…we will come to them and make our home with them (John 14:23)
As Safe Haven prepares for the holiday season, I am moved to linger on the idea of home. When we dedicated our first Safe Transitions’lhouse as a team back in August, we toasted with sparkling grape juice and told stories of what home meant to us (Priya Parker and The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters) It was a rich celebration, documenting many ways of understanding and celebrating home.
That day, we re-membered what home means through our stories. In other words, we put together (in a new way) formational, valuable parts from each of our lives. And in sharing them, they blended into a shared understanding of what this new house meant to us. Our final act of dedication was to put together our meanings on a canvas for the transitional house. In the photo above, you can see what has been re-membered.
Amongst all the other things that happen when one is home for the holidays, one of the more foundational actions is to remember; to reconnect to the people, places, ideas and commitments that are at your core. For many of our clients in shelter or our Safe Transitions program, the holiday season represents a time to form new memories, traditions and re-build a life rooted in refuge and peace.
As a faith-based organization, we find our “why” for work like Home for the Holidays and Safe Transitions in the doctrine of imago Dei or Image of God. We believe that every person we engage with is an image bearer (Genesis 1:27). We also bear witness that sin has greatly defaced God’s image in us, especially in cases of relationship abuse and exploitation.
Theologian Jemar Tisby writes, “To honor the image of God in each other, we need to practice love that embraces and humility that makes space.” As you think about honor and the work of Safe Haven, we invite you to join with the effort to value each image bearer; we invite you to make it possible for each of us to reveal God’s image in our world. We want to reawaken the practice of seeing and treating each person as an image bearer and we eagerly await the unwrapping of this gift of reawakening for each of us in this next season.
In my process of learning more about Safe Haven, it is becoming clearer how commitments like seeing people as image bearers plays out in practice. Safe Haven’s value of equity and belonging states, “We thoughtfully value and serve each individual and strive to create a safe haven for all.” For many of our clients, they have been devalued and the image of God in them has been defaced. One response to this reality is to swoop in and look to rescue. For Safe Haven Ministries , we are living out a different response based on our understanding that each person, as an image bearer, has a right to self-determination. Survivors have an intimate and nuanced understanding of their situation, they need to be in the driver’s seat to make the best decisions for themselves and their family.
As we invite you into the story of Safe Haven, keep in mind that prepositions matter. Doing things for someone does not highlight the honor due survivors. Walking with them ensuring they are receiving the support they need to thrive is our ask. As Safe Haven launches our Home for the Holidays campaign, we invite you to check out our Home for the Holidays wish list as you play a part in making thriving possible for our clients in shelter.
As each of us looks toward home in this next season, may we remember, may we be reawakened and may we be restored by the One who makes a home with us.