In our previous blog we looked at what you can do to be part of Hope into Action’s calling to enable the church to house the homeless.

This week Ed Walker looks at how people in churches are coming together to provide homes.

At the time of writing, Hope into Action has over a hundred investors. It is a system that works on many fronts. I and others who have invested capital have a sound financial investment that also serves some of the neediest in our communities, while at the same time building up the Church. Our investment provides both a social and spiritual return, as both tenants and the Church benefit.

How does it work? In short, when someone feels able to purchase a house, he or she retains ownership of the house and then leases it to Hope into Action for five years. We then partner the house with a local church and provide a small monthly cash return over the interim five years. We make a small surplus on each house, which contributes to our running costs. Of course, most people will not be able to summon up enough cash to buy a whole house themselves. However, that does not mean they can’t be involved. In 2012 we had 12 people come together and each invest £10,000 into a house. They each owned one twelfth of the house. Then in 2014 we had over 16 people invest in a home in Suffolk. Some put as much as £25,000 into it and others as ‘little’ as £2,000, with each owning a percentage share. This was a wonderful example of a church community coming together and, like the early apostles, ‘sharing’ for the ‘needy’ in their community.

Most churches probably have, lying dormant among their members, at least enough capital to purchase one house. If a church really is too small, then maybe someone in a nearby church would be able to afford to buy one. It is our vision that every church in the UK (yes, all 40,000 of them) will purchase a home for the homeless. We foresee, over the next 20 years, a revolution in how Christians use their wealth. At the moment, it is common for Christians to tithe (and we should be proud of that), but what if, as is the case with many Christians, their income exceeds their outgoings? Where do they put their money then? The only real current option open to them is to invest it, effectively sharing it with the rich. Why not share at least some of it with the poor?

As government shrinks due to austerity and faces decades of debt repayment, who is to say the Lord will not move so that the churches take the lead and are, once again, at the centre of serving the poorest in our country? Perhaps then, by sharing our equity, we will build a more equitable society, and we will see ‘justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’

We may not feel we have very much to bring, but perhaps, like the disciples who felt they didn’t have sufficient provision, we might hear Jesus ask incisively, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And then we may hear him command us, ‘Go and see.’6 Once we have identified our assets and wealth, we may then hear the gentle invitation of Jesus: ‘Bring them here to me ...’

Is this the charge Jesus would have us accept? Is he saying to us, ‘You’ve seen the need – now “you give them something”? Another way of asking that question is: ‘Is Jesus calling me to give someone somewhere to live?’

This is an extract from Ed’s book, A House Built on Love. To read more about churches stepping up to house the homeless, you can get your copy here.

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