Welcome to Home Repair Ministries, Inc.

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:

Be Ready When Disaster Strikes

In June, 2012, we travelled to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly, in Louisville, Kentucky, to promote the ministry and network with church leaders. On the trip, we co-sponsored a mercy ministry project called “Sheds of Hope”, for Henryville, Indiana, 35 miles north of Louisville, to help those whose lives were turned upside-down by a tornado. When your house is terribly damaged or gone, you need a place to put your “stuff”. Sheds of Hope are inexpensive units that can be built on-site or constructed off-site and transported to a disaster area where most needed. And most importantly, they come with the hope-filled message of the Gospel.

MNA logoWe partnered with the PCA’s Mission to North America ministry. The often overwhelming needs of those caught in disaster/emergency situations provides the need for a partnership between MNA’s Disaster Response ministry and churches with home repairs/disaster response teams ready to deploy. Our ministry provides materials to help churches start those teams and help them begin serving the community. At the General Assembly, we shared with PCA leaders the benefits of starting their own church ministry teams, and gave them information to take back to interested people in their congregations. Starting such a team provides several things for a church:

  • A way for the church to serve its own widows and others who own homes and are not able to afford a contractor to make repairs or make the repairs themselves
  • A mechanism to respond to situations where people in the community are begging Christians to come to their homes to help (an opportunity for the church to offer temporal, as well as eternal, help as they “love their neighbor as themselves” in deed and Word)
  • An opportunity to engage handy men and women from their congregation who can find themselves somewhat marginalized, relative to church-based ministry, because they don’t sing in the choir, keep the nursery, or teach Sunday school
  • The opportunity for Christ-centered churches to serve together and represent Christ as one body to their communities
  • Connection and unity at a grassroots level for a denominations’ churches within a city or community as church teams join together for larger projects
  • The mechanism for churches to respond to disasters and be the love of Christ to the devastated, as they respond to calls for help from organizations such as MNA and others.

The Home Repairs Ministries website provides you the information you need to start or grow a team at your church.

So, who do you call on if you want to start a team? In conversations we have had with church leaders, the question we ask is, “Who is the person you would call when one of your widows needs something repaired?” That is potentially the person who needs to be challenged with engaging others, and if not him, he probably knows who might have such an interest. Two guys, a bag of tools, and an SUV can constitute a home repairs team. That’s a disaster response team that can grow as the Lord provides vision and skills.

Mercy Ministy - Why We Do It

Mercy ministry can be hard... and rewarding. Ligonier Ministries posted an excellent article on the challenges and blessings of mercy ministry with scriptural support. Being involved in home repairs ministry, I am encouraged to see a specific callout for carpentry as a potential avenue for mercy ministry. Enjoy the article and be blessed.

Mercy Ministry by Elliott Grudem

Categories: Devotionals, Mercy, Service Tags: