Adventists and the housing crisis

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Michelle* is a loving mother of two young children, but she’s got a problem—she can’t get her children to school, showered and in clean uniforms, while they’re all living in her car.

Mark has been sleeping in his work van for months because he’s a tradie working away from his family on a construction job in an area where rents are more than he can afford.

A perfect storm of COVID-19, inflation and skyrocketing real estate and rental prices, alongside stagnant wage growth, is leaving many families in crisis. Their incomes no longer cover their rents, and the only option is to uproot and downsize, sometimes into a caravan, car or tent.

How can the Adventist Church respond?

Last year my wife and I prayerfully considered this crisis. We felt awkwardly uncomfortable as we watched our home’s value race skywards, all-the-while knowing that for every $100K we gained, other families were being forced out of their homes because of the rising rents. What to do?

Maybe we could build a ‘tiny house’ farm where a few families in crisis could find temporary shelter as they transitioned to the new realities. It didn’t take much research to see that the council zoning regulations, and inflated land and building costs, made such a project untenable.

We knew that God had blessed us, and we believe that “when we feel blessed, we should build a longer table, not a higher fence”. But how?

Based on the saying, “Do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone”, we began inviting people in crisis from the community into our home. We gave them our guest room and ensuite for a night or weekend, or sometimes for weeks until they found a more permanent home. We’ve been so blessed by it and have seen amazing spiritual impacts on our guests as we talk about life and eat together.

One guest, Peter, wanted to talk about spiritual topics and world events at every opportunity and devoured the literature we shared with him.

With tears in his eyes, Brian said, “Your family is so loving to each other and to me. I really wish that I grew up in a home like yours.”

We’ve done Bible studies with guests and one of them who stayed for two weeks has now been attending church for months, inviting his friends along, and growing beautifully in Christ, even though he’s now happily living in a delivery van.

We thoroughly recommend this ministry to church members who have a spare bed, an open heart and a willingness to trust God to protect them as they serve Him in such close proximity.

Naturally, each family will have different things to consider before inviting strangers into their home, especially if they have children to keep safe. Screening of guests is very important—but we also found that we needed to screen them through Jesus’ eyes, not our own.

To meet people in need of temporary housing, simply volunteer at a community service. Take time to sit and listen, to hear their heart. Give them time to learn to trust you, as you take time to see Jesus in them.

Please prayerfully consider this simple, very low-cost ministry. If Adventists across the Pacific opened our hearts and homes, we could house thousands of people right inside the homes that God has already entrusted to us.

Jesus said it so beautifully: “I was a stranger and you took me in”, and He followed it with, “Whatever you did to the least of these my brethren you did it to Me.”

Is Jesus knocking at your door?

* Author is a middle-aged guy who’s trying to learn how to love people like Jesus does. Individual names have been changed to protect their identities. 

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