October 4, 2021 -


A Calling to Love and Advocate for Lower Income Communities with Amanda Best

Amanda Best

Amanda Best_1@4x
In this next episode in our series of talking to everyday people about their calling and design, we interview Amanda Best. Her passion is loving and advocating for lower income communities. Amanda shares about her journey and lessons she learned along the way about God’s grace and people.

Episode Reflection

Invitation to Explore

Amanda Best discovered a passion for loving and advocating for lower-income communities through a series of events that led her to take a job as a case manager. There she helps people qualify for housing assistance. Now she can’t imagine working in any other field. When you reflect upon your life, what passions has God given you that you have discovered along the way?

Scripture to Study

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, 
    because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1–3)

A Prayer to Lead You

Father, You know that at times we can feel isolated and alone. Help us to discover a sense of belonging in the world as we move toward others who are also isolated and lonely. Give us a passion for the well-being of others. Open our hearts to the people you have placed before us. In Christ’s name, Amen.

A Practice to Begin

When discussing the struggles of homelessness in our society, Amanda explains that she became an advocate after learning about the people who experience homelessness. Homeless people are often treated as invisible in our society, the tendency is to look away. What might it mean for you to begin to see homeless people and learn about the challenges and struggles that community experiences? How might you begin to pray differently? How might you begin to serve that community?

Questions to Answer

Amanda discusses how she is still becoming, as she recognizes her own brokenness, and the value of finding a sense of belonging. As you reflect upon what God is doing in your life, where do you see yourself becoming more of who God wants you to be? What is God doing in your life that surprises you, inspires you, and gives you hope that you are becoming the person He wants you to be?

Resources to Help
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond


Julie Chang  00:04

You’re listening to the Creative For podcast. We believe that everyone is created to make a unique impact in the world. Join us as we explore everyday lives and how they find their place in God’s story through calling and design. I’m your host, Julie Chang. Amanda Best grew up in the state of Utah, where she developed a passion: loving and assisting lower income communities. In this episode, Amanda shares about her journey and lessons that she learned along the way about God’s grace, and people.

Julie Chang  00:43

And welcome back to the Created For podcast. Today on this episode, I have Amanda Best. Amanda, welcome to the podcast.

Amanda Best  00:52

Hi, Julie.

Julie Chang  00:53

Hi, hey, Amanda, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, introduce yourself to us.

Amanda Best  01:00

Okay, I am Amanda Best. And I’m, uh, I live in Salt Lake City. And I grew up in St. George, Utah. So I’ve been living in Utah most of my life. I went to the University of Utah for college, and I got a bachelor’s degree in sociology. I was also very involved in Cru, which is where I met you, Julie. And, and then after college, I worked at a food pantry in Park City. And then after that, I worked at a community organization that worked with rental assistance for people that are low income and homeless. And now I work as a federal grant administrator at the at the city level. So I understand I help understand the federal grants and how community organizations can utilize them in the community to help those that are low income or homeless or could be homeless at any moment.

Julie Chang  02:15

Wow, that that is so great, Amanda. So tell me, how in the world did you end up starting with sociology, and deciding to make that your major, to where you are today.

Amanda Best  02:28

So when I was in college, that was really the first time that I had experienced a lot of a lot of diversity, to use that buzzword. But also, the first time I really understood what was going on around me and in the world. It was outside of like this middle class, upper class community that I grew up in. And so it was really interesting to me when I took my sociology classes to, to see these other issues that are going on in the world that I honestly never even realized were an issue. I, my family did struggle financially growing up. But, it was never to the level that we didn’t have support from other family members, to help us out and make sure we didn’t go through any major struggles. But I also think that just learning about sociology, learning about the world was very interesting, because it was something that I felt was almost hidden from me. And this was like a sheet was being pulled back to show me all of these different issues that are going on in the world. And I think like right now, everyone can kind of see the issues that are going on in the world a little bit easier than than I did growing up in the 90s and early 2000s. And then I just kind of fell into housing. When I got my first job as a case manager, I honestly just applied for a case manager position at a nonprofit. And then they offered me the job. I had no idea what the job really was. And then I came in for orientation, and I was like, “So, what exactly am I managing people for? Like, what is this job?” And it was for housing assistance, getting people qualified for housing assistance. And once I got into that realm of things, I could just never come out, like I can never see myself not working in housing in some capacity. Just because it’s so vital. And it’s something that so many people don’t have, but that so many people need to have.

Julie Chang  04:47

Yeah, I’d say that housing and safety are basic needs in life.

Amanda Best  04:50

Yeah. So I think like growing up, I was kind of in this bubble of, there weren’t a lot of homeless people and I had this perception that if you were homeless, you probably made that happen. And so going to college, being a case manager, like seeing the real reality of people who are homeless, it was really eye opening. And I think that it is something that is more systematic and also something that is very rarely that person’s fault. And I, like I said, like our family, my family struggled growing up, financially.  I was raised by a single mom, and she couldn’t always afford her house payment. But I remember my grandparents would always help. And I think because I was a part of her life, that was definitely part of it. But if there was any issue, we had the support. And I think a huge part of that is, or a huge part of people experiencing homelessness involves that lack of support, and also just a lack of understanding. They’ve def., like people definitely burned, a lot of bridges and boundaries have been put in place, for healthy reasons. It just leads to a lot of, a lot of bigger concerns and issues. And now we see homelessness is this big, systemic systematic problem, which it is. And it has become this big issue that’s really complicated to fix. But at the same time, it seems simple to fix when your people like me, and I think I know all the right answers. So….

Julie Chang  06:43

People like you, meaning that’s a part of your job and training. Tell me, how have you been working with people?

Amanda Best  06:49

Yeah, so I mean, I started doing housing case management, around 2014, and I’ve been involved in housing in some capacity since then. So it’s definitely something that I’ve learned a lot about and have a lot of experience around. I also have worked in the homeless shelters doing diversion, which is assisting people who are coming into the shelter to essentially see if they have somewhere else to go. And kind of what I was saying, like seeing who’s left out there to support those people to just stay in their housing, or stay in someone else’s house for a little bit. Because just going into shelter, even for one night is traumatic for anyone, and so the point of diversion is to kind of remove that trauma if it can be removed. And so, yeah, hearing people’s stories is really eye opening.

Julie Chang  08:00

Yeah. Tell me a story. Amanda, what is an example of someone who you had a chance to work with, and it shaped your point of view?

Amanda Best  08:08

Something about me is I am a fixer, like, I just like to hear the problems, and I’ll be like, “Here are all the things that you can do to fix that.” And then I think I can be pretty overwhelming because I can be like, “Did you do those things yet? Well, that’s probably why you’re not X,Y, and Z, you didn’t do the things I told you to do.” So I also learned a lot about being patient with people and allowing people to have their own process. So one of my first clients, he came to me and he had housing, he was like, “I have a place that I’m gonna move into, I was able to find a landlord.” But it was literally the only place that would rent to him because he had just come out of prison. So he was a felon. And I don’t know what he did, like, I didn’t ask him that, because I don’t think that’s necessarily important. But what I do know is when you have the label of a felon on you, it’s really hard to find housing. And there are even certain laws that can prevent you from finding housing, which then put you out of compliance with your probation. So there’s a lot of things in our system that really don’t make sense that a lot of people are trying to fix and it’s really hard to fix, because it seems counterintuitive. Like, if you were just moving into an apartment complex and you thought, “Oh, there are 20 felons [who] live in this apartment complex.” Yeah, you might seem scared, might be scary. But at the same time, where else are those people going to live? But, so he was able to find someone to rent to him and he was like, “I just need to move in because if I don’t, then I will be out of compliance with my probation.” The hard part is like this landlord does rent to felons, so that means his neighbor is a felon, which means he can’t talk to any of his neighbors, because then he’s also out of compliance with probation because you can’t be in contact with anyone who has a criminal history. So there were a lot.

Julie Chang  10:17


Amanda Best  10:17

Yeah, so it’s pretty isolating for him. And he was like, so nice to me, like really understanding of a lot of things that I was like,” I’m still figuring out paperwork, I’m still figuring this out.” And he was like, “Okay.” Um, he was in prison, I think at that point, like, over 30 years, he was in prison. So not only that, coming out of prison being being labeled a felon at that point, but he also literally had no idea how to use technology. Because 30 years was that span, when like, the internet was created. So many things, like they have access. Yeah, they have access to certain like the computer lab and stuff, but I’m sure it’s not the most up-to-date things that they have access to when you’re in prison.

Julie Chang  11:12

They don’t have Adobe Suite in prison.

Amanda Best  11:15

Yeah, I don’t think they can electronically sign things. I don’t think that’s the thing they can do. And while he was in prison, like I, like there’s a lot of people that go to prisons and kind of evangelize. And so he was, he was like, a part of like, a church that was at that prison, like, he kind of was like, turned his life around. Not only that, but he had so much time, he got like three college degrees.

Julie Chang  11:48


Amanda Best  11:50

And so he came out like, like a totally different person, he, you know, served his time, he had three college degrees, he kind of knew how to use technology, but also didn’t know how to use technology. And he came out with all of these seemingly resources that he acquired in prison, but can’t utilize them anywhere in the real world, because he’s automatically cancelled, because he’s a felon. And so that was one of the clients that really impacted me because I was also like, “Do I need to do something different and like, fix a different issue because this issue impacts this issue, and which impacts this issue.” And there were so many different aspects of people’s lives that were pulling them out of housing, that, for me, it really was like central to so many people’s lives was that aspect of housing. Like, why can’t a felon have housing? Why can’t someone who is an alcoholic or some sort of addict be in housing? Like that, that doesn’t make sense, just because you have this aspect to your life doesn’t mean you’re not able to have housing. Yeah, so that’s something that I kind of thought about at the early stages was like, “Yeah, housing really does impact people, and how people view you.” Because like, I’ve, everyone knows an addict in their life.

Julie Chang  13:31

Everyone is an addict. Period.

Amanda Best  13:34

Yes, yeah.

Julie Chang  13:35


Amanda Best  13:37

And the difference between seeming like you are safe, and seeming like you are unsafe is, do you have a house to go home to? And that is an interesting point of life that we put so much value in. And yet, we don’t expect that as a right, for someone to have a house.

Julie Chang  14:03

The four walls around, the construct of four walls and a roof around somebody actually makes a huge difference, is what you’re saying.

Amanda Best  14:12


Julie Chang  14:12

That’s great, Amanda. Well, I mean, tell me more about how you knew that something like this was your calling. Like, how did you know that you were like this, finding housing or being a part of housing was something that you were being called into, or? Yeah, finding your place in God’s story in that?

Amanda Best  14:33

Yeah, I think. . . .

Julie Chang  14:35

How did you know?

Amanda Best  14:38

I mean, honestly, like I kind of feel weird about saying that it’s my calling. I don’t know if it there’s just a lot of like, weird stigma around that word. But I do think that learning about people who are experiencing homelessness, people who are experiencing just different struggles, really impacted me to advocate for them. And to understand more about that. And I think that that is something that Jesus did all the time. And I think that that was something that is really, that really like increased my passion for it was just knowing that, as I’m advocating for these people who may not have the voice, or honestly the time to advocate for themselves, I do have that voice and that time and to be able to say that that is my job is also really it’s really cool. I mean, I think like in the Bible and with who Jesus was, like, he was always out there talking to people who other people were like, “What, why are you talking to this person and advocating for people who people kind of cast to the side?’ And so I think that that is kind of where I found myself in, in this job and in what I want to do.

Julie Chang  16:19

That’s awesome, Amanda, on how you were able to find your place in God’s story by simply understanding God’s heart for people and having a similar passion, when it comes to loving people, and seeing people as humans, no matter what their, what society says someone’s value is. Someone’s value is to be able to have a safe place to, to, to live, to put their head down at night, to, to be even, that’s part of every human’s value. And it sounds like from what I’m hearing that you’re, you’re able to, like move things from, like a case of a person, like a project, to you’re actually building relationships with a lot of these people and letting them teach you, instead of you being their savior. You’re teaching, you’re letting them teach you and also you’re letting the experience reflect the gospel, in so many ways, with grace and forgiveness.

Amanda Best  17:34

Mm hmm. Like thinking about Jesus. He did, he said a lot of parables. He said a lot of things, but he also like cared for and listen to people, and knew when not to talk, which I think is also a really beautiful thing.

Julie Chang  17:53

Yeah, that’s awesome. Tell me a little bit about, just the concept of, you said, calling has given you a little bit of like, baggage attached to that. Expand on that, just a little?

Amanda Best  18:08

Well, I think calling implies that it’s like the only thing you’re gonna do for the rest of your life. I mean, growing up in youth group with like, the, in the 90s, in the early 2000s, like, there was a lot of like, “Your calling is going to be something that’s uncomfortable. Like your calling is going to be something like going to Africa and being a missionary there.” So I think there’s there’s like that kind of baggage of like, what does this really mean? And then there’s also the baggage of like, if I say this is my calling, do I have to, am I locked in for the rest of my life?

Julie Chang  18:53


Amanda Best  18:54

Um, so I think it is something where it’s like, “Yeah, I feel like this is my passion, and it will always be a part of my life no matter what I do.” But are there days when I just think, “I don’t want to do this anymore. And I’m gonna go be a vet tech for the rest of my life?” Yes, because that seems a little bit easier. I don’t have to deal with people like, there, there are certain things where I think like calling just kind of locks you in. But I think that the the beautiful thing is like there’s movement within a calling, like there’s movement within everyone and what they do in life. And so it doesn’t just doesn’t just mean that it locks you in. Like I feel like it’s more of like a passion. And that that passion communicates how you understand and how you present the gospel. Like there’s, there’s nothing that’s tying you down. Like I think when I think calling I think of something that’s like, in a box. And that seems intimidating to me. And also because I want to know all the rules that are in that box. But in reality, a calling is just like a winding path, that you just kind of walk down and you see where things lead you.

Julie Chang  20:21

It’s great. I love that. So how did that paradigm shift for you with regards to calling?

Amanda Best  20:28

I think the the paradigm shifted when I was able to kind of explore what I was interested in. I think understanding more about how the Holy Spirit works, and understanding more about even I think just understanding more about grace, like, there is room to fail and room to make a mistake. And if you think something is your calling, and then down the road, it’s not. . . . okay. There’s so, so many shifts in life, that it’s hard to think like, think in a box like that. Like after a certain amount of living a certain amount of life. I don’t know how long you have to live. But I think you just kind of realize, like, things don’t go to plan. I think I mean, there’s like that Bible verse that’s like,”Man makes his plan and then God laughs at him.” I don’t know what the last part is, but . . . [giggles] Something like that.

Julie Chang  21:38

Let’s look it up. Oh, you know what? Man plans and God laughs is a Yiddish proverb.

Amanda Best  21:49


Julie Chang  21:51

You didn’t know that you knew Yiddish.

Amanda Best  21:54

Yeah. The proverbs of the Yiddish people.

Julie Chang  21:58

Yeah, Proverbs 19:21. “Many plans are in a man’s mind. But it’s God’s, the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand or be carried out.”  A man’s mind. And then, Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s mind plans his way as he journeys through life, but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them” Wise, all the wisdom in it. So that wasn’t the way that you were thinking and then all of a sudden. . . .

Amanda Best  22:29

Yeah, I think I just realized, like, you know, life doesn’t go to plan. So it doesn’t make sense that your calling is put in this like box and in this plan, and that it can come into a lot of different shapes. I also read like, I read a lot of C. S. Lewis, I remember he wrote something about how like, God is like an author that has a general overarching idea in his head. And then the people are the ones who kind of follow that overarching idea, but make their own story through it. So there’s a lot of decisions that we can make, that will still glorify God. And just because you make a certain decision doesn’t mean that you’re outside of what he wants you to do, or what you’re supposed to be doing. Because I think I did struggle a lot with like, “What am I supposed to be doing? What does life look like? How do I make a single decision ever?” And that kind of opened up a lot with like, there’s freedom to make whatever decision you want to make. And you can then make a completely different decision. So I think that that kind of brought me along that path. And making a lot of mistakes, and probably dumb decisions have also allowed me to be like, “I’m still where I am today, and I’m okay,” so it’s definitely not a concrete box that I have to be put in. So . . . .

Julie Chang  24:14

oI love that how it seems like as you continue to explore more of God, that you started to experience more freedom in your viewpoint of him and your viewpoint of life. I love how it shaped and how it still shapes how you interact with working with people and finding housing with people in the low income community. And, and how that kind of translates on how you view the communities around you and the people that you get to work with as well as even the concept like you said, with grace and giving people a chance because life doesn’t work out the way we always think it’s gonna go or how we hope it will go. I mean, I’m just thinking about how this is totally on a not as important subject as finding homes for people who don’t have homes or anything you just shared. But I just remember in college, like looking at the syllabus going, “I’m gonna totally, this is the, this is the year I’m gonna make straight A’s because this is how I’m going to, I’m going to just do it, you know.” And later I find out, “Nope, C’s, C’s and B’s get degrees, man”. I could not accomplish everything that was on that syllabus, that was just not how I was designed. So, but it’s just kind of how life goes, it does not go the way you think it’s gonna go. And I love that proverb. And just the whole concept of how we plan our ways and how God is actually the one who dictates her steps, and how there’s freedom in that too. Amanda. That’s just such a beautiful way of seeing things and seeing life and seeing God. Thank you so much for giving me your time and for sharing. That was fantastic. I just really appreciate you sharing all the stories and how you’ve even transformed and changed since your time in St. George, growing up, to living on the west side in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s awesome. Thank you, Amanda, I thank, thank you for, for what you do.

Julie Chang  26:28

When you see someone homeless and living on the streets, what types of assumptions might you make about that person and their story? What expectations in your life have not gone according to plan? How might God be revealing his grace in your life and in the lives of people who might be less privileged or different from you? Tune in the next time as Sam and I interview Christian Serge, a fellow podcaster, and a musician, as he shares about empathy and being a lifetime learner.  Created For is hosted and produced by Cru. If you enjoyed this episode, then subscribe, rate, or review us wherever you’re listening. For more resources to explore your calling and find your place in God’s story, check out the show notes on our website at Cru.org/createdfor, and follow us on Instagram at _Createdfor.

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