A few weeks ago I announced at our Sunday service that we will be partnering, beginning at some point in the first quarter of 2016, with an organization called Family Promise. Family Promise was established in 1986 to help homeless families get out of homelessness and back on their feet, and it has grown nationwide.
Family Promise's track record, over the last thirty years, of helping homeless families out of homelessness is pretty astounding. Each homeless family that comes to them seeking assistance goes through an interview process to make sure that they are fit for the program they offer. Once the homeless family has passed the interview process Family Promise takes them into their service. Family Promise then uses their social service expertise to get the parents job training, help them find jobs, shuttle them to appointments, and to shuttle their children to and from school. The Family Promise of Orange County has a success rate of over 90% of those families who enter the program getting out of homelessness. The average stay for a family is only two months!
You might be asking, "Well, how does Family Promise house these families?" Good question! They house families through churches. Family Promise begins in a particular area by getting 14 churches to join in a network of support. Each church in that network will host families (up to 15 people can be in the program at any particular time-- the average number the Orange County network had, of which we will be a part, last year was 10 people, including children) for one week once a quarter. So each church will host families for Family Promise four times a year.
Another question you might be asking is, "What are our responsibilities in hosting these families?" The main one is the provision of our facility for them to sleep at. Family Promise provides blow up mattresses for them to sleep on and we will provide bedding. We will also be providing them dinner each night they are here, along with some sorts of grab and go breakfasts, and bagged lunches. Saturdays mornings are a time for the families to be able to sleep in and have a hotly cooked breakfast. Lights are out at 10pm. A man and a woman from our church will be needed to stay overnight with them.
We also have the opportunity to love on these families through areas like tutoring, possibly having mechanics who can work on a family's vehicle, arts and crafts for the children, a movie night together, and various other possible activities.
A van will pick the families up during the week at around 6:30am and take the children to school and the parents to the day center (a church that is the central location for the network where there are showers, laundry use, and job training for the parents). The van will drop off the families in the evening, usually around 5:30 or 6.
Proverbs 19:17 says, "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed." This is an opportunity, friends, for us to be generous to the poor; by being generous with the space of our church, generous with our resources, and generous with our love. Proverbs then says that God will repay. And often how God repays is by spiritually blessing us. He repays by growing us in the life of love and in the image of His Son. There's no better repayment than that.
There are not many more areas in my life that God has used to grow me spiritually than through ministering to the poor. I believe that partnering with Family Promise will be an excellent opportunity for us to tangibly show the love of Christ to families and for us to experience the spiritual growth that happens when we answer God's call to be generous to the poor. Please be praying for this exciting opportunity to be agents of God's healing love to homeless families in 2016!
Yours in Christ,