3371 Chattanooga Valley Road Flintstone GA 30725 706.820.2833

3371 Chattanooga Valley Road Flintstone GA 30725 706.820.2833

Monday, November 12, 2012

Please Excuse Our Mess

We are currently changing over all blog content to our new site! We appreciate your patience as we labor to bring you new information in the future!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Loneliness (by Hope Chairperson Heather Jones)

Loneliness: Something Both the Rich and Poor Have In Common.

There may have been times in your life where you found yourself wondering- what do I have in common with the poor? On paper, probably not much. But on the inside, we experience many of the same emotions. 
I recently moved into a house and am living by myself for the first time in my life. There are moments where I experience a deep sense of loneliness. I also recently started working at an area homeless shelter and one thing that has really struck me is that people who are poor and homeless are
sometimes really lonely and they have a deep need for community. 
There are elderly men at my agency who check their mail every day just hoping for something, even though they know no one is planning to write them. There are other people who have houses to live in and a roof over their heads and they come down to the shelter just to hang out, check in on their friends, and be around people. This is baffling to me! 
However, I think it’s a great illustration of our need for human relationships. I’ve also encountered people who want to and are trying to change but they keep running with the same crowd that makes bad choices and uses drugs. 
This is not unlike a similar conversation I had with a young girl from my church this week. She told me she was nervous to start middle school because she heard that many of the girls at this one particular school get pregnant. I encouraged her to choose wisely which friends she decides to spend time with. When you visit the poor among you, I challenge you to see yourself in them. What emotions (relational highs and lows, financial struggles, future hopes and dreams) might you share with someone who is poor? I believe that once we start to consider this, we’ll realize that we’re not as different from the poor as we think.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Should I Give?

The following is a quote from Robert Lupton of FCS Urban Ministries:
 Continual heart-responses yield diminishing returns: 
feed a person once and it elicits appreciation (oh, thank you so much);
feed him twice and it creates anticipation (wonder if he’s going to do it again);
feed him three times and it creates expectation (when is he going to do it);
 feed him four times and it becomes an entitlement (I need it now);
feed him five times and it produces dependency (you can’t stop, I’m counting on it).
Given the above, is it right to simply give a hand-out to someone in need? If so, when might it be appropriate? Surely sometimes -maybe most times- it is devastating. Learn more by contacting the Hope office.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Walking Around

I used to run through my neighborhood. Since I ran six days a week, I felt fairly confident that I knew my community quite well. I knew which street connected to which street, which ones were dead ends, and which led me to busy intersections I did not wish to cross. I knew where the dogs lived -those who were chained and those who were not. And after four years of running the same old routes, I grew tired of it. I knew it too well.

Or so I thought. After two years of running, something happened in my life that forced me to walk. I had to slow down. And when I slowed down, a different picture came into view. Homes looked more weathered than I remembered. Certain corners carried more trash than I had seen before. I made eye contact with neighbors. I talked with long-time residents and listened to front porch conversations as I passed by. The same dogs that had loved to bark and chase me were now the dogs that followed me from street to street as I made my daily rounds. I began to see that the place I called home was not the place I thought I knew at all. It had a lot more to say now that I was listening.

Take time to walk through your neighborhood. Get to know your neighbors, local business owners, and leaders. Pray the the Lord would open your heart to the lonely and hurting around you and open your eyes to see those who have been right there all along.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Proud to be Here.

Read this article and discover some exciting new reasons to be a proud southerner (or like me, a proud transplant to the South).

How can we take advantage of these new opportunities?


Thursday, August 23, 2012

This is a Problem. Or is it?

What do you think? Read the following article for the Non-profit Quarterly. Contact us and let us know what you think at heather.hope4nwga@gmail.com.

A Job Not Done: Rural Areas Socked By Unproductive Congress

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Understanding Poverty: For Educators

I just finished reading a book and must make a recommendation for anyone who is an educator! If you work with children living in poverty, this is a must read. Written by Ruby K. Payne, A Framework for Understanding Poverty delves into the hidden rules of the three economic classes and introduces the reader to some exciting strategies for overcoming the obstacles facing those in poverty.

If you are not an educator, or are simply excited about Payne's ideas, check out her website at AHA Process.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Justice to Charity

In Lawrence Mead's From Prophesy to Charity: How to Help the Poor, he argues that we must move on from Justice, and take a step towards Charity.

"The Good Samaritan rescues the man beaten by robbers not because his community expected this -indeed, it did not- but because of his personal compassion toward the victim."
Mead then goes on to apply this to today's society. He argues that, in order to be charitable, the poor need not have some kind of value applied to them by society.
"The poor need not have standing in their community. They need not be 'deserving.' Indeed, the Bible virtually defines them as the undeserving. We need not claim that they have been wronged [as Justice would seek to do]. We need not identify with them, claiming that they are citizens just like the more privileged. We need not deny obvious differences between the poor and nonpoor. Rather, in the sight of God everyone is unworthy, poor and nonpoor alike."
 When one takes this approach, it becomes impossible to ignore one glaring fact: we are all poor. If this is true, how might we then apply charity to our fellow impoverished brothers and sisters?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thank You!

Many thanks to those who joined Hope at Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church this past Saturday for a training on Mercy & Justice in the church. We had a wonderful time! I was truly blessed by the discussions we had, and hope to continue this journey of learning and repentance with you! Living a life that truly shares itself with the poor is no easy task.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Justice & Mercy

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?
                                             Micah 6:8 (ESV) 

So which is more important... mercy or justice? 
If we don't wrestle with this question, we are kidding ourselves! 
Hope for Northwest Georgia will be leading a time of conversation and learning on this subject at Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church on August 4th. 
Interested in Hope leading a training at your church or ministry? Contact the Hope office.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Toxic Charity: A Good Read

I am currently reading Robert Luptin's Toxic Charity. A good read -yes. A MUST read, really.

If you are involved in charity on any level, whether giving a regular tithe to your church diaconal fund, volunteering at a local non-profit, or enjoying full time employment in a local ministry, there is something for you. Actually, there is something in this book which you urgently need to hear.

Instead of attempting to re-word Luptin's already masterfully written work, let me instead include a short paragraph from his chapter entitled "The Anatomy of Giving":

Mercy is also a portal through which we glimpse the heart of God.  The tug on our heartstrings draws us in. But soon we encounter brokenness so overwhelming that neither tender heart nor inventive problem solver feels up to the task. Our solutions fall short. Pathologies are too deep, pathologies too entrenched. And we descend into our own poverty, a poverty of spirit, a crisis of confidence in our own abilities to rescue. And, like the broken, we find ourselves calling out to God for answers. When our best efforts have failed us, we are left with nothing to cling to but frail faith. ...In a strange twist of divine irony, those who would extend mercy discover that they themselves are in need of mercy. Out of our own need, we are readied for service that is both humble and wise.
...And that is just one gem from page 42! Read this book. I promise it will be well worth your time. Luptin has taken the time (40+ years) to learn that not all charity is good charity. Some can be quite deadly to both giver and receiver. However, Luptin does not merely tell his readers to stay clear of charity; but he instead spurs them on to be excellent in acts of mercy and justice, in the Lord's name.

Read this book.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Resources Available at Cherokee Libraries


The Cherokee Regional Library System has acquired two new online resources with funds from the federal Workforce Investment Act. The funds were obtained through a grant written by the Walker County Certified Work Ready team. All items purchased with the grant benefit Walker County residents seeking employment.

Cypress Resume is an online service that takes users step-by-step through the resume writing process. The service has resume templates for hundreds of different professions. Users search through the database to select the profession for which they are applying. The end result is a personalized, professional resume written entirely by the Cypress Resume service. The service can be accessed for free from any computer with an internet connection.

The LearningExpress Library is an online learning platform that has helped millions of library patrons and students prepare for a wide range of career-oriented licensing and certification exams in health care, education, civil service, homeland security, and much more. The platform also has interactive tutorials to help users improve basic skills in reading, writing, and math, as well as prepare for high-stakes tests such as the GED, ACT, and SAT. The innovative platform includes self-paced interactive study, instant scoring, and diagnostic feedback, and can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection. This platform will be an excellent resource for students of all ages, tutoring services, GED instructors, Home school families and much more.

A library card issued from one of the four Cherokee Regional Library System branches is required for login for both internet resources. The four branches of the Cherokee Regional Library System are as follows: LaFayette-Walker County Public Library; Chickamauga Public Library; Rossville Public Library; Dade County Public Library.

Trainings on how to use both services will be offered at the three Walker County branches throughout the month of May. The schedule is as follows:

May 15th at 10am: Chickamauga Public Library
May 15th at 4pm: Chickamauga Public Library
May 15th at 6pm: LaFayette-Walker County Public Library
May 22nd at 6pm: Chickamauga Public Library

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Forgotten Fifth

I have been reading about rural poverty in America recently, and came across a wonderful paper by William P. O'Hare, entitled "The Forgotten Fifth: Child Poverty in Rural America."

Here are a few facts that might interest you:

The rates of poverty in rural areas are highest in the most remote counties and lowest in counties in or adjacent to metropolitan areas.

"Rural children are not only more likely to be poor, they are more likely to be living in deep poverty..."

"...rural children are more likely  than urban children to be living in deep poverty. Ten percent of rural children lives in deep poverty compared with 8 percent of urban children."

Those living in rural poverty "tend to be poor for longer spells than their urban counterparts."

So in sum that is...
  • Higher Rates of Poverty
  • Deeper Poverty
  • Persistent Poverty 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: What Every Church Member Should Know about Poverty

Where to begin? This is a great book. Written by Bill Ehlig and Ruby Payne, What Every Church Member Should Know about Poverty is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning about poverty.
This manual-like book lends itself well to a Sunday school class, small group, or even a longer term study for a church diaconate, session, or other church leadership group. The book is grouped into 13 manageable chapters that divide nicely for both self study and group study. There are thought/discussion provoking questions at the end of each chapter. Also, don't miss out on the Appendix! It is full of statistical charts on poverty. Interested in learning more? Check out the bibliography in the very back. It is loaded with resources for further study.
But now let's get down to the subject matter of this book. What exactly should every church member know about poverty? Well, for starters, the hidden rules among classes, which are key to understanding how to begin relating to the poor (see chapter 2). It is quite easy to maintain an us-and-them view of the poor, thus keeping oneself at a safe distance; however, if one moves beyond this into a state of self-examination, it becomes all but impossible to see personal blind spots, short-comings, and weaknesses. After all, how can we really go about loving someone if we cannot first catch a healthy glimpse of our own sins?
I won't waste time summarizing the whole book but will instead encourage you to read it for yourself! It will be anything but a waste of time, I assure you. I realize it can be tempting to believe that, if you currently have "no contact" with the poor, there is no reason to read such a book. Read the book. Then we can talk. I am willing to bet (not that I am a betting lady) you will never sees things in quite the same light.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The following comes from a participant in one of Hope's trainings this Spring:

Thank you again for coming and meeting with us, it was very helpful.   It allowed us to see some of our blind spots and think outside the box that we usually comfortably stay in, by talking through what our relationships with the families we've been helping look like.  I think it will produce future discussion as to what Pathway is about, connecting the congregation with the community, and how we can be about that ministry.  All in all, it opened my eyes further to the fact that I am more self involved, impatient and unwilling to "get my hands dirty" than I would like to admit.
Interested in having Hope for Northwest Georgia train your Mercy Committee, Diaconate, or Church group? Contact Heather at the Hope offices.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hope Spotlight: Dennis Laman

Name: Dennis Laman

Time with Hope: Almost 2 years!

Bio: Dennis is a Deacon (the only Deacon, at this point!) at Highlands Presbyterian Church in LaFayette, GA. Dennis lives in Chickamauga, GA with his wife Barbara and their children.

Originally From: Morenci, Arizona

Interesting Fact: Dennis is a Nuclear Start-up engineer and Industrial Electrician.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giving: A Dangerous Business

In Dr. John Perkins' book Beyond Charity, he describes the act of giving as being "a dangerous business." As Robert Lupton puts it, "Receiving is a humbling matter. It implies neediness. It categorizes one as being worse off than the giver." Perkin goes on to say that we must therefore "be careful how we give. Giving should affirm and not dehumanize. We give because God gave to us. We should be humbled by our opportunities to give... The concept of giving is one of the greatest challenges facing the church in the days ahead. The church's efforts in Christian community development must go beyond charity. They must go further than acts of kindness. Somehow we have to disconnect what and how we give from our need to feel good about ourselves."

It is rather easy to simply give and feel good for the giving. It doesn't matter if we gave the man on the street $5 or dropped off a bag of used clothing at the local thrift store -we still walk away feeling slightly better than we did the hour before. But that lightness of step, that fresh-air feeling and indescribable joy and satisfaction with ourselves, is mostly unfounded. As Perkins states, a gift is something we ourselves would wish to receive. If we were hurting and alone, would we want someone to stuff a dollar into our hand and so prolong our frustrating existence of addiction, shame, and solitude? Or, alternatively, how might we respond if a friend at church placed a bag of stained and tattered clothing in our arms and said, "here, I thought you could use this!" Yikes.

But if we give "because God gave to us," as Perkins argues, what might that look like? If giving is an act of love, then we might think of 1 John 4:19 and "love because He first loved us." Giving is then synonymous with love. God's love, made manifest in the giving of His son, was characterized by sacrifice. It reached deep to the heart of the matter -which was that we were hopeless and dying, unable to lift a finger to change our situation. If we take this example and apply it to our lives, how might this change how we give?

It is not enough to give  and hope for the best. We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders and wash our hands of this messy business called poverty. What a shame this would be to the Cross! This business of giving, messy though it is, is the business of the church. It cannot end at writing a check to the local non-profit or donating unwanted items to the faceless poor. The business of giving must take place in the context of relationship. Perkins argues that, "the best that God's people have to offer is relationships with the poor that reflect that kind of careful, quality attention we have in our own families. This is the high quality of relationships offered by a people seeking to 'love their neighbor as they love themselves.'"

So this week, as you look towards the celebration of Easter and contemplate the wonderful and incomprehensible death and resurrection of our Savior, don't forget the poor. Honor the Cross by making a commitment to enter into a relationship with someone who is "poor" -who lacks connections, is isolated, powerless, physically weak, at risk, or is unable to meet their own basic needs. Don't throw a ham on their front porch and run away. Knock on that door and allow yourself to be humbled as you give the greatest gift you can give- a moment when you allow yourself to need another human being even as you give yourself in friendship.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hope & Pathway

Hope for Northwest Georgia will be conducting a workshop with Pathway Partnership of Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church this Tuesday, April 3.

Interested in having Hope work with your church? Contact the hope offices.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Deacons Training at Highlands Presbyterian Church

Hope for Northwest Georgia will be leading a Deacons training at Highlands Presbyterian Church in the month of March. If you are interested in your church participating in a similar training, please contact the Hope office.

Friday, February 17, 2012

ADDC Faith & Finances Training

ADDC will be holding a Faith & Finances Facilitator Training! If you are interested, contact Jerilyn Sanders to RSVP at jerilyn.sanders@chalmers.org. Hope for NWGA highly recommends this training. Director Heather Prettyman attended last year (see widow)!

Saturday, 2/25 8:30 am - 3:30 pm 
Lunch is included!
Location:  St. Andrews Center, 1918 Union Avenue, Chattanooga 37404

Friday, February 10, 2012

58: Fast. Forward. A Big Mess

I recently stumbled upon a movement called 58: Fast. Forward. The End of Poverty.

Okay, I'll admit it. I was wasting time on Facebook, once again, when I noticed a non-profit linked with Isaiah 58. At first, I got excited. Here at Hope for Northwest Georgia, we are constantly arriving back at the Isaiah 58 passage in our many dialogues regarding how to help the poor effectively in our communities. However, when I clicked on the link and learned more about the 58 movement, I was anything but pleased.

Scott Todd, the leader of this movement, shared in a 8 minute video (see facebook if you wish to watch the video for yourself) about a vision to eradicate poverty.  He cited the Matthew 26 passage where Jesus is anointed with expensive perfume by a woman. In the passage, the disciples express anger and frustration at this seeming waste of finances. Jesus replies "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." Scott Todd interprets that it was actually Judas, the greedy tax collector who was angry, and that Jesus was not talking generally, but just to Judas. In so doing, he eliminates the validity of Jesus' claim that the poor will always be with us. Mr. Todd says that God does not wish for people to die of disease and hunger, but that Christians should give of their finances.

 Here is the problem. In looking over the 58 website,  I was unable to find any instances of relationship or contextual giving of oneself to people living in poverty. It was all about finance. Yes, there were plenty of stories of individuals who raised money and gave to 58 to make a difference. ...but did they have any interactions with the poor people living in their own community? Did they reach out to the single mom living on their street who they knew was having a tough time making rent each month? Did they wrestle with how to spend their time -with friends with whom they were quite comfortable, or with a group of somewhat smelly strangers with whom they had almost nothing in common?

In countless passages, the Bible calls us to care for the poor. YES, financially, but with so much more of ourselves! To give of our vast financial resources is only the beginning, and for most, it is a cop-out. What is easier, putting a dollar in the hand of the homeless beggar, or stopping on the cold street for a conversation? 1 Corinthians 13:3 tells us that, if we give all of our finances and put ourselves through much hardship.... but do it out of something other than love, IT IS WORTHLESS. 

Additionally, I cannot ignore the short-sightedness of a mission that throws finance and material possessions at those living in poverty. Yes, I agree that someone living in an area with high levels of malaria needs a mosquito net. But am I really solving their poverty by flying half way across the globe to hand them one? When I turn my back on them to return home, what message am I sending? If I ignore all the other vast and complicated aspects of their poverty, what good will it do? And if I walk away smiling at my own generosity, what damage have I done in ignoring my own poverty?

So when I look at the mission of 58 with its call to giving, to prayer, and to fasting, I am left wanting more. I applaud what I see as the beginning of something beautiful. Yes, God calls us to give, to pray on behalf of those in need, and even to fasting... but He also tells us that these are worthless without the love that comes from God. I believe this great love that we have in Christ begs to be shared in tangible, meaningful ways. It will be difficult, time consuming, frustrating... and yet so, so rewarding. Because the love we share... even in the smallest of ways- this is our chance to love as He first loved us. And that love, after all, is really what it is all about.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Training at Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian

Pastor Dan Gilchrist begins with devotional
"To help is messy, and hard, and time intensive, and will probably expose the poverty of my own heart."

The above is a quote from a participant in Hope's Mercy Ministry Training at Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church this past Saturday.  Interested in having a Hope Mercy Ministry training at your church? Contact the Hope offices.

CVPC Training Participants

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mercy Training at Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church

How do I minister to the poor…


Chattanooga Valley Presbyterian Church
Mercy Ministry Training

Saturday, January 28
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Breakfast at 8:30

Childcare Provided

Hope for Northwest Georgia Director Heather Prettyman will lead in a time of group discussion, training, and fellowship.

Sign up today!
Or call the church office at 706.820.2833