A Christmas Gift That Has Kept on Giving

Post a Comment » Written on March 27th, 2007     
Filed under: News
WINDSOR, CA (March 27, 2007) – An improbable Christmas gift Shiloh Covenant Church was able to give a woman and her five children last year continues to encourage the congregation as they pursue ministry that moves them beyond their comfort zones, says Greg Fauss, pastor of outreach.

“It showed us what God can do,” Fauss says. The experience also proved that people on different sides of issues related to illegal immigration can work together to provide housing for someone in desperate need, regardless of legal status.

Ramona first began attending the church last fall after being attracted to Shiloh’s Monday night community ministry that included Bible study, clothing, food, a combined Spanish and English as second language class, and even legal help. But then came the Sunday morning she cried through the entire worship time.

Ramona doesn’t speak English and sits in a section of the congregation where attendees who only speak Spanish have the service translated for them. Fauss was able to understand her, however, when she stood in the aisle after the service and told him that her family was being evicted from their trailer home.

Ramona felt helpless, and Fauss had no idea how to fix her situation. He later woke from a nap believing God wanted the church to find her a home, although the pastor still didn’t know how that might happen.

Fauss searched the Internet for someone in the San Francisco Bay area who was willing to donate a mobile home. Weeks passed, and he worried that time would run out. Finally, on December 13, a man who was in the process of buying a trailer park offered one of the 100 units on the property.

As Fauss listened to the offer, he knew it was great news mixed with bad. The trailer was in the same Windsor trailer park in which Ramona currently lived. The bad news was the church had experienced some difficulties with the current management due to past instances when the congregation tried to help tenants with landlord disputes.

“It was a really messy situation,” Fauss recalls. “We thought they would convince the guy not to give her the trailer.”

Fauss tried unsuccessfully for days to contact the new owner to finalize arrangements. When moving day arrived, the church decided to act on faith that they would be able to help the family into their new home. But when Fauss went to pick up the keys, the then-manager refused to give him the keys. “She basically ran me out of the office,” Fauss recalls. “I was so depressed.”

Five minutes later, however, the new owner (who Fauss still had been unable to reach) called to say he would give them the keys. “The guy shows up with his wife and kids, and it turns out they’re believers!” he recalls.

The week before Christmas, the church surprised Ramona and her family with the new trailer decked with lights and gifts piled high on the porch.

Now, months later, Ramona and her children, including one with special needs, regularly attend services. They and the congregation are developing and deepening relationships due to what Fauss says was a Christmas miracle.

Congregation members have disagreed at times on how to minister to area residents who are in the country illegally. However, the experience has helped everyone to gain a better understanding of another’s viewpoint, Fauss says. The members may still differ over the complex legal and social issues, but all are certain of one thing: people need a place to live.

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