“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
A cornerstone belief for Amor is that we don’t do for people what they can do for themselves and ministry is to be done “with” and not “for.” That is why when we build a house we do it under the leadership of our pastors in the areas we serve and alongside the family.
When helping hurts is a big topic of discussion in the mission world. There is even a book out with that as a title. And we would agree that when we go to serve alongside others we have to be very careful in so doing and reinforce the ministry that is taking place through the local church all year long.
That said, I would caution those of us in the developed world to be careful in how we determine what people need and don’t need. It’s easy to sit here in my house that is warm during winter and cool during summer with food aplenty on the table and say that working alongside a family to move them from cardboard to stucco would hurt them. Tell that to the mother who gave Scott the picture of her little girl that had died of pneumonia while living in the rain under a tarp before her home was built.
This is the second time this year we have addressed housing (see Scott’s article in our February 2012 eNews) because we believe in what we do more than ever. We believe that a house is the foundation for how God “plans to prosper us and not harm us and what gives us hope and a future.” According to Habitat for Humanity “Families will continue to lose the battle against crime, poor education, inadequate nutrition, decaying neighborhoods, insufficient health care and welfare dependency..” view source
We believe in the importance of housing so much, that this year our whole staff spent a weekend building a home alongside a family. Here is a picture we took after a long, hot, but amazing weekend.
Let me be very clear on this. Those of us living in parts of the world where we have our needs met each day in abundance should not only want that for others but commit ourselves to collaborating in solving the issues of housing and poverty worldwide. And yes, we need to collaborate with those that are suffering the most. They have a voice and we need to listen. Helping hurts most when we don’t do it with them.
One of our team members, Erin Lyde, who oversees our Nexus program in the summer relayed a story from Nexus volunteer this past summer that she wanted to share with us because it is a great example of a family not only receiving a house, but the hope of the Lord as it is stated in this passage in Jeremiah:
“Allison was on a site in Matamoros building with a single mother. She had at least 2 daughters, one daughter was 7 years old and had Down Syndrome. An older daughter had a baby at age 14 or 15, and had left the 14 month old baby with her mother because she didn’t want to care for the baby. So this single mother was caring for her own children, one who had special needs, as well as her young grandchild.
When I talked with Allison on the work site she was overwhelmed by the needs in the family, the mother was really struggling and communicated it frequently with Allison and the group.
A couple of weeks later at debrief, Allison brought up this family as both a low point and a high point from her summer. The low point was feeling the hopelessness of the mother, and the high point came at the end of the week when Fernando, an Amor field specialist and the local pastor spoke with the mother for several hours, and she accepted Christ.
I followed up with Fernando the other day to get an update. He said that Pastor Lobatos’ church is working with them to put in electrical and insulation and that they will serve as mentors in moving this family to a future that now has hope.”
God’s desire for us is exactly what is said in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And guess what? We cannot live in abundance like we do and not join in making that a reality for others!
I recently received this email from Scott:
“I was watching CBS News Sunday Morning this morning and they were telling a story about the beginning of the US Civil War in 1862, one hundred and fifty years ago.
At one point in the program they showed this picture of a black township at that time. I was devastated to the realization that in 150 years we have still not eliminated these ghastly and dreadful conditions around the world.
It almost looks like Delmas/Botleng where we serve in South Africa. I’m so glad we are passionately dedicated to providing solutions to end such inhumane and unacceptable conditions for our fellow humanity.” Click here to see the story
This is why we have the Casa de Amor program. So you can be a part of the solution!
We are just beginning to expand the Casa de Amor program so that it not only helps to provide building materials in areas where we can send groups, but so that it can also provide materials and labor in areas where we are not currently sending mission trip groups. You can now be a monthly sponsor for $35/month or you can donate toward the cost of a whole house and labor for $3500. You can become a Casa de Amor partner by visiting http://www.amor.org/give/casadeamor.
Let me give you a quick idea of how this is working so far. Due to violence in Ciudad Juarez, we have not been taking groups there since 2009. But our hearts, and the hearts of so many others, still understand the need for housing there. Thanks to a generous donation, we are building seven houses in Juarez. That is one for each Pastor that we work with in Juarez. This program is helping us continue to work there, even when the hands of our participants can not be there.
This is how you can join us. Won’t you become a Casa de Amor sponsor by making a commitment to housing today?
Gayla Cooper Congdon