Friday, 01 July 2016 07:57

Ministry Spotlight: House to House

Written by  Laura Bell
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C. S. Lewis reasoned that “Christianity, if false, is of no importance and, if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” We believe Christianity is true. We want our neighbors to know its infinite importance. 

 

In 2009, Mike Bunce, Executive Director of House to House ministries, had his world turned all around when the economic recession severely affected his and his family’s life. Mike had spent a great deal of time around Common Ground Montgomery, an inner city ministry serving the Washington Park community.  He gave and served, gaining a heart and love for the community, until eventually searching for a conventional job began to fade in his horizon.  He felt a strong calling on his heart to raise support and launch a housing ministry with Common Ground, and so he did.  It’s called House to House Ministries, and is based on Acts 5:42: “Day after day in the temple courts, and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” Not long after building the ministry, Mike and his wife Susan moved to the Washington Park neighborhood in 2011.

 

House to House (H2H) found its beginnings in 2009.  After Common Ground Montgomery launched its after school program, the need for safe, affordable housing became immediately apparent.  Washington Park was teeming with dilapidated homes where drug dealers and squatters had found comfortable dwellings to set up camp.  And for many others who were renting homes in the once thriving community, their living conditions ranged from sub-standard in many cases to deplorable in others.  As a result, Mike Bunce joined CGM to oversee its affordable housing initiative--building quality, brand new homes or completely refurbishing others in the community.

 

H2H is doing more than gutting and rebuilding the old homes in the neighborhood; they are re-building a community of people who are meeting the heart of Jesus and restructuring their own futures.  The value that this ministry brings to the Washington Park community is truly remarkable.  Mike shares, “When we think of how to address the problems of under-resourced neighborhoods, one of two things usually comes to mind: government assistance or relief style handouts.  Both are well-intended, but each has the same affect: they undermine the dignity of the person receiving ‘help’ and they keep the person in need.  Lifting a person out of their need is such a difficult task that most people simply do not know where to begin.”

 

It is vital to this ministry to have as many people as possible partnering with them to help with building, finances, and mentorship in the programs that are offered.  These programs include: Affordable Housing, Foundations Class & Mentoring, and Volunteer Program.  The Programs offered by H2H are helpful and transforming to the community.  H2H builds strong relationships with the prospective residents of the new homes.

 

 

Affordable Housing gives students the ability to learn about managing a household budget.  The student must learn the importance of doing so and prove that they are capable of maintaining that budget.  The student must be nominated by their mentor.  H2H tries to find the best avenue to calculate the needs and match them.  It is when the match is made that renovation begins.  H2H is very disciplined in checking in on families that may have made late payments.  Because loans are pulled to do renovations, the ministry is proactive in making sure the family living in the home promptly follows through with their obligations to the home. The ministry is teaching dignity and responsibility, helping the families long term in their ability to be self sufficient and live in a beautiful house in the process. 

 

H2H makes sure that the home is solid and livable and one that they would build for themselves… “good enough” is unacceptable.  The families that finish the affordable housing program are invited to help pick paint colors, fixtures and flooring types.  “It is built into our ministry plan to sell each home we renovate to families who have learned how to qualify for a mortgage,” Mike explains.

 

It is joyful news to see and hear about the amount of families that have finished the program and the homes they are now in.  Eighteen individuals and couples have completed classes.  Currently, an additional eight or nine others are on track to graduate in about six months.  All but two of those individuals/families are actually in a H2H home and those other two homes are currently under construction.

 

 

Foundations Class & Mentoring is another program that H2H uses to reach the adults in the neighborhood.  Throughout the course of several weeks, classes meet on Tuesday nights teaching budgeting, job readiness, parenting, marriage enrichment, and nutrition--all with biblical perspective.  The students’ hearts are stewarded well, they are challenged to grow and work hard in growing in closeness to the Father.  Along with the classes, H2H has mentors who walk beside the students as they journey through the classes, helping them in their relationship with the Lord and encouraging them in their classwork, which in-turn helps them become mentors to future H2H students. 

 

 

Volunteer Program  is set up to allow volunteer groups to come in and work alongside H2H to rebuild homes or renovate already standing homes in the neighborhood.  H2H provides materials to the volunteers so they can get to work as soon as they arrive. This program is so valuable to H2H, and they believe the volunteers do more than they will ever understand for the ministry. And for that, H2H is very thankful!

 

In a brief interview with Cornelius Jackson, Director of Discipleship responsible for educational programs for neighbors and mentor coordination, he shared how he has seen the Lord move in the Ministry: “Wow! Where do I begin? Our staff and ministry partners have seen long-term relationships turn into marriage ceremonies.  Also, we witness (and get to participate) in seeing healthier financial situations in the lives of the families we serve.  Moreover, we get to share in the joy of individuals who excitedly turn the keys to quality homes--though they never saw themselves rejigging anywhere but the local housing projects in the city.  Also, we get to be neighbors who pray for each other and assist one another, working together to make Christ known throughout the neighborhood.  More often than not, we at H2H get to see God provide for our many needs over and over again.  Our challenges are numerous and our needs seem endless at times.  However, God continues to surprise us with answers to our prayers.”

 

God is working wonders with the ministry of House to House and the people who work there.  Some of the staff live in the Washington Park neighborhood, giving them greater understanding and perspective of those they are teaching and mentoring into better homes.  There is great transformation happening with the power of hard work and faithful disciples for the Kingdom.

 

If you have an interest in volunteering with House to House ministries, be sure to contact Delta Kelly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to find out more. Visit their website at H2Hlife.org.

 

Laura Bell is a freelance writer, born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama.  She enjoys spending time with her husband Cody and finding all reasons to have joy in life!

 

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 01 July 2016 08:20
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