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May 21st, 2010
12:13 PM ET

Finding God with a camera, dog and pick-up truck

Editor's note: Jim Spellman is CNN's all platform journalist in Denver, Colorado. He shares this story about Shay Kelley, a woman he profiled earlier this year. After the profile ran on CNN.com, Kelley's project to travel to 50 states and feed and document the homeless grew exponentially.

From Jim Spellman, CNN

A year ago Shay Kelley lost her job, then her home. She says she asked God
what to do and the answer became Project 50/50.

She set out on the road in a pick-up truck named Bubba with her border collie, Zuzu, to travel to all 50 states in 50 weeks, collecting canned food for the homeless and photographing the people she met along the way.

Since the story ran, her Facebook page has grown from having about 1,000 followers to having more than 12,000.

As Kelley continues her journey, many of her followers have responded to her strong spiritual message by posting words of encouragement on her Facebook page.

The CNN Belief Blog asked her to reflect on getting old-fashioned spiritual
healing through some distinctly new-fangled technology. Here's an update from Shay on her faith and the latest about the project:

When CNN aired the story about Project 50/50, I had no idea that hundreds of thousands of people would read the story. I also didn’t know that 12,000 of them would find me on Facebook and reach out to me through messages, comments, and e-mails.

In one weekend, as I drove across the state of Nebraska, I watched as this whole project expanded. What I find the most beautiful is that people aren’t joining a "fan club." They are using this opportunity to jump-start an idea they’ve had in their own lives. This project is an example of how faith works, and I am an advocate of a lifestyle that puts God at the center of our decisions.

The outpouring of encouragement and spiritual affirmation that takes place on the Project 50/50 page on Facebook has less to do with the actual project and more to do with all of these individuals expressing their desire to be a leader and an inspiration to others.

Every morning now, there are at least two people who post scriptures or quotes that will put everything in perspective, and whenever someone posts a prayer request or a story that demonstrates love, a hundred people are there to back them up with a word of prayer or supportive encouragement.

This project is an amazing personal experience, and it has been beautiful to see God’s great country, one state at a time. Even more beautiful still is the gift of witnessing people reach out to each other in love. I know that this project is going to be much bigger than just this year. Not because of me, Bubba or Zuzu, but because of the amazing individuals out there who have made the choice to share our struggles and triumphs with each other and work toward the greater good.

This world will be a lovely place with God at the center of all of it, and it’s time to highlight the beauty and pay it forward. We’re starting with us.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Lubiana

    What a beautiful story!

    May 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  2. RED

    If you don't BELIEVE in God, why are you reading a "belief" blog on CNN???

    May 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  3. Anthony

    Shay should thank herself and not god. she asked god for help, and he didnt say anything back. instead, she went out on her own and went to 50 states to collect cans. it is not god's work, it is her own. if people stopped with all of this faith BS this world could actually operate. if there is a god, it is a slap in the face to ask him for answers, because he gave us the power to think and act on our own. there is no mysterious person pulling the strings. shay, good for you, i am happy you did something useful, but all of you stop the attributions to god, and start doing things on your own.

    May 22, 2010 at 10:48 am |
    • Michael Wong

      That reminds me of the way Christians thank God when they survive a delicate surgery. Shouldn't you put your thanks, first and foremost, in the surgical team? It seems so ungrateful when a person survives some terrible injury or ailment and then walks around saying that God performed a miracle and saved his life from the hands of the (presumably incompetent) surgeons who were taking care of him.

      May 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  4. For Shay and those like her

    This article is about one persons personal journey. A journey she felt called to by HER faith. A call to help others....pure and simple. All the garbage, negative comments and attacks mean NOTHING. YOU are contributing NOTHING to this world with verbal, negative garbage. Thank God for Shay and those like her, who want nothing more than to give of themselves to leave this world having POSITIVELY effected others lives with her deeds instead of cutting people down with words. The saying is still true... TALK (be it in print or verbal) is cheap. ACTIONS speak LOUDER than words!

    May 22, 2010 at 2:58 am |
  5. RED

    Conversion via comments to a blog....hmmmmm......
    Lots of batting the religion ball back and forth.
    I think if you get back to Shay's blog itself, you will see it's about LOVE. So let's just sit back and see if that's what we are exuding when we speak.

    Good for you, Shay, for speaking your faith, regardless of those who may agree and/or disagree. Thank GOD we live in a country where we are all FREE to think and speak our thoughts in love, if we so choose. The choice comes down to us.

    May 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  6. Mooo Dork

    Mooo doesn't want to use her real name... or even any sort of real name and Sam thinks she's a very intelligent and rational "perosn". Interesting...

    One thing you're right about Mooo... when YOU die... you will be just that. DEAD.

    There will be plenty of people who pity you. I'm not one.

    May 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  7. Sam Betan

    The comments from Moooohmmmud Cow are great. This must be a very intelligent, rational perosn.
    I agree with every word. This shows that there are a lot of brilliant people in this world. Reading,
    listening, exchanging ideas with such smart people is happiness too.

    May 21, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  8. nika

    God travels with you anywhere u go, but You have to decide whether to travel with him or on your own.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  9. KOG

    For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.

    May 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  10. Moooohammud Cow

    It's a shame god couldn't have prevented all that homelessness in the first place. Guess he was too busy having a 1-way conversation with Shay.

    May 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      You need more knowledge than what you think you have! You are too busy being a fool that you are missing out on God!

      May 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • Moooohammud Cow

      I'm busy being a fool, no god, and not homeless. Doesn't seem like i'm missing much. 🙂

      May 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      You are missing more than what you think. Instead of being mad at God, why don't do something uselful to help those who are in need, like homeless? As far as we both know, you are breathing God's air!

      May 21, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Moooohammud Cow

      Sorry, I'm not mad at people who don't exist. Not helping the homeless because all the people homeless around here are that way for a reason (drinking, bad lifes.. probably caught up in religion, etc) God's air is actually very polluted in the city however. I'm missing more than I think? What am I missing still?

      May 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      What do you want most in life?

      A great marriage?
      A successful career?
      Wealth and security?
      A name for yourself?
      Health and prosperity?
      Health and prosperity?

      Where the desires of your heart are, is where YOU will be – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. These will be what you give your most time and attention to.

      If you want a great career, you will spend most of your time and talent on that....

      If you want material things, that make you feel like "someone" – a great house in a great neighborhood, the latest car, clothes, and vacations – you will spend most of your time and money on acquiring these.

      If you prize beauty and health, you will spend your life doing what you can to "turn back the clock", be it vigorous workouts, plastic surgery, costly cosmetics, beauty treatments, hair styles, and expensive clothing...

      But what happens when you die?

      Even if you've made a great name for yourself that outlives you, what good will it do you, when you are spending eternity in unending torture and pain in hell?

      Maybe you don't believe in hell – maybe you believe you will be reincarnated and live other lives on earth...

      Or maybe you believe this life is all there is – after you die, there is nothing else...

      Or perhaps you believe that God is a loving God who will overlook your sins – after all, you aren't as bad as most people...

      Maybe you think that when you give money to charity, go to church, take some time out to do good things, that these will all count toward "earning" your way to heaven...

      But what if your soul DOES live on forever after your death – either in heaven or hell?

      What is YOUR SOUL worth to you?

      Did you know that when you spend your life focused on ANYTHING more than God, you are breaking the 1st and 2nd Commandments??

      You are in fact putting another "god" before the Lord God and "worshipping an idol". An idol is not just a statue that you might bow down before, it is ANYTHING that takes your time, energy, attention and commitment AWAY from God!

      "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)

      The Bible clearly states that if you have broken just ONE commandment, you have in effect broken them all and you are guilty of the punishment of death and an eternity in hell.

      "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23)

      "The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." (Psalm 9:16-17)

      "Every man shall die for his own sin."
      (2 Chronicles 25:4)

      Jesus warned: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

      Does this sound like a JUDGMENTAL and UNLOVING God?

      What would you think of a human judge, who was passing a judgment on a mass murderer? Would you think that judge was judgmental and unloving to send that murderer to prison for the rest of his life? Would you think the judge was loving if he set the murderer free to kill other people? What if the murderer offered the judge a million dollars? Would that be good enough to purchase his freedom? What if the murderer vowed he would never kill again? Would that be good enough to let him go free?

      God is above all, HOLY and RIGHTEOUS – He will NEVER do anything WRONG. When we compare ourselves to His Perfection, we can easily see how short we measure up to being even "good".

      BECAUSE God is Holy and Just and Loving, He cannot be good AND let sinners go unpunished.

      Even if you have done many wonderful, good things in your life, if you've sinned, you are still guilty of those sins.

      "When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it." (Ezekial 33:13) It doesn't matter if you vow to live a better life from now on, if you've sinned only once, you are guilty and time doesn't change that fact.

      If you value your soul, you want to go to heaven when you die, right?

      So how do you do that?

      What if I told you there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO!

      There is SOMEONE who paid the price for your death sentence already. He gave His life up in exchange for yours, and He did this for you even when He knew that you would live selfishly to please yourself, and even when he knew you would do all kinds of bad things in your lifetime.....

      "For the wages of sin is death;
      but the gift of God is eternal life
      through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

      That Someone is JESUS.

      This wonderful gift of salvation from the punishment of hell is offered to you through the broken body and bloody sacrifice of Jesus, God's own Son, Who exchanged His life for yours when He died on the cross, so that you can be counted as "cleared from all sins" and enter into heaven...

      Would you follow someone who was a great teacher? Would you follow someone who promised he could teach you amazing secrets? Would you follow someone who promised you great wealth and happiness? Would you follow someone who offered you the secret to eternal life? Maybe you would, but what if that person died, or betrayed you, or proved himself to be a liar? Your faith in him would fail.

      But what if you met someone who told you that He loved you so much, that He would die for you, so that you wouldn't have to pay the price for anything bad that you have done – you could still receive a great reward, an eternal life in heaven. What if He explained that this gift was paid for by His own body and blood, at great cost to Himself, but freely offered out of love for you. And that He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, in heaven, interceding continually on your behalf. Would you follow Him? Would you leave behind everything else you thought was important, and seek after this Person? Would you love and serve Him in return for His great gift? Would you love Someone Who loved you that much?

      Will YOU love Jesus that much?

      So how do you receive this incredible gift??

      You need to repent of your sinfulness – this means that you agree with God that you have sinned, that you have fallen short of His perfection, and you agree that there is NOTHING you can do about it. You can't stop sinning on your own, no matter how hard you try, and you will not be able to do anything good enough to make up for it. This is what Jesus means when He says we need to "die to ourselves." We accept that there is nothing inside of us that makes us good enough in God's eyes. When we humble ourselves and admit that, THEN we are able to see we are in great need of a Saviour – the ONLY One who can heal us from our sinful ways and help us to live the life we need to live.

      Only when we truly understand and accept this, will we call upon Jesus. Realizing the most wonderful and loving price He has paid for us, we are so truly thankful and willingly turn our lives over to Him. We put our trust in Jesus ALONE to go to heaven when we die, and NOTHING else. And we believe Him when He tells us, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)

      Won't you call upon Jesus right now, and tell Him how much you love Him?

      "And when he (Jesus) had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

      For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

      For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

      Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

      Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:34-38)

      "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
      (John 3:16)

      "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Colossians 3:17

      May 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • Moooohammud Cow

      What do you want most in life? To be happy, work hard, have a bit of fun, keep my bf happy forever.
      A great marriage? 7 1/2 years, already got one
      A successful career? already got one
      Wealth and security? Could always use more money, but got enough 🙂
      A name for yourself? I was named when I was born
      Health and prosperity? Already pretty healty.. could work out more though
      Health and prosperity? See above
      But what happens when you die? It's over, that's it
      Even if you've made a great name for yourself that outlives you: not trying to be a moviestar, just want to be me
      what good will it do you: I'll be dead, too late to do me any good
      Maybe you don't believe in hell – maybe you believe you will be reincarnated and live other lives on earth: Nope, just believe i'll be dead. Dead is dead.
      Or maybe you believe this life is all there is – after you die, there is nothing else.: That's the ticket 🙂
      Or perhaps you believe that God is a loving God who will overlook your sins – after all, you aren't as bad as most people...: Certainly don't believe that. Not the best person, not the worst person, I'm 'A person' and nothing more. It's not a ranking system.
      Maybe you think that when you give money to charity, go to church, take some time out to do good things, that these will all count toward "earning" your way to heaven...: Or i'll keep all my money and enjoy my own time at home.
      But what if your soul DOES live on forever after your death – either in heaven or hell? If it does, I'll deal with it in afterlife ways. I don't live by 'what if's'
      What is YOUR SOUL worth to you?: My soul? Where is that located?
      Did you know that when you spend your life focused on ANYTHING more than God, you are breaking the 1st and 2nd Commandments?? : Since I don't believe them, it doesn't matter.
      You are in fact putting another "god" before the Lord God and "worshipping an idol". An idol is not just a statue that you might bow down before, it is ANYTHING that takes your time, energy, attention and commitment AWAY from God! : Even from Christian point of view, that's silly. Too bad commandments are from a story.
      The Bible clearly states that if you have broken just ONE commandment, you have in effect broken them all and you are guilty of the punishment of death and an eternity in hell.: I ... don't think that's how commandments work but ok.

      verses..

      verses..

      words..

      Does this sound like a JUDGMENTAL and UNLOVING God? Actually, yes.
      What would you think of a human judge, who was passing a judgment on a mass murderer? Would you think that judge was judgmental and unloving to send that murderer to prison for the rest of his life? Would you think the judge was loving if he set the murderer free to kill other people? What if the murderer offered the judge a million dollars? Would that be good enough to purchase his freedom? What if the murderer vowed he would never kill again? Would that be good enough to let him go free?
      God is above all, HOLY and RIGHTEOUS – He will NEVER do anything WRONG. When we compare ourselves to His Perfection, we can easily see how short we measure up to being even "good". : Because he's not real goofy.
      If you value your soul, you want to go to heaven when you die, right? : If heaven was real, sure thing.
      So how do you do that? : You don't because it's not real
      What if I told you there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO! : Then I'd wonder what the point of that huge reply was
      There is SOMEONE who paid the price for your death sentence already.: Did you compare me to a mass murderer earlier with the judge speech? I never asked someone to die for me. I'm not going to be in debt for something I didn't ask for.
      Would you follow someone who was a great teacher? : I didn't follow my teachers from school.
      Would you follow someone who promised he could teach you amazing secrets? No because he sounds like a loony.
      Would you follow someone who promised you great wealth and happiness? Sounds risky, no sale.
      Would you follow someone who offered you the secret to eternal life? Nope, because thats not real.
      Maybe you would, but what if that person died, or betrayed you, or proved himself to be a liar? Sounds like god 🙂
      Your faith in him would fail. : Yup!
      But what if you met someone who told you that He loved you so much, that He would die for you: My bf did that
      so that you wouldn't have to pay the price for anything bad that you have done: I'm not in any debt, bro
      you could still receive a great reward, an eternal life in heaven. : doesn't sound so great.
      What if He explained that this gift was paid for by His own body and blood, at great cost to Himself, but freely offered out of love for you. : Then i'd say he's a fruitloop thinking that is how you repay things that nobody ever asked for. I don't slit my wrists when I owe a bank payment, and I'm not going to guilt them for not accepting it either.
      And that He rose from the dead : a zombie. great.
      Would you follow Him? :Nope
      Would you leave behind everything else you thought was important, and seek after this Person? NO WAY
      Would you love and serve Him in return for His great gift? No, I never asked for it, nor do I want it. Can I return it for credit?
      Would you love Someone Who loved you that much? Killing yourself isn't love.
      Will YOU love Jesus that much? Nope, also he's dead.
      So how do you receive this incredible gift?? I won't because I don't want it.
      Won't you call upon Jesus right now, and tell Him how much you love Him? I don't love people who kill themselves.

      versus

      versus..

      words..

      ok the end. great. Anything I'm missing other than a suicidal jew who wants payback for things I never asked for?

      May 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • Moooohammud Cow

      tl;dr From what I understand, the only thing you're telling me i'm 'missing out on in my life' is my 'afterlife'. I understand how you could be tricked by that buuuuut unfortunatly that's now how I work. My life is not missing an 'afterlife'. After life comes. After. life. I'm not preparing for the great beyond, I'm preparing for the rest of today. Just like I have, every day.

      May 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
    • Kelsey Graham

      "God's great country? Guess I am confused I thought this was God's great planet........

      May 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • alam0

      It's a shame that there are people who only criticize instead of stepping up to helping the homeless.

      May 23, 2010 at 1:05 am |
    • Michael Wong

      righteous-in-Christ wrote: "What do you want most in life? A great marriage? A successful career? Wealth and security? A name for yourself? Health and prosperity?"
      _______________________

      I want people like you to learn the value of brevity.

      May 23, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.