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The Power and Hope Behind Service Ministries

The triumph over death and resurrection of Jesus is the good news that drives service ministries like ours, and many of our financial supporters, to love our neighbor in practical ways. He also pushes back the corruption of sin where houses, lives and hopes are in decline, while offering the promise of a permanent new home where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, ESV). This is good news for anyone still alive, as we have the opportunity to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and God. The resurrection does three things that can radically change our lives and perspectives:

1) It fulfills Jesus’ many prophecies regarding Himself: In the words of Matthew, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things . . . and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21, ESV)

2) The power of God over death was demonstrated: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, ESV). Colossians 2:13-15 says it beautifully, "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him (Jesus), having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him." (ESV).

3) We have the awesome promise that we, who believe in and follow Christ, will also be raised: “...For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.“
(1 Corinthians 15:52, ESV)

Categories: Devotionals, Salvation, Service, The Gospel Tags:

Connecting the Two Great Commands

I’ve heard it said that Christianity is simple, but not easy. That’s a very profound truth. You can boil the essence of the Christian life down to two commands:

1) Love God with all you’ve got.

2) Love other people as you love yourself.

Serving an Elderly HomeownerThat’s a paraphrase of an answer Jesus gave to a question posed by religious leaders of His day (Matthew 22:34-40), and there is a lot of important detail which goes behind each of those commands. For now, we'll just look at the "50,000 foot level". Here are two important principles - following the first command is often (but not completely) achieved by living out the second command, and caring for the hurting, marginalized and oppressed is a big part of fulfilling the second command (see Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 for more).

That should be an encouragement to those of you who are involved in service ministry, tying together Word and deed to minister to people who are hurting. That's right in line with the second command. If you're interested in some ideas for how to serve people in your community, please leave a comment below or send us an email. We'd love to connect with you.

If you do already have a service ministry, would you share some of the ways in which you help people in need? Just leave a comment below.

Categories: Devotionals, Mercy, Ministry Impact, Service Tags:

Multiplying Impact By Serving Foster Families

By the grace of God, we're regularly learning new things... Our priority is to be good stewards of the resources God gives us, and the financial investments that our supporters and volunteers have made, so that relief, Christ's love and the gospel is brought to as many hurting people as possible. For years, we've had a clear sense of the best ways we can do that, but last year God reminded us of another way we can advance and grow His Kingdom.

Making modifications to allow for fosteringLast year, three families came to us who were looking to answer God’s call on their lives to adopt or rescue children from the foster care system. To do that, though, they needed some modifications to their homes. That is a little different than how we have typically served in the past.

I greatly admire foster parents. They open up their homes to children from broken homes, often with emotional wounds, to provide them with stability and love. Family dynamics are disrupted. Foster parents have to deal with bureaucracies and be ready to give back the children on short notice. Why do they do it, then? For many, it’s a response to the gospel, as they remember the extraordinary lengths God has gone to, to save them from their sin, and claim them for His very own children. And they may well be remembering that God never gives His foster kids back! His heart for orphans is very clear. James 1:27 reminds us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (NKJV).

HRM saw a chance to multiply ministry by impacting some kids’ lives, and who knows how many others, so we took the requests as “from the LORD”. Their needs were different on the specifics, but they all needed HRM's help to make fostering or adoption possible.

If you have a service ministry or agency, how do you multiply community impact? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Categories: Best Practices, Ministry Impact Tags:

Home Tip - Minimizing the Risk of Wood Rot

Wood rot threat #1Wood rot is one of your home's most deadly foes. Here are two common causes of the scourge, as well as practical ways to limit the threat.

One common cause we encounter is gutters filled with leaves. When they don’t drain correctly, gutters not only keep the facia and soffit wet, but can deposit decaying leaves on wood which can trap moisture, intensifying the problem. We even see the edges of roofs rotted. Put in the money or labor to keep gutters clean before you have a bigger problem on your hands!

Wood Rot Claims Another VictimDid you also know that wood can suck up moisture like a rose in a vase? Any place that you have wood ending at concrete, or another source of moisture (like a metal threshold), it is imperative that it be maintained to avoid rot. I have a door casing that rotted inside of a nice thick paint layer, because we could not get to the lowest point. If you can get to the end, soak it with primer and paint several times. Keep everything well caulked. Repairs can be done by removing the whole piece (difficult when it is the door jamb), cutting out the rotted piece and splicing in a piece to match (preferably with a composite such as PVC), or with Bondo® type products like body putty for cars.

Categories: Home Repairs Advice, How-to Tags:

"The Biggest Blessing I've Ever Received"

We got a reminder recently of what a difference a relatively mundane thing, like putting on a new roof, can make for a hurting person. This should be an encouragement to all followers of Christ. You have practical skills and abilities you can use and give to bless others. What are they? Putting that gift to use for someone in need might just give you an opportunity to share why you're doing it. That's the great thing about a mercy ministry like home repair. What a great way to introduce a hurting person to Christ, or encourage a believer going through a trial!

Ms. Ingram had experienced an incredible series of major difficulties befall her. She shared, "I'm a widow of two years and shortly after my husband’s death I went blind. My roof was leaking and then part of my ceiling fell in." .

The Lord has provided for her in some amazing ways. After four surgeries, her vision was restored. But she still had house problems to deal with – roof leaks and several other necessary repairs. That’s where, through supporters like you, HRM was able to enter the picture.

The eave of Ms. Ingram’s roof was improperly built and had large gaps. We stripped the roof, rebuilt the way the fascia boards were attached (gutters had torn them loose), did a lot of deck repair and reinforcement, and installed long-life shingles. Representatives from five churches participated.

Ms. Ingram

A Recent Widow Received Several Repairs and a New Roof.

The project had an amazing impact on her. Here is how she described it in her own words:

"I'm very grateful to Harvey, Andre, and the volunteers for the very hard work they put into my new roof and all the major repairs needed. I've had my eye surgery and with my restored eyesight and new roof I can work. This is the biggest blessing I’ve ever received in my life and carries heavy on my heart to pass this blessing forward."

So, who are your Ms. Ingram's? How can you be out in the community showing and sharing Jesus' love with people in need? If your church is interested in pursuing home repair as a mercy ministry, we'd love to help you get started. We have no-cost resources designed to help churches start or grow teams. Learn from our mistakes! Church home repair resources

The Mercy Mandate

I love God for His mercy - His undeserved forgiveness of sins and unfathomable offer of a relationship with Him, to those who put their faith and trust in Jesus. God’s mercy is the reason HRM exists. In fact, we are called a mercy ministry, but what is our mercy supposed to look like and what are God’s expectations of us?

There are many passages in the Old Testament that provide guidelines for mercy. Some seem obscure in the digital age. Israel was told to leave “gleanings” (leftovers after crops are harvested or which ripen late) for the poor or alien (a refugee, perhaps?), whom the farmer was to let enter his field. It was an early form of social welfare, and it wasn’t technically a gift to the poor. It was a requirement of God’s Law.

Deuteronomy 15:4 says, “But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess...”. In verse 11, there seems to be a contradiction, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” (ESV) I take these verses to mean, God will provide us the resources, so we should go and find the needy, and help them in a way that improves their prospects for the future. In the New Testament, Jesus equates our walk with Him, in part, to how we treat and serve the poor and marginalized. (Matthew 25:31-40).

Categories: Devotionals, Mercy Tags:

HRM Home Tip - Addressing Issues With Shutoff Valves

Shutoff valveWe often see problems with shutoff valves for sink faucets and toilet supply lines. Since it's such a common occurrence, it might be an issue you face someday, also. Fortunately, there's a fairly easy trick that usually fixes the problem.

A lot of valves, start leaking around the shaft when turned off after a period of non-use. It is hard to see where it’s coming from, but tightening the nut just under the handle often ends the problem. This can be done with a proper size wrench, Crescent wrench, or even pliers. Don’t make it too tight, though, or you won’t be able to turn the valve at all.

Categories: How-to Tags:

Meeting Critical Needs - Stewarding Resources to Help the Most Vulnerable

House needing workWe get many more requests for help than we can possibly meet. They can range from changing out a toilet valve, to painting a room, to replacing an entire roof. To make the biggest Kingdom impact, and to help people in the most desperate situations, HRM’s focus is on meeting the most critical needs, including:

  • Providing or improving access to a home (and the outside world) with ramps and widened doorways to help the disabled live their life more fully.
  • Addressing safety issues by adding grab bars in a bathroom, repairing roof leaks, replacing rotten railings, steps and floors (especially if water is present) and changing out electrical switches or outlets which are inoperable or dangerous.
  • Avoiding fines or possible home condemnations by taking on projects to address violations and citations.
  • Preventing multi-hundred dollar utility bills for people on fixed incomes, or with low income, by providing light plumbing for water leaks .
  • Removing conditions which make a home unlivable, such as animals or pests in the home.
  • Supporting or enabling people involved in the work of the Kingdom, with projects such as renovations or repairs for families involved in adopting or fostering children.

We find that people who call us often remove themselves from consideration once we explain the priority of critical needs.

Would you like to spread love and be a part of helping make homes safer and more accessible for low-income and hurting homeowners?

Help Support the Work of Home Repairs Ministries

Homeowner Spotlight - Rodrick

Rodrick and His RampMeet Rodrick Peterson, or as Andre, our Urban Atlanta Ministry Director calls him, Rod the Determinator (for his resolve). Rod’s strong desire was to be able to get his power wheelchair out of the house and up the street so he could catch the bus (or a ride with a friend), visit his doctor and just live life. He could barely get out of the house and up the street on his crutches, but by the time he got there, he was completely worn out. Andre built him a ramp, which lets him get up the hill with his wheelchair, see his friends and live independently. Rodrick has asked for Andre to disciple him.

Service - A Call to Greatness

Throughout the Bible, God directs His people to service, both to those inside and outside the church. The mandate is clear:

  • 1 Peter 4:10“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…” (ESV)
  • Mark 9:35 - “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (NKJV)
  • Titus 3:14 - "And let people learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive.” (NRSV)
  • 1 Samuel 12:24 - “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” (ESV)

These are just a few of the many passages dealing with service. Volunteerism, clearly, is very important to God. Why? For one thing, loving service to God shows others His love for them, and brings Him glory (Matthew 5:16, John 13:35).

Second, when we serve out of thanksgiving and love for what God has done for us in Christ, we’re actually honoring God’s two greatest commands. “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, NKJV). We mirror the Great Servant, Jesus, in a small way, when we serve others (Philippians 2:6-7), and service to the poor, the forgotten, the vulnerable and members of the church, is an evidence of saving faith (Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:14-26). To top it off, Jesus said we will be richly blessed when we serve and give (Acts 20:25).

If you live in metro-Atlanta and would like to join us in serving low-income widows, single mothers, seniors and people with disabilities, we need both skilled and unskilled volunteers. Sign Up To Serve Here

Categories: Devotionals, Service Tags: