Port Austin Bible Campus, 8180 Port Drive, PO Box 474, Port Austin,
Michigan, USA, 48467. • 989-738-7700 • firstname.lastname@example.org
The Last PABC Newsletter — #8, May 2018
Big changes are happening in Thumb service to the homeless:
Jeff Kramer and family came to stay on the PABC campus in October of 2017 and helped run the ministry for seven months. They excelled at the ministry and inspired many other local churches to help arrange for funding to custom-build a new facility. On April 12, he announced that MHH would not be purchasing the PABC property. Unfortunately, the Edwards were already planning to move and the PABC land contract vendor was already planning to be paid off within the next few months. This leaves a gap in Huron County homeless coverage—unless some fellow believers are inspired to help.
Even so, this will all work for good in the long run (see next article). It seems that God has blessed the current effort in a way that has not happened before. The day that the PABC potential closure announcement was made, 3 people called seeking shelter, but had found new places before the end of the day. Of the 23 homeless Guests at PABC on April 12, 11 have moved out and 9 more have a good place to go.
On April 27, the PABC property was listed for $160,000 with Team Sunrise Real Estate Services, agent Brenda Heilig (989-975-8746). While there are two serious commercial interests in the property, we want to encourage any church or small group of Christians to buy the property to continue the homeless ministry or make a Christian retreat center. For such a Christian group, we will gladly leave the furniture, bedding, kitchen appliances, commercial cookware, washers, dryers and many other things that would cost a ministry tens of thousands to procure. Some volunteer staff will stay if needed. See the page 5 article if you are interested.
Do you remember this Bible story from Acts 15?
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches (Acts 15:36-41, NIV).
Paul and Barnabas agreed that Mark had deserted them in the past, but disagreed on what was best for the future. Barnabas wanted to take Mark, but Paul did not. Was Barnabas' judgment clouded because Mark was his cousin? (Colossians 4:10). Since they could not agree, they ended up with two teams: Paul & Silas and Barnabas & Mark. Both Mark and Silas turned out to be a blessing for the preaching of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:12 1 Peter 5:12-13).
The situation with the former Air Force Base property is similar. There is disagreement as to whether to continue using it for a Christian homeless ministry or to build a new facility. But with God's blessing, we will end up with three ministry teams from this disagreement. Norman Edwards and friends are headed for Nashville and a new Christian Media Ministry. Jeff Kramer and the Michigan House of Hope board are building a new facility for Christian recovery and emergency housing for homeless people. God may be stirring up another team to buy the PABC property to continue the homeless ministry and/or run a Christian summer camp.
We need more Christian missions, not less. Let us pray that God stirs the right people to lay aside their personal goals for a time to use their resources to build these three ministries. There will not be a shortage of His people to serve!
From July 8, 2005, to mid-2010, the Port Austin Bible Campus took in six homeless people. They were not part of any program, but were people in need that we could help. On June 3, 2010, PABC accepted a family of three at the recommendation of Kathie Harrison of the Huron County Homeless Coalition. The PABC homeless ministry was born. A total of 22 people, 10 men, 6 women and 6 children stayed that year. Speaking of "being born," that first family of 3 had their second child while living at PABC!
"Bed-nights" are a common measure of shelter service: the sum of the number of days that each person stays during a given period of time (month, year, etc.). PABC provided only 1755 bed-nights during 2010, but has grown considerably providing 11,349 bed-nights in 2016. For all 8 years, we provided a total 59,580 bed-nights of housing—the equivalent of 2.1 full 78-year average lifetimes! We provided mostly single beds, with double-beds for couples and youth beds, cribs and bassinets for the little ones. See details for men, women and children on the graph below:
So where did PABC guests come from and where did they go? See the two adjoining charts. Database entries of the names, dates, brief stories and other data were recorded when each Guest came and went. You can read their stories, without names, here: portaustin.net/pabc/log.html.
Adding the top two rows, below, shows that 63% of PABC guests came from Huron County. It is a good fit. Children can stay in the same school. Parents do not need to start over applying new jobs, apartments, food stamps, doctors, housing programs, etc. The main reason people came from Sanilac and Tuscola counties is the lack of shelters for men there. Most of the people who came from further away had some connection to Huron County: they had previously lived here or had friends and relatives here.
A full 68% of PABC guests left to positive outcomes. We did not have a follow-up program to attempt to track them years later. Yes, 22% left for negative outcomes. Nevertheless, PABC often played a role in obtaining the right kind of help for them—even helping law enforcement know their whereabouts or testifying against them. One of the biggest services of homeless ministries is helping those in real need, holding accountable those who are lazy or trying to “cheat the system” and protecting our society by getting troubled people off our streets. This is never done perfectly, but the many who worked to make PABC a success provided a good service to the Thumb.
Friday evening, March 9th, Norm and I were asked by one of the guests at the homeless shelter if we had a few minutes to talk. We could tell right away that there was something different this time. Eric had been staying with us for a few weeks; it wasn't his first time here. Eric is a tall but thin man at age 40, his teeth damaged from years of drug abuse. Eric was normally cheerful and always ready to jump in and lend a hand whenever it was needed. Now sitting across from me, I knew something wasn't right. His eyes which were usually friendly and genuine wouldn't make contact with mine. He was restless in his seat and fighting back the tears. We sat quiet for a while to let Eric own the space; we could see him searching for the right words.
Finally in a somber release of emotion... "I'm done" he said. "What do you mean Eric?", I asked. The tears began to flow. "I'm done with fighting. I've screwed everything up. I don't know what to do my life is so screwed up. I'm a full fledged addict again! I think about suicide all the time and I don't know what to do. I need help!"
Eric had relapsed and he knew he was in trouble. Not only was he living in a homeless shelter and addicted to prescription medication, he was also facing a legal battle that could soon land him significant prison time and the possibility of losing the most important thing in the world to him, his daughter.
We asked Eric if we could pray with him, he agreed to that. It was clear Eric had a conceptual belief in God but had never really developed a personal relationship with Him. I knew exactly what Eric needed to become whole again. He needed a Christian centered recovery program. He needed to get out of this shelter and get into a place where he would be surrounded by others who've been through similar battles but achieved victory. He needed to live in a clean and sober environment with brothers in Christ there to pick him up when the day was dark and down. He needed to let go of his freedom for a while and allow someone else to control his schedule. He needed to rebuild a new and healthy routine with full immersion in daily Bible study, worship and prayer. He needed a powerful movement of God in his life. He needed Teen Challenge. The question was, was he ready to make that kind of commitment? The 14-month program is a big piece of one's life.
I took a phone call last week from a number I didn't recognize. It was Eric. He called to thank me for taking him to Teen Challenge. He was less than 2 months in and he sounded like a different person; He was a different person. I had to fight back the tears of joy as I listened to Eric relate to me one victory after another:
A research project sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found Teen Challenge to have a 74% cure rate! Dr. Catherine Hess, study director, states that “whereas treatment in a detoxification facility results in a one percent cure, and therapeutic community's cure rate is about 10 percent, the Teen Challenge has an amazingly high cure rate.” Dr. Hess further states, “Teen Challenge is the best I know to get a person off drugs.”
Michigan House of Hope will soon offer a similar program to that of Teen Challenge. Our mission is not to shelter the homeless or be a rehab facility, but to foster a change of heart in a Christ-Centered healing environment focused on discipleship through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though most of the guests we serve struggle with many different forms of life-controlling issues, we never focus on the problem, but rather on the formation of an identity in Christ. We serve those who see themselves as broken, dirty, unwanted, unacceptable, rejected, hopeless, unloved, and unlovable. We offer them the only hope we have: the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Michigan House of Hope is now looking for a new home! After much prayer and fasting, the Board of Directors for the Michigan House of Hope voted to NOT purchase the Port Austin Air Force Base property where the Port Austin Bible Campus has been operating. A number of factors led to this decision inlcuding the purchase price, payment terms, age of the facility, long-term operating costs and the significant financial investment needed to bring it up to standard fire and building codes. With significant financial support from several local churches, we are instead looking at other facility options. We have toured a few existing facilities for sale as possible relocation options and looked at raw land to build a new facility. We continue to look to God to lead us in the direction He sees fit. Please join us in prayer as we continue to explore the doors that God opens.
If you have any questions please feel free to call or email any time: Jeffery Kramer, Director, Michigan House of Hope Inc., PO Box 160, Port Austin, MI 48467; Cell 989.582.0063 www.michiganhouseofhope.com
Yet, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37).
Why do we need a shelter in Huron County? If we don't have one, won't all the homeless people simply go somewhere else? (Problem solved?) No!
From our eight years of experience, and by simply asking our homeless Guests, we have learned the cost to the community of not having a local shelter. First, many homeless people cannot simply go to a distant shelter. Most do not have cars, insurance and current registration. Our bus systems generally do not cross county lines or carry all of one's possessions. If they find a ride to a distant shelter, it is far away from helpful friends, job contacts, housing contacts, their children's schools, etc. Most of the homeless will sensibly try to stay local but resort to one of these options:
The reasons for homelessness are a continuum varying between outside circumstances and the homeless person's own bad decisions. But in almost every case, the homeless person will be better off in a caring shelter where they will be helped with their difficulties, or referred to rehabilitation or law enforcement if those are the best solutions. Wandering about in society utilizing the above 8 options is generally not good for the people and it is not good for our County.
Finally, good homeless shelters are a best friend of landlords and other business people. Most of them have had the occasional customer plead with them to delay (maybe forever) paying what they owe so that they can pay rent or other essential items to keep their home and family together. The businessperson does not want to be heartless, but nor does he want to cooperate with lies and enable somebody's substance abuse habit. The business person sees the customer only briefly and is not well equipped to make this determination; the homeless shelter sees everything its Guests do and can quickly figure out if they are truthful. With a local shelter working, the business person can, with a good conscience, collect bills when they are due, knowing that their customers have a way to get shelter, food and other help if they really need it.
Nobody ever sat down with their financial planner and concluded that the best for them to do would be to buy a homeless ministry. But nearly 2000 years ago, a man had this conversation with Jesus Christ:
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
Jesus did not hate this man. He loved him. He knew that wealthy men can always lean on their wealth rather than have faith in God. He wanted him to develop faith and he gave him a way to do it.
Similarly, no finanical planner would advise their client to give up their profitable job—when they already owned the production assets—and use the bulk of their daily energies to run a homeless ministry. But Jesus had this conversation with those who followed him:
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
It is not a trivial decision to spend years of one's life or $160,000 to buy 11.44 acres of land and 11 buildings. But if the Holy Spirit is leading a team of Christians to do this, it is the right thing. If your group has only the time, or only the money, please call anyway, and maybe two groups can work together. Right now, the property has the furniture, appliances, linens, extra food, and everything necessary to run a ministry. Their are Guest volunteers and contributors ready to serve. Many websites and agencies have this address and phone number—which can be yours.
The difficulties we have written about in the past issue have all been solved: There is no more debt—only if you take out a loan to buy the property. The utilities are all paid up to date; the chicken house is in an industrial zone—acceptable to the township. The property title is clear.
If God is stirring you to consider a ministry to the homeless, please give Norman Edwards a call at 989-582-0848 or 989-582-7774 and set up an appointment to get all the information you need and to see the property. You do need to act quickly, as there is commercial interest in the property and the Edwards want to move on to a new ministry and seven grandchildren in Tennessee.
Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “ Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-60).
Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30).