<![CDATA[The Crossing was featured in a recent article in the Kokomo Herald:
Renovating more than houses
Dale Bliss was raised in Kokomo. He went to college, married his sweetheart and went to Michigan where he helped to plant a church. After many successful years growing, he came to a place in his life he realized that he needed to step away from pastoral ministry. He wanted to minister in a different way. He thought that working, as a Human Resource person for an IT firm in the Fort Wayne area would be an interesting venture. His responsibility was to find the best IT professionals for companies. He says that this afforded him and his family a comfortable living. His journey back to Kokomo was aided by some friends telling him about a congregation that was in transition and in need of a pastor. He shares how he would drive from Ft. Wayne every week to help this struggling congregation to stabilize and to find a pastor. Dale, at the time, was not interested in serving a congregation the traditional way. His heart was in transforming the world through the work of the church.
One day his employer confronts Dale with a choice; “If you are going to work with me you have to be all in or nothing.” Dale realized his heart was in ministry. The congregation, Maple Grove Community church, asked Dale to serve as their pastor. He and his family considered the offer prayerfully as did the leaders of Maple Grove. Dale shared with them that they would not operate as other traditional churches. He would serve as a guide and leader to equip church members to be in ministry. He basically said to the church that they would not own him and his time. He believes God owns his time and energy to renovate lives within the Kokomo area and beyond. This ministry philosophy has led him and the Maple Grove congregation to partner with Advantage Housing. Nowadays he is often standing in front of houses in need of renovation sharing how important this ministry is to the Kokomo community.
I comment how this house is a great metaphor for lives being renovated. Pastor Dale responds with, “We talk a lot about renovation, many people would see this house and easily want to discard it.” He goes on to compare the renovation of this house to renovating lives. People look at others with troubled lives and find it easy to discard them. He tells how today is the beginning of a partnership with students of The Crossing. They will clear debris and anything else that doesn’t add to the house’s character. During the course of the renovation the students will be working hard. They will be scraping, pulling, hammering, mudding, sanding, and painting several days a week until the process is finished. The students will be doing a great work being a part of the transformation of a challenged structure. The greater work will be unseen in the lives of the students as they toil a few hours each day. Pastor Dale says, “I want the students of The Crossing to be a part of this renovation from start to the finish. This gives them an opportunity to gain an understanding of how anyone’s life can be renovated if they are willing to envision, plan, and act to make it happen.”
The Crossing is an alternative educational system that is purposed to meet the learning needs of students who do not function well in our traditional education institutions. These students may come from struggling home lives, a life’s path littered with the results of poor choices, or they have jobs they need to help support their families. The Crossing is faith based so it is where the matchless grace of God crosses with the broken lives of our community’s youth to provide them with tools to develop their character as well as their academics to be a transformative presence in their world.
Advantage Housing partners with businesses such as First Farmers Bank and Trust who has donated property, Touby Pike Recycling has donated dumpsters, Home Depot donates many building and cleaning supplies on a monthly basis. Individuals like Gwen Spence, a student at Lewis Cass high school, is coordinating efforts among her peers to paint a house as part of the renovating process. Local Government leaders have glowingly praised these efforts. There is room for others to help make affordable quality housing available to as many people who are willing to commit to doing their part. One thing Advantage Housing is NOT is free housing. A person can work off a maximum of $100. Each situation is considered carefully for they realize no two people’s circumstances are the same. Dale shares that people have been evicted from their properties. He says that eviction process is initiated on the 20th day rent is past due. There is an expectation that those who benefit from this process is that they be responsible. Personal responsibility is a character trait that Dale believes in. “We are here to help and to encourage not to baby.”
Dale shares that Advantage Housing believes responsible citizenship helps to create a great community to live in. Other helping organizations partnering with Advantage Housing are Kokomo Urban Outreach, Center Township Trustee, Family Services, CAM, Kokomo Rescue Mission, The Gilead House, United Way, VA Administration, and the Mental Health Association. Another way Advantage Housing attempts to help its tenants who are current with their rent payments is to offer a $90 value Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course for free.
Advantage Housing connects people in need of help with those who need to help others in our community to renovate broken down lives that can move them from despair to a place of repair. As one might gather this is not just the obvious person in need but those who help are being renovated. This happens because someone believed “…in putting hands and feet to… faith. [Advantage Housing] is about renovating lives.”
Click here to view the original article: Kokomo Herald]]>