Marsha Waterman, founder of Warriors Refuge Ministry, led an effort to protect homeless people from the freezing conditions this February. Her own journey began several years ago…
Waterman’s heart ached for her friend who was a victim of sexual abuse. She was trying to be supportive but was unable to ultimately guide her friend to redemption.
Waterman was intentionally trying to create healthy paths for individuals from broken backgrounds, but she felt like she was failing and fell into deep depression. She acknowledges now that she was trying to handle too much at once— both the pain of her failed marriage and the pain of others.
Over the years she slowly realized that the weight is not hers to bear. In a moment she felt the Lord’s refuge surround her in healing.
In September of 2019, Warriors Refuge Ministry was born out of a place of obedience in Waterman’s heart.
“The warrior part is important, but also the place of refuge is significant for people,” says Waterman.
Warriors Refuge Ministry, a non-profit organization, does not just work out of a single location— its volunteers are always on the go.
Warriors Refuge provides anyone with food, blankets, clothing, feminine products, hygiene supplies, houses, vehicles, etc. They help people who are willing to work towards their own success. They also partner with numerous non-profits in the Tulsa area to guide people in the correct direction.
Waterman is frequently approached with questions such as “I thought you worked with single moms? I thought you worked with addicts?” To which she responds, “yes, and yes.”
According to Waterman, guiding people into their freedom is ultimately about utilizing the connections around you to create change in people’s lives.
“With non-profits, there is a 20 percent rate of success with people that live in tents or prostitution,” says Waterman. “Multiple churches and organizations don’t want to work with that number of change, but there isn’t anyone there for the ones that fall in the cracks.”
Serving people that don’t have teeth, shoes or undergarments isn’t pristine. Helping people takes vulnerability as much as it does humility, and is a process. Transformation is a journey, after all.
During the recent snowy weather in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the finances provided to Warriors Refuge, Waterman sent out a group to stock up on “all things warm” for homeless individuals on Riverside. While handing out gloves and socks, they asked homeless people if they would relocate to somewhere indoors due to the freezing weather conditions.
With consistently low temperatures, homeless people are at risk. Their tents and sleeping bags are insufficient protection against snow and ice.
A group member brought hot coffee and taquitos to a gentleman lodged amongst the snow. The gentleman, comfortable where he stayed, couldn’t be persuaded to move inside. Not long after, he passed away from the chilling conditions. The decision the gentleman made was burdensome for the group member but, “looking in his eyes that night, he did feel loved and seen.”
A single post on Facebook to get people into a warm building, with the guidance of security, got noticed by churches who began to open their doors. Waterman reached out to the Sheriff’s department.
Waterman’s communication between the church and the city was key to the effort. Both church and city worked hard to ensure that people had a safe warm place to stay.
Housing Solutions Tulsa also helped to provide hotel rooms for homeless people.
Waterman thought it would be a good idea if the churches who had opened their doors could provide housing as well. Churches contributed toward this group project to get individuals off the street and into hotels.
The communities in the Tulsa area collected funds and raised thousands of dollars to help toward the cause of placing people in hotel rooms and delivering groceries to homes. People did what they could to stand up for others who were overlooked.
Charissa Petit went to Wal-Mart with her children to collect socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, feminine products, sleeping bags, food and more. All these items were then layed out on tables and separated and put into sacks for people who needed them to help stay warm.
Petit is just another mother who lives in the Tulsa area that reaches her heart out to share the authentic connection between humans. God uses her to be a connector of people. Petit meets unique people and then is able to lead them to the right place like Warriors Refuge Ministry.
Lending a helping hand is just one of many ways to step out of your comfort zone. One’s passion, with an open mind, will lead them to their purpose. Let Waterman’s authenticity be a testament that no matter the limitations— be the person God made you to be. Find what you are passionate about and help others.
Below are some Homeless Shelters and Day Shelters/Centers in Tulsa, Oklahoma:
Tulsa County Emergency Shelter
Emergency shelter for all, including families with
Day Center for the Homeless
Tulsa, OK 74103
The Day Center is the only organization in Tulsa
providing shelter during the day. They also provide a
night shelter for approximately 116 of the most
vulnerable and at-risk segments of the homeless
population-woman and children, those men who
suffer from mental or physical illness and men over
The Salvation Army-Emergency Shelter
Tulsa, OK 74013
Emergency 24-hour shelter for all. Meals provided.
Program hours: 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Check
in time 4:30pm daily for Emergency Shelter. Public
meal is served daily at 1pm. Evening meal is served
daily at 1pm. Evening meal is served from 4:30-
5:30pm for those staying in the shelter.
Mamas Transitional Housing
Tulsa, OK 74115
Transitional housing for 90 days. Male or female
singles age 21 and up. Bills are paid, counseling &
therapy provided if needed. Life skill classes provided
Tulsa, OK 74120
Youth only shelter
John 3:16 Mission
Tulsa, OK 74103
Men’s Shelter. Provides clothing, meals, counseling,