Many times when I speak to a group of people they are often sweet in responding that they are impressed with what ‘I’ do. But I am very aware that what House of Faith does is because of two things: God and volunteers. Each week I am blessed to work with a group of people from different walks of life. We have volunteers that represent churches such as Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Beltway Park Baptist Church, New Hope Church, Abilene Bible Church, New Haven Community Church, Southside Baptist Church, St. Paul United Methodist, First Baptist Church, Southern Hills Church of Christ and others along with college students from Hardin Simmons University and Abilene Christian University. A diverse group of individuals indeed, but our volunteers are amazing to say the least! They help wherever is needed but mostly help love on the children like Jesus would love on them. They give hugs and get hugs. Some teach parts of the lessons, some sit with the children during this time. Some help with memory verses and some help with play time and some help with putting stuff together for the kids.
But this is the truth: House of Faith-Abilene is what it is because of it’s volunteers. There is no way we could go out each week to these neighborhoods and share the love of Jesus without them. We are so thankful to our faithful volunteers who give of themselves and help us “take Jesus to the neighborhoods”. You are a true example of what it means to be the ‘hands and feet’ of Jesus.
Psalm 115:14-15 “May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”
In Abilene, I have the privilege of working for an organization called House of Faith. House of Faith exists to bring Jesus to neighborhood children and their families. Basically, my job consists of going to Backyard Bible Studies in the afternoons. These kids all come from at-risk backgrounds, situations that I never knew could exist in my own backyard. From the very first time I met these kids a year and a half ago, till right this moment, each and every one of them has filled my heart with joy. A joy none other than the joy of the Lord.
You see, I never imagined myself working with kids younger than 6th grade. However, I am daily surrounded my kids k-5th grade; precious children that have taught me what it means to love Jesus. More than that, they have taught me what it means to LIVE for Jesus. I have seen these children in many different lights and in many different situations. Sometimes they are great and behave well.Sometimes they know the answers and are really responsive to talking about God.Sometimes they say something about who God is that I had never even thought of before. Sometimes they show kindness to one another. Sometimes they act generous and loving. Sometimes they do all of these things and are very easy to love.BUT….Sometimes they misbehave.Sometimes they act out.Sometimes they don’t want to talk about God.Sometimes they don’t want to be responsive.Sometimes they talk bad about each other and My Savior.Sometimes they slap, hit, kick, punch, and show hate to one another.Sometimes they say awful things to each other.Sometimes they do all of these things and are still VERY EASY to love. I’ve never had my own child, and that won’t be happening for a while. But I do have these kids. Kids that are so good at times, and so awful at others. But you want to know something? My love for them never changes. It is unconditional. I love them so much that I would willingly give my life for any of them. My love for them is not based upon their actions. Even when they act awful, I STILL LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY. I see Jesus in these children by the gentleness, love, and spirit. But mostly, I see Jesus in them, because I have learned that the way that I love these kids, is how Jesus loves me, but SO MUCH MORE!You see, just like anyone else, I am a sinner. I mess up, pretty much daily. Sometimes it’s an outward sin that everyone can see, or sometimes it’s merely a thought. Whatever it is, I can act pretty awful at times. But that doesn’t make it more difficult for Jesus to love me. He loves me the same as he did yesterday and he will love me the same tomorrow. It doesn’t change. His love is unconditional and constant. It doesn’t change based upon my actions. While Jesus would like for me to act in a more loving way, just like sometimes I would like my House of Faith kids to act better or love God and each other more, my love for them is not dependent upon a change in their actions. So when I get the chance to actively love kids that don’t have the greatest lifestyle or behavior, I see how Jesus so gracefully loves me. My heart explodes with joy!!!“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)I am a child of God. And so are you! I have a loving and protective Father and so do you! The love with which Jesus loves us is incomprehensible!!! And THAT should be enough to change your heart! I know it’s changed mine.
If you have been part of House of Faith for some time now, you should know that the backbone of this ministry is the VISITATION TEAMS (VT). Our mission statement is to ‘Take Jesus to neighborhood children, youth and families’. Since families don’t attend club, the only way we get to do the ‘family’ part is with visitation. The day before each club, every registered child is visited by a caring, loving servant of the Lord (VT). They bring with them a flyer which reminds the child about club and also have the memory verse on it. The VT gets to spend a few minutes with the child, but also gets to build relationships with the family members.
Every year the VT gets a chance to pray with a family, or help with a small need. Soon, it is not only the HOF child who is looking forward to the weekly visit, but the adult family members. This year the visitation team is going above and beyond and allowing Jesus’ love to shine through them. They have prayed with families that are in conflict, sick, or in need. They have helped with food when the cabinets were bare, stayed a little longer visiting the lonely grandmother and visited the sick in the hospital.
Actually, this is usually how HOF hears about any problems that might be going on with the child or the family. Take the case of a brother and sister who attend a club. They are just the sweetest kids and live with their grandparents. The grandparents have had the kids since they were very little, so they actually consider them the parents. One evening after visitation I received an email from a VT member. They just found out that the grand- father had been going to dialysis three times a week. However, his truck broke down and he had been having a hard time finding a ride for his treatment. We had no idea about this. An email soon went out to see if we could assist him. It was another VT member that said, “Yes, I can help one day a week.” However, we have not been able to find more help, so he has actually been doing it three times a week. He is waking up at 5:30am in the morning to help get this grandfather to his treatment, then goes back at 11:00am to bring him home.
During this time, we have also found out that the grandmother has major hip problems and has been unable to get around for quite some time. A young college group got together and delivered a meal for them.
We are still trying to work on raising funds to help repair their only vehicle. But we know that God will provide and are trusting in him.
In the meantime, this family is experiencing the love of Jesus in a mighty way. Our VT members are truly being the hands and feet of Jesus. HOF and the HOF families has been truly blessed with having these wonderful volunteers join us in this ministry and they are making a difference for the Kingdom.
Late Spring of 2001 I received a call. The voice on the other end introduced herself as Kathy Butcher. She explained to me that she had just moved to Abilene with her husband, Spencer and her two children, Matthew and Carolyn. She told me that she had heard from House of Faith San Angelo Co-founder Kevin Reynolds that I was interested in doing a club here in Abilene. Kathy had helped with House of Faith in San Angelo and was interested in helping out here. At the time, I was just in the process of starting a House of Faith club. Stepping out in faith with this After School Bible Club, I prayed to God daily for help. It was already difficult enough getting enough volunteers for a Wednesday evening class. How would I get enough help for an after school club when everyone I knew worked, including myself. God had a plan and he has provided the workers and Kathy Butcher was one of them.
From day one, Kathy has been ready and willing to help in any way. She prayed with us, planned with us, served with us and has partnered with House of Faith in every way. She has truly done it all! She was there the first day we had HOF club in July 2001 and has volunteered her time ever since. Kathy is willing to do whatever it takes to reach the children of Abilene. She has taught lessons, prepared lessons, bandaged wounds, held kids in her lap, played hours of kick ball, face painted, help plan special events, stuffed Christmas bags, dressed up as an Oompa Loompa, painted walls, cooked at summer camp, taught art at summer camp, lead crafts at day camp, chaperoned special events and helped at speaking engagements. These are just a few of the things she has done over the past 9 years.
Kathy’s husband, Spencer Butcher has recently accepted a job at Goodfellow AFB. This means that they will be moving back to San Angelo and we will be losing a vital part of House of Faith-Abilene. Although we are very sad to lose Kathy, we are so very thankful to God for blessing us abundantly with her heart and love for all those around her. House of Faith has grown into what it is today because of people like Kathy. Even more, Kathy has been a good friend.
Taking JESUS to neighborhood children, youth, and families.