written by Melany Jackson, Project Coordinator for C-U at Home
When we left off last week, I talked about getting involved with a ministry delivering necessities to folks on the street and also a book by David Platt called Radical that has turned my life upside down. Let’s pick up a couple of weeks before that, mid-November 2010.
I had just lost a ministry job that I loved. I was really not sure what my future would be like—ministry or no ministry?, Champaign or somewhere else?, full-time work or multiple part-time jobs once again. . .
Little did I know or even really expect the incredible series of events the Lord had in store for me. The day after losing the ministry position, I was offered a fill-in job teaching at Parkland. Four days later, I was hired (for the second time) by my church to be their part-time Minister of Worship and Evangelism. God provided.
Then I read this crazy book by David Platt and I went out on the Canteen Run the same week, the first week of December 2010, which was three weeks after losing that ministry position. Week after week I began to meet the street homeless in our community on the Canteen Run, taking them necessities and listening to their hearts. The book began to penetrate my own heart. The week before I received an email about a national campaign called 100,000 Homes, focused on housing 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless by July of 2013. That piqued my interest.
Between January and April, several events led to where I am today. First, I began to teach a bible study on the book Radical. Second, I was elected to Chair the Council of Service Providers to the Homeless. Third, I continued to go out on the Canteen Run weekly, connecting more and more with the street homeless in our community. Fourth, I continued to investigate the 100,000 Homes campaign and began to dream about doing something like that here in C-U.
By mid-April, I knew what the Lord wanted me to do. I began to put plans in motion and by Memorial Day I had sold the nicest two vehicles I’ve ever owned, an SUV and a motorcycle. I sold more than four bookshelves of books, mostly seminary books (side note—I kept two, my Grudem Theology and an evangelism resource book). And I quit each of the five paid part-time jobs I had been doing since January. The Lord was getting me ready to launch deep into a new ministry, and I needed to be able to travel light and needed all of the financial resources I could come up with to get started. Along the way, I found out that the room I was renting from a woman in my church was no longer going to be available after June. Fitting. Starting a new homeless ministry, finding myself ‘homeless’! Two different friends, a couple of days apart, suggested that I talk with Ervin at Restoration Urban Ministries. When the second one said that, I made the appointment and told him what God was up to in my life. He welcomed me to come and be a part of their community. So, I would be saving on rent and utilities, while living alongside many of the formerly homeless in our area. God at work.
C-U at Home was born. This ministry was begun to wake up the sleeping pew sitters in our community and get them involved in housing and supporting the most vulnerable homeless on their journey to healing and independence, being the hands and feet of Jesus.
I developed a Church Partner plan, where a church would agree to in essence “adopt” one of these most vulnerable homeless residents by housing and supporting them for a period of 12 months. So, I met with and talked with leaders from about 60 area churches over the next 6 months. I got lots of “Way to go Melany!” and “God bless you; I’m so glad that someone is doing this. . .” Virtually no financial support. Virtually no volunteers and only one church agreeing to be a Church Partner, only to be disappointed by their not following through with the commitment. Needless to say I was discouraged.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.—1 Cor. 1:27
Though my heart is still for the local church to be the direct conduit of healing agape to the residents we house, it looks like He is at least starting us out with a motley mixture of believers and seekers, many from rather humble means, to get the job done.
He prompted a couple who are barely getting by, working only part-time jobs with no health insurance and getting the majority of their own groceries from food pantries, to offer their house for us to use. And pay ONLY UTILITIES, NO RENT through the winter. And God knew that we only had enough money to pay utilities for 3 months–no more. So, Glory to God, HE made a way for our first resident to be housed, Vern Chounard, to walk through the doors of his new home on December 20, 2011.
If you are interested in finding out more about C-U at Home or about God’s continuing work in my life, please email email@example.com or call me at 217-819-4569. We have a prayer email and an update email for C-U at Home and I have a personal “God at Work” ministry email. It would be great to add you to the communications. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.