“Stupid Signs”

“Stupid Signs”

Written by Dr. Bill McElwee | Board Member


Perhaps you have heard of the recent tragic events within a block of Fellowship House. Gang warfare within the past few days has caused the shooting of three innocent persons including the death of one 20 year old woman. A resident of the community who volunteers for us was wounded, and the area is in a state of shock.

Because this is where we minister to fifty children in our “Camp Peace“ After School Program/Bible Club, the Fellowship House Board convened a special meeting to consider what to do. After much discussion it was unanimously decided that in order to continue to serve the children, we must undertake rigorous security measures to protect our staff, volunteers and those we serve.

Purchase of surveillance cameras and other equipment will cost several thousand dollars not available in our tightly stretched budget. Therefore we are putting out this special appeal for contributions to help us secure the area around Fellowship House.

Could you help us right away with $1000, $500, $100 or as little as $10 to underwrite this emergency program? It is as easy as any on-line purchase. Just click the “Donate Now” button to do so right now. Or, if you prefer send your check to Fellowship House, PO Box 261, Collingswood, NJ 08108 (memo it "Stupid Signs").

As it happens, the latest E-Blast meditation I had planned to send speaks directly to these terrible circumstances under which these children have to live. Please read it below.



I pull up to the curb in front of Fellowship House to park my car. There is a sign nailed to the telephone pole by the curb. It reads “Drug Free School Zone”.

Across the street I see the usual group of alcoholic men, huddled together on a bench by the wall of the liquor store, hiding from the cold wind. Some of these guys are our friends. They help from time to time setting up tables for the feeding program, etc.

Not long ago I came into the front office to find staff members looking out the window. There on the street were a number of police cars, lights flashing. "What’s happening?", I ask. "Drug bust", they say. Then they laugh and note that while the cops took one dealer away, there were still a number of other known dealers in the crowd across the street.

Drug free school zone? Who are we kidding? Politicians and naïve people with good intentions may think that sign will protect school kids. It certainly is a nice cheap way to try, but we who work here know better. There is nothing drug free about this area at all.

I’ll tell you where you can find a drug free zone that is safe for kids in this neighborhood; behind the doors and walls of Fellowship House. Furthermore, this is where addicts who want to start on the road to recovery can find help in doing so. And we don’t start by asking about your insurance coverage. Here is a place where teenagers find encouragement in leading a drug and alcohol free life in a caring youth ministry. Yes, and food and clothing for the down and out are found here too.

And most importantly, here is a place where the saving Gospel of God’s love in Christ is lived and shared with all who enter under that beautiful sign over our doorway which says “Fellowship House.” The Christ who is worshipped in our little chapel on Sunday mornings walks and talks all week long in the classrooms, kitchen, gym and office of this healing place which sits right smack in the middle of the addiction addled area that mocks the sign on the telephone pole.

Yes, there is a drug free zone, a safe haven and an oasis of Christ-like love on South Broadway in Camden. If you are willing to do more than trust in "Stupid Signs", then why not do some signing of your own. Isn’t it time you wrote a check to Fellowship House? Or you could make it easy and click on the "Donate Now" button on this page. It takes no more effort than buying a book or a trinket over the web.

The Lord spoke to me through a broken sign on a mean street. May he speak to you through this word of challenge and invitation.