Let Me Tell You A Story

Let Me Tell You A Story

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

Let me tell you a story.
Carissa came in to our church office a few days ago after having called the office a little earlier. In that phone call, she said that she needed rent money in order to avoid having to move. I listened to her story, even though we don’t give rent support anymore due to the enormous need and our inability to even come close to filling it. We instead work with utility bills, fuel for cars, food, and clothing.
I told her on the phone that we couldn’t help with rent. But because there was something compelling about her story and the way she told it, I asked her if she had transportation and could come in…that I’d like to see her and visit further. She said she could be there in a few minutes. Some short time later, Carissa appeared at the door of the office with a 7 year old daughter in tow. I invited her to my office where we talked more about her situation.
Carissa has been married to her husband for some years. They used to live in a town about an hour and a half from Wichita. In 2012, her husband was shot five times, (wrong place, wrong time), during an altercation in the neighborhood where they lived, and is now a paraplegic. The story was in the news back then.
Carissa obtained her CNA certificate some months ago and is working at a long term care facility in the area. A month or so ago, a home accident she was in broke her arm. Since a CNA has to lift, move, and otherwise deal with residents in a physical way, she couldn’t work. She also hadn’t worked enough to build up vacation or sick pay time.
As soon as she could qualify, the facility put her on light duty, so she’s working again. However, she was off for several weeks without pay and is the sole support of her family. Her husband is on SSI disability, but when Carissa started working, his disability support was drastically cut. They appealed that cut, but were only told that if they would divorce or legally separate, then his disability would go back to the original level. That was something they were not going to do.
Carissa has worked to obtain educational resources to advance her career to Registered Nurse, but has been stymied by the FASFA (Federal Application for Student Financial Aid). She didn’t understand how to complete some of the questions, and the staff at the university where she applied were of no help to her. She is cognizant of the future, has a plan, is articulate regarding that plan, and wants to go down life’s road toward self-sufficiency for her family and herself. Their utilities are paid up, they have food, and seem to be well cared-for, except for the rent situation.
I asked for the contact information of her landlord, and paid him a personal visit after speaking to him on the phone. He does not want them to move. They are good renters. He had built a ramp for the husband and re-did some of the interior so he could get around. The house is small, but liveable and relatively nice for the rent paid. The Landlord told me that if he evicted them, they would have no place to go. I was impressed with his take on their situation and his willingness to work with them.
I told Carissa that I didn’t know what I would do, but would contact her the next day one way or the other. She was good with that. Later that day, I told a church member about Carissa and asked if they could help with all or part of the rent for them. Later that evening they emailed back to me and said they would cover all of the rent for her until September 1.
I called Carissa the next day and told her. She was at work. She cried over the phone and said she would be in after work to pick up the check. She did come in, and the situation is now taken care of.
She said she knew they were at the edge of what I call the poverty whirlpool, and were quickly falling into it. I toldher that she has a chance now to stay out of it and continue to support her family. I told her that her landlord was cheering for her, as were we and the one who contributed their rent. We talked about her spiritual life. She said she was the daughter of a minister, and hasn’t been faithful to God. We extended an invitation to her to come and meet with the family at RiverWalk.
I also introduced her to Jim, one of our ministers, who does a great job with career services. She has made an appointment with him, and will follow up on her future educational and vocational plans with him, pro bono.
I tell you this story to give you an idea of what goes on during the week at the office. This is just one story out of many in a month’s time. All are a little different. Most have the same general theme of someone or some family either teetering on the edge of the poverty whirlpool, or they have already been sucked in and are either part way or most of the way to the bottom of it. Obviously, it’s easier to help those who have not yet been sucked in, but we at least listen to and try to help others as we can and are able.
I also tell you this story to let you know of the generosity of the members of this congregation. Not only this member in this situation, but several times we’ve reached out to members for private donations for specific causes…and they’ve always come through. Many of our members are generous, almost to a fault.
Thanks for listening. Continue to pray for those who come to the doors of the building during the week. Continue to thank God for those who contribute generously to the work of the church in this place. And continue to pray for souls to be rescued as we work with the needs of those who turn to us for help.

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