A Woman with Gifted Hands
By Shirley Brosius
With Gifted Hands, Dustee Hullinger
reaches out to people traumatized by
life's experiences. The art and
evangelistic program serves about 200
people each week at shelters, HIV/AIDS
residences, community centers and
churches in New York City. Volunteer
artists offer workshops such as jewelry
making, painting, cooking, drawing and
"I have the God-given ability to work
with people who have 99 percent going
against them, find the one percent they
have going for them and begin to work
forward from that point," Dustee says.
"I do not give up easily, and I see the
best in everyone."
During the last eleven years, Dustee has
produced 33 programs, including courses
on character and life skills
development, which are offered at 17
locations. Married and the mother of
two, Dustee serves on the compassionate
ministry staff of The Lamb's Church of
the Nazarene in Times Square.
Born in North Dakota, Dustee grew up in
Michigan. At age 13, she dedicated her
life to God at a youth camp service, and
mission trips challenged her. She
dreamed of becoming a missionary or an
archeologist—any profession that would
facilitate traveling. God opened the
door for her to become a flight
Then in 1993 doctors recommended Dustee
give up her work due to injuries that
caused back pain. A Make a Difference in
Your World conference motivated her to
work with the homeless, even though at
that time she wondered what she could
possibly have in common with them.
A cross-country move to New York City
led Dustee to The Lamb's Church, where
she told homeless men of God's love as
she soaked their feet. Her desire to be
the hands and feet of Jesus grew, and
she developed an art and design class
for young mothers at a homeless shelter.
As she taught in the inner city, Dustee
noticed results. Wounded people
developed self esteem. Battered women
found community. And leaders emerged
from those who had felt disempowered.
Dustee solicited funding to offer art
programs in the shelter system.
Dustee eventually joined the church's
staff. Through the compassionate
ministry, she has offered art and
socio-drama workshops and invited the
homeless and needy to join singing
groups. She married Jim Hullinger,
financial administrator of the church,
and together they developed Pathway to
Wholeness, a discipleship program for
Although at times Dustee felt as though
she walked into a field of landmines as
she worked with dysfunctional people,
she persevered and became a woman with a
mission—to help those who could not help
themselves. Rather than becoming a
missionary to Africa, as she had once
dreamed, Dustee found her mission field
in the concrete jungle of New York City.
According to Dustee, worship services
and art programs held at shelters
develop relationships, plant seeds and
create a bridge to connect people to
"If we don't step out and start these
type of outreaches, people in these
situations will never find the Lord,"
she says. "They are so fractured by life
complexities. They are guilt ridden and
feel unworthy to step into a church.
They live in a survival mode."
God continues to give Dustee many
opportunities to share about her work,
and her ministry has invested seed money
to start 13 programs in Africa.
With a patience level far above the
norm, Dustee continues to fulfill Jesus'
directive in Matthew 10:42: If anyone
gives even a cup of cold water to one of
these little ones because he is my
disciple, I tell you the truth, he will
certainly not lose his reward. And she
motivates others to start similar
programs. You can visit her web site at
Shirley Brosius Sisterhood of Faith:
365 Life-Changing Stories about Women
Who Made a Difference Released by
Howard Books, a division of Simon &
Schuster, October 2006. She is
also a member of Friends of the Heart,
three women who share God's love through
personal testimony, drama and song.