Monday, January 22, 2024

An Interesting Ministry Opportunity

We received a text late Sunday afternoon telling us about a service project. As soon as the text came in, I felt a tug at my heart strings. The project was to help sanitize a house for a single mother of five. Immediately, I replied, “Count us in!” While I knew it would be a challenging project, I had no idea how challenging it would be.
A few minutes later, I explained to my husband, Phil, that I’d signed us up. He was perfectly fine with it, which I knew he’d be. After 30 years of marriage, we know each other well.
That evening, we pulled out our work clothes, set the alarm so we’d get up early, and went to bed. We knew Monday would be a long, hard day and we needed our rest.
The house we worked on for the family.
I woke up before the alarm and jumped out of bed. I was excited for a chance to work on a worthwhile project. I showered and dressed then quietly went into the kitchen to have my devotional time. Shortly thereafter, Phil got up and put the coffee on.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave. As we drove to the address we’d been given, we made small talk. It was chilly outside, and we were thankful for the heated seat function in our car.
We arrived a few minutes before 10:00 a.m. and were about to pull in the driveway when Vicki walked up and told us it’d be better if we parked below the house in an open area. She mentioned there were nails in the driveway of the house and someone had already gotten a flat. Following her instructions, we moved down the street.
When we walked toward the house, my heart broke. I could tell the house was in worse shape than I imagined. Walking up the ramp, we were greeted by Luke Ayers of Hope Global Initiative. He gave Phi, Vicki, and I a quick briefing about the project and the family situation. Then, he told us where he’d like us to begin work.
The nasty stovetop
Vicki and I started in the kitchen. Luke explained the stove needed our attention.  Both she and I were dumbfounded by
what we found – the stove was encrusted in grease, dead roaches, and other buildup for years of neglect.
We did our best to clean it, but it was hard without running water. (A pipe had apparently frozen during the night leaving us to rely on 2 buckets of water Vicki had managed to collect.) I was so thankful we’d brought gloves. As we tried various cleaning products, eventually, we managed to release some of the grime.
While we were working on the stove, Denise was working on the tub, Phil was scraping the old wood tiles from the floor, Gary was assessing the plumbing situation, Dennis was working on other projects, and Luke was overseeing the team.

While we worked, we were reminded God’s immense blessings in our lives. Here we were, doing our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and that’s when I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart – “Why are you really here?” Without saying a word, I thought about it. Why was I here? Was it just something to do? Did I want praise for joining in on a service project? What was the real reason? It didn’t take long for me to find my answer. I knew God had me there to understand how often and how easily I take many simple things in life for granted.

Filthy mattresses they slept on
As our team kept working, I noticed how focused each one was on their specific job. As I walked through the house, I took photos. I wanted to remember the squalor but also wanted to be remind how God wants us to serve others. Each member of our team was working for God’s glory, not for our own. It didn’t matter how many dead roaches were on the floor or how many spider webs or spiders were hanging from the ceiling. This family had been living here. They needed a clean, safe place to live.

I was amazed to see how they’d adapted to the conditions of the home. Things we’d normally be appalled by, they’d just accepted.

Little things hit me hard – a package of diapers on top of a nasty dresser, a football medal hung from a nail on the wall of a room without heat, a teen Bible covered in live roaches atop a shelf. They were doing the best they could with what they had.

A pack of new diapers in filth

The team leader from Hope Global explained to me that they’d had to remove so many of the family’s possessions because of their horrible condition, leaving them with only a few bags of clothing and some small possessions. He told me his organization had already reached out to
Habitat for Humanity for added help and he’d secured some good furniture and other items for the family.

I asked to be shown a photo of the family we were helping. I wanted to see their faces so I could pray for them. When Denise showed me their picture, I had to work hard to keep from crying. I was thankful I’d put on waterproof mascara this morning because I knew I’d probably cry over something and didn’t want to look like a raccoon.

It was a beautiful family. They were all happy and smiling in the photo even though they’d been through such tragic circumstances. I found out they’d originally lived in an apartment that had burned, then had moved into a home that was destroyed by the EF4 hurricane that hit Newnan in 2021. In dire need of housing, they found a place to stay through the Hope Global Initiative, but that home needed a lot of TLC due to the negligence of the previous owner who’d been an elderly man with a hoarding habit. Luke Ayers, of Hope Global Initiative, had become the landlord of the property and was doing his best to help this family use the home as temporary shelter until their application for subsidized housing was approved. Right now, according to Ayers, they’re number 5 on the list.

Luke Ayers, Hope Global
The team from Hope Global along with the hard-working members of our class, want this family to know God’s deep love for them. According to Luke, two of the older boys have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. If memory serves correctly, those two boys are twins.

The family

The children, aged 15-4, have a Mama who loves them dearly and is doing her best to support her family. She doesn’t make much money and must work long hours. Will you commit to pray for them in the future? Not only for their safety in this temporary shelter, but that God would make a way for them to be approved for housing quickly and for all of them to come to a saving knowledge of our Lord?

Our Sunday school class has recently been named Seekers, but while we were working, Vicki came up with a good idea – she said we should be called Seekers and Servers! I kind of like that idea! We should always seek those who are lost and seek to do the Lord’s will, but we should also be willing to serve in whatever role He’s blessed us to do. He supplies opportunities every day. We don’t have to go to a foreign country. Our mission field is in our backyards.

These days there are so many struggling. We need to pray and ask God how we can be a blessing to others. As we seek His will, I know He’ll show us what to do.

My prayer is that we’ll light a fire under our church. We can be a tiny spark that ignites Unity to band together to shine God’s light to all the community.

Thank you, Gary and Denise, for spreading the word about this need to us. It was our honor to serve alongside you, Dennis, Vicki, and the Hope Global Initiative team today.

My reminder

Before we left to go home, I got one last reminder from God. As I walked through a bedroom, I saw a plaque on a dresser. It said, “I am truly blessed.” In my heart, I shouted, “Yes, Lord! I get it! I am truly blessed beyond measure.”

Solo Deo Gloria! (May God alone be praised!)


One of the Bibles 

A few more photos: 

This Bible was on a dresser in one of the bedrooms. It had roaches crawling on it. It made me so sad, but I was thankful someone had given the boys a Bible. 

The large garbage bags are filled with the only "usable" clothing the family had. There were only a couple of toys for the little boy. I hope Habitat can help provide replacements for all the things they lost. 

The photo of the plaque with the handprints was on the wall in the Mom's bedroom. You could tell she really treasures her family. 

Their only possessions are in these bags.

The kid's handprints

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