An Open Door in Guadalupe, AZ

an “open door”

by Jeff Bisgrove – Phoenix, AZ
We have made a big step into Guadalupe; we have purchased a house there.  It is a simple house, of strong foundations but needing considerable attention to make it a home to live in.  We have been struggling on what God wants us to do next.  We have been working in Guadalupe for years and have found many wonderful local folks that want to help transform their neighborhood.  However, we have no physical presence.  And bigger still, our chief friend and community developer, Marina, has struggled to keep her family fed, housed and happy all the while helping her neighborhood.  Marina lives in “the projects”, a section 8 housing development in Guadalupe.  Transients is high in “the projects” and the housing while inexpensive, is also cheap.  Wide spread cockroaches and lack of insulation make living in these homes a challenge in Phoenix.  Despite all of this, Marina and her family have been the community development anchor in Guadalupe.  She started the Basketball team, does asset surveys and leads the tutoring programs. Over this time, she has become a true community leader, talking to the town leaders on how we might run a better tutoring program together, being the person people come to ask advice on different problems and leading asset survey drives.  This is major growth; 2-3 years ago Marina would never have imagined she would be doing this.

Work time!

So what does God do?  He creates a challenge and then he opens a door.  The challenge was Marina’s husband got a job.  While this might initially look like the family would have some money, the reality is this Section 8 housing project charges rent on a sliding scale based on income.  What this really meant is their rent would go up almost 4X.  And this would mean despite working full-time, they would have no more money in their pocket than they do now with no job.  They needed to move.

It is here that God opened a door.  God showed us a house we could purchase and fix up.  We could charge Marina enough rent to cover the mortgage, insurance, taxes and maintenance (a sum total very close to what they were paying in Section 8 before the job).  They could have a more secure place in the local community to do community development.  They could develop an emergency fund and get a bank account.   And we have created a catalyst point for folks in Guadalupe, our friends in South Phoenix and ourselves to work together to clean up a house to make it a home.  It needs a floor, intense cleaning, painting inside and house, etc.  But together, we are all working together to do this.  The work is being done by Marinas family and some of our Guadalupe friends who are skilled in painting and tile laying.  Our South Phoenix friends are coming over mid November for a big painting day.  People have donated furniture and appliances – Marina needs to leave all their old furniture behind due to cockroaches in the Section 8 housing.   This was not something we did; this was something that God was able to bless us with.  So, this is our focus in November, culminating in a house dedication ceremony before December; as Marina is already planning on how we can expand tutoring and do it at the house.

Kitchen time!

Cleaning time!