Last Updated on Monday, 11 April 2011 11:46 Saturday, 12 March 2011 14:06
Matthew 25 admonishes us to consider others as Christ in our midst—the stranger. In hunger, thirst, nakedness, sickness, loneliness, and imprisonment we find the stranger, our neighbor and our Lord.
With economists and analysts forecasting an improvement in our beat-down
economy, recent surveys of American families remind us that those at the bottom are still there and the climb up is long and hard. FOCUS North America is committed to play an active part in lifting those in poverty from their desperate state.
By providing Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding, and Shelter, FOCUS NA hopes to reveal God’s mercy to our most needy neighbors. And through its Youth Equipped to Serve (YES!) Program, FOCUS NA is raising up a generation of young people eager to understand the needs of others and how God can use them to make a difference. Our FOCUS Centers are on the front lines of this ministry.
So what is a FOCUS Center?
Motivated by the Orthodox Christian tradition, FOCUS Centers are local offices of FOCUS NA run by a full-time Director with the support of a dedicated ministry leadership team that mobilizes volunteers, resources and partnerships within a community to provide vital services to working poor and homeless people in a given area.
FOCUS Centers provide:
- Food—hot, nutritious meals served family style, food pantries in conjunction with the USDA and other food banks, nutrition services, emergency supplies and community gardens
- Occupational Training—job preparedness, employee assistance services, computer skills, resume writing workshops, social-entrepreneurial initiatives, and community re-entry services
- Clothing—working clothes wardrobes, clothing closets, care kits and material aid
- Understanding—clinical social work counseling, mentoring, fatherhood initiatives, life-recovery classes, drug and alcohol recovery programs, Orthodox Christian spiritual life classes, community building activities, and money management workshops
- Shelter—home repair for the elderly and disabled, domestic service and discipleship retreats, rapid transition to housing referrals, and rent/utilities assistance
Traditionally charities have picked one of these critical categories and focused all their efforts in that area. But life recovery is never about one issue. It is complex and requires hard work because each area affects another. That is why FOCUS NA has intentionally structured its centers to approach life recovery holistically, choosing to walk hand-in-hand with a single person over many miles of life recovery, rather than walking with a crowd a short distance to the next stepping stone.
A recent “60 Minutes” broadcast revealed the great difficulties facing people who have found themselves flung into poverty—hungry, without work, no money for basic needs including clothing and school supplies, alienated, misunderstood and homeless. This video is a reminder to us here at FOCUS of why we exist, why we do what we do, and how great a calling it is. Click here to watch the video!
Follow us through Lent as each week we feature one of these valuable components of FOCUS NA’s ministry initiatives. Get to know the needs of those around you. Learn how you can get involved in helping those whose needs are so great. Find a FOCUS Center near you, or plug into the outreach programs that may be active in your local church. Make this Lent one of reflection on the basic needs of your neighbors and how you might be able to impact them for the sake of Christ!