We held an open meeting about the First Curve challenge in late January. It was a time for everyone to hear firsthand where we’re at with our giving challenge, particularly the property on SR 59 we’re trying to purchase for homeless ministry. We’ve made more progress and more connections since then, and we’re excited about what God is showing us about faith and His plans to use our church in the community.
The vision of First Curve was to raise $250,000, divided into three categories: $180,000 toward purchasing land to house abused and trafficked women, $50,000 to provide housing for the homeless, and $20,000 to increase missions outreach. To date, we’ve raised almost $210,000, meeting the missions goal and getting close to the $230,000 for the homeless and trafficked women. Although the original goal was to raise the funds in 18 months and we passed the 2-year mark in January, we will reach the total amount in God’s timing and as he leads people to give.
As we’ve worked toward the First Curve goal and stepped out in faith, God developed the vision for two properties with two separate ministries (homeless & trafficked) into a one-property reality. In working out the possibilities for ministry and balancing them against the needs of both the homeless and trafficked women, we realized that both efforts will be better served by being on one property. The ministry taking place on one property will serve both the homeless and trafficked women and will be called the Haven of Portage County. The Haven of Portage County has been formed as a charitable entity separate from Portage Community Chapel, both for operational purposes and liability reasons.
We initiated a formal purchase agreement on the property across from Wal-Mart (the old Campbell Furniture store) and are working through the state of the building, what it will need for immediate improvements to open and operate as a warming center. If the terms outlined in the purchase agreement are approved, we will purchase the property under the entity name, Haven of Portage County. The price for the Campbell property is $425,000 (3 buildings and 10.2 acres).
If you’ve heard Pastor Mark talk about Daughters, Too and wondered who or what that is, it’s the Campbell family trust (the Campbell’s daughters). The Campbell family always wanted to see their property used for the community so they have offered to finance the purchase and have been working with us in other ways to help make this property feasible for the ministry use. They are asking for a down payment of $75,000 and through Daughters, Too, they will finance the remaining $350,000 (3.95% for 15 years) at a monthly payment just over $2,300. We plan to take the $50,000 raised for the homeless in First Curve and put it on the down payment. Riverwood Community Chapel has pledged to give the remainder of the down payment.
At the same time that we knew that God had turned our two-ministry vision into a one-property reality, God brought Rahab Ministries another partner who is committed to building the next safe house and providing the property they need. So Rahab has taken over possession of the property we purchased last year, paying PCC the $140,000 we had paid on the property to date. That money will be allocated to the Haven ministry. Rahab paid us $80,000 up front and they will be paying the $60,000 balance to us over a 9-month period.
Although we aren’t providing the property for Rahab Ministries’ next safe house, our partnership with them will not change and we will work alongside them as we have been. In working with trafficked women, we’ve noticed that one of the greatest needs is graduated housing for a woman who has come out of the safe house and wants to get her life on track. We want to fill that need for ongoing, close support and fill the gap between living at a safe house and living independently. Part of what we do at the Haven ministry will be to provide graduated housing for trafficked women, a need that currently isn’t met by anyone else.
We’re encouraged to have more potential partners as time goes on – organizations, churches, and people who are excited about helping, both to get the ministry launched and keep it running. Riverwood Chapel, a business student organization at Kent State University, Family & Community Services, and The Center of Hope are engaged in working on the plans for this venture right now. Recently, a KSU culinary professor, the Meyer Foundation, a KSU architect and the Kent State Coalition for the Homeless have expressed interest in coming on board and helping.
As we plan and move forward, God is bringing people and entities to us who can potentially fill both the needs we know about and the needs which we aren’t even aware exist. We’re not certain how God will work out all the details; between the actual purchase of the property to opening the doors of the Haven of Portage County and keeping it running, there are myriad steps to take and decisions to make. Pray that we will all be focused and attentive to God’s leading in starting this ministry venture and then hang on – it’s bound to be exciting!