Here’s an article I wrote for an upcoming issue of Michigan In Touch. I though I’d give my readers an advanced copy since the actual magazine won’t be out until June.
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Rebuilding Homes and Rebuilding Lives
It’s no secret that Michigan’s economy is in rough shape and people all across the state are falling on hard times. In 2007, Journey of Faith in Byron Center began reaching out to the community through a ministry they call C3: Care and Compassion for our Community. Through simple acts of service, they have brought not only a helping hand to the people of the community in times of need, but they have shared the hope that comes from Christ with their neighbors as well.
Each month, as many as 60 volunteers come together to accomplish a variety of projects. The projects range from simply raking leaves or painting a deck to buying down the price of gas ten cents a gallon at the three gas stations in town. C3 has provided a way not only to meet needs in the community, but also to provide a starting point for a conversation to share the reason behind their actions: “Jesus has helped us and we want to share it with you.”
The biggest undertaking came in July of 2008, when Journey of Faith did an Extreme Home Makeover for a family in the Grand Rapids area. They collected nominations and a family whose home needed a great deal of work was chosen. The home had a long and sordid past, including being a crack house, and was in dire need of repair. The home had been purchased by a young family that was struggling to make ends meet and when faced with the cost of the necessary repairs, they were coming up short. The biggest part of the project was the roof. It had been leaking for some time and needed to be replaced. The whole thing looked like a monumental task, but nearly 100 volunteers came together and in just three short days accomplished the impossible. Along with replacing the roof, the exterior of the home was repainted, the landscaping was redone and the nearly the entire interior of the house was repainted. Crews worked through the night to accomplish the task while the family enjoyed time together at a local hotel who donated a room for them. After church on Sunday, the whole church traveled to the house to present the family with their home and to celebrate a job well done.
However, the story didn’t end there. The Grand Rapids Press had picked up the story and covered it in the Sunday paper that week. A former resident of the home saw the article and was offended by the references to the house previously being a crack house, which it had been after the resident had moved out. Upset, he went to the home to confront the current owners. Sean, the current owner of the house invited him to join him on the porch and talk. For hours, they sat as the man shared the struggles that he had gone through and the anger he was experiencing. Sean shared with him about the home makeover and how the people of Journey came, made it new and restored the brokenness. He then shared how in the same way, Christ can take our brokenness and make us new. Because a home was rebuilt, it opened up an opportunity for Christ’s love not only to be shared with one family, but through that family into others around them. The Extreme Home Makeover was a success in more ways than one.
Journey of Faith has continued to look for ways to meet the needs of those in their community each month, all the while remembering that if just one life is changed, it’s worth the effort. Plans are currently underway for the next Extreme Home Makeover August 14-16. You can learn more about Journey of Faith, their ministry C3 or the Extreme Home Makeover at JourneyWired.org.