Fall 1999 Newsletter
Greetings from Good Works—A COMMUNITY OF HOPE
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven…. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
A TIME FOR ANGER?
I am angry. Sometimes I think that the thing I am angry about also angers the heart of God. Is that possible? I am angry because the longer I proclaim and demonstrate the gospel to the poor, the more I notice so many Christian communities neglecting the poor. What is the definition of a Christian that we are passing along to the next generation? I am particularly concerned about this as I am now raising a child and passing on to him the meaning of following Jesus. Unless I give my son opportunities to expand his faith beyond the classroom setting of sunday school and children’s church (ie SERVICE TO THE POOR), he will not get the whole picture or the whole gospel.
Why is it that many American teenagers come to a place where the definition we have handed them is not enough to sustain them during the turbulent years of adolescence? If the only definition we provide of what it means to be a Christian is one who goes to meetings, then it is no wonder that all of us (both young and old) become unsatisfied with that experience. Indeed, it is no wonder we miss the essence of what Jesus came to reveal. For the Kingdom of God is wider, deeper and far more interesting than just going to meetings!!
In Luke 14:12 Jesus explains whom we should invite to the party. I sense he is also explaining whom we should invite into the kingdom. He tells us to invite the poor, the lame, the blind— indeed those who are the outcasts in our cities. Most of us don’t have enough contact with these people to even invite them to the party even if we had a party. Do you know someone on the fringes of your community to invite to the party? If not, why not? Could it be that our circle of relationships never takes us to the place of intersecting with those in need? Could it be for us who call him Lord that we have comfortably concluded that He never requires the He be Lord of our social life? Jesus offers us the kingdom but reveals that it comes by sharing with those who can not repay us. Isn’t this a radical reversal? Could it be that the way God bring us HIS kingdom is through ministry with the poor, the weak and the unlovely?
So what does your church do other than have meetings? What kind of things does the body do together that is beyond just meeting together? Isn’t it time we posed this question when considering what Church to join? And what exactly is your definition of a Christian? If after receiving Christ we teach people that the height of their experience is found in only one side of worship (adoration), we have starved them from the kind of experience they need in order to sustain them during the storms of life. Worship is expressed both in adorationand service. Why then has much of the Church neglected to provide and develop opportunities for the body of Christ to get involved in our cities and neighborhoods outside of the walls of the church building?
The church often seems weak and powerless against the secularism of our day. This powerlessness is revealed in the fact that much of the energy we can muster is contained inside of the church walls. Am I being critical? Maybe. But I’m angry. Every day I have people come to the door of Good Works with needs far beyond what we can meet. Every day I ask for those who call themselves Christians to share their time and lives with the poor. One opportunity we have only asks for 4 hours a month. Every day I hear that the reason Christians can’t do more than what they are already doing is because they don’t have time. Why? Because the agenda of much of the church is such that our time is consumed in meetings. The needy can be right in our face and we still complain that we are unable to see them. May God give us eyes to see, ears to hear and the grace to be doers and not hearers only.
By way of conclusion I must add this very important word. There are many Christians and Christian communities who are doing ministry with the poor. There are many who have been on the front lines for some time and who know the meaning of the word sacrifice. To these I offer from scripture a word of encouragement. When I think of you, I hear Father say “you are my beloved, in whom I am well pleased” and “well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.”
So much has been happening with us these past few months. I want to share with you all of the neat stuff God is empowering us to do by the Holy Spiritt
SHELTER— the shelter has been at full capacity (and then some) recently. The staff meet with every resident face-to-face in an attempt to know them. What we find is that there are many who don’t want to be known by anyone. Like hurt puppies who resist the care of their owner in fear that any involvement will increase their pain, these men, women and children resist the care of anyone who attempts to urged them through the dark tunnel—fear of failure, fear of success and of self sabotage. The staff in their daily care-giving struggle with each resident regarding their responsibility verses their dependence. At times, the “line” between unable and unwilling is unclear and we must exercise FAITH as we seek to do the most loving thing. Many of those we attempt to serve only want relief from their pain and are unwilling to embrace the cost of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is painful. In fact, we often say “the pain of getting well is greater than the pain of staying sick.”
HANNAH HOUSE—Our efforts at helping people with long term problems in the context of Christian Community are bearing fruit. We are so encouraged to see men and women whose lives have been ‘stuck’ for so long finally embrace slow change. While we have had our share of discouragement, we now have seen real fruit and we know God has called us to invest long term into those people who walk through our screening process.
SUMMER SERVICE—August 20th was the last day of our SUMMER SERVICE for 1999. We welcomed an estimated 300 youth and adults who served at Hannah House, at the Shelter and who helped several citizens in rural Appalachia with house-hold labor intensive needs. Through the help of our two summer interns (Jacob and Michelle), we were able to expand the meaning of discipleship for those who came to serve with us! We received several letters like this one from the young adults who participated with us:
Hi, I got the news letter and enjoyed reading it. I had a great time at the Hannah House, meet some great people, and learned their life stories. I think I learned about the importance of tough love and the importance of doing things for God and in the name of God. I’d like to get involved with more volunteer work in my own community. I think what you are all doing out there is wonderful. Keep it up.
HOPE AND POSSIBILITIES— Almost four years ago we began a new ministry to assist anyone in our community with any financial needs (utility bills, rent payments etc.). We would meet with anyone face to face every day for an hour and help them find the resources to meet their needs. In short, we ‘walk them through the system’, making connections and speaking on their behalf. After a short break during the last summer, we have now renamed this piece of our ministry HOPE AND POSSIBILITIES. Directed by Michael J. Teagarden, we now meet with or speak by phone with anyone in financial and spiritual/emotional need to dispense HOPE.
Hope— that invisible force that propels us into the future of possibilities… it carries us and enables us to SEE what can not be seen with natural eyes. Hope propels us to carry on in spite of what we don’t see and keeps us going until we arrive at the possibilities we have been enduring difficult circumstances waiting for.
JOBS— We are now in our second year of helping citizens on welfare move toward work by training them in the character and work habits they will need to both obtain and maintain employment. This project is now directed by Jim Todd and Casey O’Farrell. Jim is a former Good Works shelter resident (1996) and Casey is a former intern at Hannah House. They both bring compassion, sensitivity along with a strong sense of tough love to this part of our ministry.
GOOD GIFTS— Many of you have heard me say that the most significant thing that the church can do to help the poor is to create Jobs. Good Gifts represents our first attempt to begin a small business with the goal of employing the people we are working with each day in our JOBS program. GOOD GIFTS is a vending cart business which will be placed on Union Street in Athens each day along side of other vending business who cater to OU students and staff. We plan to sell gift products made by citizens who live in third world countries. At this point, all of the profits from GOOD GIFTS will be directed to create jobs locally.
DID YOU KNOW?
- That almost half of our full time staff are now former residents of Good Works?
- That our summer work teams constructed a retreat cabin on our Hannah House property to serve persons in ministry by providing them with a free respite?
- That January 1st marks the beginning of our 20th year in ministry serving the poor in southeast Ohio?
IN THE NEWS…
Ken Weinkauf continues to update our web page each week. May I encourage you to make time for a little visit: www.good-works.net
Michael J. Teagarden and Casey O’Farrell were married September 11th. Much rejoicing!
On August 7th, our board welcomed two new servants: Janet Bachelor (Lancaster, Ohio) and Gabriel Hoffman (Dayton, Ohio).
Our FAST FROM SHELTER is scheduled for Good Friday April 21st, 2000. Why not plan now to do something different this year and spend time identifying with the poor?
INTERNS: In order for our mentoring program with recovering homeless single adults to succeed, we must have Interns who are willing to live at Hannah House for at least 6 months and help the poor. Do you know someone who might consider this opportunity for their growth and service? Would you pray about this need for us? Our success depends upon willing disciples who are willing to share, serve and sacrifice.
WILL YOU BE SOMEONE?:
- We received a small grant to renovate the kitchen on the shelter. We are seeking skilled volunteers who can spend 2 days tearing out old cabinets and installing new ones.
- Someone who will help us build a bridge over our creek so that we can access half of our 35 acres at Hannah House.
- Someone who loves to work on bicycles and who can come and help us get our bikes in shape
- Urgent needs… a four drawer file cabinet, phone cards for the homeless (with no expiration date), ground beef, chicken, turkey, coffee, creamer, toilet paper, spaghetti sauce, sugar.
- Wish list: a tractor, a digital camera, a new sofa bed, a small wood stove for our cabin, Macintosh computers/printers, a ping pong table,
DREAMS AND VISIONS…
MINISTRY: In January 2000, we hope to launch a new initiative called “A HAND UP”. This project is designed to provide immediate employment at our Hannah House for 5-8 hour to meet immediate one-time financial needs of area families. This project is not intended to be regular employment but rather an emergency response to people in a financial crisis who want to work. For those who indicate they are unable or unwilling to work, we will direct them to other agencies in the community who may be able to help. Our hope is that when someone calls asking us for $45.00 to pay an electric bill, we can say “you called the right place at the right time and we are glad you called. How soon can you be here because we have 8 hours of work at $8.00 an hour today?”
- Because of the increasing number of public events now held at Hannah House and our desire to host our Friday Night Life program there more often, we plan to construct a shelter house with picnic tables which can accommodate up to 60 people. If you can assist with this project, (with either finances or labor), please let us know.
- Because of the need to expand our office space (most of the shelter staff work out of one office 8 by 10), the board has given a preliminary approval to construct an office on the Hannah House property during the summer of 2000. We are seeking skilled work groups who will assist us with this project. Can you pass the word for us? Right now, we are praying that God will provide an architect who will volunteer their time to help us with our initial plans. Know any architects?
Love is a verb,