Dear Family and Friends,
Through the grace of God and generous donations of time and money, A Simple House is providing an authentic Christian witness to thirty-five families. I am humbled by the way the Lord has blessed our charitable work with encouragement and marvels. Since our last letter, the ministry has formed a network of close friendships with our neighbors in the Chesapeake neighborhood.
Food delivery, driving people to church, delivering baby supplies, thwarting evictions, home bible study, and prayer are the backbone of our ministry. All of our volunteers’ time has been consumed by these most basic forms of evangelization and ministry.
Ms. Johnson lives with her ten children in a small townhouse. The children slept on slats, and there was not always enough food in her pantry. The greatest physical need of the family was more space, but because of holes in the walls from mice and humans, she could not pass an inspection to transfer her family into a larger home. A Simple House helped Ms. Johnson repair her home, buy mattresses, feed her children, and go to God in prayer. These acts of kindness were made possible by our donors and volunteers, and we have built a relationship with Ms. Johnson such that she remembers the name of every volunteer she has ever met (all seven of them).
Our ministry involves an intimate meeting with families in their own homes. The bible study and prayer that results is personal and genuine. In fact we have had so many requests to visit church as our guests, there have not been enough vehicles to oblige everyone.
On August 21st, A Simple House is hosting its first barbeque in the Chesapeake neighborhood. We are planning to pitch a gigantic tent and serve hotdogs and hamburgers to the 168 families and approximately 650 children of the Chesapeake neighborhood. Many children in the neighborhood do not eat regularly. We hope to feed them and help with school supplies for the coming year. The local parishioners of St. Thomas More Parish have also pledged their support to create an atmosphere of Christian fellowship and friendship at the barbeque.
When we see material worshiped through greed, might worshiped through violence, or sex worshipped through lust, we must unmask the true Lord through acts of love. Even those caught up in violence, greed, and lust cannot pretend that they will reach fulfillment through these means. They have an inherited knowledge that these are dead ends, but they fail to grasp the greatness, goodness, beauty, and majesty of God who is our End. This is spiritual poverty.
The corridors of Chesapeake Street and Southern Avenue are heavy drug-trafficking areas. As in all drug markets, the vices of lust, violence, and greed thrive. These vices create competition and obstacles between people and God.
We are bringing a difficult message of transformation in Christ. We must have faith in the conversion of ourselves and others as the avenue of change.
"I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God." (Ezekiel 36:25-28)
Conversion is possible to everyone and comes from God via prayer.
Friendship evangelization is the method we use to spread the Gospel. People should be caught up ‘by the catching force – the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to’ God! (John Henry Cardinal Newman)
We try to relate to others no matter who they are. By embracing life’s deepest meanings, Christians opt out of the generally accepted world for the deepest realities. If we do not come across as real, we are deceiving ourselves and not truly sympathizing with our brothers. People should understand us, and after meeting a Christian, people should say, "I know that man."
People need good example, encouragement, and sometimes a word of correction. All of these are ways to instruct people in the word of God. Encouragement and good example are often the more difficult way to witness to the Word of God. The poor usually have enough people giving them disapproval and very few people giving them encouragement or a good example. This is what we are doing.
The idea that the survival of A Simple House is completely dependent upon the generosity of individual donors and volunteers boggles some. It’s as if they think government grants are necessary for charity. This ‘surprise’ is part of our Christian witness.
We have a very tight budget with no employees and very little overhead. Thank you for supporting this ministry through prayer, time, and money. I will continue to work to ensure that every gift you make has an impact, and I hope we will be able to expand our reach and start new projects through the further generosity of volunteers and donors.
Thank You and May God Bless You,
With board members: Laura Cartagena, Glynnis LaGarde, Kristina Massey, Richard Realbuto, and Fr. Adam Ryan OSB.