Friday, April 29, 2011

God Story about the Halfway House

A major hole in our social work ministry has been the "post-rehab" reality. We send our homeless friends to rehab, but when it's all said and done, they have no where to go for their new start. So we started dreaming of opening a halfway house - the first place to stand on your own two feet, but with the support to enable success.

We have written a lot about the houses we found (three two bedroom units standing side by side), and how ideal they are for this ministry. Ali keeps insisting that if these houses are to be ours, then it should be through a "God story"... I am just looking for any story that ends with us getting these houses! Then as Ali wrote, this week I was shocked to meet with a friend of my Portuguese teacher who offered to buy two of these three houses for us!

Today our new found friend came to have lunch with our homeless friends and us here at the house before going to see the houses for the first time. Want some irony? Only two of our homeless guys came! That hasn't happened in two years, and it happens on the day this new partner is coming to see what we do! I'm thinking - 'boy do we look bogus!'

From our house we went to meet the home owner and see the houses. In the walk through we see that some more roof tiles have been broken. Our doner takes in the shattered windows, water infiltration, stolen wiring and... falls silent with concerned expression. I'm dying to read his mind. We look bogus, the house looks like a liability...

With the walk through done, I'm feeling pretty uncertain about what might or might not happen next. Then our friend looks to me and says, "Well Mark... do we proceed?"
My understatement response - "If you're ready, I'm ready,"
To the home owner - "Okay. I'd like to close on these two units."


While they trade info I think, God gave us two of these three units, we can come through on this third one! So I tell the owner, we've started a campaign to buy this third unit through partners in our church and community, can we draw up a "intention to buy" agreement and get started rehabbing it too? He liked that idea, so my obvious follow up question - And can I put guys to live in it, for security purposes? He gave us another go, so all doors are open!

God has shown He is in this by doing the heavy lifting for us, now we get to join in what He is already doing! I am blown away by His goodness, and excited about our challenge - joining our church community and friends up to complete this purchase and carry out this new embodiment of the Kingdom!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

so what's your story about His glory?

What we wanted the most was a God Story.

We knew God could operate a miracle for the houses to become ours, and that is what we asked for.
We anxiously awaited to see how and when God would act, and here’s how it happened…

As Mark already shared, there were over 40 people at the church building on Sunday evening for Mark’s vision launching of the halfway houses. Among the group was Mark’s Portuguese teacher, Ze. He has helped Mark tremendously by proofreading all the documentation for the non-profit we are establishing. After the Q&A about the halfway house project, several friends ended up at the houses with us to dream about initiating the next step = purchase.

The next day Ze taught English class to Jose, a prosperous business man in town. He mentioned the meeting he had attended on Sunday and how much benefit the halfway houses would bring to the city. Jose showed some interest and said, “Bring Mark here to talk to me. I might help along the process.”

Mark and Jose met yesterday. Mark took papers with lots of numbers, lots of words, but most of all lots of dreams. Jose had good questions about the project, and shared with Mark he wanted to help promote recovery in this city “for personal reasons.”

So he gave us 2 houses… HE gave us two houses.

What?! Yep. Seriously?! Yep. Just like that?! Yep.
Trust me, we are just as perplexed as you are.

GOD has granted us his favor and confirmation, now we plunge forward with HIS blessing and YOUR involvement!

Come and see.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good news wrap up

We've had some great things happen here, and it's made blogging intimidating because it's hard to wrap it all up!

First off, Eduardo (Du) went to back to rehab! We have been working with Du since the beginning of our homeless lunch. He went into rehab in July, completed a three month program, and came back to be rejected and insulted by his father. He stayed in our home for two weeks before throwing himself back into his old addictions and life on the street. A good friend of ours heard his story and provided a second chance at treatment for Du, and so he is living at a clinic now that runs a 9 month program. After his treatment he will be coming back to Itu and we hope to have a halfway house ready to receive and assist him as he starts a new life! He is in a critical stage right now of decision - pray that he maintains the courage and desire to carry this recovery on to completion.

Samuel is another member of our homeless lunch who entered rehab, he completed a three month program Saturday and excited about his new life! I was worried about Samuel's return after just three months, and God provided - he was offered a chance from the rehab program to stay on and complete a seminary that they also administer and he was glad to accept! Interesting side note - Samuel told us that he had a dream recently, he was with Eric, Anternor and me and there was a house that he was living in with us here in Itu. Samuel had never heard about our plans for the halfway house, but it seems he got the message from Somebody!

In regards to the halfway house, we've met with the owner and an architect and drawn up the calculations. Sunday we had a big meeting to discuss the vision and the details. Alermão (the first guy who went into rehab from our homeless lunch) came with his family, it was an amazing testimony to the God that can! It also served to show the need for this house - Alermão is reunited with his family, but they have not yet found where to go to live together! In the mean time, Alermão is living in one house with a room mate while his wife and daughters are living 30 minutes away with his sister. Our goal is that Alermão and his family will move into one of the two bedroom units and help with the rehab work necessary to use the other two units. Each unit has the same floor plan, shown below.

Forty some church members who came to the meeting saw the need and heard the scoop. Many of them left saying, 'this is going to happen and I'm ready to pitch in'. After the meeting we went together as a group to visit the location, which is feeling more and more like home. Antenor asked that I next give this explanation during Sunday morning service, and we will be ready to receive pledges and put promises into action.

We continue to make progress, and this dream is becoming a reality!
Thank you for your prayers, keep it up!

I know am am leaving out some good stuff, like our visit from Billy Martin and Chris Frizzell... that's coming soon after I manage to get the pics off my camera! (if you find my charger, let me know :) )

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vision launched

Sunday I had the chance to share with our church family the plans for the halfway house. And just for a bit of context, Eduardo came!

This year Eduardo went through rehab, was rejected by his family and fell back into drug use and returned to the streets. In the last two weeks he has gotten serious about seeking help again.

Eduardo showed up to church drunk and with a smell that announced his presence way before him. When Antenor went to the front to give an announcement Eduardo shouted out, "Antenor, I'm here! I said I'd come, and I came." If there was anyone in our church who didn't know Eduardo last week, they know him now!

I spoke during the time before the offering with my friend Vitor Hugo. Vitor went through rehab for a crack addiction and is living recovery by God's grace. We spoke to the importance of supporting the rehab ministry as a community of faith, and launched the vision for the purchase of a home to receive our homeless friends post rehab. We showed this photo - and called on our community to invest in the kingdom with us.

After the offering, Antenor reaffirmed the necessity of this movement to establish a halfway house. I felt that God was preparing the way for this vision casting through what was seen, heard, and even smelled on Sunday! We have a creative God who uses the foolish to confound the wise - all part of this great adventure.

On the 17th of this month I will be giving a full report and requesting support from potential partners of this ministry. Between now and then I will be discovering the cost of needed repairs and developing a plan of action for receiving support, operating the house, and so on. Pray me wisdom!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Meeting on the House

This morning I met with the owner of the location we are considering for the halfway house. He gave us a proposal that my friend Roberto (who knows the market here much better than I do) assured me was very good. Now I have a lot of learning to do... but more than financial details I am searching for a clear indication as to what God has for us in this.

The need is just getting clearer. This week two friends came to us separately asking for help with friends who are trying to get off drugs, a woman who works in our neighborhood knocked on our door to ask if we work with rehab and could help her son, and a man came this morning as I was preparing to go to see about the house, also looking to get into rehab.

We continue to help individuals get into rehab, but for the one's who come off the street, we need to have a next step (post rehab) in place!

Right now, I need to know that my church family here is on board with me. Funny thing is, before this mornings meeting was set up Antenor asked me to speak for tomorrows offering - to explain what more we would be able to do in the work with the homeless if we had greater financial support from our church community. Providence???

I can't say that I know what's coming down the pipe yet... and I am anxious about this new territory. But God knows what He has in store, and I am thankful for that!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Halfway house

Tomorrow is a big day in the progress of our dream house. Take a look -

These three apartments are located in a neighborhood that is needing some light. The guys that we are graduating from rehab are needing a place to go, and a purpose. We want to bring some beterment to the neighborhood, and give our guys a place to start again, with the support of a Christian enviroment.
I'd write more, but a bunch of guys are coming over to my house for a time of worship and grilling out as I am writing this.

Tomorrow we meet with the house owner to talk about the purchase of this house.
Please pray for this meeting! This is a realy big deal for us, and the guys who are needing it. I will update with the news after the meeting tomorrow.

Peace in you home.