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Why Are These People Helping At Your Home?

The following blog is a short excerpt from an evangelism booklet that we created with the same name. The booklet explains the gospel in simple terms, both as God's mechanism of salvation and the motive for our volunteers to serve others in need. If you want to know more about God's plan of salvation and would like a copy of the booklet, please email us.



Do you wonder why these volunteers are working at your home today? Is it to feel good? To do a good deed and make the world a better place? To earn favor with God? The answer may not be what you think!

For most of your volunteers, the answer to the question is not to feel good or do a good deed. While that is part of the reason, it’s only a small part! What about earning favor with God? Believe it or not, that’s definitely NOT the reason! Why? Because the Bible teaches that people cannot earn God’s favor. It’s impossible for us to do that!

Why Are These People Helping at Your Home - Evangelism BookletThe real reason we are here is - God has already done everything needed for us to have a right relationship with Him! He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for the wrongs we have done (sin) and offer us a wonderful life with Him that begins the second we accept His gift! Romans 5:8 says - ”But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Because of that great news, we are serving you to say, “Thank you!” to Him and to show you His love in a real, practical way.



A special "thank you" to volunteer Bill K. for his help with putting this together.


Categories: Evangelism, The Gospel Tags:

Mercy Ministry - Embrace the Mess!

Mercy ministry involves getting involved in people's lives, often in very messy situations. It can be exasperating and difficult... And it could be considered one of the purest representations of the gospel there is.

Someone comes alongside a person in need, oftentimes in a terrible state, offers help or resources that they do not have access to (or technically deserve) to help them with their current dilemma and loves on them beyond anything that they deserve. Sometimes the person helping can even offer training or skills to help that person get out of their mess.

Does that sound familiar at all? What a great picture of the gospel! God finds us in a self-inflicted mess caused by our sin, out of love offers us hope and a real solution through Jesus Christ, and gives us the resources through the Holy Spirit to change.

As Ephesians 2:4 so well puts it, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” (NKJV)

Mercy Ministry - Embrace the MessPerhaps it’s another aspect of God’s mercy that He, who found sinners like us, in much the same state, uses us as instruments of His grace to others in need? How cool is that?

So, if you’re handy (even if it’s just cleaning an elderly person’s or single mother’s yard), a home repair ministry is a great way to exhibit and share God’s mercy. A nice side benefit of a home repair ministry is that it’s not terribly likely to cause someone to become dependent and create another “messy cycle” (for reasons mentioned in our blog, Avoiding the Dependency Trap). If you have some handyman skills but are not sure where or how to start your own ministry, please sign up for our resource library. We can help you.


Handy Man and Woman, God Wants to Use You!

Romans 12:6-8 tells us that, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Theologian John Wesley had a quote with a similar message, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Both Paul and John Wesley are encouraging the same thing – for every follower of Christ to serve and to use the gifts and abilities the Lord has bestowed on them. What an encouragement to those of us without the “sexy” spiritual gifts. I think that some people get discouraged because they don’t teach, can’t sing and aren’t good with kids.

Working on a ProjectWell, if you are a handyman (or woman), God has some great news for you! You have gifts to use in service of the Kingdom and low-income and struggling homeowners. What a difference you can make for single mothers, widows, the elderly and disabled without the means or abilities to make needed repairs or accessibility upgrades! Your ability to build and repair things can be a way for you to show Christ’s love to a member of the Body of Christ, and also to members of the community (along with the chance to show and share the gospel). Our ministry, home repair, in particular, provides a unique opportunity – the chance to engage with the homeowner at their invitation on their own turf.

Not sure how to get started or how to look for projects? Well, if you live in Atlanta, you can join us on a project! Even if you consider yourself unskilled, we can use you. Also, our ministry, Home Repairs Ministries, exists, among other reasons, to help churches start home repair teams so that they can get more projects and serve more people. Check out the ministry resource library, and let’s use the gifts God has given us, together, in service of Jesus the Savior!


Categories: Service, Volunteers Tags:

Avoiding the Dependency Trap

I’ve been involved in mercy ministry for many years and feel that a home repair ministry is one of the most helpful ministries out there. Following is a bit of my heart about that. Hopefully, you’ll be encouraged, as I am, in your support of the ministry.

I remember serving in a soup kitchen and feeling as though I wasn’t helping much. The Lord put a high value on feeding the hungry (Matt 25: 31-46), so a soup kitchen is necessary, but addressing the immediate need isn’t always enough. My sense of falling short came because feeding/clothing, etc. often doesn’t move a person beyond needing someone to provide tomorrow’s soup.

TrainingMinistries that teach people skills to improve their current situation, such as job training, are classified as a developmental. But even that has sometimes left me feeling unsatisfied. My training is that I should aspire to become an advocate for “the poor,” working to change laws that hold people in the chains of oppression. So I can always find things to make me feel guilty about ministry, whether from biblical teaching or just my personality problems (of which there are many!). Ministries of mercy can be very complicated, even downright messy.

The good news (not specifically the Gospel, this time) is that a home repair ministry is in a unique spot. First, many of the people we serve are in situations where a repair is not likely to create a recurring dependency - an immediate need gets addressed and is unlikely to happen again soon after. On top of that, the situations we encounter seldom are due to a homeowner’s vice (unless neglect due to a lack of income is a vice) but all things are in decay. We help address the problem or needed change and the person gets on with her life. For example, a team builds a handicap ramp and the homeowner can now get in and out of the house. Good to go. Or an old roof is replaced with one that will outlive the owner and the structure of the house is protected.

Building a rampDevelopmental training of home owners to do home repairs isn’t often helpful, though tips on maintenance can be. Training an elderly diabetic amputee about wheelchair ramp construction isn’t likely to be useful to him. As for political advocacy, apart from legislation against people aging and homes decaying, there’s not much to do apart from more government funding of unlimited needs from limited resources.

In the last couple few years, several books have been written by people who have extensive experience working with “the poor”. Just hearing the titles of the books makes me stop and think: When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, and Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton. To a simple person like me who likes to address problems wearing a tool belt, while helping others to do the same, all of that knowledge tends to be “bad news” – making efforts to help people even more complicated and messy.

But now, let me take you back to the “good news”: The issues raised in these books generally don’t apply to our ministry. The people we serve face some very difficult situations, but their problems are not usually brought on by laziness or chronic dependency. While we can’t fix all of their difficulties, we can keep homes from becoming a toxic problem that hurts!

Oh, and wouldn’t it be great if a project were followed up by relational people who visit the homeowner (who didn’t learn to fix the roof) and bring some of our monthly mailing envelopes to stuff, together, while talking about the love of God demonstrated in the sacrifice of Jesus (the BEST NEWS of all). Dependency on the Savior is exactly where He wants us! I Peter 5:7 — "...casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you." If you have good relational, evangelistic skills, and live in the Atlanta area (even if you don’t have tool skills), we can use you. Please contact me and we’ll plug you in.


Advocacy – the Power of Community Connections

In a service ministry, it really is all about relationships. Human connections help us find homeowners in need, present partnership opportunities at other non-profits and build partnership opportunities with companies looking to make an impact in the neighborhood. In essence, they help us build service value networks.

Building these networks presents opportunities to meet needs, and that is perhaps best illustrated when we are able to advocate on behalf of a homeowner. In our ministry context of home repair, advocacy typically refers to helping someone who has an urgent need connect with a vital community resource, resulting in the homeowner’s crisis being resolved, possibly at low or no cost.

Here are a couple recent real-life example to show you how this all works.

We have relationships with many local non-profit organizations. When we run across a client who has a need we can’t meet, we can pass them along to another non-profit that can help meet their need. That also happens in reverse.

A couple days ago, we got a call from an elderly lady whose air conditioner conked out. She was referred to us by another agency. After speaking with her further and understanding her need, we were able to connect a local heating and air company that has a huge heart and has worked with us in the past.

They were able to go out, look at her air conditioner, and fix it for her. They donated the repairs to her. Without these community connections, we would not have been able to help her and meet her need.

We encountered a similar need in December of 2011 when we got a call from a widow whose heater stopped working. She called us to ask what to do. She had called an HVAC company, and after we talked with them, they graciously marked her bill down to cost. We called another non-profit connection that was able to pay the remainder.


Categories: Community Partnerships Tags:

Delivering the Gift

Delivering the Gift.

freeimages.com/Charles Thompson

Have you ever given a special gift to someone, perhaps your child, and been so excited, it was all you could do not to give it away beforehand? I think that God finds great delight in providing the many blessings (His gifts to us - often spiritual) that He lavishes on His children (Matthew 7:11). Did you ever stop and think that there’s a sense in which God allows those of us involved in mercy ministry to be gift-bringers on His behalf?

For His children, God makes many promises in the Bible. Some of them, relating to God’s mercy and love are:

• To be their Provider (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:31-33)
• To bless them and watch over them (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Romans 8:28-29)
• To be a shelter in the storms believers face (Psalm 18:30, Isaiah 41:10)

Through common grace (God blessings to all mankind, such as restraint of evil, the basic requirements for life like air, water and food, other people, skills to do jobs, shelter etc.), God even gives tremendous gifts to those who have not given their lives to Him through Jesus.

How cool is it, then, when God allows us to be the bearer of the awesome gifts that He bestows on people? Maybe we even share with the homeowner God’s ultimate gift - salvation, peace, eternal life and life more abundant here on earth, and a relationship with the God of the universe through Jesus Christ!

Mr. or Ms. Handywoman, when you build a wheelchair ramp, remove rotten siding, replace a leaking roof or even fix a simple toilet flapper, you are personally delivering God’s love gift to that person.

If you’re a handy person, but have not formally gotten involved in ministry, how about using your skills and abilities to love and serve others, and be a “deliveryman” from God with the message, and the proof that, “He loves you!”. If you’re interested, send us a note and let’s talk through it. We'd love to help you get started. If you live in metro-Atlanta, why don't you help deliver the gift with us here on a local project.

Categories: About the Ministry, Devotionals, Service Tags:

Disaster Recovery and Salvation - The Connection

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a disaster simulation where newbies can get a taste and consider getting trained further. We experienced a hurricane in the a.m. and a tornado in the afternoon. What was new for me, having followed up both of those kinds of disasters, was being part of the second wave of responders that does assessments (we usually arrive during the relief phase, addressing what was already assessed) and finding injured actors from the tornado. When we found injured people in the woods, we would report by radio to the Georgia Army National Guard on site. HRM does this because ongoing home repair is complimentary to disaster response. We find that it is easier for churches to respond to a critical need if they have a home repair team organized.

This response has spiritual application because we’re usually helping people that 1) either don’t have insurance, or 2) need to cover up until insurance adjusters arrive. We are often their only option for help. God wants us to approach Him with the same attitude as those picking up from a disaster - broken, helpless and looking for a savior and helper. And God, being rich in love and mercy, responds not because we are entitled or have accomplished something, but always by His mercy and grace. In Him we find salvation and grace to endure the hardships of a fallen world. We pray that people will see God’s grace in our help and embrace eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Since the gospel has freed us and heaven is ahead let’s serve Him with all we’ve got and bring a little taste of heaven to earth!





Categories: Disaster Recovery, Evangelism Tags:

Increasing Ministry Impact by Doing Less (...ourselves)

If you have been following the ministry for a while, you know that our heart is to extend the gospel, our outreach and the ministry as far as we can while uniting the church together in service. Last year’s strategy was built around providing a toolkit and resources for churches to launch their own ministries. This year, we are making an adjustment and adding an element we lacked last year - one that we believe will help more churches start teams and more projects get done.

We have been blessed with some very gifted volunteers but until now, have not organized them to act together. We are convinced that we can use volunteers more effectively for leadership roles on projects and in assisting in all aspects of running the ministry. The last couple months, we have been meeting with some faithful people that have been involved and committed to the vision of HRM and are now stepping up to use their time and expertise in critical focus areas. These areas include project site visits & leadership, networking to professional resources, fundraising, planning, supporting existing church teams, and ministry expansion into other areas of Metro Atlanta. We are currently calling the group The Core Team. It will act both as an advisory board and an implementation team.

If you're in Atlanta and you, or someone you know, have a heart for this kind of thing, please let me know. We think this is an excellent strategy to increase our impact and number of projects in 2013 from around 50 to 75 and the number of churches participating from 15 to 23.


Accessibility – A Growing Ministry Opportunity All Around Us

A family using their wheelchair rampOne of the things we have learned in our years of ministry is that volunteers love to build wheelchair ramps. Why? Because they get to turn a big pile of lumber into a critically needed structure which can change someone's life, in one day.

There is a huge need for accessible housing for people struggling with disabilities or the aging process. Did you know that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau*, almost 19% of the civilian non-institutionalized population had a disability in 2010? About 12.6% had a severe disability. Over twelve million people (over age six) are disabled to the point of needing personal assistance for everyday activities. In aggregate, disabled people are the largest minority group in the country, coming in at around 56.7 million. 38.3 million have a severe disability.

As the population ages, these numbers should increase. That means more homeowners who no longer having full access to their homes. Imagine if, suddenly, you could no longer easily get out of your house or into the bathroom. Or that you couldn’t easily get out of the house to see friends and family or even do the everyday tasks we so readily take for granted. These scenarios will likely become increasingly prevalent.

 Ramp Project with HomeownerThere are probably many ways to serve the disabled, here are two:

1) Start a home repair team in your church. Our website has a library, free of cost, to help you start or grow a home repair team in your church. What a beautiful picture - the (formerly) spiritually disabled, redeemed by Christ, helping show the physically disabled the love and grace of God!

2) Make a financial donation to support HRM's work to serve people in need, including those with disabilities. Ramps in particular can be quite expensive to build, and often our clients cannot afford the materials.

*Statistics sourced from Census Bureau report "Americans with Disabilities: 2010 Household Economic Studies” - http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf


Categories: Accessibility Tags:

Mercy Ministry's Tension - Loving With Discernment Part Two

In Monday's blog post, we shared a bit about how we get project referrals and set guidelines and expectations with homeowners. This is necessary because one of the risks that we face, as mercy ministries, is getting scammed. So how do you put some safeguards in place to minimize this risk and vet the people you serve?

Some ideas that will help, but none are foolproof:

  • Request recommendations from someone that knows them and their situation, e.g. their local church, social worker, hospital staff, senior services agency or even their medical professional.
  • Get their last 3 payroll stubs or Social Security receipts, etc.
  • Make sure they own the house, get copy of utility bills.
  • Take a look at the house, cars, furniture, etc. Do the pieces fit into a familiar pattern of hurt or is something awry?

If you take a volunteer into the wrong house that sends all of the wrong signals, your volunteer may be busy the next time you ask for help.

November 2012 Roof ProjectA word of caution, however. We want to be the hands and feet of Christ in the community. People in some communities have been practicing “survive any way you can” for generations. There are also many who, entirely legitimately, are hurting for reasons beyond their control. We sometimes talk about people hurting for three reasons: their own sin, someone’s sin against them and disasters/situations beyond anyone’s control (See Timothy Keller's excellent Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road for more detail on this). If the latter two cases are the reason, it would be terrible to have God’s resources available but withhold them because you heard about an outright scam by someone else. If my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (real meaning: God owns everything), then I think He’s more concerned about my heart than being absolutely sure about the people that ask us for help. I’d much rather get scammed than not help one who has been sent by the Lord – it really helps to be listening to God’s Spirit to understand what to do.

It reminds me of a couple of passages of scripture: Matthew 10:16 - "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Deuteronomy 15:11 - " . . . I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’" Matthew 5:16 - "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

It isn’t easy, but it is God’s will that we are the conduit of his grace and mercy.