Dear Friends and Family,
Since the last newsletter, there have been four daylight shootings in the Chesapeake neighborhood. Two of the shootings were fatal, and two resulted in serious injuries. Some apartments have been riddled with bullets, and children have witnessed the violence. In response, the police have increased their presence and converted a vacant apartment into a holding cell. A few of the apartment buildings have been declared public nuisances.
Unwed mothers and grandmothers are the vast majority of the neighborhood’s tenants. The healthiest families survive from check to check, and if unemployment or mismanagment cause the lights or heat to be turned off, the mother carries a large psychological and physical burden. By getting to know people and visiting their homes each week, we spread the Gospel while learning where help is most needed and what help is most appropriate. Your generosity is what lifts the burden off people’s backs, and the Good News is what sets their spirits free.
The Good News is that God loves you in a particular and intimate way. He doesn’t love you just because you are human or part of His creation; He loves you individually and particularly. He doesn’t love you from afar; He holds you in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:15-16) and embraces you in the depths of your soul. He even likes you.
Spiritual desolation is the greatest poverty, and that is what we are trying to address. I’ve seen Christ work an amazing transformation in a woman through the love, prayers, and generosity of our volunteers. When we met her, she was contemplating suicide, intending to abort her unborn child, and her five children were without heat. She had gone through many trials in her childhood and adult life, and her depression was disabling. She had been prescribed many drugs and met with many psychologists, but they could not address her feeling of being unloved and wronged by God.
Her conversion to Christ has been so beautiful that the adjective miraculous is insufficient. The love of God struck her as an amazing surprise and a life-changing event. We delivered a few bags of groceries once a month, and read the Bible with her every Friday. We did not offer anything more except our friendship and faith. As time passed she decided to keep her unborn baby. She made pilgrimages with us to some churches in DC and attended church on Sunday. God has transformed her life. Her entire family has a beautiful humility and sweetness about them. She has registered her children for school vouchers, and we are helping them to relocate to a healthier neighborhood. These are the amazing fruits of spiritual work.
There is a temptation to become engrossed in the idea of a political solution to the problems of the inner-city. The study of social welfare, welfare economics, and sociology all focus on the political aspect of the problems. Every political solution is fundamentally a material solution, but materials do not seem to be lacking in the inner-city of Washington, DC.
Jobs, treatment for addiction, and food are available, but it’s as if something mysterious stands in the way. The poor have experienced a great loss of hope which leads to self-defeating behavior. It has been called ‘a situation that defies a solution.’ The real problem, however, is a spiritual problem, and to provide material goods without friendship or spiritual support only continues the problem.
When someone loses hope, they lose interest in their own welfare and their family’s future which causes behaviors resembling a slow suicide. We need to convince them to live! This is a hard job and we are trying to reach some of the hardest cases. When we bring friendship and God, we are bringing love and spiritual food. Friendship with another is almost a prerequisite of conversion, and many people are hungry for this friendship.
Amazing blessings have been poured upon the ministry since the last newsletter. Two families gave large financial donations, a family donated a large number of coats and organized a neighborhood coat drive, a family in Texas donated a Lincoln Towncar, Visitation High School has helped us stock the food pantry and visit the poor, and there have been many other sorely needed donations. In addition, Coptley Crypt Church and some individuals have made regular monthly donations. Thank you to everyone who makes our work possible!
This Christmas, we are trying to reach people as individuals. One room of our house has been converted into The Christmas Room! The Christmas room is for holding, hiding, and wrapping Christmas presents. We hope to stuff it to the gills. With your help, A Simple House has already provided Christmas gifts for 98 children by buying toys and clothes which match their unique interests and needs. If there were more funds, we could make Christmas memorable for at least 50 more children.
To reach mothers, grandmothers, and families, A Simple House is creating Christmas baskets which will each include a 10 lb. ham, a box of chocolates, fruit, and an individual religious gift depending upon what we know of the family. The gifts will include wall crucifixes, framed pictures, Bibles, puzzles, and even a few movies. We are planning to deliver 100 baskets.
The immediate fruit of these outreaches is joy on Christmas day. The larger (less seen) fruit is the lasting love and friendship it creates in a neighborhood plagued by violence. This is the most important fruit of our work that is so hard to describe and measure.
As stated in the first newsletter, ‘If this house succeeds, it will be the obvious work of God’s providence.’ Your generosity is our budget, and we apply all donations to the immediate work at hand. All donations are tax exempt under section 501 (c) 3 of the I.R.C.
Help and holiness are the two greatest needs. Holiness is the prerequisite for efficiently or effectively serving Christ. Please pray that we will receive more help and holiness in the coming year.
May God Bless You.