The Story of Terre Haute Friendship House: Part 2
Bob Goff describes faith by saying, “I learned that faith isn’t about knowing all the right stuff or obeying a list of rules. It’s something more, something more costly because it involved being present and making a sacrifice.”
The Terre Haute Friendship House was a leap of faith that had the real potential to be a great success or an epic failure. As this idea of creating a Friendship House in Terre Haute bubbled to the surface in the Fall of 2018, the hurdles that we faced were no small feat. We had to adhere to strict grant timeline, raise the funds for the initial operating costs, recruit residents, convince our church to say yes, and find a house to rent that divided our male and female residents in less that 7 months. It’s certainly not a timeline we would have chosen on our own nor would we recommend pursuing. Logistically, we were fighting an uphill battle, but there were deeper questions of faith that left us questioning whether this was doable.
The bigger struggle that our team faced was whether we had any business pursuing this audacious dream. Our church isn’t a large church by any stretch. We have about 375 people who join us for worship on Sundays. We’ve only been doing disability ministry for 6 years, and while we’ve learned so much, we don’t believe that we are experts in this area. We also would be the first local church to pursue establishing a Friendship House. Most are run in conjunction with seminaries and graduate schools. The “enough” questions hit so hard. What if we weren’t big enough, prepared enough, or qualified enough? Would we be “enough” to make this successful?
The answer to that questions was and is still is no. On our own, we were not and are not enough. Our big, adventurous, and wonder-filled God met us in all the places where we felt inadequate. We watched in awe as God began assembling the pieces to this complex and moving puzzle that is Terre Haute Friendship House. Three months into this and after looking at one other house, we found a duplex in a neighborhood that was rich with opportunity for ministry beyond Friendship House. This house had been entirely remodeled after a fire and both sides were available for rent. We saw a number of community members catch wind of the project and become invested on many different levels. God stretched this project beyond our church to include people from other churches, different organizations, and those from our community. We found support and encouragement from the Friendship House community when we felt overwhelmed by the details. So much of what God did in the past year and half has left us speechless.
As you think about your disability ministry and the outreach to the disability community at your church, I am praying that you would boldly ask this question –
What “enough” questions hold you back from going where God is calling your disability ministry or church to go?
While I can’t answer that question for you, I can stand on the other side of that question and know that the outcome was worth every moment of wrestling.
Jess Berryhill serves as the Student Ministry Director and Special Needs Ministry Coordinator at Mount Pleasant UMC in Terre Haute, IN. She is also the Resident Director at Terre Haute Friendship House and lives with her housemates and dog, Cooper.