Welcome to Home Repair Ministries, Inc.

Confessions of a Former Christian Snob

I grew up with a mindset that our own denomination had abandoned the Word of God and the Christ-centered faith it represented. However, about the time I married my wife, a new group started and we became part of it. Over the years, I was infected with the illness of disdain for other Christians not part of our group. In fact, at one point, one of my Christian objectives was to try to show everyone else the error of their ways.

About fifteen years ago, I realized that when I stood before the throne of mercy, I would need mercy myself because of the misunderstandings I held regarding Kingdom living, loving God and others, Christ's mandate to serve others in need in light of His unspeakable sacrifice for me, etc. So if I need a vast outpouring of grace over those things, how in the world could I look askance at those who trust Christ alone for their salvation and faithfully follow Him, but do it with various approaches different from my own?

That realization came about as I was beginning to make connections to pastors in the inner-city neighborhood where I was ministering. The conviction has only grown stronger since that time and it has been my joy to work with churches Unite!in the Unite! network in Atlanta. These have a commitment to make sure they have a "beyond the walls of the church" focus by forging a partnership of Christ-centered churches serving together. These churches have implemented initiatives that were strengthened as we addressed them side-by-side. The results have been amazing.

The prayerIt’s in this spirit that we started our own outreach ministry - Home Repairs Ministries (HRM). While it’s true that HRM has given me a lot of joy (because I like to work with people with hand and tool skills who want to serve Christ and homeowners in need), I have another motive. I want to see the Body of Christ operating in an Ephesians 4 model of unity. Maybe it would be helpful to go back and read the first part of that chapter to see what I mean. Because of this desire, I get a lot of satisfaction when we put together a group of church teams several times a year when we need a large crowd to do a lot of work in a short time-period.

Churches serving togetherHere's an example - in January, we re-roofed a widow's home in one day, which required many hands doing different tasks at the same time. On the site were six churches - two Baptist, two non-denominational, one Lutheran, and one Presbyterian. It was a mix of languages, races, and certainly theological perspectives. We didn't get hung up on points of disagreement and the elderly woman we served got a big hug from the Body of Jesus. We had a good devotion talking about why we serve and how we were responding to the mercy mandate of the Gospel and then we prayed for the homeowner and her sister (who claims the name of Christ). In projects, it is vital to balance the theological and practical, Word and deed, forbearance and truth in the main/plain things of the faith. But as Paul reminds us, “…the greatest of these is love.”

Harvey

Loving Our Neighbors Better Through Home Repair

Have you ever dissected the conversation between the teacher of the law and Jesus in Luke 10:25-37 (the Good Samaritan passage)? The guy started by asking how to have eternal life. So Jesus asked him what the Law said and he quoted the Scripture about loving God most of all and your neighbor as yourself. Jesus responded, "Do this and you will live." This did not satisfy the man, so he asked a qualifying question: "And who is my neighbor?" It seems pretty clear that the man thought he could justify himself, but just to make sure he understood how far he must go, or to establish the minimum number of people he had to love, he challenged Jesus this way. Have you ever thought like this? I plead guilty and still fight it today.

Jesus then goes into the story of the good Samaritan. I won't get into all of that as you've probably heard plenty of sermons and Sunday school lessons on it and I hope you will read it again, today. The shocking thing was how Jesus turned the tables on the guy. Instead of establishing how to exactly define a neighbor to limit responsibility, Jesus asked, "Which of these three, do you think, proved to be the neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?". To this the man answered, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus closed the exchange by exhorting him, "You go and do likewise." Easy - all the guy had to do was love the people who needed his help, within his capacity to serve.

Helping Hand

from freeimages.com, Michael Illuchine

This exchange screams two things to me. First, I have not loved many who needed me that I could have helped. When I did help, most often, I did not serve them the way I would have served myself. Second, I have not met the requirements of the Law that Jesus laid out. Unless God provides me mercy in the sin department, I will not be with him for eternity. He has provided the only way through the One that could meet the full requirements of the Law, Jesus - Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, Immanuel (God with us). He has purchased my salvation and paid my sin debt in full. I claim the payment by repenting for my lack of love for God and man, trust in His completed work at the cross, and have committed to live under the control of the Holy Spirit so that Christ might be seen in me. I have done it very poorly. He has done His part perfectly and it didn't matter how badly I'd failed before I trusted Him, and when I come up short today, it is just as much covered by Jesus' sacrifice than at first. But there has been a wonderful and terrible change in my heart - I want to live in a way that shouts, "THANK YOU!" to my Savior. He's told us in this passage that loving God (which includes my best but still lousy efforts at obedience) and loving my neighbor as myself, say it appropriately. When all is said and done, the only righteousness I will ever have is Jesus. As Steve Brown says, "Cheer up, you're worse than you think you are." And that's true. But despite all of this He still loves me. Wow!

Providing home repairs is a wonderful outreach ministry opportunity and a way to say, "Thank you" to God. It's also a way to love my neighbor better (even if not yet quite to the level as I love myself). Would you like to join me? Are you wired to start or lead a home repair ministry in your local church? Are you a handy man or woman looking for a way to serve and love God and others? We can help you get started! No-cost church ministry resources

Categories: Devotionals Tags:

Create Your Own Short-Term Mission Trip, Part Two

So how do you start looking for your short-term mission trip opportunity? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Contact your local or county senior services agency volunteers coordinator to see what they know needs volunteers.
  • Contact Dept. of Family and Children’s Services (or whatever it is called near you) to see whether they know of a low-income family fostering children and in need of home repair help. This is especially needed where there are teens being fostered.
  • Contact agencies that help people with disabilities to see if they can direct you to a need.
  • Are there single mothers in your church network (members and their extended families and neighbors) whose homes need attention but cannot pay for maintenance?
  • Has there been a localized disaster, e.g. a flood or tornado that swept through a neighborhood (though it may not officially be a declared emergency, see how those in the path feel about it)? Contact your county or state Emergency Management Agency to see whom to contact about helping.
  • Inner-city/low-income neighborhood church leaders often know of someone in their congregation who needs help. Use the opportunity to serve alongside other Christ-followers.
  • Make sure that you have a waiver to cover accidents and your team. Also, make sure that your team members are insured!

So How Do I Start a Home Repairs Team?

Now that you’ve got a project, how do you start a team and what do you need? We’ve created a website – www.homerepairs.org – where we have collected the resources that can help you start up your own home repairs ministry at your church. You’ll find articles and forms that will take you through all phases of starting and running a ministry, a blog with posts from the front-lines of the ministry, a forum to ask and answer your tough questions (coming soon) and a list of churches by area to help you partner with other like-minded Christians. Sign up today and get your short term mission or youth trip ready for the summer!

Read Part One of Creating Your Own Short-Term Mission Trip

Create Your Own Short-Term Mission Trip, Part One

Are you considering or looking for a short-term mission opportunity for your church or family, but concerned about travel costs and coordination? Well, we’d like to suggest an opportunity that is in your own backyard and that’s cheaper and closer than a short-term mission trip out-of-state. Put together some tool guys (or ladies) with some available time (youth and retired people are ideal) and reach out to a widow, single mother, or an elderly or disabled homeowner in your own community - for Christ!

Bailey Roof Group 1Maybe you feel like you're not ready to start a ministry or even get a group together for a project or two. It may be easier than you think! You and a friend with some tools may be able to help an elderly person with some minor repairs or help a widow straighten her yard. Unlike a "traditional" short-term mission trip, a local project or two doesn't have to take months to plan or cost thousands of dollars. You may even get your church or a couple friends and family to cover your material expenses if the person you are helping can't afford the materials.

You Are Needed

Disaster RecoveryWhy is this a great mission opportunity? For one, the needs are all around you. There are a growing number of low-income homeowners: widows, single mothers, the elderly and disabled, who have homes, but not the means to provide for basic or emergency repairs. This can put them at risk of injury, can make them shut-ins (because they cannot get around or out of their home, due to a disease or disability) and even, in extreme cases, lead to liens, foreclosure or condemnation of the home. The people you serve might end up being in your community (which provides an excellent opportunity to present the gospel to them in deed and Word) or even in your own church. You might also consider serving a community nonprofit or service agency (some of these can serve hundreds of families a month), as they provide critical services to these same people groups, and can have repair needs with their facilities. If you have a skilled group, you might even be able to help them with a modification to their building, which can help them reach hundreds more people in need.

Do you know how much people with tools and a heart for serving Christ are needed? According to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 64% of Americans don't have enough cash on hand to handle a $1,000 emergency expense*. As a matter of fact, a recent HomeServe survey shows that one in five surveyed homeowners faced a repair they could not afford.* And for vulnerable people groups, doing the repairs themselves is just not an option.

Friday we will post Part Two, which will show you some ideas on how to find a short-term home repairs mission opportunity and how you can start your own team.

Read Part 2

* - Source - October 3 Fox Business News article


I Have Two Coats, My Neighbor Has None… Now What? Part Two

In the first blog in this series we looked at some scriptural bases for mercy and generosity. Today we'll look at some practical applications.

So what does open-handedness mean look like? Its certainly a call to radical generosity. Does it mean dumping an emergency fund and selling my house to put it all into the offering plate or hand it out to the poor, trusting that someone else will provide for my kids? Or could it mean that I adopt an attitude that says, “Why wouldn’t I help this person if I can?”. I have tried to stop when I come face-to-face with an opportunity and in my heart ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do here?”. When I throw up little “arrow prayers” and just be quiet for a moment, it amazes me how often I’m sure of what to do next. And it isn’t always to help, because that is not always going to be ultimately beneficial to the recipient. It requires discernment. Just don’t be, as Dr. John Perkins tells it, like the rich man who got tired of running into Lazarus all of the time (blocking his driveway?), so he moved to the suburbs to avoid the problem.

One way to pass along the love of Jesus is to serve someone who needs you and can give nothing back in return.  Give a gift of one of the most precious assets God gives us - time. If you’re a tool guy (or gal) and serve someone by fixing their house, you feel the smile of God. So be intentional. Find someone who needs you, and take others along with you.

When you initiate a project like that, what you’ve just done, whether you realize it or not, is start a ministry. Specifically, a rudimentary Home Repairs Team. Did you know that starting a ministry could be that simple? Maybe God is calling you to lead a team when you’d rather strap on your tool belt. Your greater service may be to sacrifice the satisfaction of doing the actual work and organize and multiply your ministry to help even more people.

That is what Home Repairs Ministries is all about - being intentional about using what God gave you.

Read Part 1

I Have Two Coats, My Neighbor Has None… Now What? Part One

Scripture often talks in specifics that seem to be examples of larger principles. For instance the principle of the Sabbath Year (Deuteronomy 15, Leviticus 25) is a picture of the open-handedness we ought to have toward the household of faith. The surrounding passages speak to addressing basic needs of the foreigner among us. These passages are a strong call to compassion and often end with: “I am the LORD your God.” The way I understand that is, “I have shown you mercy, now you go show it to others.”

Helping Hand

from freeimages.com, Michael Illuchine

So, how far should we go with merciful acts? How about a couple examples (among dozens) of New Testament passages that shed some light on the subject. John the Baptist told people in Luke 3:11 that if they had two shirts to give one to the neighbor who had none. I’ll bet having two shirts was extravagant in that day. I don’t think John would walk into the 21st Century and tell us that we should only have one shirt and it was to be the one we were wearing. That’s not to say that our giving should not cause us some loss, as it isn’t a sacrifice of thanks if it has no value to you. If we have abundance and encounter need, we are to be open-handed. Don’t give the worn out running shoes that stink up the closet, but the good pair that you can do without.

The Apostle John in 1 John 3 opens the door a little further when he says in verse 17 that if I have worldly goods and my brother has needs, yet I close my heart toward him, I should question whether God’s love abides in me. 1 John is full of “evidence passages” - 3:14 – We know that we have passed out of death into life because of our love for believers. I have always been captivated by the Gospel correspondence between John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 - here saying that He (Jesus) laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our very lives for other believers. That is passing along the love of Christ as shown to me.

Read Part Two

Want to Start a Ministry with Impact?

Five marks (in our opinion) of an impactful ministry and why a home repairs ministry is one. Please make sure that your speakers are not muted.

Click the logo image above to watch a short video.

Categories: About the Ministry, Ministry Impact Tags:

Who Should We Serve - Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog post (see Monday 5/21) we discussed two methods that your mercy ministry or home repairs ministry can use to choose who you will serve. Today's post will look at a third, and more difficult, way to choose which projects to take and which people to serve.

C. Method 3 - Flying by the seat of your pants (with some basics guidelines and the Lord’s leading).

This is pretty difficult when you have several people making decisions with different levels of empathy for hurting people or levels of “street smarts” with tricky scammers.

Following are some thoughts on why some of these suggestions exist and examples where HRM has felt it necessary to be overridden. First, we owe those who financially support the ministry to take reasonable precautions to vet the person being helped. Your church Elders, Deacons, community outreach pastor, etc. may set the rules for you, or you may make a commitment to financial donors to “guarantee” certain guidelines. However, we found:

  • The age requirement tends to be arbitrary, often based on what many other agencies use. We have helped younger people when they have a circumstance, such as disability, or care of an elderly parent, or having custody of grandchildren, etc.
  • Many people mention that they are disabled with initial phone calls but it often isn’t obvious when we do a site survey. We don’t want to ask for a note from the doctor but still want to be careful. As detailed below, it is a lot easier to rely on another person’s clearer knowledge of the client than when you get on Senior’s Help Lists, with people calling you directly.
  • Ownership is important because landlords have been known to raise the rent on people who received help in a property. It is also illegal to work on a landlord’s house without permission and it is his obligation to keep the property livable. We have helped renters with their own things, e.g. furniture repairs or a minor appliance repair.
  • We can use government poverty numbers for income requirements and ask for last 2 pay stubs, etc. However, at HRM, we’d rather get a referral from another nonprofit or agency than get into that part of someone’s life. Dignity is very important to people getting help. Dignity means a lot. Remember the 70’s song, “We Are One in the Spirit”? Of course that was before my time. . . It includes the lines: “We will work with each other, We will work side by side. And we'll guard each man's dignity And save each man's pride." In another part of the song, it says, "And they’ll know we are Christians by our love...” That comes from John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (ESV) Loving God first, and loving neighbor as self has many facets to it, including dignified ways to lovingly help people.
  • Just as we don’t expect a church that is able to care for its own members to call our church to help, able families are expected to care for their own. But, just as we’re willing to help a church help its own, HRM commends teams who help families to help their own when it is too big to handle by themselves. Unfortunately, sometimes Grandma makes a commitment that the ‘grands’ will be there and when the volunteers arrive, and the family isn’t, we’ve never walked away. At least try to get them involved.
  • Essential repairs/maintenance only. We don’t generally put tile in bathrooms because someone wants to replace the sheet vinyl. Nor do we repaint for aesthetic reasons, though we will if walls are filthy and it will lift someone’s outlook. Who knows whether love demonstrated with a paint brush might open a heart to the Gospel. Deteriorated outside paint is a completely different issue, obviously.
  • As mentioned before, churches take care of their own. However, we’ve never shied away from calling a church to let them know a member has contacted us about needing help, and “would you like some help to address the situation?” They might develop a team because we took the time to help, then our work is multiplied in the community.
  • Never put volunteers in the situation where they feel like their time is not being used well. If there are extenuating circumstances that go beyond appearances, let them know why you chose to take on the project. As a volunteers coordinator, it is not easy to get volunteers when they are needed, so don’t let them think, “Boy, the next time he calls, I’m busy!”

Theological thought: Murphy’s Law is actually a worldly way of describing the Fall in Genesis. When you plant wheat, you grow weeds. It seems like it is always, “We have 130 middle-schoolers that want to serve on Saturday, when you only have projects that require skilled people, and when you need a lot of anyone’s help, everyone is busy. Right? Keep the volunteers happy! They are God’s valuable provision for you, Coordinator.

As mentioned, we need some spiritual discernment in dealing with hurting people. Tell the person you would like to pray with them, after hearing their story, ask that God would provide for the need, and listen very carefully for the Still Small Voice of the Spirit of God. And NEVER PROMISE WHAT YOU CANNOT DELIVER. Getting excited about helping doesn’t mean you can deliver. A little “thinking out loud” goes a very short distance before becoming a commitment in a hurting person’s ears.

So be bold, but be careful. Go with God.

Harvey

Read Part 1

Who Should We Serve - Part 1

Who we serve in our servics ministry (ours is home repair, but this could apply to other service ministries, as well) is a big decision with a lot of potential implications, some good and some not so good. There is no hard and fast rule on how to choose, but you can use several methods to help guide you. Ideally, these should be discussed as you are starting a ministry. These methods are not all limited to a home repairs ministry, so you can see if they are appropriate for your mercy ministry.

A. Method 1 - Having Clearly Defined Criteria or Guidelines

A list of rules can be used as a template to identify the threshold of “the truly needy.” Some of these that are fairly common but when compiled form a rather rigid framework, which may be a positive or a negative depending on how you view it. For instance:

  • Must be 60 years old or over
  • Owner/occupant of the home in question
  • Income level below _________/per resident
  • No able bodied family in the area to help out, or family must participate . . .
  • No available non-essential assets that are available for liquidation to at least purchase materials, if not hire contractors.
  • The help request is necessary for the maintenance or safety of the house
  • The owner is not a member of a church with a home repairs team
  • A situation where volunteers will feel that their time is not being used well

B. Method 2 - Using Your Gut

Under this heading, the list in “Clearly Defined Criteria”, along with others that you might create, are applied generally, but can be overridden by certain members of the team, a staff member, or a leader who has the authority to do so, acknowledging the leading of the Lord in the situation and extenuating circumstances.

Part 2 of this blog will show you a trickier method for choosing who you will serve.

Avoiding Home Repairs Scams

I wanted to share a good article from the repairhome blog by Allison Millar. Some good advice to avoid getting scammed and ripped off.

http://www.repair-home.com/blog/top-home-repair-scams%E2%80%94and-how-to-avoid-them/

Categories: Home Repairs Advice Tags: