Along with fighter, coach, preacher, teacher and dog lover, Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire has added a new title: author.
In late June, Stoudemire, who is best known for his anti-drug, anti-violence street ministry, published his first book: “The Street Ministry Experience.”
“It covers pretty much everything I’ve done going back to the mid-1990s,” he said. “The feedback from readers has been positive, and my publisher wants another one, which I hope to get out by the end of the year.”
|REV. SHELDON STOUDEMIRE
Stoudemire said chapters in the book range from dealing with the media and grieving family, to personal interactions on the street and the nature of urban crime. It also includes some of those interactions he counts as successes.
“I got word one time that a guy named Squirrel was going to kill a cashier because he owed him $100. I prayed with him, and it worked out,” he said.
“Then there was a guy they used to call ‘Loadit’ because he carried two .9mm Glock pistols. He knew he was going nowhere. We talked, prayed, and he put down his guns. He got his GED, went out to the North Hills, got work and never looked back. I saw him a few years later and he thanked me for caring enough to pray for him”
Though he started his ministry working in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and North Side neighborhoods, Stoudemire now works as a resident youth advisor for Mon-Yough Services in McKeesport and concentrates his street ministry there and in the Mon Valley communities of Clairton, Munhall and Homestead.
But, he is back in Pittsburgh at least once a week, he said.
“Unfortunately, a lot of what I’m doing is reactive, going where there’s been a recent shooting,” he said. “But there are times when I say to myself, I haven’t been to Hazelwood recently. And I’ll go there.”
Though his book is, as the title suggests, about his street experience, its audience is not the street, it’s for those who aren’t going there—Black urban churches.
“My target audience is the pastors and laity because the church has to be more active. They have to get outside, and some of them know it,” he said. “It’s difficult. It requires being afraid, but going where the mischief is anyway. I want to motivate and mobilize Christians to go out and realize this great commission for what it is.”
When you do that, he said, you can be surprised.
“Before they tore down St. Clair Village, we went up there one day. It was a bad place. Anyway, we set up a check point, stopped every car going in,” he said.
“And everyone welcomed our prayers. Some had tears in their eyes, and not one honked or cursed us out. That’s the kind of thing the church has to do, and with a magnitude greater than with civil rights—because people are getting killed.”
Stoudemire said he plans to setup a web site, but hasn’t had the time, but he urges anyone interested in his book or ministry to call 412-758-8217.
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