George A. Bowers Sr.: Come see what God has done

George Bowers Sr.

As another winter approached in November of 2013, approximately 180 concerned Christians gathered at a local church to discuss issues related to homelessness in Shenandoah County. Perspectives were shared, opinions expressed, and various suggestions were put forward. One of them, the development of a local Family Promise Affiliate, has finally come to fruition and has begun serving homeless families.

Many readers have followed the evolution and development of this initiative over the last two-plus years and all along the way it has been exciting to see what God has done in spite of our inexperience and doubt. What seemed like an insurmountable challenge, he has brought to reality. When we began this adventure, little did we know that the only homeless shelter in Shenandoah County, the historic and beloved Alms House, would tragically burn to the ground five months later in April 2014. God knew and he was already at work.

Since that first meeting, God has raised up 13 different congregations that are willing to host homeless children and their families inside their churches. And as those churches opened their doors, God began to open others, for he moved yet another congregation to donate a 15-passenger van to transport these families. He raised up 20 more churches that have signed on as support congregations providing food, overnight supervision, financial support, or other important contributions to make this common sense, private sector, faith initiative work. We continue to welcome additional churches both as hosts and cooperating congregations. To see a listing of these as well as current updates, go to www.shenandoahfamilypromise.org.

Thanks to the support and cooperation of Valley Health, Dexter Mumaw, Lowe’s of Woodstock, and several other vital partners, we now have a fully functioning Family Center where clients can take showers, do laundry, search for jobs, and receive case management by our exceptionally gifted executive director, Sherry Arey. It has also been a blessing to receive the support and cooperation of numerous public and private agencies, coalitions, governments, attorneys and foundations who share a vision to serve the less fortunate.

As someone who has been integrally involved with this effort from the beginning, it has been nothing short of miraculous to see the ways God has worked, and continues to work to make this program succeed. Each time it seemed we were at an impasse, God showed up to part the waters and lead us through in glorious ways beyond our imaginations. It has truly been a faith-building experience and I count it a great privilege to be a part of.

In the process, I have met so many new Christian brothers and sisters whom I have grown to love and cherish, for in addition to raising up a van, the host congregations, the Family Center, and an executive director, he has also raised up incredibly gifted and committed individuals who are leading, giving, volunteering, and supporting Family Promise in many ways.

When we officially opened for hosting in early January, we were surprised by God yet again when the national organization notified us that Family Promise of Shenandoah County is the 200th Affiliate nationwide! As such, founder and retiring president of Family Promise National, Karen Olson, will visit us to recognize this incredible milestone.

Sunday, March 13 will be a special day when supporters will gather at 2 p.m. in the old gym at Central High School to celebrate what God has done in raising up Family Promise of Shenandoah County. We will recognize and praise him for the miracles he has performed throughout this faith adventure. Board member Libby Rocco is organizing a 100 Voice Choir to sing his praises and anyone interested in participating should contact her immediately at 540-335-5536. Olson will speak and various supporters will be recognized. Following the celebration at Central, all are invited to the Family Center at 781 Spring Parkway in Woodstock for tours and refreshments.

Family Promise invites the community to share this special time of worship and to extend the invitation to others. As followers of Jesus, we need to proclaim far and wide what he has done and is doing right before our very eyes. Come and celebrate what God has done! In Jesus, George

George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his latest book of poetry, Holy Verses. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.