Two years ago, when Emma Stewart was 90, someone knocked on her door one rainy night.
When she opened the door, a thin man stood there with an upside-down umbrella. He told her he was homeless and asked if he could live with her for two weeks.
She told him she couldn’t take him in — she had a son with disabilities who lived with her, and that would be more than she could handle.
But as soon as Stewart shut the door, she regretted it.
“I came back in the house and said, ‘I feel like I’m a hypocrite. I feel like that was Jesus.’”
So Stewart started calling around her hometown of McComb, Mississippi, looking for homeless shelters, and found something that surprised her — there were none.
But she did find out about Sarah Conerly, a local woman who had taken people into her house until she couldn’t do it anymore, then opened a men’s shelter in a garage.
“She said, ‘I only have space for the men; I don’t have a place for the women,’” Stewart remembered.
That stuck with Stewart, and it wasn’t long before she made it her personal mission to work alongside Conerly.
Fast-forward, and today — at 92 — Stewart owns GUEST [God Using Emma Stewart’s Talents] House of Hope, a three-bedroom house that has provided shelter for 15 women and three children since opening earlier this year.
Stewart’s son, Jamie, is house manager and president of the nonprofit ministry. His being there is just one of the many things Stewart said God orchestrated along the way to make GUEST happen.
“Jamie had come here to live with me before we opened the ministry,” said Stewart, noting her son has years of experience in social work and helping people in tough spots get back on their feet.
He had been in a difficult season before moving in with his mother, and the move enabled them to discover they had a common heart for this type of ministry.
Heart for missions
He now lives in the apartment attached to the three-bedroom house, which was a perfect find for GUEST House of Hope, Stewart said.
And God has provided people to come alongside to help with financial and practical needs as they’ve worked through official processes to get the house up and running.
Stewart said she’s thankful for God allowing her to be part of His work at GUEST House of Hope.
“All of my life has been in missions — Sunbeams, Girls in Action, working with Royal Ambassadors, everything. Missions is my heart,” she said. “I just thank God. This was something very unexpected, and [I’m] just so thrilled over it. You never get too old to serve God.”
For more information, visit the GUEST House of Hope page on Facebook.