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Service

Articles about helping those in need and outreaching to them.

Food, Mortgage or Repair - The Crushing Choice

Imagine that you don't have enough financial resources to meet your basic needs - food, shelter and bills. Then you're hit with a critical home repair need affecting safety, or your independence is threatened because your ability to access the home is jarringly impacted because of aging, disease or disability. Or your already scant funds are being drained through utility problems, like leaky plumbing. Think these are just isolated cases?

A Critical Home Repair Need35 million metropolitan homes in the United States, or 40 percent, contain one or more health and safety hazards.1 An October 3, 2012 survey by HomeServe shows that one in five homeowners faces a repair expense they cannot afford.2 To give you some context from our part of the country, according to Families First®, “1.8 million Georgians do not have enough money to meet basic needs, such as food, housing and medication.”3 People facing these needs are forced into a very difficult decision. Do they cut a necessity or live with a known safety or health hazard in their home?

What Can You Do?

Our experience has been that homeowners in these situations are typically widows, single mothers, seniors or people with disabilities. There are a couple ways you can help them.

First, if you are a member of a church, and you have some handy skills, probably the most effective thing you can do is start your own team. Sound daunting? It doesn't need to be. In fact, you can start small, perhaps handling lawncare needs for seniors in your church. We provide no-cost resources that can help you think through starting a team. Home Repair Ministry Resources

Second, if you live in the Atlanta area, join us on a project. We have much more need than we can meet!

Third, invest in the lives of struggling, low-income homeowners by making a donation to Home Repairs Ministries. Last year, HRM completed over 200 projects in the community, a new record. Some of these projects were for other nonprofits/service agencies, enabling them to serve more people in need with repairs and/or facility modifications (here's one example). This is the third straight year of 120+ projects completed!

Footnotes:

1 - Article by Wendy Koch in the September 30 edition USA Today, entitled "Mice, leaks, holes: 40% of metro homes have hazards" (McLean, Va.: Gannett Co., 2013)

2 - Source: HomeServe survey cited in October 3 Fox Business News article - www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/10/03/do-need-added-homeowner-insurance/

3 - Families First® Overview 07-06-14 (Atlanta, GA.: Families First, 2014), 5. Downloaded from
http://www.atlantaregional.com/File Library/About Us/committee agendas/ELUC/ELUC Subcommittee on Poverty/Families-First-Overview_7-16-14.pdf



The Power and Hope Behind Service Ministries

The triumph over death and resurrection of Jesus is the good news that drives service ministries like ours, and many of our financial supporters, to love our neighbor in practical ways. He also pushes back the corruption of sin where houses, lives and hopes are in decline, while offering the promise of a permanent new home where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, ESV). This is good news for anyone still alive, as we have the opportunity to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and God. The resurrection does three things that can radically change our lives and perspectives:

1) It fulfills Jesus’ many prophecies regarding Himself: In the words of Matthew, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things . . . and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21, ESV)

2) The power of God over death was demonstrated: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, ESV). Colossians 2:13-15 says it beautifully, "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him (Jesus), having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him." (ESV).

3) We have the awesome promise that we, who believe in and follow Christ, will also be raised: “...For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.“
(1 Corinthians 15:52, ESV)



Categories: Devotionals, Salvation, Service, The Gospel Tags:

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:

Homeowner Spotlight - Rodrick

Rodrick and His RampMeet Rodrick Peterson, or as Andre, our Urban Atlanta Ministry Director calls him, Rod the Determinator (for his resolve). Rod’s strong desire was to be able to get his power wheelchair out of the house and up the street so he could catch the bus (or a ride with a friend), visit his doctor and just live life. He could barely get out of the house and up the street on his crutches, but by the time he got there, he was completely worn out. Andre built him a ramp, which lets him get up the hill with his wheelchair, see his friends and live independently. Rodrick has asked for Andre to disciple him.


Service - A Call to Greatness

Throughout the Bible, God directs His people to service, both to those inside and outside the church. The mandate is clear:

  • 1 Peter 4:10“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…” (ESV)
  • Mark 9:35 - “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (NKJV)
  • Titus 3:14 - "And let people learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive.” (NRSV)
  • 1 Samuel 12:24 - “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” (ESV)


These are just a few of the many passages dealing with service. Volunteerism, clearly, is very important to God. Why? For one thing, loving service to God shows others His love for them, and brings Him glory (Matthew 5:16, John 13:35).

Second, when we serve out of thanksgiving and love for what God has done for us in Christ, we’re actually honoring God’s two greatest commands. “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, NKJV). We mirror the Great Servant, Jesus, in a small way, when we serve others (Philippians 2:6-7), and service to the poor, the forgotten, the vulnerable and members of the church, is an evidence of saving faith (Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:14-26). To top it off, Jesus said we will be richly blessed when we serve and give (Acts 20:25).

Second, when we serve out of thanksgiving and love for what God has done for us in Christ, we’re actually honoring God’s two greatest commands. “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, NKJV). We mirror the Great Servant, Jesus, in a small way, when we serve others (Philippians 2:6-7), and service to the poor, the forgotten, the vulnerable and members of the church, is an evidence of saving faith (Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:14-26). To top it off, Jesus said we will be richly blessed when we serve and give (Acts 20:25).

If you live in metro-Atlanta and would like to join us in serving low-income widows, single mothers, seniors and people with disabilities, we need both skilled and unskilled volunteers. Sign Up To Serve Here



Categories: Devotionals, Service Tags:

Loving Your Neighbor Through Home Repair

Helping Hurting HomeownersPeople with a high view of scriptural authority have often been 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.

Coming from the other direction, just fixing houses isn't enough. If the work does not 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 were 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.

How about you? Does your church have someone who loves to fix things and could start a team (it can start very small)? Our ministry exists, in part, to help you start or grow your team. You'll find a wealth of information in the resource center and ministry library. Sign up now at no cost!



How You Can Engage Your Community - Part 3

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

Disaster ResponseNow, let's look at another way a church can actively engage with, serve and love their community (as well as their congregations). Disasters can upend almost everything - family, home, job, way of life and more. Churches can help with response and/or rebuilding after a disaster. Isn't that practical?

And doesn't it offer a striking parallel to the gospel? We reach the point where our sin ravishes our lives, and we find ourselves desperately needing help outside of ourselves. As Jesus rescues repentant sinners from our self-inflicted disaster, perhaps your church can provide a representation of that to your community by responding to disasters. How might that change the cultures view of the Church and our Savior?

One nice thing about disaster response is that it probably won't require a regular time commitment (with a possible exception in long-term rebuilding projects). Your team can respond as need arises. In fact, starting a home repair team in your church might be a great way to prepare your volunteers for a disaster and even start your team. If you're looking for some resources on how to start a home repair team, we've got a no-cost ministry resource library. We hope that you'll check it out.

Rebuilding after a devastating tornado - Here's one example of how eight churches, Home Repairs Ministries and nonprofits/agencies responded and partnered together to help a Palestinian widow rebuild.

If you missed earlier posts in this series, you can see them here -

Part 1 - Repairs and Accessibility
Part 2 - Advocacy
Part 4 - Forming Partnerships



Categories: Disaster Recovery, Service, The Gospel Tags:

Men + Tools = Happy Men

Building the RampHave you ever noticed what happens when you put a tool in a man’s hand (well, some men, anyway. And, for that matter, some women, too!)? He is immediately in his element. He has a means to fix things (insider secret - if no one has told you, that’s what men do). It might be work, but deep down, something happens inside of him telling him, go forth and conquer.

Something else pretty cool happens, too. Working with tools can become a bonding process. Some pretty significant walls and barriers get knocked down,even deep-rooted cultural ones. It becomes a way to unite around a common objective and focus on serving others.

Isn’t it cool that God uses common tools as a way for some men to join Him in His work? And that He can use tools to unite His church in reaching out to those in need when different churches band together? What would it look like, at your church, if your handymen were caring for your single mothers and widows? How cool would it be if they were also out in the community, serving those outside the church, to show them a tangible expression of God’s love?

Do you have handymen (and women) in your church who don’t know where to plug in to serve? A home repair ministry might be just the way to get them more regularly engaged and involved in outreach. And smiling as they grab their tools and get to work.


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.



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