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Archive for March, 2014

Passing it On

1969 was a big music year. The Beatles "Yellow Submarine" was released and the Woodstock concert was held on a dairy farm in the Catskills. The same year, a song called “Pass it On” (copyright Bud John Songs, Inc, Words and Music by Kurt Kaiser) entered the church. The song began, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going . . . . that’s how it is with God’s love, you want to pass it on”.

Serving homeownersFor those of us in Christian ministry, the song embodies what we're going for - sharing God's love with others. That love is often expressed in meeting someone's needs. But it can also be expressed in teaching someone a skill so that they can deal with future problems themselves.

A home repair ministry gives us an opportunity to do both. We can often relieve a pressing problem for the homeowner, but having worked in inner-city ministry for many years, my mind immediately focuses on making ministry developmental - giving people skills & knowledge to improve their situation rather than keeping them dependent on us. The last thing we want to do is hurt the people that we’re trying to help. In fact, that’s the central theme of Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett’s book, When Helping Hurts. We actually got to meet and talk with Steve at a church conference we went to in June, 2013. He gave us some great ideas and challenged us to make sure that we don’t ultimately hurt the people we serve.

What about situations where it either isn't practical of possible to pass along a skill, say because of age, safety or complexity? Even in situations like this, we have much more to offer - the Gospel! It came to me freely, by God’s grace, and the expectation is that I won’t keep it to myself, as though it isn’t worth sharing or that I’m hoarding it. 

Passing the Baton

from freeimages.com / Michal Zacharzewski

Perhaps it’s like a relay race, where, unless there is a successful ‘passing’ of the baton by the lead runner, the race is over for a team. Like that runner, my job, as one who has benefitted from the promises of God in Jesus, is to offer the Gospel in an engaging way to someone else (who will then carry it to others). 

On the flip side, if we make appealing attempts at spiritual discussion and the person we are serving doesn’t want to receive “the baton”, we don’t force it on him or her. We can’t make others receive Jesus. At some point, the person we just served may be ready to receive the offer of eternal life in Christ from someone else.

Home Repairs - The Gospel in Word and Deed

People with a high view of scriptural authority tend to be strong in word ministry but "not so strong" in deed ministry. This has often bothered me because our example, Jesus, was mighty in word and deed (Luke 24:19). So, that is why we think a church with the capacity and with interested people should be out there helping hurting people stay in their homes.

Harvey and JohnnyComing from the other direction, just fixing houses isn't enough. If the work does not attempt to address a person's greatest need, redemption from sin, we haven't "loved our neighbor as ourselves". One reason I like home repairs is that people are inviting us into their homes. We're not selling anything, and by the way, "Do you understand why we are helping you? We're telling God, 'Thank you', for redeeming us from sin through Christ, alone".

Isaiah 58 talks about ending religious posturing and getting practical enough to help real people in real need. Verse 10 says" "...if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday." Our world desperately needs such light. Can your church bring some light to a dark world? We have some no-cost resources for churches and organizations to start or grow their own home repair team. We'd love to help you get started. If you have questions related to a home repair ministry, please leave a comment or send us an email and we'll follow up with you.

Confessions of a (Very) Unskilled Laborer

Hi, my name is Jim and I have a confession to make. I am the second employee at Home Repairs Ministries, and I don't have the slightest clue how to fix much of anything. I once told my boss that I would provide the best assistance I could for a project... by not coming. Oh, the irony of my job (I handle operations, communications and fundraising). God indeed does have a sense of humor.

But a funny thing happened last month. My boss had an urgent project that he needed to get done fast. He needed to get a concrete walkway poured and smoothed for a homeowner who's 88-year old father-in-law was coming home after having an aneurism (we shared this full story in our February 2014 eNewsletter). He asked me if I could help. Obviously, he was completely desperate. A trip out of the office sounded nice, so I accepted.

Pouring the walkway 2I joined with three other guys and Harvey, our Executive Director. Harvey had a concrete business back in the day and was in familiar territory. The other four guys (including me) didn't have much of a clue. By the grace of God, the project actually went very well. Having one guy there who knew what he was doing and giving good instructions made all the difference. We set up the forms (wooden posts that hold the concrete while it forms and dries), poured, leveled and smoothed the concrete (a process called screeding) and finished the edge. Voila! God provided the concrete - it was donated by Ernst Concrete (the company the homeowner had worked with for many years).

We also got to share a bit about why we came to help the homeowner - to say "thank you" for salvation through faith in Jesus (the Gospel). Cool!

So, back to the moral of the story and being unskilled. Even if you are not a carpenter or construction guy, you can still help and serve homeowners around their house. If your church has a home repair team, they probably could use someone to run supplies and help keep the site clean. And they may very well have tasks that you don't have to be very experienced to do. As an example, our ministry sometimes does yard work for elderly folks, which doesn't really require a great deal of technical skills. So, if you like to help in a tangible way for folks in need, there are ways you can serve even if you're mostly clueless like me!

Video - Pouring the Concrete Walkway