The world brings us news of declining family values every day, but there is also a light that shines.
Proof of this light in such darkness is Acres of Hope: stalwart Christians of Auburn, California, about half way between the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe, reaching out to and mentoring homeless moms who have children.
Their uncompromising aim is to truly and with God’s empowerment, permanently restore lives and families.
One such small family, Jennifer and Giovanni, now lives in their own home in the same way we all on Thanksgiving Day can be thankful for, for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, by God’s providence and blessing.
Jennifer said she never would have even hoped for such a result when she was in and out of toxic relationships, hardened by the world and struggling with addiction, pregnant and homeless.
“Before I came to Acres, I never had my own place, and, I never was able to be self sufficient,” Jennifer said. “I never really knew what it meant to be a mother.”
But after she had given birth to little Giovanni, looking at him, she knew she had to face reality and make real changes that she could not possibly make on her own.
She was mentored, trained in marketable skills, given up to two years to overcome real problems that had been hard-wired in her life, and she reached a milestone moment when she prayed earnestly for God to change her life.
In early June, she graduated from Acres of Hope, moving from there with a life verse: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Her Acres chapter of life ends with her proudly saying, “This is our own home.”
Acres of Hope serves all its homeless women with children by providing them with a home and a unique approach that allows them to live there at Acres for up to two years.
During their stay, tough-minded but loving staff and volunteers provide encouragement, practical life-skills, job skills, mentoring and spiritual direction based on solid truths of the Word of God.
“The vision of Acres of Hope is to provide a safe family environment and a healthy living program for women with children that sets the foundation of change and breaks the cycle of homelessness,” their statement of mission reads.
Christian Action Network President Martin Mawyer said that it is outreach ministries like Acres of Hope that tirelessly work against the human impacts of family, heritage and Christian values being in decline throughout society.
We must address the lack of support, second chances and stability
There are real victims. Real moms and children are turned out onto actual streets, they are truly strung out when the drug effects wear off. Thankfully, there are also real Christians reaching out to them with God’s love.
“After a few months or so at Acres of Hope, one of the mothers said she had absolutely no idea that love like that even existed anywhere in the world,” Mawyer said. “That is what can really get to you.
“Seeing the work at Acres of Hope inspires me,” he added. “It invigorates me to know what is always at stake fighting to elevate family, heritage and Christian principles in society.”
According to Acres leaders, there is a problem with the usual systems of care for the homeless that falls short of what it takes to end cycles of homelessness for most who suffer it; it’s like putting band aids over a deeper wound.
If the roots of what is causing helplessness and cycles of homelessness are not dealt with, then the survival-mode obsession remains, poor decisions follow.
Acres notes, “we must address the lack of support, second chances and stability in order to make a positive impact and to break the cycles of homelessness.”
“I am thankful to hear about Acres of Hope,” Mawyer said. “I’m glad that a volunteer supporter, Jackie Nhashae, reached out to us on our Facebook page to let us know more about it.”