HomeGrown: Maxine Raines, Lost Sheep Ministry Founder

4:03 PM, Nov 23, 2010   |    comments
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From sunup to sundown, Maxine Raines loves the last, the lost and the lonely.

"We clothe them. We feed them, but most of all, we refer them to outlets where they can get the help they need," says Raines.

Each face is like her own.

"Some of them even remind me of me. I should be dead. I really should be dead."

You see, the streets she serves were Maxine's home most of her childhood.

"My dad, when I was 6, just caught a freight train out of knoxville and left us. My mother was mentally ill."

They lived off Euclid avenue, now interstate.

"It was a great big, brown house. We had rats as big as cats run across us all the time at night."

Maxine turned to the streets, sleeping anywhere she could.

"This (L & N Depot) is where I went to the bathroom. It was like a place I could come, a safe haven."

In first grade, Maxine was taken into juvenile custody after stealing a check for food and then placed in state custody at John Tarleton. She only has one picture from childhood.

"I'd sit in John Tarleton at night when all the kids would be asleep, praying to go home."

God answered her prayer with Pastor George Cressville of Second Methodist Church.

"He was our Santa Claus. He clothed us. He fed us."

At 15, she married and then divorced.

"I was trying to help my mother and brother, and I thought that would get me off the street."

At 17, she married her husband of 48 years and left her past behind.

"In 1983, I felt the call to be a missionary, and my husband thought I'd lost my mind. So, I quit my job and got my G.E.D."

Life's pain all began to make sense during a trip to Washington, D.C. in 1990.

"There was homeless everywhere, laying on the street. I wept for a week and said, 'God, not me. You know, I don't want to go back there.'"

But God's will prevailed. She finally shared her past with her family.

"My daughter said, 'What else have you not told us?' You relive the shame of being on the streets."

Still, Maxine and a few others focused on helping homeless individuals.

"We started with a pack of baloney and buns and hit the streets looking for kids."

Her sandwich ministry soon spread to homeless adults, and Lost Sheep Ministry was born.

"Luke 15:16 says, 'Rejoice with me for I have found my lost sheep.
That's the reason it's called lost sheep because there's a lot of lost sheep out there."

Maxine Raines, born in Knoxville,

"I would not change anything because this is what I know I'm supposed to do."

HomeGrown in Tennessee

To learn more about Lost Sheep Ministry call (865) 688-9636 visit the organization's website.

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