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Marianne's Story: Helping a Widow Facing a Possible Mortgage Default

Often, new widows face significant hurdles as they attempt to put their life back together. Marianne proved that point with epic challenges looming over her shortly after her husband died. A faithful believer, Marianne's homeowners insurance company told her that they wouldn’t renew the policy until she had the roof replaced, two months after her husband died. Non-renewal of insurance can lead to a default on your mortgage. They gave her one month to rectify the problem. HRM, six churches and Meet the Need Atlanta were able to replace Marianne’s roof, which enabled her to get insurance on the home. HRM has been blessed to serve Marianne in other ways since then, over the years, including:

  • Installing gutter covers

  • Patching holes in a gable

  • Advocating for her with a heating & air company to get her system working (in cooperation with Gwinnett County Senior Services)

  • Recruiting a church youth group to clean up her yard after a citation

  • Sharing Christ with her dying friend


Find out more about HRM's work to serve people in need:

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Help HRM Serve More Vulnerable Homeowners:

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God's Heart for the Widow

Caring for widows is a big deal to God. You don't have to look far, in the Bible, to read about His heart of love and concern for them, or His mandate for Christians to serve them. In fact, a search for "widow" on Biblegateway.com yields 102 references (ESV translation), including:

  • Psalm 65:8"A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation."

  • Leviticus 27:19"Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow."

  • James 1:27"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."


In 1 Timothy 5, God clearly lays out which widows, in the church, are eligible for help. The standards are for her to be over 60, a faithful follower of Christ, have no family to support her, be actively serving in her church and truly in need. But what about widows who are not believers?

An elderly womanWe apply the same criteria of true need. It’s not hard to find widows in this state. The poverty rate for elderly widows is consistently 3x - 4x higher than for elderly married women (Social Security Administration, 2005). Widow’s houses are often in substandard, dilapidated or even dangerous condition. If you saw some of their homes, your heart would break. Just to make their homes adequate is beyond their financial means. The same is true for many HRM clients, such as abandoned or divorced single mothers and wives with very sick spouses, who are functionally similar to widows. We view serving widows, and those in similarly vulnerable states, as a Great Commission opportunity to reach out with home repairs and the good news of Jesus.

How about you? Does your church actively serve widows? Please leave us a comment and let us know how you serve this group which is obviously close to God's heart.


Categories: Outreach, Widows Tags:

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



God's Heart for the Single Mother

There are many Bible passages which affirm God’s heart for single mothers and their children. In 1 Kings 17:7-24 and 2 Kings 4:1-7, God miraculously provides for single mothers through Elijah. Psalm 68:5 states, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.” In Zechariah 7:10, God commands, “...do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor... ” Exodus 22:22-23 says “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry...”

A Single Mother's Testimonial

A Single Mother's Testimonial

A single mother’s life is not an easy one, but it’s probably more difficult than you think. The poverty rate for single-mother families with children, in 2013, was 39.6%, nearly five times more than the rate (7.6%) for married-couple families. The rate of extreme poverty rate was 20.6%.1 Of particular interest to HRM, one third of all single-parent families spent more than half their income on housing,2 which is generally considered the threshold for “severe housing cost burden.”

However she became one, the single mother is often functionally, if not actually, a widow. She is vulnerable and may find herself desperately needing help beyond her resources. That’s the situation all of us are in before God, and why we celebrate what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us. He met our most critical need, one we absolutely could not meet ourselves, providing the payment for our sins and offering us eternal life in His presence, claimed by faith and trust in Him. He gives those who accept the offer His righteousness and takes their punishment.

HRM serves single mothers, as well as other people in need (typically widows, seniors, people with disabilities and the poor), to thank God for serving us, the undeserving, and to model the love of Jesus to them. I love 2 Corinthians 9:13 - “By their approval of this service, they (single mothers and those we serve) will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them . . . “

Would your church like to show Christ's love to single mothers and other homeowners in need? If you live in metro-Atlanta, Join us on a project. Or, if you'd like to start your own ministry wherever you live, sign up for our free resources.

You can also help us provide critical repairs, affecting safety and quality of life, and modifications to make a home safer and more accessible, by making an investment in people in need, through HRM. Make a Donation

Footnotes:
1 - National Women’s Law Center, “insecure &unequal - poverty and income among women and families 2000-2013, by Joan
Entmacher, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Julie Vogtman, and Anne Morrison

2 Joint Center For Housing Studies Of Harvard University, “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2011” (Table A-5) ©2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College.