A group of young women bow their heads and pray with bibles.

Meet the Volunteers: Holly – Bible Study Leader

Volunteers are the heart and soul of My House Ministry. There are many aspects to the ministry that we would not be able to accomplish without our volunteers. Some of our most faithful volunteers are our Bible Study Leaders.

A group of young women bow their heads and pray with bibles.


Each one of our houses has it’s own Bible study each week for the women in the program to attend. This way, they can learn about the Bible without worrying about transportation. We have 5 faithful volunteers for our 4 houses. They are on the front lines, every week leading the residents in greater understanding of Faith.

We wanted to share a bit about each volunteer and why they are passionate about volunteering! Today, we want you to meet Holly!

Holly: Our Tuesday night volunteer. Holly is a honest, passionate and thoughtful leader. She has been a faithful volunteer, despite her busy work schedule and being a single parent. God lead her to My House Ministry after prayer and searching for a way to server her sisters in Christ in the Holland area. Holly said, “you don’t have to go far to do ‘mission work!'”
So, why does she continue to volunteer, despite the large commitment? Holly told us “…there is great reward in being a volunteer! First, it’s knowing the ladies themselves – funny, real, and articulate – they are at MHM because they have hope for the future.”
Holly also reminded us of this beautiful truth, “One must be poured out to be filled. By giving of oneself for Jesus Christ of Nazareth, one in turn is blessed — waaaaay more than what’s given!”

Thanks for your fantastic work in the Ministry, Holly!

Please pardon our dust!

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In the midst of great trials, there is great pain… at times we do not see the ending in sight… at times we retreat and give up, maybe even going back into the sin in our lives that brought us to the trial in the first place. It is in those temptations that we must stand in the gap for one another in a fight on our knees!  That is what we try to do in My House Ministry!  We desire to be used as the hands and the feet of Jesus to women and children in need.

During our travels, we found ourselves in the midst of a construction zone at the airport. The big signs said, “Under Construction: Please excuse our dust!” We looked further at the wall and saw the picture of a beautifully finished atrium with food courts, updated seating, wifi and charging stations, and many lovely shops.  We also have been doing renovation projects at our ministry home.  Some of the projects were delayed so we had to cancel our plans for an Open House this week.  The dust has been crazy and the residents are growing weary of the project, but in a couple weeks it will be completely done and will be beautiful and usable for many years to come!

My heart began to ponder about how we are all “under construction” in some area of our lives.  We all are in need of the grace from one another of our “dust.”  Are we allowing the Master to do His remodeling work in our lives to kick up some dust so we can be improved and become more usable for His service? Are we esteeming others better than ourselves and giving them grace as we receive God’s amazing grace each day!  Let’s be mindful to pardon each other’s dust and love as He loves…dust and all.  Just think of the masterpiece that will be after He completes the work that He has begun in us for His glory and for His honor! Philippians 1:6

Thank you for your continued support of My House Ministry this past 5 years!  Please buy your tickets for our March 13th Ladles of Love soup, sides, dessert, and silent auction fundraiser to celebrate our 5 year anniversary!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Blessings,

Patti Weerstra
Executive Director

Year End Giving (1)

Year End Update!

Year End Giving (1)

Dear My House Ministry supporters and friends,

We thank God for each of you as we enter into the Thanksgiving and Christmas Season once again!  We have had such a blessed year with so many wonderful changes and growth.  In January, 2017 we added a fourth ministry home to bring affordable housing to 3 more moms with kids!  Because of your faithfulness to giving to the ministry, our staffing increased by adding a part-time Executive Director, a part-time Ministry Coordinator, and an additional part-time Life Skills Coordinator.  We have seen many ladies come to know Jesus as their personal Savior and grow in their faith.  Our capacity to serve is at 17 women and up to 15 children and we have had pretty full homes since April 2017.  We see the needs continue to grow in our community, not just for housing but for life changes through the power of Christ.

In looking back through the year, we have received more than 100 referral calls, have accepted at least 12 women into the program, 3 have graduated and are in their own housing and 3 more who are in the process of graduation and will be in their own housing soon!  Glory to God!

Let us share one recent testimony that truly has reminded us of God’s call to our vision here at My House Ministry which is to equip women to become independent, contributing community members, growing in their faith through our safe, affordable, supportive housing.  

One of our precious residents is a senior citizen and by no fault of her own, was dropped off to a local homeless shelter in February, 2017.  At 74 years old, with no family support, heart completely broken, she had lost hope.  She made the best of her situation and worked in the pantry of the shelter and everyone loved her.  God brought her to us for a possible option through one of our ministry partners that had contact with her.  We met with her, we saw her needs and God touched all of our hearts as He began to orchestrate His plan for her life.  It was not an easy transition being elderly and needing to transfer life to a new city, try to learn the MAX bus system and navigate this new house with a bunch of ladies!  God never makes a mistake when He brings a woman into My House Ministry.  

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The residents and staff embraced this precious woman and all see her as a mom or a grandma, she works hard, she knits and serves others, she smiles all the time, she has new hope, she loves big and God’s promise in Psalm 68 is kept:  God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing, but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.  Psalm 68:6  Clearly, He set her in the My House Ministry family!  She has worked the plan that we have set for her and has participated in the savings plan and has been very faithful.  We spend time in prayer for each of our ladies and ask God to make a way where there seems to be no way for them.  The waiting list for subsidized senior housing is an average of 3-5 years in Holland so we were praying for God to do something miraculous!  He did just that and more!  After a few unexpected hurdles and some good old perseverance, God has opened a beautiful apartment just for her, very affordable, centrally located and it is in a Senior Citizen complex with other conveniences!  Everyone is grieving because they will miss her but she is smiling from ear to ear.  She also knows that she is our forever family so even though she is moving a few blocks away, we will still continue to love on her and be there for her and also she has said that she is there for us.  We joke with her that we are going to get overnight passes and have a slumber party with her.  She agrees and giggles at the thought.  She is so thankful to God and she continually tells us how much she loves us and is so thankful for all we have done for her.  We praise God for what He has done for her and how He has cared for her.  We think of the verse:  Cast all your care on Him because He cares for you.  I Peter 5:7  We just continue to praise Him for His promises are so true!  

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During this time of  giving, we ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us in your planned end of year giving, whether it be a one time donation or perhaps a monthly donation to continue helping us to BE the hands and feet of Jesus to women just like our precious woman in the above testimony.  Additionally, if you are looking for an opportunity to serve in our ministry, please go to our website for more information.  As our Lord said in Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

Thank you for your consideration, your prayers and your support of My House Ministry.  

 

In His Service,

Patricia Weerstra, Executive Director

616-953-0772

patricia@myhouseministry.org

Toy house and calculator on table close-up; Shutterstock ID 200470286

Housing Crisis in West Michigan

My House Ministry’s Board Member, Scott Sterenburg, shares his experience and expertise about the housing crisis happening in West Michigan. We are thankful for people like Scott and the many organizations fighting to help people struggling with housing.

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Housing in Holland MI.

Toy house and calculator on table close-up; Shutterstock ID 200470286

Yet another man was in my office today, trying to get leads on housing. He has been living in the same apartment near our church for several years. His daughter, a single mom of 3, lost her housing and has been living with the couple. Now the landlord has informed them their rent will be increasing $150 a month. The landlord had recently updated the other side of their duplex and knows he could get this rent increase. The family had originally had a lease, but when the lease expired, it became a month-to-month agreement. The family had difficulty paying the rent before, now they can’t find a similar apartment in their price range.

Have you noticed the change in Holland’s real estate market? If you have tried to move, whether buying or renting, you certainly have. A shortage of housing has lead to increased prices. Housing costs have increased about 20% in sale prices and 23% in the rental market. At the same time, wages have remained relatively flat. As housing prices go up, it has a disproportionate effect on those at lower income levels.

As of August 2017, average rent for an apartment in Holland, MI is $901,which is a 6.44% increase from last year when the average rent was $843. One bedroom apartments in Holland rent for $809 a month on average (a 4.57% increase from last year), and two bedroom apartment rents average $903 (a 1.66% increase from last year).

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The Holland/Zeeland area does have jobs available. People are able to work. Employers and Temp Agencies are working to fill positions constantly. The issue is that many of these entry-level positions don’t pay enough for the cost of living in Holland’s constantly increasing housing market. It isn’t just entry-level employees either. It’s not just those we think of as the “typical poor” who are struggling. Many college graduates find themselves priced out of the market when factoring in the ever-increasing amount of student debt young men and women carry at graduation.

Many of us frankly haven’t been aware of this issue. I confess, I wasn’t until beginning my current job. When I look at the data, it just doesn’t seem possible, but the research, and the personal stories I hear every day, confirm it.

One of the hardest hit demographics in the Holland/Zeeland area is the ALICE population. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. These are the people working in restaurants, health care, and other lower income positions. Simply put, people who are working, but not earning enough for basic necessities in a given area.

The ALICE population is much higher in Holland and Zeeland than you probably expect. In Holland City, 43% of the population, or 8,620 families live under the ALICE threshold. In Zeeland it is an astonishing 47%! This means that families living and working in Holland/Zeeland need to spend a much higher percentage of their income on housing. Worst case, it means safe, stable housing is out of reach for more and more families each month.

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Additional factors such as the elderly, single parent families, a court record, or a previous eviction or history of late payments may completely eliminate your chance of securing housing.

Recently, while trying to help a member, we contacted about 10 local apartment complexes. The waiting lists for market-rate apartments in Holland averages two years and for income based housing (paying a percentage of income) the wait lists topped five years. And this is if you don’t have any of the other factors (credit issues, criminal record) against you.

Even those who qualify for housing support can’t find the housing they need. “Ottawa County has financial assistance available to eligible households, but this money is going unspent in our county because families cannot locate affordable units. In some cases, families who want to stay in Ottawa County are having to leave in order to take advantage of the benefit of a housing voucher. Households are forced to disrupt children in school and leave jobs in Ottawa County.” –Linda Jacobs, Executive Director, Good Samaritan Ministries

There are certainly no easy answers here. There is no one party responsible. Landlords, employers, builders, non-profits, and churches/community organizations need to get involved and work together towards a solution. We can all find a way to help; some in big ways and some in small ways. We all can and should stay educated on this issue affecting almost ½ our community.

Scott Sterenberg
Missions Director
Cavalry Holland

 

Welcome to My House Ministry’s Blog

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When you have a staff as dedicated as ours, it’s hard not to want to share all the exciting things that our Ministry is doing. Because of this, we decided to create a blog for our website. We want all of our volunteers, donors, and even prospective residents to feel like they’re a part of our ministry, and we feel that creating a blog would be the best way to do this.

So what can you expect? Our staff, volunteers, and even residents are eager to share their stories with you. We will be talking about all the different things that make our ministry what it is: event descriptions , staff experiences, inspiring stories, and various other things! We are so excited for you to get to know us better.

Check back soon to read our first official blog post!