This week we were working a request for $1300 rent assistance, as one of about 5 we were working on. Here's what we know about the request this week: Client is maternal grandmother caring for her four grandchildren. Maternal grandmother lost her job a few months ago and only recently began working again. As a result of lost employment maternal grandmother got behind on her mortgage. This grandmother is currently attempting to build a healthy and stable living environment for herself and her grandchildren ages 2, 5, 7, 9. The grandmother has obtained employment recently and has a plan to address this in future months. She is need of $1300 for her mortgage payment. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated.
With requests this large, we often work together across a number of churches. For this particular request, four churches pitched in. It's always exciting to witness different denominations and church bodies coming together to help the vulnerable. Any my heart never ceases to light up when another church responds with, "we'll help!"
But requests like this do often come with some questions.
* There are agencies that provide housing assistance; so why are we helping?
* When there are other groups that can meet this need, why don't we pass these people along to someone else?
These are definitely valid questions and we want to give them an honest look. Truly, we need to have the humility to say we don't need to reinvent the wheel.
There are some practical reasons that we should explain. In order to get assistance from some agencies, there is a process. You have to go to the center, fill out appropriate paperwork, sometimes provide a bit of documentation, and wait for the process to take its course. One significant set of factors in this is that you need to take off work, and drive to the location.You can imagine that if someone needs a handful of different services, this could require multiple days off of work. And if there's not a working vehicle, then it would involve a combination of bus routes and walking, and possibly with children in tow. It's not a simple feat.
The Church offers something no one else does.
But one of the most significant reasons is that these organizations are NOT THE CHURCH. And that doesn't particularly matter except in terms of relationship. One thing that we want more than anything else -- is not to meet a need -- but to become reliable, consistent supports in the lives of vulnerable people. We want these families to know someone has their backs, and feel the love and acceptance that God is offering to them in these moments.
So yes, we can use these other agencies, but not as a means to wipe our hands of this work. If we want to use another agency for their resources, then we must volunteer to come along side this family and walk with them through the processes. We must sit with them to fill out the forms. We must help them find the transportation to get to the organizations. We must be Christ to them in their time of need.
Because we are image bearers of God.
Because we know the Light needed for dark places.
Because God first loved us.
Because we are called.
Because our lives as Christians doesn't mean we got "fire insurance." It means we become active participants in bringing God's kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
Because we count it all as joy.
Because in the dark we can see the greatest miracles.
Because Jesus said we are taking care of him.
Because how else will they know that God loves them?
So we step in, when we could step out. We say yes when we could look away. And in the end, if for no other reason, but God is transforming us to be more like him and drawing us closer -- the Potter refining the clay. So we can give praise.