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Me and My House Ministries

 

Me and My House Ministries, Inc. - Atlanta, GA.

 

A Christian ministry that reaches out to at-risk children and youth with the hope of Christ where they live, through a holistic approach that involves their families

BACKGROUND

The ministry began with one woman in October of 1997 who had a desire to reach out to the children of her apartment community.  The demographics of this community are predominantly low-income, African American, single parent homes.  A Bible study began on Friday nights in this woman’s apartment.  As a recreation time was started before the Bible study began it quickly grew to well over thirty youth and children. 

Attendance continued to grow and the next step was to bring the children to church on Sundays and Wednesday nights to get them involved in a Christian community.  Also started at this time were outings to lakes, hiking, Christian concerts, etc. and opportunities for the youth and children to do community service projects.  A new place to meet was also needed and the ministry partnered with the management of the apartment community allowing the ministry to use their office as a meeting place.

These children and youths had an obvious need for structured, positive, and fun activities.  It also provided many of them with love, care, encouragement and someone simply telling them they believed in them.  Prior to this, many of the kids and youth would just ‘hang out’ until all hours and there were many opportunities for them to become involved in drugs, violence, crime, sex, etc.  Worst of all was how many of them had self-esteem, loneliness and anger issues.

It was realized that even the children and youth came to all the activities and Bible studies that was only 5% of their time throughout the week. The rest of the time they may be impacted by an unhealthy and dangerous community and home environment. The next step then was to meet their families and reach out to their parents. In the summer of 1999, the ministry was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization. 

 

GOALS

The main goal is to reach the youth/children and their families in a specific community.  The ministry seeks to bring families together, and to strengthen their love for one another and Jesus Christ.  The ministry strategically partners with local churches and apartment communities to establish an on-site Christian presence where these people live; and to love people by meeting their needs, sharing the hope of Christ, discipling and bringing them into fellowship.

 

 

The ministry seeks to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those they serve, as well as to be a catalyst for positive and Godly change in the community.

 

 

ACTIVITIES

 

Physical needs are met by ensuring they have enough food, clothing and can pay their rent.  Many local restaurants and food stores (even Chik-Fil-A as a corporation) have come into partnership with Me and My House and provide food that they can pass along to the families who are in need.  Others have donated clothing which, for example, enabled Me and My House to meet the needs of those who had lost almost everything in a fire at the apartment complex.  The ministry also maintains a benevolence fund which is used in crisis to ensure that none of these families end up on the streets.  Financial Benevolence is usually given only when financial planning/counseling is also agreed upon.

Emotional needs are met primarily through friendships.  The relationships that are established by the ministry workers with those in the community are deep and powerful.  They are truly friends because they provide a listening ear, pray with the people, and serve without causing any type of dependence.  For example, Atlanta is a very difficult city to get around without a car.  Many times a ministry staff may offer someone a ride to a job interview or a doctor’s appointment. The ministry also provides access to professional counseling resources if needed.

Spiritual needs are met through organized Bible studies, providing a firm foundation in God’s Word, discipling, helping them to get into a local church, and prayer.

 

The specific programs for Kids and Youth are:

§          Recreation activities

§          Bible Study classes (broken down into appropriate age/gender groups)

§          Youth led praise and worship

§          Discipleship groups

§          Community Service Projects

§          Social Outings

§          Church transportation

§          Mentoring

 

The specific programs for Adults and Families are:

§          Discipleship groups

§          Bible study classes

§          Resume writing

§          Food distribution

§          Financial planning

§          Church transportation

§          Benevolence

§          Weekly visitations of families

§          After church luncheons

§          Holiday celebrations

 

The children and youth are the ministry’s primary way of getting to know the families, and developing relationships with the families is critical to success.  The kids or youth will hear about the Friday night Bible study or other social activities and show up.  After that contact is made, a member of the ministry staff will go and visit them in their homes.  At least one night a week is set aside for going to visit families in order to develop deeper friendships.  This also shows the kids and youth that those in the ministry have a deep concern for them and desire to be a part of their lives. 

 

 

The needs of the community are also being met as the ministry provides positive, alternative activities and things for the children and youth to do.  The management of the apartment community has been thrilled about the impact on the community and working with them (hearing their needs and using their resources) has also been a critical part of the success of Me and My House.

 

 

In summary by entering into a disadvantaged community and reaching out to the children and youth by offering activities and love, their families can also be reached with the love of Christ, and the community can begin to be transformed by the gospel.

 

OPERATIONS

To start this program very little is needed: a place to meet in the targeted community, time to build relationships, and two or three people equipped to lead recreational activities, worship and a Bible study for youth and children…all filled with a lot of love.  One thing that is very important is setting up expectations for behavior, establishing very clear and consistent discipline for when the rules are crossed.  Since this is the first time many have been in a disciplined environment, it is suggested that the rules be simple, understandable, and grace extended through a build up of the severity of the discipline over the number of times a rule is broken.

 

As the program grows, there will be a need for more volunteers/teachers, vehicles to transport people to churches, recreational equipment, Bible study curriculum, resources to provide benevolence assistance, and ways to refer people for counseling and provide financial/career planning.  

There are two things which are absolutely vital to the success of a ministry like this.  The first is a commitment to making real relationships/friendships with those in the community you go out to serve.  The second is at least one local church in the community partnering with you, ready to love and serve those who are being brought into the community of faith.

 

OPINIONS

If you walk into a Me and My House activities, one of the first things that strikes you is the amount of laughter and hugs.  The transformation of many of these kids is amazing.  Some who started out incredibly angry and withdrawn are now outgoing and happy.  Others have been helped tremendously in a time of crisis that could have had lifetime devastating consequences had the ministry not been there.  For example, one of the teenage girls became pregnant and was thrown out on the streets by her family.  She turned to the ministry who found her a crisis pregnancy home to live in and continued to provide counsel and love as she got her life back together and supported her to become a good parent.

“If Me and My House were not working with these students and in their community I would not like to think where these students would be.  I’d see them without hope and with out direction.” - Michael Carney – High School Pastor, First Baptist Church of Atlanta 

“If Me and My House did not come into my life… I would not have been able to take care of my bills.  I would be homeless.” -  Hawa Yansaneh, mother of four children ages 18, 10, 9 and 7

 

 

“The impact that I’ve seen Me and My House have on the community of NorthChase has been absolutely wonderful.  On Friday evenings the kids are SO excited because there is Bible study at the NorthChase office” - Yolanda Turman, Assistant manager of NorthChase Apartments 

 

“I know that I always have someone to turn to when I have a problem, and when I need a friend I will always have one” – Unique, 13 years old

 

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

1. What is your personal interest in this kind of program?

2. How do you assess the possibility of short-term success, long-term sustainability, or possible failure of this program?

3. Do you think a program like this would succeed in your area or situation?  Why or why not?

4. How would you use the ideas here to build a program in your situation?

IMPLICATIONS

 

There are many children, youth and their families who desperately need Christ and the Church but for many different reasons are not in a relationship with either.  Their communities are in dire need of the transforming power of the Gospel.  Instead of waiting for them to ‘happen’ upon the church’s doorstep, Me and My House goes out to them and establishes a strong, consistent Christian presence in the heart of their community.  By going out to where these people are, not only can they be helped to enter into a relationship with Christ and their local church, but the presence of fun, moral, entertaining activities and Christian love helps to transform their communities.  This in turn provides the youth and children of these areas a chance to grow up in a more stable, encouraging, safe, and hopeful environment.

Elizabeth B. Beinhocker cCYS