Showing Up and Being Present

Showing Up and Being Present Hero Image Showing Up and Being Present Hero Image

For the month of June, the Love Our City campaign will highlight different Watermark ministry partners in the impact area of homelessness care and prevention. This week, you can read about how Watermark member Dana Spangenberg came to know and trust the Lord and then read about her work and service with The Human Impact. As you read her story, consider ways you can jump and love our city!

“Growing up, I was deeply involved in the Christian faith. Sundays at church, youth group, and summer camps. Battling medical hurdles marked my childhood, leading to a sense of dissociation from my own experiences. I heard others talk about my life as a testament to their faith, but it felt like my struggles were only for their spiritual growth. I was prescribed a myriad of drugs for various conditions, each one further distancing me from a sense of normalcy. Medication became a constant companion, a supposed solution to every ailment.

“A young athlete and good student, my identity was closely tied to my abilities, but when my health faltered, so did my sense of self-worth. Depression became a shadow that followed me. I struggled to find meaning in the pain, grasping for control in a situation that felt increasingly hopeless. The medication, whether prescribed or over the counter, offered a fleeting sense of relief. I was looking for, I think, just something to try to control and fix how I felt because everything else was out of my control. I felt marked by intermittent periods of being okay and then trying to do as much as I could to feel normal until the next wave would come. I overdosed multiple times, not out of a desire to die but out of a desperate need to numb the pain. It was a reckless, self-destructive cycle that seemed to have no end in sight. By the grace of God, I did not pass away.

“Despite moments of sincere faith and love for God, major storms in my life, including being sexually assaulted at a Christian college, washed away my sense of connection with Him. My life felt like the Parable of the Seeds (Matthew 13:1-9), where the seeds would scatter without roots. A few years later, I was invited to The Porch. I came because I was finally at a place where I wanted to figure out what I believed and wrestle with those questions of faith I had avoided. I didn't know where it would take me, but I just knew that was what I had to do. It was the first time in my life there was true faithfulness not masqueraded by control. I am thankful for a church talking about and encouraging you to think about hard things. I was surrounded by true community and knew I was not alone. Jesus is my Savior; He is worthy of being my Lord. I understood truth, how the Lord freed me, and the beauty of His sanctification.

“Now, I am blessed to work at The Human Impact; this organization is not about providing resources or tangible facilities. Instead, its mission lies in building relationships with those in long-term homelessness. Founded by Elizabeth Jordan, it began with a simple act of spending time on the streets listening to people's stories. She discovered a common thread: a lack of a social safety net or community. It connected with my heart because even though I've never experienced homelessness, I know what it's like to go through something really hard and not have relationships around me. Inspired by Christ’s devotion to us, The Human Impact seeks to live out that same relentless love. It's the pursuit of fully knowing people and being fully known. It's profound but simple. And it's the same thing we see Christ do throughout all of Scripture: just going and being with people. It is the work of showing up and being present, not based on any condition, regardless of the outcome. The Human Impact remains committed to walking alongside them.

“There are opportunities for our church body to Love Our City, from community meals to street outreach. Step out of your comfort zone, embrace vulnerability, and engage authentically with everyone you meet. Simple gestures—making eye contact and asking someone's name—greatly impact people who have long been overlooked. Most of the time, people are just looking for someone to listen to them because they haven't been listened to in a long time. Listening is one of the easiest ways to show someone not only that you care but also that they are worthy. We believe that everyone is made in the image of God, and in these little ways, we can dignify and help them believe and understand that truth.

“I encourage you to come and walk alongside others and experience transformation together. It's not about homelessness; it is about the Lord working in the lives of everyone involved. God's heart is for us to be relational, as He says it is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). I did not grow up feeling like my calling in life was to work with those experiencing homelessness, but I am called to a life of loving others because it is the gospel. The reality is, we all need Jesus.”

Learn more about The Human Impact and ways you can get involved through Love Our City.