A Florida pastor and his wife are in the process of adopting two homeless babies who were discovered by a ministry worker outside on a pile of trash bags wearing nothing but diapers.
With their own children aged 15, 13 and 8, Pastor Ronnie Stewart of Refuge Church in New Port Richey, Florida, and his wife, Krystal, thought they were finished raising toddlers and infants.
However, it became apparent last November that God had other plans.
Having planted the Church of God congregation over three years ago, Stewart told The Christian Post Monday that his goal for the church was for it to become a place of refuge for the troubled and underprivileged in the Tampa metropolitan area.
The church now serves as one of the largest Metropolitan Ministries feeding centers in the Tampa area, feeding around 200 to 300 people twice a week.
Metropolitan Ministries, an organization that provides clothing, food and housing for families and children in need in Tampa, came across a particular family that was discovered one night outside of the ministry's Pasco County office.
As reported by a local Fox affiliate, Mark Purcell, the organization's head chef, was leaving the office when he saw the two children — ages 6 months and 1 year-and-a-half — sitting on top of trash bags outside the office with their mother nearby.
The ministry discovered that the mother, father and the children were all homeless and living in a tent in the woods.
Stewart explained that the family had been attending the Metropolitan Ministries dinner feedings at the Refuge Church for about three weeks before he and his wife opened up their home to the children in despair.
"We typically don't go to the church on a Friday but I was doing some tile in the church throughout the day," Stewart explained. "The family was kind of camped out under the awning by the front doors. One of the little boys just started putting his face on the glass by the doors and he was looking at me and I let them in and asked them if they would like to come in while I do the tile."
"A lot of concerns had come out with people in the congregation," Stewart said. "We took those babies in that night because it was going to storm. We told the parents we would meet them back at the church the very next day. We did that and said, 'if you ever need us again, just let us know. We would be more than willing to open our home.'"
Stewart said that his wife gave both the boys baths that night as they were pretty dirty and not in the best condition.
"The very next day, they were there for the feeding ministry. We brought the two boys Saturday morning, so we let them stay in the church with us through the day and prayed with them and really tried to talk with them about every option," Stewart said. "That night was the feeding at 5 o'clock. We were on the way out of the facility when they asked us to take the boys home because of the stormy conditions. Without hesitation, we agreed to it. Just thinking that it was another night of them off the street."
That night, the couple prayed and began to contemplate what the plans were for the children and what they could do to help the family.
"We went the very next day for Sunday service and our plan was for them to come to church and we would come to church and bring the boys. We brought the boys a bunch of clothing and loaded them up on food and formula," Stewart recalled. "After service, I went down to see my kids and my wife, and I was on my way out to my car and the family made their way to me and they said, 'Pastor, can you come over here?"