Dewight contacted Community Relief in early 2020. He asked me to look at his house, as it needed quite a bit of work, and he didn’t know where to turn. Through the evaluation process, I learned that 5 years ago, Dewight had invited someone else who was down on her luck to stay at his house until she got back on her feet. This individual had some addictions she was struggling with. One day, she became angry with Dewight, so while he was at the store, she set his house on fire. The fire department was able to save the house without any structural damage, only cosmetic damage. Unfortunately, Dewight was not able to afford insurance, so the repairs would be left to him.
Dewight did not have the means to take care of all the repairs, as several rooms needed completely gutted and rebuilt. He sought out home repair programs offered through the city of Lima. However, these programs required the homeowner to carry insurance to be eligible for the grant. Therefore, Dewight turned to friends and neighbors who did what they could, but unfortunately, they were not skilled at construction repairs. When I showed up 5 years later, the house still had bare wood floors, some drywall had been replaced (poorly), the smoke damage had been cleaned to a degree (but was still evident), and the bathroom had bare studs where a shower wall should be. The only furniture Dewight owned was a futon couch/bed and a TV. The more I walked around the house with Dewight, the more issues I saw that needed attention. There was a room upstairs that needed completely redone, some exterior siding that needed replaced, and we discovered some plumbing and electrical issues as well. Needless to say, Dewight was overwhelmed with all that needed to be done, and he didn’t know where to even begin.
I shared with Dewight that Community Relief is a volunteer organization that helps people in situations like his. We were planning to host a 3-day service event, IGNITE 2020, in June. I told him that I hoped to send people to help him during the event, but I didn’t know how many since this was our first event like this. When June finally came, we had an average of 60 volunteers a day for the Ignite event. We were able to send a couple of different crews to Dewight’s and share the love of Christ with him in a tangible way. The upstairs room was remodeled, the entire downstairs was re-drywalled, the bathroom was completely remodeled, his furnace was repaired, the exterior siding was replaced, some electrical and plumbing issues were fixed, and some of the volunteers even arranged to have some furniture delivered after the event.
Dewight was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love he received over those 3 days. He worked alongside the volunteers, and invited all his neighbors over to see what was being done for him. He even asked the volunteers to pray for him daily. When Community Relief left after those 3 days in June, there was still a lot of work to be done on Dewight’s house, but he had HOPE again! Since then, he has been able to tackle some of the smaller projects and we have come along side of him to continue to help with the bigger projects. Some of the volunteers who helped during IGNITE have continued to reach out and help Dewight since the event. Through it all, we have stressed to Dewight that it is not the volunteers who are helping him, but it is his Creator who loves him so much that he sent a portion of His body to love and serve him!
By Matt Naylor
Matt Naylor is the Director of the Community Relief Ministry in Lima, Ohio, a ministry of Union Chapel Missionary Church which began in 2018. The MCECR is partnering with them as they seek to disciple people for Jesus Christ by meeting their needs in tangible ways. This ministry was funded in part with the region’s Catalyst Grant program.