I grew up in the Jewish community of Cleveland, Ohio during the 1960s and early 1970s. After my father died and my mom remarried, my family moved to the Dayton, Ohio area which is where I met Christians for the first time in my life at the age of 16. My life was powerfully transformed after becoming a Jewish Christian during my junior year in high school in Centerville, Ohio. Graduating high school was a major milestone for me because I had spent the five previous years using and selling drugs.
I moved to Athens, Ohio in 1976 to attend Ohio University and it was in Athens that I felt the desire and call towards full-time Christian service. During my senior year at Ohio University, in conjunction with a degree in mental health, I remodeled the basement of my home on Elliott Street in Athens into a two-bedroom apartment to assist what I then called “displaced persons.” I had a vision from scripture (Luke 4:18-19) to reach out to the people who were without a home and struggling with poverty in rural Southeast Ohio. That vision came to a reality in 1981 when I established Good Works, Inc. with the help of friends and supporters.
I am now in my 37th year with Good Works, working with the people who struggle with homelessness and poverty in rural Ohio. I speak more than 80 times each year to churches, community groups, and on college campus about being involved and being in relationship with people who are struggling with poverty. Scripture directs us to pay special attention to three groups of people that God says are very special and very important to love and serve: the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger (Job 29:1-17).
To better understand homelessness, I have chosen to be homeless on 11 different occasions over the past 25 years in 11 urban cities. You can read about some of these experiences by clicking here.
A graduate of Ohio University in 1981, I have attended Asbury Theological Seminary on nine occasions over the past 30 years. I received an Honorary Doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary in the spring of 2012. Darlene and I have been married 35 years and we have one son, Timothy, who is age 26. You can read an article about Darlene by clicking here.
What does it mean for me to be involved with Good Works today? I believe that the greatest commandment God gives human beings is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I believe that these two commandments are mystically interrelated and that it not important to God when we think we are doing one and when we think we are doing the other as long as our love comes from a heart of worship. More importantly, Jesus calls us to another level: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). I believe the great task — the great commission– of the body of Christ to translate what Christ has done for us through our lives into the lives of others.
The neighbors God has given me a special concern for are the widows, the fatherless and people without homes. All we are trying to do through Good Works is simply love God and love our neighbors. Every act of sacrificial love becomes an offering of worship. I feel I am making an impact upon the world by being faithful to love God and care for my neighbors. In the end, there is nothing more sophisticated about our mission. God continues to supply JOY through his grace each day in the work of repairing broken and shattered lives.
This audio interview with Keith was recorded in the spring of 2016.
To read more about Keith’s story, click here.
Hank Heschle, who served as an intern with us twice, has written a Theology of Keith Wasserman, which you can read by clicking here.
This Good Works Newsletter offers some history and perspective of Good Works over the past 36 years.
For information on how to have Keith come to your church or civic organization to speak on a WIDE variety of topics related to caring for people struggling with poverty and homelessness, click here.