J29 is a collection of like-minded individuals who are being called together to come alongside the disadvantaged in our East Chicago, Fort Wayne and Gary, Indiana communities. We are an official not-for-profit organization. Our efforts have been focused on the residents of the section 8 housing apartments called Village of Hanna (formerly known as Eden Green). This area is known for poverty, addiction, and violence. Many of the people living there are the product of generational situations. They only know what they have always known. But, we want them to know that they can have a future that moves beyond their past and is different than their present.
Since 2010, we have seen both ups and downs. But, more importantly, we have seen that God is at work among his people. We have seen children run to our volunteers with open arms because they crave and cherish the simple yet heartfelt hugs that they are sure to get each time we meet. We have built trust with a young boy who was expelled from school because he brought in a gun. We have taken possession of an apartment and made it into a bright, welcoming safe haven with endless possibilities. We have prayed for job interviews and reliable child care. We have had the privilege of helping a woman choose life instead of abortion, and to watch with joy as another sat in the place of honor at her first baby shower (her fourth child). We have had the chance to begin speaking truth in love to a young woman in an abusive relationship. We have been awakened to the ever present sex trade that darkens the area. We have witnessed the terrible hold that addiction can have and the horrible consequences that can result. And we have been honored to sit with a sister during her incarceration, so she knows she is not forgotten, invisible, or a lost cause, but rather cared for, precious, and able to overcome. We count all these as blessings to be able to serve the Lord.
Our organization’s namesake is Jeremiah 29:11 – “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” With this as our guide, we want to show those who are struggling that there is another way. We want to show them that God’s love and plans not only include them, but are specifically and uniquely designed for each and every one of them.
We are committed to offering a hand up, not a hand out, doing with, not for. We do not want to do anything for them that they can do themselves, because our goal is to foster personal integrity instead of dependency. By building relationships, we hope to learn about their individual situations, connect them with community stop-gap resources when needed, talk with them about what goals they might have, mentor them step-by-step, and model loving, encouraging relationships. Our intention is not to create clones, but rather to give each person the freedom and inspiration to dream and to become the best possible version of themselves that they can be. Our hope is that they in turn will become leaders and mentors in their community–paying it forward and helping others.
Ultimately, we desire for each person to have a personal relationship with Christ and to be saved, if they aren’t already. We feel one of the best ways to lead people to Christ is to be His hands and feet, caring for people’s needs, coming alongside them, and doing life together.
We regularly meet with residents for devotions, activities, and to share meals together. We know that none of this is possible without God, and with God nothing is impossible. As we begin another year, we are excited about what God has in store. And we wait with anticipation to see who He will put in our paths, whether they be people in need of our help, volunteers, partners, or supporters.
We ask for your prayers for this ministry.