This past week has been absolutely insane. We have been making final preparations for our time at Community First! Village in Austin: getting our house cleaned out for the most part, moving things into our RV, and more. We had all of the excitement and bustle of a lovely Christmas with family, we have had a sick baby, both Briana and I have had physical ailments (unrelated to the car accident), we are operating with one vehicle since the accident and it seems like there is not enough time to get this all done. Regardless, we have felt the peace of God resting on us and it was wonderful to stop and spend time meditating on the Lord's gift of our Savior. I haven't had much time to write this week and thought that instead of putting together a blog of all the details of this chaotic season of life, I would share a draft of the narrative we are putting together as an attachment for our 501c3 application. If you haven't been following along since the beginning, the subsequent outline will be helpful for you to understand what it is that we are being called to do. We appreciate your prayers and support during this time and trust that you know how much your love means to us. We hope you will join us in carrying out the work set before us.
The Field’s Edge, Inc. is organizing in order to fill a tremendous need of permanent supportive housing for the homeless in the Permian Basin Region of Texas. The name of the corporation is derived from Leviticus 23:22 “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” This particular imagery is important to our vision because it encourages those of us who have been blessed with abundance to remember our responsibility to care for the less fortunate.
Our vision is to build a tiny home village of 50 or more homes to lift people off the streets of our area. This will not simply be a housing first initiative, but a Community First initiative, modeled similarly to Community First! Village in Austin, Texas. The Community First movement recognizes the need for physical houses, but the success of the model comes from the emphasis on community.
Residents in our village will pay an affordable rent and will be expected to adhere to State and Federal law, but the only other rule in place will be to be a good neighbor. Being that residents will pay rent, The Field’s Edge will have several microenterprises on site to enable residents to earn money. Residents will not be required to work on site, and will be encouraged to work in town if they so choose. Some may not be able to work at all and will pay rent with Social Security or Disability disbursements that we will help them obtain if necessary. Our microenterprises will be things such as gardening, woodworking, art, and more. Each participating resident will be able to choose their work and it will be designed around their individual strengths, needs, and capabilities. Both the microenterprises and homes are part of the process to restore dignity and hope to people who have been living in total despair.
Our tiny homes will be extremely well built custom-quality homes but they will not have bathrooms or kitchens. The bathroom and kitchen facilities will be in common areas to encourage residents to interact with one another and develop relationships. The founder of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Alan Graham, has said that, “housing will not solve homelessness, but community will.” Relationships and community are the key ingredients we seek to cultivate. The amazing restorative success of the Community First! model in Austin has encouraged us to pursue the development of a village in Midland.
Another goal is to involve other service organizations and work alongside people in the region at large. We hope to one day have a health care clinic, mental health caseworkers, and other supportive services on site. Collaboration with other organizations will be critical. We would also like to have a bus route to provide easy access to town for our residents.
An important aspect of this model is bringing the community at large in to serve and live among the formerly homeless. We aim to change the perception of homelessness in our region and enable people to learn that homelessness is rarely a choice and instead is most always caused by a catastrophe in ones life without any family support. People without community can easily find themselves in a situation where they can no longer afford a place to live and once they become homeless, it is nearly impossible to claw their way out without the help of others. The hope is to bring citizens in to the village to volunteer, serve, play, and even live missionally. This village will be a place that bridges the gaps of socioeconomic status and fosters relationships and brotherly love in our area. We want people to see that we all need each other and encourage everyone to love their neighbors fervently.
Our principles will be founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ but there will be no requirement or obligation to adhere to any religion. We will welcome people of all faiths to live and serve alongside us. Loving our neighbors, giving sacrificially, mercy, and all of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:23-22 will be the way of life in the village. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” We will also encourage our residents to serve the less fortunate in the surrounding area.
In accordance with the Great Commission from Matthew 28:16-20 we will unashamedly seek to make disciples by living out the teachings of Jesus. We believe God will provide opportunities to share our faith with residents and volunteers in the context of friendships. It is important to note that there will be no pressure or obligation to convert, we only strive to be faithful to God’s Great Commission by sowing seeds and allowing the Lord to work in the hearts of those with whom we share the Gospel. A dream that we hope will one day be realized is to send out formerly homeless missionaries with hearts to go and fulfill the Great Commission.
The Field’s Edge will strive to develop a strong supportive community to lift people off the streets, to be a part of restoring their dignity, and to encourage others to view all people with the eyes of Christ.