by Wayner Dickert
Have you ever had a rundown resource that you looked at time after time and wondered “What does God want us to do with this?” Our church did. It was abandoned house that was seen as unusable by the congregation. It was old, needed major repair, and was seen only as a liability, however, God had other plans for the building and our church. We faced significant challenges in doing something with the house. With each challenge we would stop and pray, “God, what do you want us to do?” Our community needed an emergency shelter and other resources for the underserved and outcast. The vision was to restore the house in an effort to restore people’s lives.
God was at work. Although building inspectors had declared the house structurally sound, there was so much work needed that moving forward didn’t seem reasonable. That’s when a youth group asked if we had a mission project available. After the group worked on the house, some people in our church began to see its potential. Other youth groups did more work, some because of our connection with whitewater rafting and River of Life ministry; others helped because they wanted to be a part of something that would transform the world. Soon even the loudest voices against converting the building into a community resource began to change.
The purpose of the Restoration House WNC is to provide a holistic approach to restoring life and hope to the ones who come to us for help. This approach follows the way of Jesus. To the “sinful woman” we read, “your faith has saved you.” (Luke 7:50) To the woman with the medical disability, “your faith has healed you.” (Luke 8:48) Both saved and healed come from the same Greek word in which Jesus offers life and peace because of their faith to come to him for help. The word used indicates a healing of body, mind and spirit. That is what we seek to do at the Restoration House.
God is at work. The mission of Restoration House – WNC became solidified to provide restorative services for all people at zero to minimal cost for the mind, body and spirit including: free medical care, free counseling, access to free food and supplemental education as well as temporary emergency housing all being covered in prayer. The board of directors was expanded to include representatives from other churches and organizations. The Restoration House WNC became incorporated and received a 501c3 status to better facilitate ecumenical efforts and partnerships with other non-profits. We developed a close working relationship with the Department of Social Services and the Family Resource Center who both offer assistance but just can’t help some people in desperate need. Working with these organizations is where we found our “sweet spot” of ministry, service and outreach to serve the unmet needs in our area.
The Restoration House will serve as a comprehensive clearing-house of information for the various resources available in Swain County. In addition, it will be the physical location for services of healing that are being developed through partnerships with other not-for-profit organizations that offer medical, counseling financial training, and mediation in our area. By design there will be a prayer room located in the middle of the house so that prayer will be at the center of all restorative services.
We have developed several partnerships and alliances to provide critical care and crucial needs to our community as soon as the Restoration House is “open for business” including: Swain County Caring Corner, a consortium of doctors that offers free local medical services; Zacchaeus Financial Counseling Services, offering financial training and assistance specific to those struggling with poverty; the Swain Country Ministerial Association, an alliance of local churches that will work together to provide financial assistance to people in need; and Mountain Mediation, offering mediation to people that are either court ordered or just need a little relational help. Currently both the SCCC and Financial Counseling are offering services based out of the Bryson City UMC. Thanks to the help of fundraising and grant writing efforts (including support from the Justice & Reconciliation Committee) the Restoration House is able to move full steam ahead.
God continues to work. Next summer a youth group is planning on building a prayer walk through a series of raised bed garden plots in the back yard. The walk will end with a reflection area surrounding a fire pit. This area will be designed to provide life – body, mind and spirit – in a holistic approach in keeping with the theme of the Restoration House. Would your youth or adult mission team like to be a part of this dream for holistic restoration and hope? If so, contact Rev. Wayner Dickert.
You can take a tour of the house before work began at: https://vimeo.com/108659263
Wayner Dickert is the Pastor of Bryson City UMC and River of Life. For information about Restoration House, contact Wayner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828 488-2680.