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Ministry Impact

Articles on how to reach more people in the community through service or mercy ministry.

Keeping the Vulnerable in Their Home

Replacing a Deck for an Elderly WomanCan you imagine being uprooted from the home and community you have lived in for decades? That is the dilemma many HRM clients face. The issue could be a crushing fine for a housing violation a fixed-income senior can't afford. Or an inability to safely get out of or around a home, due to a disability or the ravages of aging. Or a water leak deteriorating the structure of a home. These are just some of the scenarios low-income homeowners face, and they can lead to injury, health risks, liens being placed on the home, eviction, foreclosure or even institutionalization. Here are the stories of two homeowners who faced situations like these.

One was a disabled couple whose water heater was pouring water into the basement. This presented multiple problems. One was the safety risk and damage caused by water in the basement. The other was the specter of having multiple-hundred dollar water and gas bills. The homeowners' best solution was to hook up a hose to dump the hot water outside. We explained how to shut off the water heater until we arrived, then replaced the drain valve. It saved them from more unaffordable water bills. We also wrote to their water company, to let them know what happened, and request a write-off of the current bill.

The second was a woman, with Multiple Sclerosis and little use of her limbs, had extensive rotted trim around her windows. Having seen problems arise when citations are issued by homeowners' associations and counties, along with fines and threats, we worked to prevent the process from ever starting by repairing her trim. Together, her church and HRM have served her several times, helping her to stay in her home.

Generous, compassionate supporters empower us to serve hurting people. In fact, they will help HRM complete more than 230 projects, and help an estimated 575 people, in 2017. Will you join with them and help show and share Christ's love to vulnerable homeowners, by making a donation to HRM?


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:

"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



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.


What Legacy Will You Leave?

Have you ever thought about what kind of legacy you hope to leave? It's a great question, isn't it? We hope that, after looking at this blog, you'll share what legacy your church, nonprofit or organization hopes to leave! And if you'd just like to share what legacy that you would like to leave personally, that would be great, too!

As far as Home Repairs Ministries goes, in the simplest terms, we want God to be glorified among the hurting and those watching, especially in the midst of an increasingly skeptical, and even hostile, generation. Specifically, we’d love for HRM to be remembered for:

1) God’s love being shown and shared, and accompanying professions of faith, from many homeowners with diverse backgrounds. HRM makes a point to try and share why we are serving the homeowners we work with - to say “thank you” to God for His undeserved gift of salvation and eternal life, through Christ.

2) Churches starting their own home repair teams, helping them to take better care of their own. As a result, the world will see a beautiful witness of Christ’s love through volunteers sacrificially serving other followers of Jesus. John 13:35 says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV) What a powerful statement - the world will see Jesus’ love in how His followers love and care for each other. Additionally, we would love to see these churches serving those in need in their communities.

3) Many HRM Hubs (service areas like we have here in Gwinnett and North Fulton counties), in various regions across this state and the country, starting a mercy ministry movement that makes a difference for the Kingdom.

4) Hundreds of faithful volunteers and supporters impacting the community and making the growing efforts of the ministry possible.


Categories: Ministry Impact Tags:

Attempting Community Transformation

As a nonprofit, ministry or church team, have you ever embarked on a new endeavor so big that you had no idea how it would turn out? Maybe you had a vision to help the homeless get integrated back into society, or to be a catalyst to help raise school test scores in under-resourced areas. Recently, we began to attempt something like this ourselves, by starting a new inner-city and urban Atlanta focused service area (what we call a Hub; you'll see why in a minute) to meet the need for critical home repairs for low-income homeowners and people who typically can't make repairs themselves - widows, single mothers, the elderly and those with mobility challenges.

We want to not just serve individual homeowners, but to help transform the community to collectively impact more people than we ever could alone by showing and sharing the love and gospel of Jesus Christ to those we serve.

Have you ever attempted something like that? What has been your experience? I hope that you'll share your learnings by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.

We act like A HubHere's our model for attempting this. We've used it in our northeast-Atlanta suburban Hub. Much like the Hub of a wheel with many “spokes”, our new inner-city Hub Director Andre will connect disadvantaged homeowners with the following organizations or groups:

Spoke 1) Churches - HRM helps churches start or grow their own home repair teams to serve their congregations and communities. We also coordinate and rally volunteers from churches on projects we lead.

Spoke 2) Other nonprofits and agencies - We receive referrals, often pre-screened, from other community service organizations, and if there’s a need a homeowner has that we can’t meet, we try to return the favor by referring them to nonprofits and agencies we have a relationship with. HRM also makes it a priority to serve these organizations that help the hurting, with repairs or upgrades, so that they can serve more people, better. The community, and people with needs, win!

Spoke 3) Businesses - Community-minded businesses sometimes offer materials discounts (on occasion donations), grants and financial support.

Spoke 4) Individual financial supporters - Donors provide the "gas in the tank" that lets us go. Although they may not directly meet the many people we serve, donors enable us to do the work we do to make their homes safe and accessible!

This model has helped us complete over 120 projects two straight years, in the suburbs, and it’s one reason we’re so excited about the new Hub. Of course, nothing is ever certain in a new venture and area. If we need to make adjustments, we will! As we mentioned above, please let us know how your adventures have gone in serving the community by leaving a comment!



How You Can Engage Your Community - Part 4

This blog continues the series on how churches, outreach teams and service ministries can impact their communities.

Community PartershipsThe last way we'll discuss to serve your communities (although far from the last way to do it!) is to form strategic community partnerships. Done right, partnering with other nonprofits and agencies has the potential to have the greatest impact on the community. Let's look at why that is.

1) Leveraging broader skill/labor pools - An agency, nonprofit or church probably won't have all of the skills needed to have maximum impact or effectiveness in the community. What's true for a local church is also true for the broader Church (see 1 Corinthians 12) - we function better, and more optimally, when we're sharing skills and talents across churches and denominations (assuming we hold to the same core beliefs and doctrines). As a sidebar, that's another great reason for church home repair teams (or pick your service ministry) to serve together. If you're experience is like ours, you'll be able to do more by working across multiple churches.

2) Maximizing resources - What's true of labor is also true of materials and funding. Do you think that most organizations feel like they could accomplish more if they had more money or materials? Perhaps you can pool resources with another nonprofit or agency to benefit both. A ministry that has blessed us, Ground Zero Grace, has shared a warehouse with us for years. Their generosity has turned into many in the community getting repairs, because we have a place to store materials and tools!

3) Thinking strategically - here's where we can put #1 and #2 into use to increase impact. Our nonprofit ministry has served local co-ops to help them serve more people or use limited resources more frugally.

We've talked before about helping a local co-op build a thrift store so that they could provide low-cost goods to clients and bring in some more revenue. We've also served at a thrift/consignment store that provides job opportunities for people with disabilities. These are just a few examples. The possibilities are endless. Do you have success stories working with other agencies? Please share your experiences and help us learn! Just click on "Leave a Comment" below to add to the discussion. Please note that you have to be in the actual post (click on the blog title above) to leave a comment. You will not be able to leave comments from the main blog page (if you see more than one blog post as you scroll down, you're on the main blog page).

We've also observed that funders look very positively on community collaborations - yet another reason to explore the possibilities!

If you missed earlier posts, you can see them here -

Part 1 - Repairs and Accessibility
Part 2 - Advocacy
Part 3 - Disaster Response/Recovery



How You Can Engage Your Community - Part 1

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the ways our organization works and serves in the community. But we’d love for that to be only a small part of this blog! Why? We’re looking for your input, wisdom and best practices! Would you leave a comment below and let us know different ways your church or organization works in your neck of the woods and how you reach your communities? We want this to be something we can all learn from! Just click on “Leave a Comment” and drop some knowledge on us!

With that out of the way, here is the first way that Home Repairs Ministries engages our community. Can you guess what it is? You might be stunned. No really, you’ll never guess. It’s…. doing home repair projects (and accessibility updates). Did you guess? Give yourself a high five and do a happy dance! You earned it.

2011 photos and videos 4794So, what does that look like? The truth is, it can look like almost anything you can imagine. There are a couple types of projects we don’t do, but with the deep skill base of the church volunteers we work with, the possibilities are practically endless. The common factor is that we’re generally serving people in significant need with repairs they cannot do or afford themselves. These projects can range from as small as replacing a faucet cartridge to as large as replacing a roof. We even do yard cleanups sometimes. They’re great projects if you have a lot of youth or less skilled (but big hearted) volunteers.

We also help people in situations where their home is inaccessible due to a medical condition or handicap. Most typically, this takes the form of building a wheelchair ramp. HRM has also prepared homes so that a lift system can be put in for someone who can’t get around on their own, even in a wheelchair.

What if your church or group would like to take on more projects, but lack a broader set of skills? Might we suggest networking and collaborating across multiple churches? By growing your volunteer pool and you skillset, you open up the scope, number, and complexity of the projects you can get done. Plus, it’s a great witness when a broad swath of Christ-followers are loving on each other, serving together and having a great time.

Part 2 - Advocacy
Part 3 - Disaster Response/Recovery
Part 4 - Forming Partnerships


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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.