This is home for the Beard’s but also the base for CHRISTWORKS MINISTRIES. It is a simple single-story ranch-style home with less than 2000 square feet under roof, a concrete slab for a base, a few sheds, and a surrounding acre of ground. It lies about 5 miles from the south end of the Shenandoah National Park in central Virginia and a little less than two miles from the village of Crozet.
Where We Live
Where believers live is more than a home for a family or a single person. It is meant to be a multi-function tool for a variety of activities related to our faith. We are not showing a picture of our home because it is particularly pretty. By modern standards, it is simple. As viewers see it, however, we remind them to choose and use their homes wisely with respect to their faith. If we can do this, anyone can. Conversely, if a home does not have this priority, it will turn into a palace or monument or showpiece or tool for something else other than God.
Too many people choose homes that are too expensive, not useful, and become the object of most of their attention apart from God. As a result, they become a burden and an object of worship rather than a place to worship. Worship, in this case, is not lifting hands and voices, but the place where a person or family choose to offer themselves and what they have for His sake. This does not mean we or any other believers don’t shower, sleep, eat, and live like anyone else, but actions and functions take on a new perspective when we are not doing our own thing but His…in our home.
We bought our home after seeking God’s guidance; we bought inexpensively but with available space and characteristics that were applicable for more than eating, sleeping, and living to ourselves. We needed some extra bedroom space, some places big enough to meet with a small group, and enough inside or outside space for any kind of activity that a believing family might do among them or for others. We recommend the same priorities and approach if you mean to have God influence all parts of your life, not just church or obvious religious activity at some other place. We choose cars and other things nearly the same way or with the same priorities.
After a few years of hospitality in apartments, we moved to a home and did the same thing. After a few years of this at home, we began using home space to receive things that needed to be sorted then given to the needy along with a message that God loved them.
Part of our distribution was food boxes to disadvantaged folks on a route from Crozet to the Northeast: along the east side of the Blue Ridge mountains. We started getting food from a church, but eventually began getting food from contacts we developed ourselves. Sometimes we bought what was needed. We made many friends among the elderly. This man was one of them.
We eventually began to be a source of food (in this case venison or deer meat) for other Christians who loved God but also felt compelled to help the needy as part of their faith. We made many more friends; this couple were two of them. Giving is not meant to be a chore, although it is work, but a joy.
The needs of other churches outgrew our first sources of food so we contacted ministries that could help us. Now the food was coming in trucks, but this also forced us to find another location for food distribution. However, it started in the home and from the home. That is how you learn.
While starting to distribute food to the poor, we also found educational needs among many of the same families. It was not long before we began a small church school. In the U.S. it is not hard to find a Christian-oriented curriculum. We used one of them that was portable and started working with a few children. We encouraged them to come to church but they knew much more: they knew us, our home, and our motivation. Linda taught the children during the day since Roland worked; we both did evening/weekend activities. The children we first ministered to have grown and had their own children. Some still come back. Some have learned about Jesus Christ on their own; many have not. Regardless, we know the seed of the gospel was sown with word and deed.
Children from poorer families often had public school difficulties. Many of our activities, like square dancing (as shown) were designed to expose them to healthy activities and relationships. So with an eye of faith, we would prayerfully construct programs to give the children a better measuring stick for relationships than many of them had experienced. The effort stems from His care for us. Linda knew being poor as a child, so the Lord uses past experience to help later, when we were assisting needy children. We continued to care for others as a matter of faith. It is not a paid staff effort or a giant school, just working with a few children at a time.
After awhile we went from a little church school format to a home school support group. So children came to our home for many years. We worked with a lot of children and parents with academic skills and activities that were home-based. We began giving up personal space to make room for the function. It seemed to us that is what Jesus did when he made room for us when we were not a part of his family. We don’t mean to say this is always easy and it does cost in terms of time and money, but it seems to us that if our home is not an extension of our faith with works, then what is it?
Sometimes activities were during the week; sometimes they were on the weekend. Over the years, several children lived with us for periods of time when family issues or other difficulties meant they needed a place to stay. More and more home space began to be an extension of our faith, which included helping others. We are not suggesting that everyone do exactly what we have done, but we ARE suggesting that home is meant for much more than a personal or even family palace. Over time any family who knows Jesus and His love can begin to affect others in and through their home.
With home school still operating, a husband working full time but still helping, and hospitality a matter of practice for both of us, adding a little food sorting was not a stretch. Linda took the children where semi-trailers often brought loads of donated food (about 30,000 pounds per load). A couple volunteers got it unloaded; a few more along with the children sorted boxes at various times; and within a week all of it had gone to 15-30 ministries and churches to help the needy. It all started when we gave out 5 boxes of donated potato chips to a few families less than five miles from our home.
It was (and is) not all work. Home was the base for people to meet, grab a canoe or a ride to go on a hike. In other words, get outside to see what God had made. In this case, it was a group of believers enjoying the Shenandoah River by canoe. No matter how much work there is, there is still time to appreciate what He has made and to enjoy fellowship with each other.
Even hobbies can get energized by faith. Canoeing opened doors to work with many children; hiking with poor children taught them things they would have never seen or learned; astronomy opens the magnificence of the heavens to those who have never seen them.
As the home school and food ministries waned and concerns for overseas disadvantage groups increased, we began receiving and sending supplies when God opened doors. Eventually the door opened to send a container to Uganda. Nearly every box was packed and inventoried at our home, moved to another ministry for weighing and shipping, then received in Uganda, where we also had the opportunity to see the materials and equipment put to use in a poverty area where Ugandan believers were hard at work to improve conditions. Now we are headed to Asia to do similar things. It started at our home, and will continue as long as God gives us direction and grace to help those in need.
And, it all ends at our home. A single Mom with a daughter, who is also a single Mom, needed help more recently. In this case, hospitality by faith kicks in: be at the hospital, help the Mom, give counsel where needed, take time & money to address critical needs, get the young Mom restarted in education, and, of course, hold the baby when the baby needs holding. As we have told many, the believer should reasonably expect to establish a pattern of good works that never ends. It may change, expand, fluctuate in intensity, but it never ends because the motivation is faith in Jesus Christ. What He did for us, we do for others through His love and His grace. It is not complicated; and it is done one person or action or small project at a time.
Can you begin in your home? If you have begun and find it hard, can we encourage you? If your actions are by faith in Jesus Christ and you aim to know him, they will bear much fruit.