On Tuesday, a group of twelve volunteers from Chatham Financial’s Analytics team took time out of their day to come and bless a local widow with some roof work and vine/shrub trimming.
The homeowner has lived here for a long time, having moved here in the sixties not long after she and her husband were wed. Sadly, her husband passed away three years ago after over sixty years of marriage. Thankfully, the Lord has blessed her with a lower-case good neighbor—a fellow who lives nearby and looks in on our homeowner to make sure she’s alright. He’s actually the one that heard about Good Neighbors and pointed her in our direction.
A good bit of the roof was still sound, but there was a portion on one side of the house that had started to leak, so after a prayer from Good Neighbors Executive Director Harold Naylor, the Chatham crew quickly got to work stripping old shingles. Several had already worked with Good Neighbors before, so they had the benefit of prior experience—that helps a lot!
The homeowner was very grateful for the help, and had iced tea and several containers of cookies ready to serve the people who came to serve her. What a blessing it was to be able to minister to this dear woman.
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (ESV)
Last week, I asked the question “why did Jesus come?”, which encompasses “why did Jesus heal?”, as well. Mark 1 told us that Jesus was “moved by pity,” but it was not life circumstances alone that concerned him. Imagine how astonishing a scene it must have been for those many gathered around Jesus here at the start of Mark 2. A man is lowered through the roof on his bed, clearly paralyzed, and Jesus’s response must confound everyone. To an observer, this paralytic’s greatest need is the restoration of his body. But to Jesus, who in his spirit perceives the hearts of men, his greatest need is to be reconciled to God in Christ. The crowd sees the implied request--heal me—and yet Jesus does not appear to give what is being asked of him. Or does he?
Verse 5 tells us that “Jesus saw their faith.” Faith in what, or whom? It is obvious on the surface that the paralytic and his friends had some expectation that Jesus could heal, maybe even that he would, but when we consider the larger context of Scripture, the faith of these men comes into clearer focus. As I said last week:
Jesus came to call sinners to repentance from their sins and to faith in himself. Jesus introduced “...a better hope...through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19).
The faith of these men is the faith that believes that Jesus is the better hope. That in him, and him only will they find forgiveness of sins and draw near to God. So although their obvious reason for coming was a broken body, their primary reason for coming was to draw near to God in Christ.
Jesus heals the broken body, as well, but it isn’t some sort of package deal—it isn’t “well, since you believe, now I’ll heal your body, too.” We do indeed encounter some instances of “your faith has made you well” in the gospels, but not so here. Here, in verses 10 and 11, Jesus heals as a testament to who is—no less than God himself. Verse 7 shows the scribes indignant that Jesus would presume to forgive a man’s sins, and Jesus answers with a visible act that only God could perform.
Why do we fix houses? We fix houses to point to the one who can meet our neighbors’ truest need—that in the love that we show them they would perceive the love of Christ and come to him in repentance and faith. But we also fix houses as a testimony before the watching world—that in his church they would see his authority vindicated by his power to transform wretched sinners into instruments of common grace in the world. May our mission be ever clear, and may God be glorified as we, in his power, carry it out.
Happy Friday! We have a few jobs in flight at the moment, including this great house in Kennett. The homeowner has four children, one of whom is still living there. When she contacted Good Neighbors, there were a number of things that needed attention, both indoors and out, and we've since been working to get them taken care of.
As you can see above, we completely replaced the roof—the family shouldn’t have to worry about that for a long, long time now. The cellar doors in the back were in very bad shape, so they've been replaced with a beautiful new set that should keep unwanted moisture (and critters!) out of the basement:
There are also some windows (and a window air conditioner) that will need some attention before we’re done:
That’s some of what we’ve been up to on the exterior of the home, but we’ve also been busy inside, installing a brand new heater, pvc plumbing, and restoring the flooring, tub, and vanity in the bathroom:
We’re grateful to the Lord for allowing us to serve this sweet lady and her family, and we’re grateful to all of you who help support Good Neighbors—your support, in all forms, helps us restore hope to our neighbors in Kennett and beyond!
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
Throughout the first chapter of Mark, we see first John, and then Jesus, meeting the needs of the people. And every step of the way, Jesus and John point to deeper spiritual realities and needs: John’s water baptism points to one “who will baptize [them] with the Holy Spirit” (v.8); Simon, Andrew, James, and John are tending to the business of fishing, but Jesus calls them to leave their work and follow him. As the chapter progresses, the practical and spiritual natures of Jesus’ ministry become entwined as he drives out unclean spirits and demons so powerful that they can convulse their hosts.
Why did Jesus come? In verse 15, he begins his public ministry with this proclamation: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” In John 3:16, he tells Nicodemus that God sent him “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus came to call sinners to repentance from their sins and to faith in himself. Jesus introduced “...a better hope...through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19).
As we come to the end of the chapter, beginning in verse 40, we read of Jesus healing a leper. This man would have been physically separated from his people, including his family, because under the law of Moses, his disease rendered him unclean, and therefore unfit to bring his worship to the Lord; and on top of that, anyone who came into physical contact with him would also be considered unclean for a time. This man’s leprosy alienated him from his people, and more significantly, it kept him from drawing near to God in temple worship.
And here we see Jesus granting what he asks. He heals the man of his leprosy, and instructs him to go and be cleansed according to the law of Moses. Why? The immediate context tells us that Jesus was “moved with pity.” But the larger context of the chapter, and indeed of the entire Biblical narrative, tells us more. The unclean spirit in verse 24 calls Jesus “the Holy One of God.” Peter will later confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In John 8, Jesus identifies himself by the name God gave Moses to tell the Israelites when they asked who had sent him. Jesus is God—the Word made flesh. Moved by pity, Jesus heals this leper of his physical condition, but in so doing, he testifies both to the man’s greatest spiritual need and its fulfillment: the Christ, the Savior—Jesus himself. Jesus’ call to the people of Galilee, to his fisherman-disciples, to the unclean and demon-possessed, to the lepers, and to us, is the same: repent, and believe in the Gospel. Believe in Jesus, because in him there is life—because in him, in the Son, we can at last draw near to God.
In this picture you see Tom Hilferty, Senior Project Manager, and a happy Mercedes-Benz salesman standing in front of our new repair van. This van was purchased through a grant from a local foundation who gives to non-profits to build greater capacity. We need this new capacity since the number of repairs has doubled in the last five or six years. In 2016 inquires came in at a higher rate than ever before, giving us a growing backlog of repairs to be done.
This van has a high-efficiency diesel engine and it has the "high top" design that allows Tom and other Project Managers to stand up in it without having to crouch down. The greater height permits more shelves for all of the parts and tools we need to perform the repairs. All in all, this is a good long-term investment.
It is the first week of the year and we are so grateful for the way that God has blessed Good Neighbors through many generous donors, especially in the month of December.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Good Neighbors, which started in 1992 when Jay Malthaner and group of handy men from his weekly Bible study decided to do repairs for local residents who could not afford necessary work to keep their homes "warmer, safer, drier and healthier". The rest, as they say, is history.
Good Neighbors has big plans for this year:
Winter is an incredibly hard time for people who have inadequate or broken heaters. Just yesterday, we heard from a family whose heater went out and they are using space heaters for the whole house. This is neither safe nor efficient.
If you are willing and able to support heater repair and replacement, please click here to give on-line or to send a check. We are grateful for all gifts, large or small. They all add up to restoring hope by repairing homes.
Thank you and Happy New Year!
by Harold Naylor, Executive Director
A balmy Saturday morning greeted about 7 volunteers to Sharon's home in Newark. This home is the first Delaware project since the Board voted to expand into New Castle County this fall. Last year, Good Neighbors completed 150 projects, or 3 each week, in Chester County.
The volunteers plus the Good Neighbors' staff held hands in a circle with the home owner to dedicate the day to God and these repairs to Sharon so that she can live "warmer, safer, drier and healthier".
Immediately, the team fanned out to remove drafty windows, repair a leaky roof, and extracted a sliding glass door that would not open, but it let rain water in.
Some volunteers were new; some skilled and others less so, but they worked together as if they were old friends. While the outside work was progressing, Sharon was inside cooking up chili, cornbread and pasta for a sumptuous lunch. While she was cooking, Sharon shared her story which included broken relationships with financial calamity. There is always the "story inside the story" when a homeowner needs our help.
Throughout the day, Sharon would walk around and marvel and exclaim, "No one has ever done anything like this for me; I was beginning to lose hope in the human race."
Good Neighbors helps to restore hope by repairing homes. We do this through partners who want to give their time, talent and treasure and to do their part in improving people's lives.
We have another project coming up in a few weeks and we hope to be able to do even more homes in New Castle County next your.
For now, though, we are grateful to be willing and able hands for our Master.
by Harold Naylor, Executive Director
A few weeks ago I was approached by a Good Neighbors friend and donor who asked, "How do I make a gift to the ministry by giving stock?" I knew we had a procedure (see below), but I realized that it had not been well communicated.
Giving the gift of appreciated stock is a great way of blessing our home repair work while giving you, the donor, a wonderful and impactful gift. If your stock has a basis of $500, but has appreciated to $1,000, you will owe capital gains tax on the $500 increase in value. In contrast, if you gift the stock to Good Neighbors (or any other non-profit), the entire amount of $1,000 is a deductible gift.
The detailed procedure is as simple as giving your broker the DTC number (0226) and our account number (AAU030528) and having them transfer the shares that you desire to give.
Thank you in advance for your generosity in helping us restore hope by repairing homes. Our work is especially critical these days as the weather gets colder and home heating is critical. God bless you and please call us if we can help you with other support ideas.
Harold Naylor, Executive Director
This is a picture of the first gift that I have received for Good Neighbors since I became the new Executive Director only four weeks ago. I was honored to receive this generous gift from one of the many local churches who support the work we do in the community.
First Baptist Church of Kennett Square held their Vacation Bible School this week. The leaders chose our ministry to be the recipient of the students' contributions which they earned by doing chores around their houses. This week we were blessed with the hard work and dedication of 42 children who want to serve.
Similarly, we held our annual summer Youth Camp last week where 42 high school students plus another thirty adults performed major repairs to three homes. These students gave the gifts of time and talent to low-income home owners in Southern Chester County. Not only do these youth give their gifts, they do it with the joy that comes when we are doing the Lord's will, helping the widows, orphans and others in need.
I am so grateful to God for bringing me to this great organization that plows vast Kingdom resources into rebuilding homes and restoring hope to people who may have given up. It has been said that Good Neighbors Home Repair Ministry creates a win-win-win: the home owners with a repaired home, the volunteers who give back to the less fortunate, and the ministry itself as we are able to mobilize others and do even more repairs year after year.
Lastly, I challenged the VBS boys and girls to join other teens in a few years to help repair homes in their neighborhoods. That's a good message for each of us, too. What have we been given that can be used to provide relief to one of our neighbors? Whether you do it through Good Neighbors Home Repair or on your own, you are giving a cup of cool water to person who is thirsty.
Because of folks like you, there is a $3 of impact for every dollar that is contributed. This leverage occurs because of volunteers and many other donations.
Thank you for your prayers and other support.
Repairing Homes and Restoring Hope in Delaware
God has enabled Good Neighbors to bless families in southern Chester County for twenty four years. We have great people and processes and we have a desire to help eliminate substandard housing in neighboring New Castle County.
To this end and to enlist advice and support, the board and staff are hosting an Information Night on Thursday October 13. We are inviting anyone with interest to come and hear about our early plans as we expand into northern New Castle County. For more information and to reserve a space, please contact the Good Neighbors office at 610-444-1860 or email us at info@GoodNeighborsHomeRepair.org.
by Harold Naylor, Executive Director
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) As I received the call to join Good Neighbors Home Repair Ministry these words from scripture came to mind.
I have known and been a friend of Good Neighbors for over 8 years. In my role as a strategic consultant, I worked with Jay Malthaner and his team to strengthen the organization, and develop sustainable fundraising process on which the next Executive Director could build. Rob Ellis brought the right organizational skills, procedures, processes, and passion and under his leadership, Good Neighbors has flourished and grown, touching many lives throughout Southern Chester County. In 2015 alone, over one hundred homes were repaired and over 200 volunteers were mobilized.
There are many more impressive statistics. The ones we do not know (yet!) are the lives that were touched with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the One who gives true and lasting hope. These conversations occur when a grateful homeowner walks out in his or her yard and sees a team of volunteers sharing their time and talent to bless another. "How and why do you do these things?" is often the question. This question gives us permission to talk about the Reason for our hope.
After six very productive years Rob leaves behind a bigger, stronger, and focused Good Neighbors that is poised for a strategic expansion into neighboring New Castle County, Delaware. It is our board's hope and plan to leverage the structure and experience to move just over the state line to continue the work of "Repairing Homes and Restoring Hope". You will be hearing more about this in the months to come.
We have a new Board Chair, Bud Swenson. Please pray for our team as we listen to the Lord and submit our will to Him and His plans for Good Neighbors. Lastly, please call or write with any ideas or suggestions to make us more effective and impactful. I am confident that there is much more Kingdom impact ahead of us!
Plans are firming up for the 17th Annual Good Neighbors Youth Camp to be held July 17-22, 2016. Avondale Presbyterian Church (APC) will again be our host. Nearly 50 senior-high youth and their leaders will spend the week working with skilled Good Neighbors staff and volunteers to "Repair Homes and Restore Hope" for multiple low-income families in southern Chester County. Youth camp is always our busiest week of the year, and 2016 will be no exception. At the end of each workday, the teams will shower at the Kennett or Jennersville YMCA and return to APC for dinner. Each evening, our youth volunteers will gather for sharing of fun, fellowship and discipleship. We are excited to welcome back Rev. Joshua Knott as the evening program leader. In addition to being Good Neighbors' Chaplain, Josh serves as associate pastor at Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Newark, DE. Please pray for a safe, productive and enriching week.