If we can finally finish the barn, what are the possibilities? There is always a need for men’s clothing, toiletries and blankets for the guys on the street. There is a need for household goods for those moving off of the street. I currently have no good place to gather and store these. Finishing the barn, especially the clean, dry storage room, would allow us to do more without cluttering up the coat room at church.
Beyond that, I have always envisioned The King’s Jubilee as being much more than a once a week meal serving ministry. On the other hand, I don’t have any desire to build a large organization with an institutional culture. I want to do more of what we did in the early years. We acted as an umbrella organization to start and establish various local ministries and pass them off to local churches to continue for as long as they had people who would do them.
Clothesline in East Greenville is an example of one such ministry. It has been operating a free clothing exchange for over fifteen years. The woman who was operating this came to us when she needed a space to continue this. I contacted the Mennonite Church mission that had recently acquired a building on Main Street and negotiated for Clothesline to operate out of their garage. Our daughter, April, drew a beautiful “trademark” for them. The church people got involved and took ownership in it.
The original organizer of it lost interest and moved on. Over the years the mission closed for a couple years, then reopened, but the clothing ministry continued to help struggling families in Jesus’ Name without interruption.
We started homeless and poor outreaches in Pottstown, Stowe and Upper Darby in Pennsylvania, and in two neighborhoods of Columbia, South Carolina. These all continued for years after The King’s Jubilee had no organizational ties with them. We were just there to lay the groundwork and start them and shepherd them to local churches who then took complete ownership. That is what I want to do more of.
I have ideas for three ministries to help improve neighborhoods. Please let me know if you want to get involved in any of the following.
I remember Maureen O’Hara telling John Wayne that “Cleanliness is next to godliness” in one of those old westerns. It’s not found in Scripture, but there’s a kernel of truth there nonetheless. People tend to behave better in a clean environment. Whether the houses are small or large, if the sidewalks are clean and the windows are washed, people feel safer there and are more likely to treat others with respect.
I want to organize a mix of volunteers, some from the neighbor- hood, some homeless, some from outside to sweep, pick up trash, wash windows and weed a block at a time in North Philadelphia. This would be done in cooperation with the block or neighbor organization. If they don’t have an organization, we’ll help start one. Neighbors talking to neighbors and working together has been found to be an effective prevention against property crime and domestic violence.
All of the home improvement shows talk about energy independence and alternatives to expensive, fossil fuels. Remember when everyone with money was buying smaller, more efficient cars in the 1970s after the OPEC oil embargo; while the working poor were left with the gas guzzling, older cars?
There’s a similar thing happening now. Oil and natural gas prices have gone up. Electricity is bound to follow shortly. People with money are investing in insulation, geothermal heat pumps, passive and active solar power. The working poor are stuck renting older housing stock that is very energy inefficient to say the least.
There are solar collectors that can be made for very low cost, sometimes from scavenged materials. A simple passive solar heat siphon can be hung out of a South facing window of a rental property without doing any damage to the existing building.
Windows and doors can be tightened up. Energy and water conservation habits can be taught and learned. These can make a real impact on people’s monthly budgets, not to mention helping the planet. And again, it is a point of contact to share the love of God, when it is done in Jesus’ Name.
Sowing and Reaping
One can’t understand most of the teachings of Jesus without a basic understanding of growing food and the cycles of nature. Over the last century there has been an unprecedented migration off of the land into cities all over the world. The cities have become uncivilized.
I want to organize more community gardens. People who garden are better able to understand the gospel of Christ. Neighborhoods with community gardens have lower rates of violent crime, drug addiction, truancy and domestic violence; even when all other factors are the same.
They have the added benefits of providing fresh produce to help stretch budgets and promote better health; as well as beautifying otherwise blighted, wasted lots.
Prevention is Easier Than Cure
These three ideas all help to build better communities and strengthen families. When families are strong and neighbors are talking to each other, for anyone to fall through the cracks and end up homeless is much less likely. To get these things started, I need more time. Not to put too fine a point on it: to take more time costs money.