Port Austin Bible Campus; PO Box 474, Port Austin, Michigan 48467 989-738-7700 www.portaustin.net/pabc
Port Austin Bible Campus, 8180 Port Drive, PO Box 474, Port Austin,
Michigan, USA, 48467.  •  989-738-7700  •  pabc@portaustin.net
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Off Campus Housing Ministry

PABC serves as coordinator for an Off Campus Housing Ministry, largely for Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties. Our purpose is to share the Christian ministry and provide better housing in cases where PABC housing has drawbacks. PABC collects information on interested Hosts (That could be you!) willing to offer Off Campus Housing, and then refer some of the many people who call PABC to a Host when appropriate. Off Campus Housing is most helpful in situations like these:

  • Guests need to be near a job, school or medical facility which is too far away for a daily commute from PABC.
  • Guests need to be a certain distance from their child's other parent and PABC is too far.
  • Guests are applying for a housing program in Sanilac or Tuscola counties and need to live there to qualify.
  • Guests suffer from anxiety in large groups of people.
  • Guests are on the sex offender registry and cannot live on the main PABC campus.
  • Hosts often provide better one-on-one mentoring or have specific expertise or job opportunities needed by the Guest.
  • PABC does not have room for more Guest(s).

The willingness to commit a significant part of one's life to help others is a moving and fulfilling ministry experience that many Christians long for, but few have. Most Christians have read Scriptures like those below, but have just considered them impossible to fulfill in our modern society. It is not impossible. It is something that many can do.

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:37-40).

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also (Hebrews 13:1-3).

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard (Isaiah 58:6-8).

Even though God makes lots of promises to help, this is not a ministry that one should take lightly. One must pray, study and “count the cost“ of investing one’s time and facilities. But after successfully helping individuals or families turn their lives around, your own life will never be the same.

What You Would Need to Get Started

While we believe all things are possible with God, we realize that God does not always do what Christians think he might. In practical terms, a Christian might say, “I trust that God is going to give me the resources to take in 5000 homeless Guests tomorrow.” If that person has never taken in one person before, and shown no signs of God at work in his life, it would probably be foolish to have faith in his faith. So, just as the eleven apostles recognized general qualifications for the apostle who would replace Judas, in addition to God's divine intervention (Acts 1:21-26), so we put forward some qualifications for Hosts in PABC's Off Campus Ministry, then ask God for His will to be done:

  1. Host's need to have surrendered their lives to God, accepted salvation though Jesus Christ, and live a life pleasing to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hosts need to accept the Bible as the authoritative Word of God to mankind.
  2. Hosts need to be living exemplary lives so that they will be good examples to those whom they serve. These qualities are expressed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
  3. Hosts need to serve in this ministry from a Christian love for others, not out of some selfish desire. This ministry is not: a) a way to be bossy or self-important; b) a way to find friends if you have none; c) a way to get a boyfriend/girlfriend, d) a way to get work done for free, e) a way to make money from spare rooms.
  4. Hosts need a stable family situation. They should not attempt this ministry if they are in the middle of a divorce, child custody fight, or something of that nature.
  5. Hosts need to be able to—or quickly learn to—practice “tough love”. Some guests will ask for (and a few will take) all kinds of things and services if you let them. The Host needs to listen to their story and prayerfully make a judgment as to what is good for the Guest, and give them those things that are good and refuse those things that they can do themselves or that are not good for them. Jesus gave away free food with His teaching, but then stopped when people were more interested in the food than the teaching (John 6:1-27).
  6. Hosts need to own the property where their Guests will be living—or have complete permission of the owner of the property to be involved in this ministry. In general, there are not local government ordinances against having a guest in your own home for any length of time. (On the other hand, there are varying local ordinances about renting out rooms in areas that are zoned for single families.) Please realize that most rental contracts greatly limit the length of time that any guests may stay with the named tenant! About half of the people who come to PABC were formerly staying with a friend or relative, but had to leave because they were not named on the rental agreement.
  7. Hosts must have some time for at least minimal supervision of their Guests. While we would think most Hosts would take Guests into spare rooms in their own houses, we realize a few Hosts may own multiple dwellings and be willing to use one for this ministry. Even so, some kind of supervisory arrangements need to be made, even if someone other than the owner carries them out.
  8. Hosts need the economic resources to do this ministry. While some Guests may be able to help pay for utilities or do work in their dwelling, sometimes they do not. One never knows when they may leave. If a good housing or job opportunity comes to them suddenly, they can—and often should—be gone in a day. PABC does not pay Hosts (or anyone else), but it may assist Hosts with items given to it such as food, furniture, clothing, computers, etc. Depending upon the skills available at the time, PABC may be able to help fix doors, locks, computer wiring, or other minor details that would be necessary to accept Guests into a home.
  9. Hosts need faith that God will give them the strength, wisdom and protection needed. PABC has no insurance or guarantees. Sometimes surprises occur, but God has brought us safely through five years and 360 guests without any major harm. We encourage our Hosts to fast and pray about it before beginning.
  10. Confidentiality

    The names of Hosts and the locations of their houses are kept strictly confidential. They will not appear on web sites or publications. This is not out of fear of doing something wrong, but because our society has drifted far away from the biblical teaching of individuals and congregations dealing with society’s problems—we expect government and other institutions to handle those things.

    Some people are afraid of being hurt—they do not know that homeless people are much more likely to be depressed or disabled than they are to be offensive or aggressive. They do not realize that the waitress, maid, clerk or mechanic that served them today might currently be homeless. Also, most do not consider that the worst neighbors are people who commit crimes, but have not yet been caught—they are much bolder and not likely to be blamed unless there is good evidence. Such criminals usually have money and an air of respectability—so people unknowingly accept them. But it is easier to spot a poor or homeless person, for some, knowing that they are moving in next door produces a lot of fear and worry. So we keep Host's names and locations confidential. Let their neighbors first see another human being living nearby, before asking questions about the struggles that brought them there.

    What Does PABC Do?

    PABC provides a lot of services to the Christian Host—making the task of individually helping the homeless much more manageable. Services include the following:

    • An initial questionnaire to potential Hosts who are considering accepting homeless Guest(s) onto their property. For example, Hosts can determine whether they will accept men, women, families, criminal backgrounds, pets, people with vehicles, people who need transportation, Guests who want to work, Guests who are disabled, Guests who need mentors, etc. In general, it is usually best for singles to host same-gender singles, couples to host couples and families to host families—but there are exceptions. Print or download the questionnaire in MS Word.
    • Confidential central point of initial contact—screening out the people who need a different solution. Some who call PABC really need existing government programs of which they are unaware, substance abuse treatment, programs based in other counties, etc.
    • Host training for those who are serious about becoming Off Campus Housing Ministry Hosts. You can learn from our experience to be well prepared for what you might face. You can start now by reading the mentoring section of the PABC I-care Sponsor Manual.
    • Initial background check. PABC has access to several on-line background check services. Over the past five years, PABC has gained experience in dealing with initial contacts. For example, we were once contacted by someone attempting to find a place for a prisoner about to be released. The worker’s job required that he exhaust all available possibilities for placement, but he quietly made it clear that the person for which he was searching would probably be difficult in our environment—so we declined to accept him. We will warn Hosts about those with criminal backgrounds or on the sex offender registry. (For those who might be willing and able to help homeless people on that registry, see our related page.)
    • Implementation of Best Solutions. PABC can decide to take new guests onto its campus, send them to one of several Hosts, recommend other programs or a combination of multiple means. Off Campus Housing Ministry Hosts will be contacted only about apparently suitable Guests, not every potential Guest.
    • Confidential contact of possible Hosts. Guests show up at unpredictable times. Guests are not told who the potential Hosts are, but the Host is contacted by PABC. If the Host is currently able to take Guest(s), then an interview will be scheduled.
    • In-person interview. PABC has developed Interview forms and techniques which have worked well over the years. In most cases, the interview can be done where the Host prefers: at the host home, at a neutral public place or at PABC. From the interview, either the Host or PABC may decide not to accept the Guest. In some cases, it may be best to send the Guest to another Host or to PABC if space is available.
    • Transportation and storage of Guests' belongings. Guests can arrive owning only what they are wearing, or may have a house full of possessions which they must move in a short space of time or lose. PABC has transportation and storage facilities which can be utilized if the Host does not have them.
    • Ministry supplies. if necessary, PABC has some food, clothing, furniture, appliances, kitchenware and other items that Guests may need. This reduces the need for any kind of big cash outlay and teaches Guests to make do with what is available.
    • Ministry Experience. PABC has its Guest Rules and Guidebook posted and encourages Hosts to implement these and other procedures suitable to their specific environment. PABC share why it is important for Guests to be legal “guests” as opposed to tenants—which makes it much easier to remove troublesome people on very short notice.
    • PABC will share its accumulated information about helping guests find jobs, housing and appropriate government services.
    • Teaching Material. PABC has lots of Bible-related videos and other media which we have used successfully in daily classes. Off-campus guests, except Registered Sex Offenders, are also welcome to come for our weekly dinner meetings.
    • Unwelcome Guests. In the less common event that guests prove troublesome or simply fail to make any progress toward their goals, PABC can also share its experience dealing with Guests who are no longer welcome. This could involve taking the Guest to another shelter, calling protective services, taking them to a hospital, taking them to PABC or other options.

We want to thank you for getting this far in our website. It indicates that you have a real Christian care for others. If you are interested in helping, please fill out our Off Campus Housing Ministry Prospective Host Survey. We would prefer that you download it and type your answers right into the form, then e-mail it to PABC@portaustin.net. Or, you can print it out and mail it to PO Box 474, Port Austin, MI 48467. We would also be glad to talk to you at 989-738-7700.

May God bless your future service, whatever that might be!