by Reagan O'Hare, UBA Writers TeamChristian Journalist
Churches across Houston are mobilizing teams to share the light of Christ in preparation to make an impact in the Loving Houston Initiative.
The Loving Houston Initiative, which will take place June 1-8, is a citywide love-on-Houston outreach. Churches of all denominations and communities will work together to refurbish homes, clean lots and assist in a wide array of projects and needs.
Lakewood Church, Calvary Community Church, Bethany Baptist Church and Sagemont Church are just a few of the many churches across Houston already mobilizing volunteers. Sagemont was the first congregation to commit. Others have quickly followed.
Craig Johnson, the director of ministries at Lakewood Church, said committing to the Loving Houston Initiative was a “no-brainer.”
“(Our members) will be able to serve as a family,” Johnson continued, “I think just churches unifying . . . we are so much stronger working together.”
Lakewood Church is currently coordinating 400 volunteers to refurbish homes, parks, a local Elementary school and a library.
Sagemont Church is also implementing a plan and some projects are already in progress. Sagemont is focusing on 11 projects identified in the Sunnyside neighborhood, south of 610 in the Cullen, Scott, Belfort and Airport areas, Dr. Jim Hastings, minister of Helping Hands of Sagemont Church, said.
Hastings said the projects include a variety of home repairs. Most projects will enlist at least 20 volunteers. One project includes providing a new roof. Five of the projects will be completed even before the official initiative begins. “One group has volunteered to build a handicap ramp at a home, a Bible Study class has taken the task of cutting down all of the overgrown (area) and completely repainting the outside.
“The men’s ministry group will be power washing the mildew from all the homes that need it,” Hastings continued, “They will be fixing the trim on a house that has aluminum siding, installing two new window seals and installing a new storm door.
“Another men’s ministry team will replace the siding on the back of a home and paint the complete exterior, “ Hastings said.
The citywide projects include not only homes but also schools in the Greater Houston area. Johnson said Lakewood is in the process of accessing the needs and making a plan to help refurbish a local Elementary school and library.
“The big thing for us is finding out what the needs are,” Johnson said, “It’s not about Lakewood.
“It’s about us just unifying what we are doing with the UBA and other churches to find out what needs there are and seeing how we can respond,” Johnson said, “It’s about unity and being the hands and feet of Jesus to this community that needs it so desperately.”
Jeff McGee, the associate pastor of Calvary Community Church, said from the beginning he was inspired by the goals of the Loving Houston Initiative. “I love the vision of doing good deeds to create goodwill to open the door for the opportunity to share good news.”
A group of 50-60 Calvary Community volunteers will help with three projects inside the Acres Homes area. Two of the projects involve cleaning up overgrown lots. “We hope that the city will be blessed by seeing the church show up and care, that Acres Home will be blessed, and neighbors will experience the love of God as we interact with them and help to redeem and restore the land of the community,” McGee said.
Bethany Baptist Pastor Dr. Steve Hall said the church is identifying leaders to coordinate the outreach, which he feels is not vastly different from what churches already do. “We are not doing anything different than what we always do- -it’s just being done on a larger scale,” Hall continued, “It’s great to be able to partner and make things happen.”
Bethany Baptist lay leader Bertha Vaughns, said there are many people in her community still dealing with blue tarps on their roofs. “Those are the individuals that didn’t meet anyone’s criteria for help and now the body of Christ can come together and (it’s a chance) for them to see that compassion and service.
“To say ‘Here we are’ and to show the love of Christ in that manner,” Vaughns continued, “We are excited about helping our city . . . This is a God-sized project and He’s involved in this . . . His hand is in this - -His sovereignty,” Vaughns said, “He’s not an absent God.”
And beyond ministering to the communities, McGee said the Loving Houston Initiative is an opportunity to honor those in leadership because the initiative is responding to requests from the mayor and community leaders.
“Loving Houston gives us the chance to demonstrate tangibly the love of Jesus to our city, to honor those in leadership, and to promote unity among believers across Greater Houston as we take on a large effort together and use our resources and talents for good,” McGee continued.
“And, it is good to gather to serve something bigger than our local congregation as we respond to the trumpet call to make a difference for Jesus by loving Houston,” McGee said.
To sign up your group of vounteers, go online at www.lovinghouston.net or contact Project Coordinator Mike Kraxberger at email@example.com.