A home for the homeless

Mission Texarkana holds church service every Saturday


Photo by Holland Rainwater

The pastor of Church Under the Bridge Cody Howard pats a church member on the back. Church Under the Bridge meets in rain or shine near the downtown area.

Story by Caden Rainwater, staff writer

Human beings may be prideful and too proud to own up to pain, but when it comes to drastic weather we are quite intolerant. One man has stood his ground in the torment set out by God in the face of a low temperature. A man with the determination to permit a message from the bible in sub-freezing temperatures or when it is above 100 degrees outside.

Executive Director of Mission Texarkana, Cody Howard, has been holding a service under the South Stateline Ave. viaduct bridge for anyone willing to hear his message for almost seven years. Despite the fact that he lives in Atlanta, Texas, God has provided his determination through a verse in Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

“We don’t get too many comfortable days here in northeast Texas,” Howard said. “we’ve been there many times when the temperature was over 100 degrees, and we’ve been there when there’s ice on the ground.

Gathering in nearly fifty homeless people living in the vicinity of downtown Texarkana every Saturday morning, Cody Howard has grown closer to God and become a more fulfilled person since he began the ministry.

We meet so many interesting individuals from different parts of the country and world, and they are always excited to worship with us.”

— Cody Howard

“Church Under the Bridge has definitely increased the love I have for people in general, and the poor specifically.” Howard said. “I have a greater appreciation for humility and honesty than I used to.”

The special part of having the ministry under a bridge is the people who are willing to show up. Since the majority of the people in the church are homeless, different people with interesting stories show up every week.

“Since the beginning we’ve had a core of about 30 people who will be there no matter what.” Howard said “We meet so many interesting individuals from different parts of the country and world, and they are always excited to worship with us.”

Howard takes very little recognition from his work as the minister, as he believes that he simply shares the message and God is responsible for how his message is taken into the hearts of those that listen.

“My job is super easy in most regards.” Howard said. “I’m not responsible for the results of my preaching, I’m only responsible to preach it.”

Although Mission Texarkana provides most of the food and ministry, other churches donations of food on Saturday mornings and donations are gladly accepted. Churches in Texarkana have heard what is going on at the bridge and have been very consistent in helping out.

“At the Bridge we are dependent on other churches to provide food every Saturday.” Howard said.  “To meet almost 7 years without missing a meal once because so many of the area churches are engaged is a big deal to me.”

Howard has a special understanding of his own as to why a Church should meet. After being out for a few weeks, a friend of his led the church in his absence. Once he returned a friend of his who consistently comes every week told him, “We sure did miss having you here, but you know we’re going to carry on with or without you because this is God’s church, not yours.”

I’m thrilled to pastor a congregation who understands why they meet, and one that plans to continue meeting as a body into the future for the worship of God and the spread of the gospel of grace, and no other.” Howard said.