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.
By Rev.Joshua Knott, Chaplain (Associate Pastor of Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Newark, DE)
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Humility is unnatural. A quick glance at the world or at our hearts proves it. This is why the apostle Paul exhorts us to humility and a few verses later points to Jesus as the ultimate example. Jesus, he tells us, laid aside the privileges of deity to take on humanity in order to be crucified for sinners; those who by nature and choice did not feel like they needed a Savior and did not want a Lord. This kind of humility is not only unnatural, it is supernatural. This is how the Philippians are called to relate to those around them. Whatever their title, whatever their position, their privilege is to lay their privileges aside. Whatever their vocational calling their spiritual calling is to consider those around them, or 'beneath' them, as 'above' them. This is why we do what we do at Good Neighbors. This is why we give to Good Neighbors, because we count our low-income neighbors as more significant than ourselves. And in humility is how we strive to do it, following Jesus' example.
Last Thursday evening, October 9th, almost 300 people gathered at Willowdale Chapel in Kennett Square to listen in to some amazing global and local speakers at Q Commons.
The evening featured Pastor Tim Keller, from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC and Ann Voskamp, author of 1000 Gifts, via simulcast and then turned it turned our attention to local organizations with a panel of speakers that included Joshua Knott, Chaplain of Good Neighbors.
In his role as Chaplain to the board of Good Neighbors, Joshua Knott spoke at Q Commons Kennett Square on a panel entitled, “Local Organizations and Collaboration.” Kate Uhler, case manager at Kennett Area Community Service and volunteer leader with Family Promise, and Linda Mercner, director of YoungMoms, also spoke on the panel, which was moderated by Molly Henry.
Q Commons is a semiannual event with Q Ideas (qideas.org/), a nonprofit organization based in Nashville whose aim is to mobilize Christians to advance the common good in society. Q Commons Kennett Square was hosted by the Constellation Network (theconstellationnetwork.com), a new multi-church, multi-organization movement in southern Chester County that seeks to collaborate, accelerate, and incubate ventures for the common good.
Photo Credit: Kairos Photography by Jessica Zubrod