(article by Charreah K. Jackson)
There are many places a woman can meet the man of her dreams. (We’ve shared nine new hotspots in the February issue of ESSENCE.) However, a homeless shelter is the last place any woman would expect to meet her Mr. Right. Entrepreneur Ressurrection Graves found herself living at a shelter after losing her home and business in 2011. It was there that she met Deven, a homeless veteran with a huge heart, and realized God had brought her to her lowest place to share a special gift with her – true love.
Graves had leased a 2,000 ft. building for her massage business, lived in a 3,000 ft. home and was in a bad relationship. In a few months time, she closed the business, lost her home and ended the relationship. She was living in her car when Hurricane Irene and an earthquake hit Washington, D.C. At rock bottom, she whispered a special prayer. “I asked God to make clear what would end this cycle,” Graves shares. “His instructions were clear. He told me to go to a particular homeless shelter in Virginia, and I did.” It was there she felt the stare of a man from across the room. One night she was sitting outside of the shelter on a covered porch watching the rain. Deven came over and introduced himself. She learned he was an Army veteran working to get back on his feet. Their connection was instant, though Graves was hesitant after all she had experienced. Deven was consistent in his care for her, even with limited resources, including walking five miles to Graves’ job at a local grocery store just to bring her lunch, then making the return trek.
However a fairytale ending was hard to imagine as the two both fought to get their lives stable again. “I told myself that I refused to fall completely until I could see that he could overcome homelessness and work a reliable job,” she says. Soon after, a business acquaintance that had no idea that Graves was homeless reached out to her. He shared a business opportunity for veterans in the DC area. “I felt this was the final sign I needed,” she says. “Deven worked full time and it transformed our life. He proved himself to be faithful, diligent and a provider with integrity.” As the couple started to make plans for their future and marriage, Deven received a housing opportunity that could only include Graves and her daughter if they were married. “He told me ‘I don’t want to live without you. I want you with me,’” she recalls. “I was in total shock that ‘The One’ had finally come. And, I felt this overwhelming sense of gratefulness to God.”
Graves attended the original date for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial unveiling on August 28, 2011. Afterwards she returned to the shelter and Deven struck up a conversation with her. “After this conversation on the 28th, we’ve never stopped talking.” Two years later, the couple decided to marry at the Jefferson Memorial on August 28, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “Romans 8:28 is also very fitting to our life, our relationship and what God has done for us,” Graves says.
The couple marched to the monument to pledge their lives together and they were joined by their minister and loved ones. Once again rain fell from the sky. “I’ve always seen rain as a sign of cleansing and harvest,” Graves shares.
While most couples obsess over wedding cakes and deejays, these newlyweds had something else in mind for their reception party. After marrying on the National Mall, they fulfilled another of Dr. King’s messages: feeding the hungry. The duo and their guests visited several parks around D.C and offered food to homeless men and women. The husband and wife team are now the co-founders of Glory Soldiers Global, an organization aimed to help end poverty and homelessness. “After I got into the shelter and met Deven, there were many confirmations that he was indeed the reason that I ended up there,” she says.
To support the work of this couple, visit glorysoldierglobal.org.
See the February issue of ESSENCE for more amazing love stories, on stands now.