An Unprecedented Need

By Shannon Pugh
In eLetter
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When you think of poverty in Irving, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a person standing at a light with a sign that says “anything helps.” Maybe it’s a Section 8 apartment complex south of 183. Or maybe you picture a family going to a food pantry to get groceries for the week. All of these images are true, but they fall significantly short of the bigger picture. In reality, there are families right around the corner who are in danger of being evicted because they can no longer afford their rent. There are thousands of people living in extended stay hotels throughout the city. There are people parked overnight at grocery stores, sleeping in their cars. This is the reality of life for many during the current affordable housing crisis.

IBC has had a benevolence fund for decades. What’s a benevolence fund? It’s money we set aside to assist people in need with rent, utilities, food, clothing, bus passes, etc. And thanks to the generosity of our church body, IBC’s benevolence ministry has been well-funded for many years. We’re able to step in and help people out of emergency situations, while connecting them with partner organizations to help to address the reasons behind their instability.

Unfortunately, the cost of living has skyrocketed. Everything from groceries to rent is significantly more expensive than it was five years ago, and more people are living paycheck to paycheck. A week of unpaid sick leave due to the flu or a one-month stretch of unemployment after being laid off can cause a crisis that leads to eviction. In addition, the Covid-related funding that many nonprofits were relying on has run out, resulting in programs and services being hard to access.

Our Benevolence ministry is feeling the strain of these changes. Requests for financial assistance through our website have doubled since last fall. Last month alone we received more than 50 requests—almost all of them for help with rent.

I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture, but there is hope. Maybe not in the economy, but in Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. Unprecedented need means we have an unprecedented opportunity to give tangible support to our community.

Every dollar of help we provide means renewed hope for one of our neighbors. And even when we can’t give financial help, we can often say “yes” in other ways. Our Care Closet launched in October and is open weekly to provide non-perishable food and household items (things like toilet paper and shampoo) to people in our community. The medical clinic, ESL classes, and job workshops are also available free of charge here on campus each Wednesday night. Plus, we partner with amazing organizations in the community that can provide more specific or long-term support when we can’t.

Our prayer is that all of these services lead people to the source of true hope: Jesus. But I’ll tell you what—there are people I’ve worked with through benevolence who have stronger faith than I’ve seen in almost any other ministry I’ve been a part of. They know what is true for all of us: that we are utterly dependent on God, for everything that we need, every day of our lives.

So next time you pay your bills or put gas in your car, take a moment to thank God for the ways he’s provided for you. Take a second to pray for our neighbors in need. And consider giving financially to support the community programs here at IBC. For the month of May, all loose cash donations (bills and coins) that we receive will go toward our Benevolence Fund. You can drop your gifts into any of the black collections boxes throughout Town Square.

Thank you for helping us be the hands and feet of Jesus here in Irving.

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