The many personal costs of the pandemic have profoundly impacted our friends in Orange Mound. What most of the resourced have experienced is a mere inconvenience comparatively.
Reflections on our mission over the past 13 months have shown us that many of our friends and volunteers are being motivated to come to Orange Mound and do what they can to address the many wounds and gaps – some that have arisen from the pandemic and others that have long been there. We have weekly witnessed advising, teaching, praying, and answers to prayers among the OM women and our volunteers.
Meanwhile, there are tragic rumblings all around us. Our children have lost a link in the education chain, and the crime rate here has never been higher. As well, there is still a pall of fear of vaccines and viruses. Masks are coming off in relief, but not in confidence. So how then should we live in modeling faith, maturity, responsibility, and obedience?
We can’t shelter any longer and many never did. Instead of retreating in fear, our Sisters, the name we call our volunteers, have stepped forward to assist. The emotional, economic, and physical insult of the pandemic has been vicious, but a spiritual courageous light has pierced the fear and darkness.
Five Sisters have held the hands of several of our ladies who are establishing their own businesses apart from the tea company. Time, resources, networks, and encouragement have been necessary to launch them forward in enterprise endeavors. Sixteen Sisters have provided lunches for 15 women weekdays every month with ample leftovers for home-bound carry-out. Four Sisters have washed windows, polished, and painted, hung curtains, and planted bushes for our two new homeowners. Six Sisters have delivered new mattresses, sent furniture, given appliances, and installed carpets. Two have accompanied the sick to doctors, and many have advised and prayed for our women in the halls and the quiet corners of the House. A silver-lined cloud of deliverance and hope is in the air over our block in Orange Mound.
Our mission was established in 2015 to resource women who live in OM and to bring two cultures together to cultivate authentic friendships and discover commonality among women living in close proximity but miles apart economically and culturally. So, with Bibles in hand and memory verses in mind, we crossed the parallel six-inch tracks at Southern Avenue when a train wasn’t coming.
When we arrived in Orange Mound, a long train of women was desperate for the financial and material resources but skeptical about what else we had to offer. We wanted to know them, not just meet their felt needs, but we had to earn their trust on their turf.
The “poor,” so often mentioned in the Bible, is not exclusively those who are hunting for food, clothes, or shelter but also the meek, who with spiritual hunger are seeking God. That is the description of the women who are now working for us in the tea company.
Our national treasury currently provides hundreds of dollars on electronic debit cards bi-weekly for single moms. Section-8 housing, which subsidizes available as are food giveaways daily. Missions provide free clothes closets and laptops for students. But what the benevolences don’t give are relational strengthening and personal care that recognizes the uniqueness of the individual and her circumstances.
That is what we do, along with job security. The women tell us they know that working with a reputable and growing company brings status and dignity. Working among the many Sisters who are friends and new family brings joy and vision for a stable tomorrow.
In the first century, the church began caring for its own and bringing more converts along through strengthening a grasp of the Good News that God has come to earth to tabernacle with us. We have the same Him, who changes our direction and meets all of our needs to follow Him. Church, was and is, the outpouring of service and shared possessions among the Spirit-filled. We proclaim Truth and advocate for justice, and we share the arrival of hope through God’s forgiveness and rebirth. We package these truths with acts of service with prayer and worship.
God’s grace is what is happening daily at the House of Orange Mound. Without a message that changes hearts, and without advocates for justice and hope, our work is incomplete. Loving our Orange Mound neighbor in action using our very costly gift of time, in word and deed is what we do.
We also sell tea.