Welcome to Home Repair Ministries, Inc.

Every One a Story

There can be a dangerous side to goals for a service ministry. It's easy to look at a major milestone that’s been hit, and think something along the lines of, “YES! We completed 10 more projects this year!” Those can be very exciting moments, and represent something really good, but they can also send us down a wrong path.

Why? Not just because of pride, which is always a threat, but because we can tend to look at the numbers and not see the people behind them. Even in ministry this can be a challenge. But the truth of the matter is, it’s loving people that God cares about (and loving Him!), and every person a ministry serves has a story. They’re all unique, and many of them are fascinating. That's certainly true for our ministry!

Meet:

  • A single mother, suddenly raising five kids alone after a divorce, needing a porch screen installed to protect the youngest son, who has Down’s Syndrome
  • The senior couple tied up in court because of housing code violations, desiring help to avoid fines they can't afford
  • The mother of two young children, valiantly supporting her husband with ALS, and trying to find an easier way to get him in and out of the house
  • A faithful single mother of two adopted sisters with cerebral palsy, looking for relief for her back from carrying one of the sisters, who is in a wheelchair, up the stairs into their home
  • The widow with the tender heart, whom we have helped with repairs before, calling to ask for advice to help a man scheduled to get out of prison
  • A Palestinian widow with no insurance and devastated by a tornado which ripped into her house and through two cars, looking for help recovering from the disaster
  • A lonely man, who just lost his wife, in desperate need of help in the yard to tear our a rotten wooden pool deck, along with some other work on his deck


That’s just a few of them. It’s a blessing to be able to serve all the people we do and show them God’s love, and to be able to share why we are serving - because God didn't just look at us as a group of hopeless, sinful rebels, but personally offered up His own Son, Jesus, to every individual who puts their faith and trust in Him.



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



Helping Other Organizations Better Serve the Community

Does your church serve other churches or nonprofits so that all can make a bigger impact on the community? If so, congratulations! “Multiplication” of community impact is part of our heart, too, and our desire is to equip and come alongside others so that they can go and serve their congregations and neighborhoods for the glory of God. Here's a real-life example from a project we recently participated in at a local church.

As an example, we served a church, in Roswell, on a project to help them with their community outreach. They wanted to move an after-school program for at-risk high school students into a new building, but it had a leaky roof. The program is a performance-based mentoring program that empowers the students to become contributing members, in their communities, by focusing on academic support, mentor and peer accountability, and life skills development.

Several churches served together to fix the roof. HRM and the church we were serving together recruited volunteers, and we provided the project leadership. Three other churches also participated. Another loaned us nail guns. One of the volunteers from the church we were serving was a disabled Vietnam veteran. We developed a good relationship with the pastor, and his church expressed an interest in starting their own home repair team.

Maybe soon they will be helping other churches and organizations to reach and serve more, too!

We'd love to hear what you are doing to help others serve more. Please share your stories and experiences by leaving a comment.


3 Ways You Can Have More Impact Without More Budget

Collaborating with other service agencies can help you, as it helps our ministry, work more efficiently and get more done. How?

Building a Ramp1) Getting projects via referral. We get a good percentage of our projects in this manner. Your church or service/outreach ministry might be able to, also! Each community partner you work with has a unique “sweet spot” where they focus.

Here's an example from our world. Often, our community partner's specialty is with survival basics such as food, clothing, rent, utility funds and counseling. But when their low-income, home-owning clients have a repair or accessibility need they can’t meet, they often send them to us. Sometimes, they even send along materials funding! Are there partner organizations in your community who need your services? And, if you turn it around, are there services that your congregants or clients need that a community partner can help with?

Working together like this can make everyone involved more efficient and effective, as well as make things easier for people needing help.

2) You can get more projects done more quickly. Again, using our experience as an example, we save time by getting most of our projects from referrals (from other nonprofits and service agencies) and having many of them come to us pre-qualified. That helps us do more projects in a shorter time period. Rather than chasing down needs and having to qualify them all ourselves, we get to focus on how we might help and “rounding up the troops.”

If you developed tight relationships with some trusted agencies, could you leverage the power of pre-qualification to get more done and have a greater impact?

Handymen Unleashed3) You might have heard us talk about this before, but serving other non-profits and agencies by helping them serve more (in our case, by improving, repairing or maintaining their facilities) is a highly strategic community investment. We don’t just serve an organization, we help impact the thousands of people they are serving, and in some cases, the additional thousands more they can help because of the improvement!

It may look different for your church, ministry or organization, but if you are involved in serving and helping people, can you leverage your unique skills and abilities to help other organizations make a bigger impact for the Kingdom of Christ?

For Christian organizations, it brings to mind what Paul says about the church in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.



God is Not Fair, and Why That Should Make You Very Glad

In the Bible, in several places, it’s mentioned that “…cursed is anyone who is hung on a tree.(Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13). And several evil men received just that punishment:

“And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening. But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.” (Joshua 10:26-27)

“…So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.” (Esther 7:10b). “A decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged.” (Esther 9:14b)



The hanging and cursing of the guilty makes sense to us, even if it might seem a little brutal now. But what about something like that happening to the innocent? That wouldn't seem very fair, would it? That makes the following all the more shocking:

“So he (Pontius Pilate) delivered him (Jesus) over to them to be crucified, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.” (John 19:16-18)

and

“Christ (Jesus) redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree...” (Galatians 3:13).


Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son and the only truly innocent and righteous person who has ever lived, took a shameful, scandalous and gruesome punishment, that every one of us deserves, to save sinful people. Broken, alienated, shameful, rebellious people, like you and me. We're all guilty. In fact, the Bible says that "...all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) and "None is righteous, no, not one..." (Romans 3:10)

What would have been fair is for all of us to receive the punishment Jesus did, and be separated from God forever (Hell), for turning away from the holy, righteous and loving God. But God chose not to be fair, but merciful, giving us a way to have a restored relationship with Him, which promises us an abundant life here on earth (John 10:10) and eternal life in paradise (Heaven) with God when we die (John 3:15). This is the good news (the gospel) of Jesus Christ!

If you would like to be forgiven of all of your sins and know and have a relationship with God, all you have to do is ask Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior. You can pray a simple prayer like,

"God, I know that I am a sinner and fully deserving of your wrath and punishment. I know that nothing I do could ever make me right with you, so I put my full faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His completed payment for all my sins on the cross, and commit to follow You the rest of my life. Thank You for saving me."



If you prayed that prayer sincerely, you are now saved and called one of the "...children of God" (John 1:12). The prayer itself doesn't save you, but it does declare your heart's intent to follow after God under His leadership. So, what do you do now that you are saved? If you are not in a church, or are in a church where the Bible is not taught as the infallible Word of God, it would be very helpful to find a Bible-teaching church. They can help you on your new journey with Jesus. If you are not sure how to find a good church, please contact us through our website. We would be honored to help!

God is not fair, and thank God for that!

*Note: All Bible references above were taken from the ESV translation.


Categories: Devotionals, Salvation, The Gospel Tags:

Home Repairs and Single Mothers - An Outreach Opportunity

In November, we talked a bit about one of the groups which we actively serve with home repairs and accessibility updates – the elderly.

This month, we’ll talk about another group that we regularly serve which often has need of the services that churches and our ministry provide – single mothers. As with the elderly population, the percentage of single mother families is exploding.

Did you know that single parents have more than tripled as a share of American households since 19601? 38.4% of single mother families with children under 18 are below the poverty line (compared with 8.9% of married parent families with children under 18)2. In fact, a report of Colorado mothers, released by the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute (2008), states that more than half of the single-mother households lack the income to meet basic needs of living. These numbers point to a group of people in significant financial distress.

Even for those single mothers not in poverty, the time demands and commitments on a single mother can make it hard to focus on anything other than surviving.

So, how can you and your church serve a burdened, stressed out single mother in need of loving, practical help? We’d like to suggest that a great way to do that is through a home repair ministry.

  • You and your church can be Jesus’ hands and feet by helping with an important need before it becomes a more expensive problem and/or a safety hazard for her and her children.
  • You can show Christ's love to the family be being there and sharing why you're serving them. As you can see in this video testimonial, the supportive presence can be as important as the material need being met.
  • You'll lighten the load of her often difficult financial situation. A church home repair team (or a group of them) can provide free labor and maybe even materials (you may be able to get them donated from a local business, church or non-profit).
  • It's a tremendous outreach opportunity! Did you know that 67% of all single mothers do not actively attend a local church?3

Footnotes:
1 The Mysterious and Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood in America, The Atlantic by Aparna Mathur, Hao Fu, and Peter Hansen Sep 3 2013
Footnotes:
2 U. S. Census Bureau, America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012, Table 5. Family Groups With Children Under 18 by Selected Characteristics: CPS 2012
Footnotes:
3 The Church and the Single Mom, by Jennifer Maggio, posted on Crosswalk.com


Categories: Outreach, Service, Single Mothers Tags:

Here Comes The Boom

If you follow the news, you’re probably aware that the nation is aging… Rapidly. The statistics are out there and they’re startling.

According to the Federal Administration on Aging, in just 30 years the nation’s population of those 65 and older will double. Pair that fact with these statistics and a critical need, and an opportunity, starts to emerge –

  • According to a recent AARP housing survey, “83% of older Americans want to stay in their current homes for the rest of their lives,” but other studies show that most homes are not designed to accommodate the needs of people over age 65.
  • Most older people live in homes that are more than 20 years old.
  • Research by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that home modifications and repairs may prevent 30% to 50% of all home accidents among seniors, including falls that take place in these older homes.

And did you know that over 82.7 percent of Americans 70 – 74 own their homes? In fact, all age groups over 65 have a home ownership percentage over 80%!1

Handicap Ramp PictureSo, what’s it all mean? Well, for one thing, older Americans are going to need help maintaining their houses and making them accessible. Their homes, which tend to be older, are going to need repairs more frequently to keep them safe. And accessibility updates will keep them independent and in their homes longer.

We have an opportunity to love and honor our parents, grandparents, mentors and friends by helping them with their home repairs and accessibility needs. And this community outreach could be coming to you! What an opportunity for your church to show and share the love of Christ to those in need in a very practical way!

Not sure where to start? We have materials to help churches of all sizes and stages get a team started, or to grow their existing ministry. If you have any interest in starting a team, please register today.

See the resources for your church to start a team

Home Modification Questions to Ask for Accessibility (from eldercare.gov)

1 – U. S. Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership (CPS/HVS): 2013. (Table 7. Homeownership Rates by Age of Householder: Third Quarter 2012 and 2013)


Strength in Numbers

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 shows that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (NRSV) We’ve seen that wisdom from God lived out in our ministry.

We were desiring to serve more people and grow the ministry, but increasing the budget wasn't an option. Sound familiar?

We knew that we needed help, so late in 2012, we asked several of our top volunteers to come on as an Advisory team that we now call “The Core Team”. They were originally intended to be a sounding Board and operational assistance for our two staff. They have been more valuable than we could have imagined (in fact, most off them have joined our Board of Directors!).

With their individual skills, strengths and passions, they have helped in a number of areas:

  1. Managing home repair and accessibility projects (allowing the ministry to multiply impact).
  2. Helping us update our overall direction for the ministry and strategic plan. Like Proverbs 11:14 teaches, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (ESV).
  3. Connecting with a foundation, which allowed for a very helpful discussion about how we present what we do and what foundations look for.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, giving us encouragement!

  5. How about you? Are there areas where your ministry wants to improve or expand, but you don’t have enough staff and Board to tackle it all? Have you fully leveraged your ministry’s “super volunteers”?

    2011 photos and videos 3995Did a face or name pop into your mind? If not, can you think of people who work with you regularly, with the heart, commitment, vision and availability to take on more and provide your critical services to the community? It might start simply with some men and women providing some new ideas and insights - plotting out your most critical needs and next steps.

    And looking at it from the other side, are you managing your faithful volunteers well? Are there opportunities that you could be providing for them to grow and feel more valued? By fully leveraging volunteers (while being respectful of schedules!), everyone wins – your organization can provide more services, volunteers are challenged and allowed to grow, and the community gets more needs met!


Categories: Ministry Impact, Volunteers Tags: