February 27, 2018
Give and GoGive
As part of our annual discipleship campaigns, we always include a service component. Serving our community is part of our mission statement where we say: “We exist to develop a community of disciples who experience God, love one another, and partner with Christ to heal the world.” Serving is a way we partner with Christ to heal the world!
During our first discipleship campaign that we titled “The Good Life”, Vineyard Columbus started a ministry called Transitions. The Transitions ministry provides free basic home goods (including bed, bath, and kitchen items) for people transitioning into permanent housing: homeless families, those fleeing from human trafficking or fleeing domestic violence, men and women reentering society after incarceration, resettled refugees, and homeless veterans.
During The Good Life campaign, our church donated enough home goods to supply bed, bath, and kitchen items for 250 families. Over the past two years we have continued to receive donations as we serve an average of eight families per week who are transitioning from homelessness to stable housing. The items needed and given include: sheets, blankets, pillows, and alarm clocks for bedrooms; bath and hand towels, wash cloths, personal care items, shower curtains, liners and rings, plunger and toilet scrubber for bathrooms; set of dishes, cookware, glasses, silverware, knives, utensils, serving and baking dishes for kitchens.
We now have 29 local agencies referring people to Vineyard Columbus who are transitioning out of homelessness. These agencies include refugee resettlement agencies, homeless shelters here in Columbus – including Faith Mission and Star House (a daytime shelter for teens who are homeless), the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, agencies working with people leaving prison, agencies working with very low income families in the poorest zip codes in Columbus, the Veteran’s Administration and Veteran’s and Families First (who work with homeless veterans), and social service agencies that help those who have experienced house fires and domestic violence.
Transitions is an incredible ministry that fills a hole in the social safety net. Several agencies in town help people to obtain furniture and major appliances such as stoves and ranges. But Vineyard Columbus is one of the only places in Central Ohio where a person can come and equip a home with the household items that we offer through Transitions.
People who receive these items are extraordinarily grateful. One woman wept as she received gifts of bedding for her home. She said, through tears, that she had never had a new blanket or new sheets for her bed at any time in her life. One man who is a veteran, named Ross, was absolutely overjoyed by the gifts of household items he received from Transitions. Ross experienced traumatic brain injuries from his wartime service. Yet, after serving our country, there were few places Ross could turn to that would help him! Vineyard Columbus has become one of the places Ross could turn to in his time of need.
The thing that amazes people is that the items they receive are all new! As I’ve often said, people who are wealthy experience “good news” every day. Every day I get offers in the mail for new cars and lines of credit. Our email is filled with dozens of offers for vacations around the world. But a ministry like Transitions walks in the footsteps of Jesus as we uniquely offer good news “for the poor” (Luke 4:18).
Would you and your small group give to Transitions ministry? The items that are most needed are: twin and queen sheet sets, twin and queen blankets, sets of dishes, sets of cookware, and bath towels. Remember that the blankets, sheets, and towels must be new. We would like for you to collect the items as a group and bring those items with you on Palm Sunday weekend, March 24 and 25. We will have a collection location at all of our campuses that weekend.
As you may have read, the city of Columbus received the lowest scores of any major city in the state of Ohio for our city schools. The Columbus Public School system received an “F” as an overall grade in measuring its effectiveness in educating Columbus children. As part of our mission to “partner with Christ to heal the world”, Vineyard Columbus decided to engage our city schools by offering to mentor children. We’ve been working in the public schools for the past three years. Each year, our program has nearly doubled in size! We started with 60 matches our first year, 123 our second year, and 183 mentors served this past year.
Vineyard Columbus serves six Columbus City Schools on the north end of town: Northgate, Northtowne, Maize, and Parkmoor Elementary Schools and Woodward Park and Woodward Park at Walden Middle Schools. We are committed to walk alongside our mentees until they graduate high school. 100% of our sixth grade mentees felt that their matches were excellent and 100% felt that the mentoring sessions were fun. In another recent survey 100% of our mentors said that they enjoy their experience of mentoring.
But Vineyard Columbus is not only committed to helping mentor children in the public schools, we also want to serve these six area public schools in other ways. In the fall, we distributed students with school supplies. We provide food for children who are nutritionally deprived, and we have supplied clothing to dozens of families.
During this year’s campaign, Vineyard Columbus wants to recruit 900 to 1,000 volunteers to work on service projects at 15 Columbus City Schools on Saturday, April 7. We’re working in partnership with the school district in this effort. The district will be providing staff and materials to assist us. The interim superintendent and school board members will attend and work alongside Vineyard Columbus members that day. Our hope is to impact ALL of the Columbus City Schools on the north side of the city.
The tasks we’ll be doing to help clean up the school grounds include:
• leaf cleanup
• planting flowers/gardens
• painting curbs and safety lines
• painting playground fences
• installing new playground equipment
• painting basketball backboards
• painting inside the school building
• painting murals
• providing gifts of appreciation to school staff
We want to have small groups and HOST groups sign up to serve our Columbus Public Schools on Saturday, April 7.
In following the Real Jesus, we, our families, and our small groups are called to Give and Go.