Myrtle Beach missionary honored for ministry to homeless

A Myrtle Beach woman has been honored for her ministry to homeless people.

Carol Stallings, a member of Myrtle Beach First Baptist Church, received the 2014 Citizen Aiding Law Enforcement award by the Grand Strand Optimist Club on May 8.

Stallings serves as the director of the Swash Park ministry to the homeless, and she is a North American Mission Board-appointed missionary through the Missions Service Corps.

“This award is a great honor, but I am not doing what I do for praise and glory,” said Stallings. “I give all of that to the Lord Jesus Christ, because without him I am nothing. He is in full control of the Swash Park ministry.”

Myrtle Beach police chief Warren Gall nominated Stallings for the award. He cited Stallings’ work with the homeless as reducing the number of people who are victims or defendants in the legal system and for helping 62 homeless individuals to reunite with family members in 2013.

Stallings helped start the Swash Park ministry in 2000 following several high-profile incidents involving homeless people who lived in and around the 11-acre Withers Swash Park. Initially, the ministry provided a Sunday breakfast and worship service in the park for about 40 homeless individuals. Now the Sunday breakfast is served at the church to roughly 100 homeless individuals. About 70 people participate in a Tuesday-evening meal and Bible study.

Stallings said the ministry has led 154 homeless people to make professions of faith, and 122 people have been baptized.

The Optimist Club award recognized the aspect of Stallings’ ministry that helps homeless individuals locate and contact family members. Stallings carries a “homeless phone” with her to each Sunday morning breakfast so that individuals can call family members free of charge.

She helps some individuals afford bus tickets, gives rides to the bus station, and encourages them all to stay in touch with her when they leave Myrtle Beach. Many homeless individuals are educated or have a professional skill, and Stallings helps connect some with a regional company for work opportunities.