Our ministry, Unsheltered International, is all about opportunities. In everything we do, we try to provide opportunities where they might not exist naturally. The greatest opportunity that presents on a regular basis is without a doubt, salvation through Jesus Christ. To be clear, Jesus is the one who offers salvation, but He has orchestrated life in such a way that He graciously incorporates us as his children into the process of spreading the gospel. In other words, He gives us the opportunity to share the opportunity of salvation with others!
While our focus is always on the opportunity to share Christ, and everything without him is useless at best, there is a world of opportunities before us that we can share with those who receive him.
Some opportunities are short-lived. They provide relief for a small period of time and might open the door to larger, more long-lasting opportunities. For example, giving someone warm clothing in the winter time is certainly a blessing, but that is a short-lived gift. Providing meals to people living on the streets is needed and good, but they will be hungry again in a few short hours.
The village is intended to be a ministry that goes far beyond a quick fix. It's not going to be like putting a bandaid on a larger sore that really needs more attention. This ministry will go far beyond a few nights in a motel or even throwing some money at the situation to pacify our feelings. The village ministry will be a place where people who are ready, can find opportunities that will catapult them into the next chapter of their lives, with dignity.
Every guest who is accepted into the program will be paired with a case manager who helps them set life goals that are attainable and tailored to the individual. The case manager will work hand-in-hand with the guest to monitor progress and evaluate the guests performance. As long as forward progress is made, more opportunities will avail themselves. The overall program will not have a timeframe because there isn't a "one size fits all" timeframe for this. There will however, be timeframes for each individual because goals without deadlines are usually not obtained. The difference is individuality. The program timeframes in the village will vary depending on the needs of each guest. We believe that will drive success.
Of course, not everyone is ready for real change in their lives. There are plenty of people who are either satisfied where they are, or not willing to put in the work to get where they want to go. We understand that. That truth is one reason there will be a extensive application and evaluation process that takes place before a person can enter the program. Simply stated, we want to provide big opportunities for people who not only want them, but are willing to put in the hard work to obtain them.
That's where dignity comes in
This may seem backwards to many people now a days, but we believe that dignity is an inward grace that we develop in our lives as we act upon good principles and character. In other words, when we do things that are right and good and honest, we sow seeds of dignity into our lives. A hard days work fosters dignity. Cleaning up after ourselves fosters dignity. Loving others fosters dignity. Personal care fosters dignity. The list could go on and on, but the point is that we can either do things that foster dignity in our lives, or things that destroy dignity in our lives.
If I don't work because I want everything in life given to me, that works to destroy my dignity. If I allow myself to eat any and everything in sight, not caring about my health, that works to negatively affect my dignity. If I never mow my yard, and don't care to make needed repairs on my home, I will eventually begin to undermine how I feel about where I live.
Our plan is to incorporate positive, dignity installing concepts into the village ministry. Each guest will be responsible for the tiny home they live in. They will be required to clean inside and out. They will not be able to have trash piled up or constant messes everywhere. We will treat them with respect and dignity while at the same time requiring it of them.
To provide big opportunities requires big responsibility. If we were to offer these great opportunities without requirements, we would lessen the opportunities. An individual program that uses case management, supportive housing, education, and Christian discipleship adds dignity to the lives of the opportunity seekers, and that is what we want to provide.