Dad’s Place being open 24/7 have been deeply encouraging.

“We’ve seen many who — if we were not open 24 hours, this wouldn’t happen — come to faith in Christ,” the preacher said. “We’re a church, so that’s our thing … for us, that’s paramount.”

Avell said he believes people’s lives have been enriched, adding that “everyone who walks through the doors of the church walks out a better citizen.”

“You can’t walk in the place and not experience the love of Christ, even if you just walk through the doors for a few minutes,” he said. “It’s just what we’re called to be … the hands and feet of Jesus.” {eoa}

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To read the original story, visit our content partners at CBN News.

Reprinted with permission from Copyright © 2024 The Christian Broadcasting Network Inc. All rights reserved.

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