Pastors Krystal and Ronnie Stewart were working at Refuge Church in New Port Richey, Florida, on November 7, when they noticed a toddler staring in at them through the glass doors. “His younger brother lay strapped in a stroller next to their parents for an estimated 10 hours that day,” Krystal wrote on a GoFundMe page. “It gripped my heart … It was evident at the time that the children were in need, and I knew we were placed in this community to meet needs.”
When nightfall came and storm clouds appeared, Krystal and her husband of 17 years, approached the homeless parents and asked for permission to take the boys home for the night. To Krystal’s surprise, they agreed. “I was so panicked, but excited,” says Krystal. “I didn’t think they’d say ‘yes!'”
According to local news station Bay 9, Ronnie and Krystal tried to find the parents housing as well— but both refused. “Because of their lifestyle of substance abuse and drugs, they wanted to live out with their homeless population," Krystal explained.
Before heading home for the night, the Stewarts stopped at Walmart, where they bought outfits for the 6-month-old and his brother, 18 months (the Stewarts are not disclosing the boys’ names). “They had no clothes,” Krystal tells Us. “Both were wearing very soiled diapers.”
That evening, Ronnie, 37, set up a playpen and a twin mattress on the floor of their bedroom. Freshly bathed and fed, the boys “went right to sleep,” remembers Krystal. “The little toddler slept for, like, 10 hours.” In the morning, the heartbroken Stewarts brought them back to their mom and dad, as promised.
“We gave the parents our phone numbers, and told them, ‘If you ever need us to take the boys, we’re willing to do it,’” says Krystal. The very next day, the Stewarts were approached by the family and their social worker in the church parking lot. “The parents asked if we would temporarily shelter the children to avoid foster care,” Krystal reveals. In March they asked the Stewarts if they would permanently adopt their sons.
Soon, the boys, now 2 years and 11 months, respectively, will have three new siblings: the Stewarts’ Ronnie, 15, Riley, 13, and Selah, 8. Both little boys are still in contact with their biological parents, who continue to live on the street.
Although the boys suffer from asthma and chronic ear infections, “they are both doing great,” gushes Krystal. “They are part of our family.”