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IHN Serves Homeless Families

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice Hospitality         Romans 12:13

Several times a year, ZPC hosts a group of people in our church building. Two of these times are coming up in the next couple of weeks—the men’s and women’s Great Banquets. Individuals sleep here in our building. Meals are provided in the kitchen. Rooms are made up with beds and makeshift night stands. This is something we’ve been doing at ZPC since the early 90s. In November, ZPC will have an opportunity to do this for a group of families who are experiencing homelessness through an organization called Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), a national, faith-based, organization whose mission is to provide temporary, emergency shelter for homeless families.

Mary Leman, one of the program coordinators, thinks this ministry is a great fit for ZPC. “I knew this ministry sounded exactly like who we are as Christians. It's been said, 'this is in ZPC'S DNA!' In addition, I know we, as Presbyterians may be a reserved group, but I say, do not confuse that with apathy. All you need to do is show us a need or ask for help, and we will drop everything to show God's love.”

Each week up to fourteen homeless individuals are provided with housing at network church facilities. During the day, guests stay at a day center in downtown Indianapolis, where they receive social services. Older children attend school. Between 5 pm and 6 am, local congregations serve as hosts on a weekly rotational basis, providing lodging, meals, and hospitality. ZPC will host for the first time from November 8 through November 15, 2015.

I asked Mary why she was draw to IHN. She said, “here is the opportunity to reach out to people in our community who are in need right now, and help them lift themselves up today. I was especially drawn to the opportunity to keep families together and provide a safe, stable environment for the children. I am delighted that my own children, aged 5, 8, and 10 years old, can be a part of IHN and can learn how to share Christ's love by volunteering and helping the families feel welcome.”

Volunteers are the heart of the program. As Mary mentioned, opportunities exist for people of all ages to serve including:
            >          Setting up guest bedrooms in the church
            >          Cooking and serving meals
            >          Playing with the children and helping them with homework
            >          Staying overnight with the families
            >          Providing transportation to and from the day center
            >          Tearing down guest bedrooms
            >          Doing laundry
            >          Donating food items and supplies or making a financial donation to purchase needed items
            >          Most importantly, demonstrating Christ’s love

IHN continues to work with these families after they are no longer in crisis. Mary says, “I feel great about the entire program and especially the follow up each family receives afterwards to make sure they don't fall victim to homelessness again.”

“IHN puts those needy families right before us, within our walls, where we can be the hands and feet of Christ in our own church home. In truth, I feel we are blessed that these families would allow us, complete strangers, to serve them and trust us during this difficult time in their family's life. In being true disciples of Jesus, others will see the light within us and be touched.”

Posted by Sally Bias with

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