The Lord teaches us in Isaiah 58 what He considers an acceptable fast. He tells us that helping lift the burden of oppression and helping the hurting is the general message. He promises that if we obey Him that he will make His people repairers of broken streets ISAIAH 58:12.
The people of Inner City Dayton are suffering. The suffering has many causes and dynamics, but the two primary causes are Economic and Spiritual.
Economic problems affect the Inner City population from both ends: insufficient income and excessive expenses.
Low earning power is associated with lower education levels, low availability of jobs, poor credit history, lack of diligent hard work, and inappropriate financial management. High expenses A large percentage of inner city families are living on one income. Many are not working or work for an hourly rate of 8 dollars per hour or less, before taxes.
Most of the families we see are unable to rent safe and affordable housing. A large portion of the homes that are for rent are extremely inefficient. The windows and doors leak. The furnaces are burning natural gas @ 50%-70% efficiencies. The market price for rent is between $450-850, plus utilities per month. A three bedroom apartment is a great luxury, if one can be found.
Clearly, for many inner city families, the mathematics simply does not work.
The economic pressures touched on above are greatly confounded by the volatile spiritual environment of urban Dayton.
Some of the spiritual issues develop within the inner city population. Generally, the mind set of the majority does not value education, hard work and long term planning. Then, of course, come the problems most people associate with the Inner City: gangs, drugs, domestic violence. Add to these the need to rely on public transportation and public assistance programs which, by plan or inadvertently, reduce personal incentive, shift authority and responsibility from the family, and lead to long term economic dependence on the government.
Other spiritually based conditions are either forced upon the inner city residents or are a result of dealing with the realities of doing business in the inner city, I.e., groceries sold @ 25% above market, rents above market price, low availability of credit and discriminatory financial policies; such as low debit/credit limits and high interest rates, fees, and penalties which disproportionately affect the lowest earning levels.
Soul Winners is indeed grateful for the many contributions which continue to be made to and through us by our Church supporters and partners. Notwithstanding, we have discovered that offering a bag of groceries to a family that is dealing with these multiple dynamics was not contributing to a long term solution. Much more is needed.
The SOUL WINNERS STRATEGY for the ISAIAH 58:12 project is wide but quite simple:
For individuals and families:
For the neighborhood:
- Focus on the overall stability of the Family and Stewardship. Help make the household mathematics work.
- Develop a long term approach to problem solve in a few critical areas appropriate with each individual family.
- Individual Spiritual Growth and intimacy with Christ.
- Raising the earning power through short term educational goals; resulting in vocational certifications.
- Encourage the initiation of formal long term education.
- Teach Family Stewardship
- Teach Financial Stewardship
- Help raise Fico scores.
Assist availability of below market cost housing; and then transition the family into their own home. We are renovating 7 homes that would otherwise be condemned in a very concentrated two square block area of Downtown Dayton. Soul Winners has an administrative office (the first renovated house) in the center of these other seven homes. This office has a Pastor keeping regular office hours and is available for counseling. In addition to the three completed houses, four more have been purchased or are in negotiations. The ongoing plan for these structures is:
WHAT DO WE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?
- The buildings are restored with mostly volunteer labor.
- Many local suppliers offer their products and services at a discount.
- The homes become like new and energy efficient.
- Soul Winners offers housing to families @ a below market price.
1. Houses being highly efficient reduces the net cost of utilities.
2. The families raise their earning power.
3. Net income increases. Positive cash flow is created.
4. Head of Household stops focusing on the lack of finances and starts focusing on the children.
5. Slowly the household becomes more stable.
6. The blight of having condemned homes that are dangerous and not paying real estate tax is reduced.
7. The neighborhood becomes a beacon for Jesus Christ and a Godly model.
8. The "Broken Streets" are healed. ISAIAH 58:12
9. God is honored through His ownership of the outcomes of all He does as us.
Sincerely, Respectfully, Gratefully yours,
Soul Winners For Jesus Christ