From the Sanctuary to the Streets: 

How the Dreams of One City’s Homeless Sparked a Faith Revolution That Transformed a Community

Many Christians find themselves at a crossroads. Cultural shifts and growing ethnic and religious diversity are causing Christians to question the essence of the Christian faith. Is it an hour on Sunday spent inside a building with people who look, think, and act much as we do, or is it something more incarnational that seeks out those who are different, the ones living in the margins?

In 2004, I felt called to venture outside the church walls and into the world. Through a series of encounters with homeless, impoverished, and incarcerated individuals, I experienced the mysterious power of Christian hospitality that turns strangers into family. My encounter with a young homeless mother led to the formation of a ministry that mobilizes wealthy and impoverished neighbors to care for one another.

Though Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you,” in our world the poor and the wealthy are often separated by circumstance and intention. In a city divided by racial tension and economic injustice, Embrace Richmond’s unique ministry is a counter-cultural experiment in the practice of Christian hospitality– hospitality that not only recognizes and responds to the needs of the stranger, but also accepts the gifts the stranger bears.

For centuries Christians have gotten it backwards; we have presumed that we are to take the gospel to the poor. Instead, I invite you to receive the gospel from the poor. These true stories of the least, the lost, and the forgotten will bring you face to face with the Good News in the midst of poverty and injustice in a way that inspires you to join the fight for justice.

With our eyes opened to the needs and gifts of our impoverished neighbors, we can begin to dream God-sized dreams for a hurting world and make them reality. And as we pray “thy kingdom come on earth,” we can live in such a way as to make it happen in our own neighborhoods.

Join me on this journey of discovery to the intersection of poverty and prosperity where God’s desires meet the needs and callings of God’s people.

Available Materials: Overview and EndorsementsFree Group Discussion PacketElectronic Press KitMeet the “Characters”


“From the Sanctuary to the Streets is the story of how one person began to help others—the broken of our world—dream and realize those dreams. She invites us into her world and introduces us to her friends. It is through this eye-opening account of Wendy’s story and the individual stories of her friends that we get a glimpse of God’s power to heal and mend the broken and transform them into a community of dreamers.”
—Eric Swanson
Co-author of The Externally Focused Church

“McCaig’s vision of Christian hospitality involves opening ourselves to the most vulnerable-the abused wife, the drug addict, the ex-felon, the abandoned elderly-and discovering there the presence of God. Friendships with those close at home-family and neighbors-as well as with those across racial and class lines illustrate how ‘God never works alone.’ This beautifully written book is a call to all of us to embrace our dreams, whether large and small, and in so doing respond to God’s call to be Christ’s body for the world.”
—Elizabeth Newman
Author of Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God and Other Strangers

“This is one of the best, most challenging, and hope-filled books I’ve read in a long time. What makes From the Sanctuary to the Streets so different from other books on the subject is it’s narrative quality—it reads like a novel, chalk-full of personal stories and wisdom born of experience. McCaig has captured qualities of holiness and hope that blossom in some of the most desolate corners of the inner city.”
—Stephen Brachlow
Professor of Spirituality at Baptist Theological Seminary

“Years ago, God gave Joseph an unpopular but ultimately redemptive dream that altered the course of his nation. Today, God has spoken a dream of the same fabric to my friend and courageous leader Wendy McCaig. Those who are wise enough to listen to this dreamer will become a part of a movement of the Church Distributed and will touch their communities with grace and hope.”
—John P. Chandler
Author of Courageous Church Leadership: Conversations with Effective Practitioners