New York City entrepreneur Sarah Lee says she has been called a "little crazy" for letting a homeless man stay in her small, one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, but after a series of signs it became apparent to her that it was meant to be.
“There is a Scripture in the Bible that says ‘Perfect love casts out all fear,’ 1 John 4:18, which I believe to be true and choose to live by and I felt like I needed to offer him my place to shower, get cleaned up and stay,” said Lee, 33, the daughter of missionary parents from South Korea who reside in Nairobi, Kenya, where she grew up. Lee started helping homeless people in February, but she told Fox News that Nick Long was "the first person to receive the help and love I poured out."
It all started on August 5, when Lee headed to church, like any other Sunday morning, and met Long, a 29-year-old homeless man, panhandling on the sidewalk.
“I asked him how he was doing, gave him some money, and he began to tell me that his grandfather had just passed away,” Lee explained, “and I felt it in my heart to invite him to church.”
To her surprise, Long accepted the invitation, quickly hopped up and joined Lee and her friend.
“He was so moved at church, we both just cried together," Lee said. "He just felt God’s presence. We both did.”
Afterward, she decided to take him to lunch, and while they were walking they noticed they have matching cross tattoos on their hands.
"We just looked at each other and we knew we were meant to meet that day," she said.
Long and his wife, Alexandra Kourkine, had traveled to New York from West Virginia, fell on hard times and had been homeless since May. Alexandra, who goes by Lexi, was receiving inpatient care when Lee met Long, and the couple's two children were in the custody of ACS because a family member was unable to care for them. The couple were not New York residents long enough to qualify for residence in a family shelter.
Lee was moved by Long's story, and decided to buy him dress shoes from Century 21 so he could attend his grandfather’s wake. Then she reactivated his phone at AT&T and gave him some cash. Lee said she Googled Long and verified enough information about him to trust that he was telling the truth. The two exchanged information.
“After Nick got back from his grandfather’s funeral, I really felt it in my heart to extend longer-term help and let him crash on my couch for however long was needed for him to get back on his feet. And he, of course, accepted my invitation," she said.
Another sign came when Lee’s dog Toto -- a Yorkie named for the Swahili word for "child" -- who normally doesn't like men, was different around Long.
"My dog didn’t bark at all," she said. "That gave me so much peace that this is okay."
A week later Lexi joined them and the couple ended up staying with Lee for about a month. Nick Long described Sarah as an "Asian nun," a label that Sarah laughs about now.
And the next week, Long got baptized and Kourkine accepted Jesus.
“I never really trusted nobody, didn’t really feel like I had love for anybody, and then one day Sarah saw me sitting on the street, and she said, ‘Hey, you wanna go to church?’ and something said, ‘Get your butt up.’” Long said. “It kind of felt like God was hugging me.”
Life Center Church NYC, a ministry of JHOP, adopted Long and Kourkine into their church family and helped the couple with temporary housing.
Now Long and his wife, who have been married since 2013, have been pursuing help each week through the church, as well as professional counseling and social services.
“God’s literally taken all the hurt, pain, suffering,” Long said. “It’s gone.”
Now Long and Kourkine both have jobs as servers in New York City and are trying to raise enough money -- aided by a GoFundMe Lee started -- to get permanent housing for themselves and their two kids, who are currently in foster care.
"Just to see people come around them and show them what family looks like has been awesome to see," Lee said. "Because it really takes a village; because other people had to just come around them, and the GoFundMe is a reflection of that."
Earlier this year, Lee was inspired by a minister who came to her church and shared about how she would always open the door, regardless of who the person was.
"That gave me the courage to open my door for anyone because, like, perfect love really casts out all fear -- which is God," Lee said. "I think that believing that Scripture was how I was able to open my doors to Nick and Lexi."