Thursday, October 01, 2009

Answered Prayers

Another ministry profile I've written for the Kingdom Investments (Perimeter Church's grant fund) annual report to Elders:

When you enter the lobby of the Mary Hall Freedom House the first thing you notice is a sign on the wall: Love is Spoken Here. Soon you notice many of the staff wear t-shirts which promise “We will love you until you learn to love yourself.” As you eyes rove about the room, you see three open Bibles placed in conspicuous places. Unexpectedly, your ears detect children’s laughter coming from another room.

Founded in 1996, the Mary Hall Freedom House (MHFH) serves homeless women struggling with addiction. Its many programs are geared toward promoting recovery and self-sufficiency; it has seen over 2,500 women graduate into sober living, completive employment and stable housing.

A distinctively Christian program, the staff begins every Monday morning in prayer. Every meeting is called to order with prayer. One year ago, all at MHFH prayed passionately for God’s provision; Georgia’s Department of Human Resources, caught in a budget crisis, had cut their funding by $1.5 million.

The budget shortfall meant MHFH had to reduce staff and services, but they refused to reduce the number of women they served. This decision meant the new satellite campus in Gwinnett known as Open Arms (twenty-seven apartment units) would operate as an unsupervised program. There simply weren’t enough resources to place a staff member on the premises.

Enter Kingdom Investments. Its grant made possible the hiring of a full-time case manager, an on-site professional to teach essential life skills to the women who would live at Open Arms. Women like Myrna.

A victim of domestic violence and living in her car, Myrna moved from temporary job to temporary job hoping one would become a permanent position, but no such opportunity materialized. She was the first client to turn to MHFH/Open Arms for help, and was soon placed in an apartment. With the help of the on-site case manager, she learned the lifestyle management and budgeting skills that made it possible for her to make ends meet when she finally found stable employment. Today, Myrna, the first graduate of the Open Arms program, works in a law office and the apartment lease has been transferred to her name.

But Myrna has accomplished more than becoming self-sufficient. She has also discovered her worth and her gifts. Today she serves as an example to the other women at Open Arms in her capacity as a volunteer. She is both the evidence the program works and the beneficiary of answered prayers.

I tell you, these reporting assignments I do really touch me; more to come on the MHFH, especially on the sweet woman who gave me the tour. It never ceases to amaze me what happens when you say to someone, "Tell me your story."

Speaking of stories, Cameron and I are visiting ten volunteer locations this weekend. The one I'm looking forward to the most is the low-income apartment complex with no playground equipment. Until Sunday that is. A group of teens washed enough cars and sold enough lemonade to buy a swingset for the complex. Wow.

You know the drill - go hug somebody and thank the Lord for all that you have (it is indeed so much more than you realize).

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