College Students: Applications are available now for Summer 2018 Internships!

How would like to do something meaningful and life-changing that will not only benefit you, but also those around you? If serving others, sharing God’s love, and helping yourself and others grow in their faith is something that you love to do, you are exactly who ARM needs on its team! Currently, ARM is seeking interns for Summer 2018 to serve at our Youth Mission Camp. Why not do something fun, meaningful, and life-changing for the summer? ARM is all about extending the love of Christ, restoring hope, and building dreams as we build a movement to end substandard housing in rural Alabama! If you would like to do something meaningful and life-changing next summer, JOIN OUR TEAM! Applications are available now!

During the 11-week full-time paid internship, you have the option of serving as a Construction Coordinator, Day Camp Counselor, or Site Leader.

Construction Coordinators gain hands-on residential construction experience by serving with families seeking a home that is safe, warm, and dry. You will also learn invaluable project planning and management skills as you coordinate plans, tools, and materials for our mission teams.

 

Day Camp Counselors serve alongside our mission teams to coordinate Bible lessons, recreation, educational enrichment, and more for 25-30 kids ages 5-10. Over 150 hours of classroom exp erience with kids from low-income communities makes this a great position for those interested in elementary education, social work, psychology, or human development and families.

Site leaders manage and direct the summer mission interns and volunteer teams and oversee all operations at each mission site including meals and housing.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Contact Joe or Kaylen for more information on our website!

Click here to apply!!!

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Storms, Hurricanes, and Bringing Hope

Normally September is when we are all excited about football, cooler weather. But for thousands of people, it has come at a price. As I write, we face another developing storm system with Maria tracking the same path as Irma. I am overwhelmed and find myself numb because it is so big and the devastation so great.

The first time I stayed in the shack, Tropical Storm Faye came through. Rain pelted my thin roof, wind howled rattling the plastic over my windows, and water began seeping through my floor being absorbed by my mattress. That was 10 years ago. In 2012, it was Hurricane Sandy that was pushing through. ARM works with families who face storms. When we record the family stories we will hear how a tornado, severe thunderstorm, or results of a hurricane created enough damage that repairs were needed. Because the event was so small in volume, they did not qualify for assistance. Time became the enemy and the damage increased.

If we are going to end substandard housing, we need to consider all the ways homes can become damaged and the vulnerability of the families staying in them. Storms, age of the home, deferred maintenance, and even bugs can create and perpetuate conditions making a house substandard. Our elderly and those with major disabilities have severely limited resources making the hiring of a contractor or handyman nearly impossible. Can we pay attention and make this a priority in every church and every faith community?

Due to the storms, I have been on active duty since September 5th and will remain as long as September 30th. Listening to the stories every day of the first responders and tracking the response and recovery efforts put a new emphasis on our ministry. Although not in the path of these storms, there were people in Alabama affected. Heavy rain, wind, tree limbs, and more put pressure on vulnerable structures. Later this week, I will share with you Ms. Samford’s story and the storms she has faced.

Looking forward to going in the shack three weeks from Wednesday!

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Thank You Sonshine Day Camp Sponors 2017

Dear Day Camp Sponsors,

We are so grateful for your support of Sonshine Kids Day Camp this summer! Through your partnership as a day camp sponsor, the love of Christ was extended in so many ways through so many people as we played games, made crafts, sang songs, danced, practiced reading and writing, and brought the Bible to life each and every day. This summer was all about being a COGPOW – a Child of God, Person of Worth. Instead of finding our worth in what we achieve, our kids were encouraged through stories of COGPOWs from the Bible and modern-day times to find their worth in God as His beloved children. This message was reinforced each day by dozens of tangible expressions of love and compassion shared among the children, our summer ministry team, and youth mission teams. What a blessing it is to be known and loved by our Creator God and to share that love with others!

This summer, 113 day camp sponsors – individuals, families, Sunday school classes, VBS groups, and whole churches – came together to provide a fun, safe, nurturing, and loving summer for 58 day camp kids in Livingston and Tuskegee! In Tuskegee, we were blessed to serve with 3 day camp counselors and 2 counselors-in-training – high-school students from Tuskegee who volunteered to serve. Our Livingston camp also had 3 day camp counselors and 2 counselors-in-training.

One of the day camp counselors at each site was an adult from the local community. In Tuskegee, we asked Ms. Andrea, who we met last year through our home repair ministry, to join our team after learning of her teaching background. Another one of our home repair ministry friends, Ms. Bernice, served as Ms. Andrea’s driver traveling 60 miles every day throughout the summer! In Livingston, one of our former summer interns, Ms. Adrienne, came back to serve again during her summer break. She graduated from the University of West Alabama in Livingston and is now a full-time elementary teacher. God was so good to open the doors for Ms. Andrea and Ms. Adrienne to serve with the day camp!

As the summer ended, both day camps enjoyed a fun field trip to the Birmingham Zoo! You can see their group pictures from the field trip shown below. It was a very hot day, but the children loved it anyway! After our field trips, both sites hosted their closing celebrations, which featured potluck dinners and presentations of songs, dances, and skits from the day camp children! It was fun night of fellowship and gave the kids a chance to give us a glimpse of some of the things they learned over the summer.

I invite you to take a few minutes to watch our 2017 day camp video posted above! If you would like a DVD, please contact us by emailing Joe at joe@arm-al.org or call at (334) 501-4276 x100.

We really cannot say it enough – thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for your prayers, your generosity, and for your heart for these children. May God bless you as you continue to seek His kingdom and shine the light of His love wherever you go!

Livingston camp at the zoo!

Tuskegee camp at the zoo!

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Sweet Homes for Alabama

Let’s end substandard housing in Alabama and help Ms. Sanford make her home warm, safe, dry, and beautiful! It’s time for Alabama Rural Ministry‘s 10th Annual Sweet Homes for Alabama fundraiser! Formerly known as “Poverty Awareness Week” and “No More Shacks,” we are launching our Sweet Homes for Alabama fundraising campaign from September 1st through November 1st in order to raise funds and awareness about poverty and substandard housing in rural Alabama.

Because it is our 10th anniversary, we have set a huge goal! We are raising $100,000. This will help families in Alabama like Ms. Sanford restore their homes making them warm, safe, dry and beautiful! Executive Director and Founder, Lisa A. Pierce and others will live in a shack beginning October 4th and staying as late as October 10th! Local pastors, board members, and some students will be staying at the shack with Lisa for three-hour slots or overnight. Rain, shine, hot, or cold, they will be in the shacks in order to experience (on a much lesser scale) some of the challenges that come with these living conditions.

Come by the shack, learn about how ARM is working in the community, and make a donation so that we can restore the sweet homes of Alabama (and get Lisa out of the shack, of course!). Starting September 1, we will be accepting pledges and donations online through the “Donate Now” button on our Facebook page, through our website http://www.arm-al.org/, and mailed to our office at P.O. Box 2890 Auburn, Alabama 36831.

What if you are not in the Auburn area but still want to experience the shack or get your church directly involved?

Step 1:

Download the Sweet Homes Kit for Churches to check out all the ways your church can engage! 

Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll find in the kit:

  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Pages:It only takes 5-10 minutes to setup a personalized online giving page that you can share with your social media networks! Your church, Sunday School class, or youth group could setup a page and/or individuals could set up their own pages too!
  • Wheelbarrow of Change: Set up a wheelbarrow in with your youth, children, or visible place in your church. Encourage people to put change into anytime from September-October. Cash the change in and send ARM the proceeds.
  • Cardboard Box City: This is great for youth groups or families. Pick a weekend night and set up boxes to sleep in. Not quite substandard housing but it does connect us with helping to keep our families from becoming homeless. It is an intentional way to be uncomfortable. You can set up your wheelbarrow to collect money or use our donation page for online gifts.
  • Build your own shack: We have plans you can use and construct your own shack. It is designed for 2-3 people to stay in at one time. Create options for people to stay in the evening or over the weekend.

Step 2:

Click here to sign up your church for the Sweet Homes Campaign and let us know how you’ll be involved!

AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO PHYSICALLY COME TO MAKE AN IMPACT! Join the event on our Facebook page (make sure you like our organization’s Facebook page too), share it with all of your friends, and pass the donation link to others, encouraging them to make a small donation. Even $10 will go a long way!

Poverty education lunch workshops will be held on Wednesday Oct. 4th, Thursday, October 5th, and Monday, October 9th at 12:00. Room information at Auburn coming. All are welcome to come and join us as we learn about other organizations and the different ways they are serving with low-income families in our community and hands-on ways we can all get plugged in.

We would love for you to drop by and help us spread the word! We need your help so that families have Sweet Homes in Alabama!

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On the Road: Individual Rights and Selfless Service

I have been pondering a few things and wanted to invite you all into a possible conversation or thought process. In our heated political scheme which seems to become increasingly divisive, I have wondered at how we make decisions around the expression of individual rights. This has been exasperated by the events in Charlottesville and informs how we work through the ideologies that perpetuate racism, bigotry, or any other type of “ism” that makes one person less to make someone greater. I heard a politician say that in our context today it is about who’s rights trump another’s rights. If that is so, how do we choose the best way to act as a follower of Jesus? What happens when the rights of one person clash or oppose the rights of another? Are there contexts for when one expression may succumb to another expression? Are there ways to have win/win scenarios rather than win/lose outcomes? Furthermore, in our disagreements, how do we not fall into acts of violence? (Another topic)

Focusing upon the question of the expression of individual freedom and what happens when it clashes with someone else’s rights:

When I was growing up (mid 70’s), smoking was rampant. There was not nearly a place you could go where you were not subjected to cigarette smoke. Both my parents smoked for years. Smoking was allowed in most public spaces…except for churches, I guess. Airplanes, restaurants, football stadiums, hotels, movie theaters, bowling allies, and just about any other space were always filled with smoke. Smoking was an individual right and a lot of people smoked. But what about people who did not smoke but had to constantly be subjected to it? There simply were not a lot of places that did not ban smoking. What about those with asthma or other respiratory issues?

Over time, the conversation began to change. As more and more health warnings were issued and people started to express their desire for cleaner air, discussions shifted to those who had a right to breath clean air. Now there were two competing sets of individual rights: the right for a person to smoke and the right of a person to breathe clean air and not be subjected to unwanted smoke.  It took several years for the ideology shift. Today, most of us benefit from the decisions that made access to breathing cleaner air more important. Rights of smokers was limited with substantial parameters placed upon where one could smoke when in a public venue.

Here are my questions. How do we choose whose right is more important? We will not always have the politicians and judges making decisions so how will we choose? What is our process?

Is there a point or context where one person’s rights must be limited for another person’s rights to be expressed?

As followers of Jesus, how does the body of Scripture…not cherry picking one or two verses out of context…inform our decisions? What does the Old Testament, the Gospels, Paul, and other writers say?

To give a biblical situation, Paul faced a dilemma that he discusses in First Corinthians. It was whether a follower of Jesus should eat meat offered to idols. There was one group of people who were adamant that meat offered to idols was the equivalent of worshipping that idol and should not be consumed. Others believed it did not make a difference. If you prayed and gave God thanks for the meat, it did not matter. You were basically acknowledging the idol had no power or meaning. Paul tended to agree with the latter group and did not recognize the power in the idol. Food was consumed, digested, and passed through the body. It made no difference if sacrificed to idols. However, Paul, out of love and high value on unity and peace of his fellow brothers and sisters and for those new in the faith, said that if his eating meat sacrificed to idols was a stumbling block, he would put aside his individual freedom for the sake of the other. He desired there to be no stumbling block for a person and their relationship with Jesus. Chapter thirteen of Corinthians becomes a beautiful expression of what love looks like when we put the needs of others above ourselves. That was what a “stronger” believer did. It was always about putting someone’s needs above your own. It was about selfless service. And it was not just a “good idea”. Jesus expected and expects us to live by this command.

I wonder if this account gives us any guidance in the complexities we face. As a nation built upon the expression of individual freedom how do we become faithful to Scripture and align ourselves with Jesus when we look at our own liberties and when they may come into conflict with the expression of someone else’s. These same questions go the heart of our issues regarding racism and bigotry. I wonder if we all took the high road what might that begin to look like?

I would be interested in hearing how you work these out and if you have children, how you teach this to them.  What are the ways you use Scripture and especially Jesus’ two commands: Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself, to inform your decision making?

I would enjoy hearing your insights around this delicate yet important topic.

Grace and peace,

lisa

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