Monday, December 13, 2010
The Mercy Ministry Sunday School at East Ridge Presbyterian Church is wrapping up its first semester- and what a semester! Deacon Terry Turner and Hope Director Heather Prettyman have been co-leading this class on Biblical foundations and practical applications of Mercy Ministry in the church. ERPC members have actively engaged in the subject and are taking what they have learned out of the classroom and onto the streets (homes, schools, shopping malls, work places, community centers...) of Chattanooga.
We will be continuing this class through the Spring 2011 semester.
Interested in having Hope lead a Mercy Ministry Sunday School or evening class at your church? Contact Heather at the Hope offices.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Just outside of Chattanooga Tennessee, Rossville has seen a lot of change since its foundation in the early 1800s. Although the city was not incorporated until 1905, it was known as Poplar Springs going back 120 year previous to that date. Rossville was named for John Ross, the man who established a Ferry across the Tennessee River as well as the Trading Post that would one day become the city of Chattanooga. In 1838, settlers began to replace Rossville's previous residents, the Cherokee Indians who had just vacated the area via the Trail of Tears.
In 1905, Peerless Woolen Mills was established in the newly incorporated town. This would be the first of many textile mills which would eventually turn the small town into a prosperous city. During World War Two, Rossville boomed due to Peerless being the primary manufacturer of blankets used among the armed forces. It became the largest single-unit textile mill in the world! The town was known for its nice shops as well as a dance hall across from the Peerless Mills. The Peerless plant burned down in the 1967 fire that would go down as one of the largest industrial fires in US history. The 1.5 million square foot building went down, costing 1,400 jobs and over 2 million in damages.
As happened across the United States in textile mills everywhere, drastic downsizing occurred in the mills of Rossville and the population experienced the devastating effects of rampant unemployment. While older residents of the area still reminisce on the good old days of Rossville, many younger ones struggle to keep their family afloat in the fragile climate of Rossville's main streets. Some of the old businesses still exist. Sherrill’s TV, Brody’s Jewelry, Best Jewelry, Rossville Bank, Brock Insurance, Roy’s Restaurant, and Dream Cream can still be seen with their lights on and cars in their parking lots. Stores like Hixson’s Men Store, The Jo Ann Shop, Vassey’s Men Store, Personality, and the LaDean that once made Rossville the place to shop are long gone. They have been replaced with Pawn shops and Second Hand Merchandise stores. Vacant lots are often filled with men and women selling items out of their cars on on card tables. Empty mills and factories press in from every side, an all-too-obvious reminder to residents of past glories and prosperity.
When one looks at the current statistics of Rossville, it is hard to take heart.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Our Professional Clothing Closet & Computer Lab will be open to the community. We would love to show you around!
Feel free to stop by to get help on resumes, interviewing, job research, or development of work-related skills. Hours for the clothing closet and computer labs are Mondays and Fridays from 9am to 3pm.
Hope to see you soon!
Friday, October 29, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Through various complicated events, I came in contact with a young woman who needed help. She came from an abusive past, and was living in an abusive present. It was evident that she needed to escape, but not so clear as to where she might go. Where is safe? How could she leave the past behind when she seemed to be bringing it along with her?
Even in my attempt to do right by her, it was clear that she had not left destructive patterns behind her. Yes, she was now separate from the abusive man in her life; but had she truly freed herself from her own bondage?
At times we can feel pressured to act -either by the person asking or by our on conscience- before we have a chance to stop and think. I encourage you to do just that! God has given us His wisdom so that we can do what is right -even in circumstances that are difficult and may appear to be "gray".
The following might be a good checklist to run through before responding:
- If I do not act, will this person be in physical danger?
- If I do act, must I act in the way they ask, or is there a better (more holistic) way to help?
- What are possible outcomes of my help?
- Could materials given be used to do harm to the person or others?
- How am I/am I not loving this person in my action or inaction?
- In my response, I represent myself, my church, my Savior. Did I do I good job at that?
Additionally, set up boundaries for yourself before hand.
ie. I will never give money to an individual.
I will always help a woman who wants to get off of the street.
I will always offer to purchase a meal and sit with the person who asks.
I will always pray for/with an individual who asks for my assistance.
This can be helpful when you find yourself in a bind, and may assist you in making decisions that are thought out and loving instead of ones that are selfish or made out of guilt.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
The following are three responses for three specific situations of need. It is important to
know which is appropriate –and which is not- as this is the most common reason poverty-
alleviation efforts lead to harm.
1. Relief: the urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid. This is administered
in order to reduce immediate suffering from either man-made or natural disasters.
Dynamic: Provider-receiver (provider gives assistance to the receiver)
Seldom. Immediate. Temporary.
2. Rehabilitation: seeking to restore people and/or their communities to the positive
aspects of their pre-crisis condition
Dynamic: working with (victims participate in their own recovery)
3. Development: the process of ongoing change, moving all involved, via a promoting
and empowering process (helpers and those helped) closer to being in right relationship
with God, others, self, and creation. The goal here is that those involved are better able to
fulfill their calling to glorify God by working and supporting themselves.
Dynamic: working with (all involved become more of what God created them to
Questions to ask:
1. Is there really a “crisis” at hand? If I fail to provide immediate help, will there be
serious, negative consequences?
2. To what degree is the individual personally responsible for the crisis? (use
compassion and discretion here!) Allowing people to feel some pain resulting from
irresponsibility can be some tough love -and lead to an individual seeing a need for
lasting change! The point here is not to punish, but promote healthy learning and growth.
3. Can they help themselves? If so, a handout would completely undermine their
capacity to be a steward of the resources and abilities God has already provided them!
4. To what extent has this person already been receiving help –from you or others?
How likely are they to be receiving help in the future?
Friday, September 3, 2010
This past Sunday, I was privileged to take part in teaching a Sunday school class at one of our Hope for Northwest participating churches, East Ridge Presbyterian Church. The class is basically a study on how we should pursue relationships with those who are hurting, needy, and oppressed. On this particular study, we were looking at what two Scripture passages have to say about working with (and loving) the poor. One of these passages was 1 Corinthians 13. Let me just stop right here and say that what I am about to share greatly effects not only the poor and those working with them, but all human relationships.
It is ridiculously hard to love someone when you are both sinners. That said, it is impossible to love someone if neither of you are a sinner. We are all fallen creatures, incapable of living a single day without sin. Our hearts are full of all sorts of things we'd rather not let anyone see ...and lets not even mention those things that come out of our mouths! Maybe it is because of the very sin in our own hearts (yes, it definitely is), but it is so easy to see the filth in the heart of someone we love and know intimately. This makes us want to turn our backs instead of turning our cheek.
I must confess that it has taken me all of 5 days to realize that I myself have failed to do the homework that I assigned in closing Sunday's class! I asked the class to read and pray through the passage, as well as pursue a relationship with someone they did not know. I did not mention (although I hoped) that this homework also included some valuable "life lessons" for those in the class- that we might all be both humbled and convicted (and in the process, changed) by reading and praying through 1 Corinthians 13.
While reading through the passage this morning (somewhat un-prayerfully) I was slammed by the phrase "keeps no record of wrongs". ...I mean, really? How!? Relationships hurt! They burn. Sure, we "heal", but what about that scar? What does it take to remove that ugly mark? It takes Jesus. I tell you with great confidence that there is nothing in me (nothing at all) that is capable of forgetting wrongs. But Jesus -who is in me- has the power and all-capable presence to take the very worst of wrongs away.
Fear not, for He is with you , empowering and equipping you to go out into a sinful world and love people with His love -even scary strangers- far beyond our miserable capacity to do so. Trust God, and obey. And read Isaiah 58.
Friday, August 27, 2010
But what about the country? It is a little known fact that a majority of those living in poverty actually live outside of the city. In 2002, 7.5 million people living below the poverty line were living in non-metro areas throughout the United States. In the same year, 1 out of every five children living in rural areas was considered to be poor. That is 2.6 million children. These children live at a great disadvantage as the school systems in these areas tend to be less than adequate, as do opportunities outside of the classroom including employment after graduation. For example, a county is considered to have a low employment level if less than 65% of its adult population are employed. 2002 statistics show that the most urban areas had approximately 6% of their population living in low-employment areas. In the most rural areas, 32% of the population was living in low-employment areas.
As a part of the Rural South, the northwest Georgia area must begin to address this problem. 280 rural persistent poverty counties are in the South -compared to 60 in the West and Midwest. There are none in the Northeast. The non-metro South makes up for 40% of the United States' non-metro population -and more than 1 in 4 people in this region live in counties of persistent poverty.
So what can we do? ...and what can YOU do?
- Take an active part in your local public school. -become a mentor or volunteer time in supporting teachers in whatever they find most helpful!
- Become a community advocate by showing up to local community meetings.
- Volunteer for local non-profits who are making an effort to help those in need.
- Talk with leaders in your church about reaching out to the poor of your community. Your church could start a program ...or simply build relationships with those around you!
- Support Hope for Northwest Georgia. We are here to connect churches with the poor in their communities.
- Pray. God is more than capable of redeeming any and every community for His glory!
For more info, check out the following link or contact the Hope office.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Please contact the Hope office for more information or contact the Highlands office to sign up at 706.638.8940.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Look for future updates on the following Hope Fall Initiatives:
Jobs for Life at Highlands Presbyterian Church, starting August 18th
Restoring the Breach: Mercy Sunday School this fall at East Ridge Presbyterian Church, starting August 22nd
Friday, July 30, 2010
Jobs for Life will begin August 18th at Highlands Presbyterian Church in LaFayette, Georgia. Class runs from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm and will be held every Wednesday until December 1st.
Class is free!
For more information, call 706.638.8940 or contact the church office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
And so we have a choice: do we spend ourselves entirely, giving of our time and money in a desperate effort to fill the bellies of the world, or do we close ourselves off in bitterness and disenchantment? Because if we do give of our money, sending it in via the number on the screen or the offering plate, how do we know that it ever does any good?
Here is my proposal: give, and give, and give some more. To one person. Invest yourself in poverty you can see- and become a part of their world. I do not mean to say you should quit tithing, or even give up the child you a currently supporting in the Philippines. On the contrary, give to someone you see every day, and begin to understand poverty by making it a part of your world.
While the giving of financial support can make a change in certain circumstances, the value of true, deep and lasting relationship cannot be denied. For example, there is a church here in Chattanooga who has, for the past 5 years, invested heavily in a homeless woman who came to the church for help. I should correct myself -she was homeless. This woman had drug problems. She was vulnerable, wild, and capable of harm. She was unlovable. But she was loved. Several individuals from the congregation made her a part of their lives- and they a part of hers. Countless hours were poured into phone conversations, doctor appointments, counseling, coaching, feeding... you name it. After years of this, the woman changed. Slowly. But surely. She has now been picking up others for church- those who are homeless, helpless, and in a world of trouble. She has come to every church event for years, and attends church regularly, and with a joy and excitement that is contagious. She even got a place of her own to live as well as a job.
But you know what is the greatest part of all? This woman, Kim Davis, became a valuable member of her congregation- someone needed and loved! Kim passed away this week. And she is mourned and will be very much missed. When she left this world, she left as someone who was a part of a community. She was a contributor, a leader, a servant, and a true believer in Jesus, her savior.
So try it- just one person. Be Christ to them, and give, and give, and give some more. The Lord may just bless you with a Kim.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Having only been in the world of non-profits and volunteerism for a few years, I have already noticed the broadly accepted and frequently cited summer "break". I am not talking about kids being out of school and Old Navy doing better business in their beach-wear department. I am talking ministry break. It is all too easy to see that bit of rest on the distant horizon, and run at it, full force, leaving behind the fragile beginnings of good intentions and high hopes.
In the Autumn, with the scent of crisp apples and recently sharpened pencils in the air, it is not so hard to get people excited. It is the beginning of new things, of new ambitions, projects, and plans. You may have noticed the explosions of sign up sheets, kick-offs, and committees. Everyone wants to be doing! -Which is great! Don't get me wrong. I am all about doing. I am also all about resting. If we committee-ed, volunteered, fund-raised our way around the year we'd be exhausted. But here is the thing: why are we resting, and what from?
I myself am a victim of this waving of the white flag, this surrender to all things work-related and volunteer driven. I would be crazy to try and start a new project in June. I would be out of my mind to put a sign up sheet out Memorial Day weekend. People just respect their vacation time and expect you to do the same.
But putting the yearly calendar aside, lets talk about spiritual compartmentalizing. Yes, that's right. I jumped to the spiritual just like that. In the same way that we often look forward to that much needed break -and sometimes leave things undone in our anticipation- it is easy to avoid giving of ourselves to others, because we are simply too "burned out" to do otherwise. Or maybe we are just so uncomfortable, it just seems like a good idea to avoid it completely. We can make it to church on Sunday, drop the kids at Wednesday night activities, maybe even go the church picnic or volunteer in the nursery every once in a while... but visit with strangers? Try to find a homeless man a job? Invite him over for dinner? ...with my family? But I don't have time, you say. Or maybe you are already maxed out and your family needs more of you. Fair enough.
Here is my challenge: (for you and for me) take the time to think through how you might skip that "vacation" this summer. Not to keep on working at the office while your family goes to the beach, but to invest in another person. This might not even mean adding hours to your busy day. This can be done by including others in the blessings you are already receiving from the Lord, like inviting someone over for dinner who doesn't have a home or family of their own. You could give an anonymous gift to your pastor so he can get that car fixed. You might bring your teenage son with you on a Saturday to fix up the house of a widow, instead of playing ball at the park. I am challenging you to live for God- and therefore, for others- by living a life that is full of giving, as well as thankfulness for He who has given. I honestly believe that, though it may seem to tax you in giving, the rewards will be so sweet. ... and definitely better than any sharpened pencil smell.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Hope for Northwest Georgia News
Hope for Northwest Georgia is currently partnered with several local churches in the Chattanooga and Northwest Georgia area. One of those churches, Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church of Flintstone, Georgia, just wrapped up a 17-week Jobs for Life course. Please pray for our graduates as they continue in new jobs and higher education. We could not be prouder to see the progress each has made as they pursue careers and big life changes. Pray too for their mentors as they continue a relationship outside of the classroom setting.
Where We Are Headed
Hope is excited to announce that we will be partnering with Highlands Presbyterian Church in LaFayette, Georgia, to host a Jobs for Life class this coming fall. Eric Self will be the JfL Site Leader. Please pray for us as we gather volunteers and get the word out into the community.
Rev. Travis Hutchinson and Hope Director Heather Prettyman are currently wrapping up a Financial Literacy course to be used with Hope participants as well as in Hope partnership churches. Travis and Heather have designed the course to help participants to get out of debt and take charge of their finances while discovering God's desire for them to live full and abundant lives to His glory! Hope plans to have these materials ready in the next few months.
How You Can Help
Please consider partnering with Hope as a volunteer or by joining us as a Hope congregation. We would love to come to your church, Sunday school, or small group to lead a training session or to simply share about our work in the Northwest Georgia area.
If you are able to give financially to Hope, please consider donating a one-time or monthly gift.
Pray. We greatly covet your prayers as we engage with community members and churches in the Northwest Georgia area. As we attempt to equip churches to spread the love of Christ to the poor in their community, it is only too easy to see our own sinfulness. Pray that the Lord would do above and beyond all we might attempt to do!
Friday, May 14, 2010
1.Become Persuasive: All great leaders have the ability to convey their visions. Skilled sales people use stories, dreams, color and humor to sway opinions. Ask God to help you use your life stories, dreams and maybe even a little humor to help gain favor in someones eyes that may hold the key of opportunity to success.
2.Focus on Serving: It doesn't matter who you are or what position you're in -you can't succeed if no one wants to work with you! All good stewards of God's gifts work on the golden rule (serve others as you would like to be served).
3.Be Honest and Dependable: If you don't build trust you'll close more doors than you'll open. No one wants to work with someone who is a known two-face. Be honest in all your dealings and God will bless the work of your hands.
4. Learn to Self Motivate: No matter what is going on around you, stay confident in Jesus, the one who can lift you up! Pray for the development of inner strength, conscious willpower, wisdom, and overwhelming desire and determination to reach any goal you personally want to achieve.
5. Love People: Ask God to help you love everyone with whom you come in contact. This will go a long way in building a good network of friends and relationships that lead you to success. Think about the little things that concern others, not just the big problems that need to be addressed. You are truly "successful" when you genuinely want to leave others better off than when you found them.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Congratulations to our Jobs for Life graduates! This past Sunday, May 2nd, 5 students graduated from our Chattanooga Valley Jobs for Life class. Tub, Utacha, Jeff, Barbara, and Kassandra celebrated with us at the graduation dinner, ceremony, and dessert. We are very proud!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Christ calls His Church to care for the orphans and the widows of this world; but how do we figure out who is an orphan and who is not? Although our society is quite different from that of biblical times, the urgency of this call remains the same. Those who live in isolation, who do not have the support of a family or the connection of friends in high places, or who are permanently unable to provide for themselves- these are our orphans and our widows.
Based on this, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I currently helping the orphans and widows in my community? Is my church?
2. If not, how can I create an environment where this is possible?
3. Am I (or my church) currently providing relief to individuals who are not orphans or widows? How might this help harm those who are receiving it?
4. If I am providing aid to those who are not orphans or widows, how might this effect those who are, and are not receiving it?
Friday, March 26, 2010
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye"
Amy needs her light bill paid. Now! It is past due and they are about to turn it off. If she can just pay it, things will turn out just fine...
When someone comes to us with needs, they simply want them addressed. They know that they are hungry because they hear their stomachs growl. They know that they need a place to stay, because they are cold at night. It is clear to them that their car lacks gas, because it is on empty. But what about the needs they cannot see, those that, to them, simply do not exist?
As someone who cannot remember a time when I was not going to church, who grew up memorizing scripture and praying before bedtime, it is all too easy for me to see these invisible needs. I saw them in myself, and so asked Jesus into my heart ...about 12 times. My sins are all too clear to me. Day after day, they just keep coming back. I neglect reading my Bible. I complain about teaching Sunday school to rambunctious 4 year-olds. I harden my heart against others. I think thoughts that should never be thought. I sin against my God daily!
But you know what I am really good at? I am really, really good at seeing the "needs" of others. What they seem to miss, I am sure to see. Why can't they see that what they are wearing is so immodest? Isn't it clear to them that they should not be addicted to tobacco? If they would only work 60 hours a week, they could get out of this financial crisis.
I am all too humbled by my own thoughts. Though I have set out to help someone in need, I am debilitated by my own inability to understand them and to love them as Christ! I am so concerned with "making them see" that I do not realize that my confidence is unfounded, the blind leading the blind.
Maybe what we both need is to just know Christ, fully.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Hope for NWGA and Jobs for Life were recently in the news! Check out this Walker County Messenger Article:
In Walker County: Jobs for Life gives Students, Community Hope for Employment
Friday, February 26, 2010
Hope will be at the following Resource Fairs in the Northwest Georgia area this spring. Come visit us at our booth!
Walker County Abilities Resource Fair
Where: the campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College located at 265 Bicentennial Trail, Rock Spring, GA 30739
When: Saturday, March 6, 2010 from 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Catoosa County Transition Fair
Where: The Catoosa County Learning Center at Benton Place Campus (next to the Colonnade off Battlefield Pkwy 2A).
When: March 30, 4-7pm
Hope will also be conducting a Mercy Ministry training at East Ridge Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, March 10th, 17th, and 24th, from 7-8 pm. All are welcome.
For more information on these events, please contact the Hope office at 706.820.2833.
Monday, February 15, 2010
...and this interview with Susan Docherty of General Motors:
Questions for the Interview
1.What can I bring to this company?
2. Why do I want to work for _________________?
3. What are my top 3 character traits?
4. What would I change about how this company runs, if anything?
5. Think of at least one question you can ask at the end of the interview.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Hope is now equipped with three computers, courtesy of Chattanooga Valley Christian School! We are very excited that our participants can now access the web in their job searches as well as in their pursuit of higher education. Please let us know if you or someone you know can make use of these new additions in your pursuit of a new career, online class, or any other "life pursuit"! Heather is in the office Mondays and Fridays, and the Hope office is accessible at various times throughout the week. If we can assist you in any way, please stop by the office and let us know!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Since the earth quake last Tuesday in Haiti, many people have been asking, "what can I do? How can I help?" There are so many ways presented to us- food, blankets, and water, or simply cash. But before we even ask what to give, we need to ask another question all together:
What kind of poverty is this, and how is it different from any other kind?
When Helping Hurts, a book by Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett, presents this quite well in the chapter entitled "Not All Poverty is Created Equal".
"A helpful first step in thinking about working with the poor in any context is to discern whether the situation calls for relief, rehabilitation, or development. In fact, the failure to distinguish among these situations is one of the most common reasons that poverty-alleviation efforts often do harm.
"Relief" can be defined as the urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid to reduce immediate suffering from natural or man-made crisis... The key feature of relief is a provider-receiver dynamic in which the provider gives assistance -often material- to the receiver, who is largely incapable of helping himself at that time.
..."Rehabilitation"...seeks to restore people and their communities to the positive elements of their pre-crisis conditions. The key feature of rehabilitation is a dynamic of working with the victims as they participate in their own recovery...
"Development" is a process of ongoing change that moves all the people involved -both the "helpers" and the "helped" -closer to being in right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation. In particular, as the materially poor develop, they are better able to fulfill their calling of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruits of that work. Development is done... with people.
So when we look at the Earth Quake Crisis- or any other situation where there appears to be in need, it is imperative that we evaluate the situation before jumping into action; because, though our motive in wanting to alleviate that need may be right, our solution may not be. And that is how we end up doing more harm than good.
In considering how to help, you may want to evaluate your own resources as well as the long term situation. Funds and volunteers are currently pouring in to help those suffering in Haiti. But what about 6 months, 1 year, 12 years from now, when those who survived are still trying to get back on their feet, begin a successful business, build better schools, or fight corruption? Because although the crisis of the moment cannot be ignored, neither can we toss our money today, and turn our backs tomorrow.
Monday, January 4, 2010
But think of it like this: If a man sets out to lose 30 pounds, what will he do? He'll create some kind of plan of action. He might decide to eat less and go on walks on his lunch hour. He might plan to eat only until 9pm and get up before work a bit earlier so that he has time to bike there instead of driving his http://www.blogger.com/moderate-comment.g?blogID=6037796599053332958car. Unfortunately, there are a few flaws in this plan. What will happen if the man stays up a little later at night and decides to sleep in? He'll end up driving to work, maybe even stopping at McDonald's to grab a not-so-fat-free breakfast. And January and February are often pretty cold... so walking on the lunch hour might also be avoided from time to time. If he prepares his own meals, there is no one stopping him from having a little extra, or a little late night snack. Here is the point: when we try to create change on our own, we fail. Let's face it, we humans are weak!
Just like this man could benefit from a trainer and even a nutritionist, we too need some expert accountability from time to time. Seek out a friend to keep you accountable. Spend time regularly with a pastor or wise mentor. If you are looking to improve your employment situation, find someone who is a professional and can give you direction. God desires that his people live in community with one another. Don't be afraid to involve others in your goals and dreams... or even your day to day life.