About Us

Keepin’ It Real Ministries was founded by Pastor Oscar Gadsden. During his testimony at Sunday worship in Finlay Park, he frequently speaks of his past. He will tell you that he had “money, houses, and cars,” but after serving in Desert Storm, PTSD put him on the street in 1993. Bad choices and drugs left him homeless for a number of years. The son of a United Methodist minister, he grew up reading the Bible and knew scripture. He says that when he finally gave his life to Jesus, God turned his life and circumstances around. He and others worked together to serve their fellow homeless. He was ordained, and Keepin’ It Real Ministries was incorporated in 2005. Oscar chose to live on the streets until November of 2010, when he began staying at Real House, Keepin’ It Real’s former men’s transitional home. Friends say that it was not uncommon for him to receive calls requiring action in the middle of the night. He works a few hours per week at an outside job to make ends meet, but God has blessed him with the opportunity to pastor almost full time. The homeless community knows and trusts Oscar. He and his ministry volunteers provide invaluable services to the homeless and save lives by bringing the lost to Jesus.
Pastor Oscar married Diane in 2012. Diane and her sons Brian and Rayshawn are involved in the ministry. Brian serves as assistant pastor and liaison for the ministry. In recent years, the ministry has grown, and has formed a board of directors. The ministry now serves the homeless and less fortunate by providing worship and a meal in Finlay Park, Sunday morning worship at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, a Thursday evening meal, clothing, toiletries, and backpacks, as well as furniture and household goods for those transitioning off of the street. Also provided are counseling and job search assistance, and when funding is available, medical and prescription assistance. Pastor Oscar is a powerful presence and advocate for the homeless.

Our short-term vision is to continue assisting people who are homeless and less fortunate in the greater Columbia (South Carolina) area by (1) sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, (2) meeting the needs of individuals, (3) and leading people who are less fortunate to recovery.

The long-term vision of Keepin’ It Real Ministries is to become a Christ-centered, self-supporting campus with paid staff.  It will offer housing for men, women, and families in crisis, thereby preventing their homelessness. An on-campus school will provide education and training to empower them to hold jobs provided by the ministry or within the community, and/or to start businesses of their own, thus ensuring a more secure future for themselves and their families.
Every Sunday at 3 pm, Keepin’ It Real Ministries invites the community to worship in Finlay Park. Worship includes singing, testimony, and a message. The content of the service is often determined by the worshippers each particular Sunday. Local churches come out to share worship, fellowship, and caring, and after worship, provide a meal. They are a blessing to the homeless, but find themselves equally blessed by the experience - many times over!!
There are usually 80 or so in attendance, plus the members of whichever church is providing the meal. Approximately 150 homeless are served. Oscar says that all are welcome, and he hopes that by association people will eventually open themselves to hear the gospel message. As he puts it, “If they hang around long enough, something is bound to rub off!” 

From Assembly Street, turn east onto Taylor St. (one way, heading toward Huger Street). Pass all post office entrances on right. Follow Taylor street to the end of the park, turn right onto Gadsden St., and turn right into the driveway at the back of the park. There is additional parking available in the large lot diagonally across from the park at Taylor and Gadsden Sts. The Gadsen street end of the park is the location of worship services and other Keepin' It Real events.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries relies on many volunteers. The residents of the men’s and women’s transitional homes are instrumental in assisting Pastor Oscar with the set up for worship, and with the distribution of clothing and necessities in Finlay Park. They also assist with the sorting and organizing of clothing and donations at the U-Haul storage unit.
Volunteers from local churches help provide meals in Finlay Park following worship on Sundays, organize clothing and blanket drives, purchase Christmas gifts for homeless children, provide bottled water for daily summer distribution, and provide food for major events like the Thanksgiving Bash, Christmas Night Meal (at the transit station), and the springtime Anniversary Celebration.
There are many opportunities for individuals, Sunday school classes, Bible Study groups, youth groups, and churches to volunteer time, fellowship, resources, and food. (Please see the Ministry Needs page.) Small efforts by many add up to making a huge difference! If God is leading you to serve or assist, please contact Pastor Gadsden! 

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