Tuesday, February 22, 2005

IHNS

We were introduced to IHNS (Interfaith Hospitality Network of Seattle) by Rachelle. Thank you Rachelle. IHNS is a non-profit org...they help homeless children and their families by getting them off the streets and into a stable, supportive environment that gives them the support they need to obtain jobs and homes. They coordinate a network of congregations that provide community, temporary housing and food, while their staff provides case management, advocacy and direction to help families access the resources they need to take care of themselves. IHNS has a day shelter with staff to provide the case management. They ask congreagations to be the night shelter--providing, food, community, a place to sleep.

Our first time of using our facility to host these guests was last Christmas. The families came on Sunday the 19th and stayed until Sunday the 26th. It took 58 volunteers and 206 volunteer hours to host our guests. Our faith community with the help of folks like Rachelle and others helped us create a home for these families the week of Christmas. Before the families came we made of list of what would be needed to house them. Electric heaters for the bedrooms, sheets, blankets, dishes, towels, small appliances, coffee pots, silverware...etc We had pretty much everything we needed within 30 days of hosting. The families came on Sunday, had dinner, spent the night and then the van would pick them up for the day center by 7:00 a.m. We served them breakfast and provided lunch items for them to pack a lunch.

So, each evening they would come at around 6:00 to dinner prepared, folks to share a meal with and then spend the night. (Each night we had at least 2 folks from our faith community spend the night) Christmas Eve, we had a super turkey dinner with the guest families and our family--some of our children and relatives, there were so many of us...then cleaned up and prepared for our 10:00 Christmas Eve service...

We are now part of the rotation to host one week per quarter. Our next hosting week is coming up and guess what? It turns out on the rotation, the families will be with us for Holy Week. They arrive on Palm Sunday and depart on Easter Sunday afternoon. Amazing how that has worked out. We are now preparing schedules and menus and overnight hosts....

Incarnation--God became one of us and lived with us...I cannot begin to really comprehend all that means...I am not educated enough to explain theologically the implications of the incarnation, but somehow it means God came and encountered humanity, became human and forever has joined himself with us....when I dream of a faith community that is living out purpose--I wonder what it really means to be the living, breathing expression of God, Christ in a neighborhood?

A few years ago we discerned within our faith community that we would lease a facility. A facility would give us the means to faithfully pursue our purpose...as we began to think in these terms and dream of having a presence in a neighborhood, using the facility as a community center we wondered in what ways we would serve....

I began to reflect on this Scripture, meditated on it for almost a year:
John 1:14 The Message

The Word became flesh and blood,

and moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes,

the one-of-a-kind glory,

like Father, like Son,

Generous inside and out,

true from start to finish.

This text gave me life, gave me hope, gave me the faith to lease a facility for the purpose of serving a neighborhood....

Back to IHNS...partnering with IHNS is one way we use the facility to serve the neighborhood...homeless children...when they were here at Christmas time, one little 8 year old boy said to me, "I want to live here"...

We are in the very beginning process of creating a caring arm under our non-profit designation that will serve families in need, counselors and groups for marriages, family and at-risk youth....this is in seedling form...we want to partner with some other organizations in this neighborhood to see this come about...

We will be in our facility one year in April...I look back and see the relationships that are in the process of forming with the high school, with the substance abuse center down the street, with children and families that live in a low-income apartment facility where some of us tutor and serve in other ways....

I am amazed...

I am thankful...

I am hopeful for what the future holds...

I am convinced that a faith-community exists for the sake of the world...

7 comments:

Kelly Bowen said...

Wow, quit sharing stuff like that or I will have to move to Seattle!!

rose said...

Kelly, we hold a place for you and Bob in our hearts should you ever want to come co-labor with us!

Bob Bowen said...

I'm ready to go when you are Kelly!!!

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