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“Do You Want to Be Made Whole?”

It’s one of the strangest passages in Scripture. A crippled man waits at the Pool of Bethesda for someone to put him in the pool’s recovering waters. When Jesus arrives, he doesn’t immediately put the man in the pool, however, but asks him what competence seem an impudent question: “Do you wish to be done whole?”

This story means a good understanding to Colin Pinkney, who runs The Harvest Center in Charlotte, N.C. In fact, he’s adopted the doubt as the sign for his organization.

“‘Whole’ to us means that when you get the help you need, you’re going to be means to help somebody else,” Pinkney says. “That you’ve been crippled all these years, but now you’re going to be means to walk. When you’re means to walk, then you can go to work. You can give back. You can offer in the community. You can be concerned in the church. You can give your life away, just like we give the lives away.”

It’s a indication that seems to be working. The Harvest Center began some-more than 30 years ago as a “feeding ministry” in the many aroused neighborhoods in Charlotte. The west side area was an open drug market, tormented by misery and homelessness.

But merely handing out food, while excellent and infrequently necessary, did zero to mangle the cycle of brokenness in the neighborhood. That’s since The Harvest Center now provides clothing, groceries, transitory housing, and after-school programs. In 2011, The Harvest Center began gift job-readiness and life skills for adults transitioning to self-sufficiency. Its transitory housing program now serves 20 to 30 people a year. A new lease funding program will help 50 to 60 some-more pierce from homelessness to self-sufficiency.  In all, some-more than 4,000 people take advantage of Harvest Center’s services any year.


Pinkney believes that restoring families and assisting fathers “step up” are the keys to success.

“Fatherhood is the china bullet, if there is one,” Pinkney says. It’s “what I’ve lived out in my life—personally, professionally, even in ministry.”  Pinkney is the seventh of 9 children, and his father deserted the family when he was 9.

“When we demeanour at the things that ceaselessly disease us, the communities that we serve, the high-poverty populations, the homeless population, the single-parent domicile population, it’s transparent there is a fathering issue in the nation,” Pinkney says. “I trust that is the big event for ministries like ours, and churches, to know and conclude the value of fathers in the communities.”

Pinkney himself is the father of six, and the bookshelf in his bureau is filled with books on fathering. When he served as the boss of the PTA at his children’s school, Pinkney led a convention on effective fathering. More than 100 people showed up, and the superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools asked him to control the convention at other schools in the area.

Pinkney, however, is discerning to acknowledge that he doesn’t do the work of The Harvest Center alone. He leads a full-time staff of 12 and oversees a bill of $850,000. Last year, about 600 volunteers upheld by the organization’s doors, mostly from internal churches.

But one form of help The Harvest Center won’t accept is supervision money. “Zero,” Pinkney says emphatically. The Center’s supports come from individuals, churches, and a startling series of corporate sponsors, including the Movement Foundation, which channels the increase of Charlotte-based Movement Mortgage into Christ-centered organizations. (Look for some-more on Movement Mortgage and its founder, former NFL player Casey Crawford, in a future “Restoring All Things” column.)

In further to his collection of books on fathering, Pinkney also keeps an eye out for volumes on care and on effective free giving. Two favorites are Bob Lupton’s “Toxic Charity” and “When Helping Hurts,” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. They denote that people must be challenged to play an active role in their own restoration, and that any help supposing has got to be temporary. The idea is not to give people stuff, which will make them contingent on that stuff, but to concede them to turn self-sufficient, no longer contingent on gift or the social gratification system. Most important, assisting must have a devout component. It must acknowledge that element brokenness is a sign of devout brokenness—that if you don’t work on the underlying devout issues, you’ll never henceforth solve the element financial issues.

Most organizations that work with the bad fail—not since they don’t have adequate money, but since they forget one or some-more of these principles. They forget that services must be delivered in a context of relationships. Everyone is different. To put it in theological terms, we’re all fallen, we’re all broken, but we’re all broken in opposite ways. One distance truly does not fit all. This is one of the things that creates The Harvest Center opposite from a social service organization. It takes these particular needs into account.

That’s why, Pinkney says, “We’ve actually separated certain ministries as a outcome of getting sensitive by those ideas. We satisfied that if we aren’t lenient people, then we aren’t assisting people. We’ve gotten divided from entitlement-modeled ministry, and every possibility we get, we’re looking to really boost empowerment by all of the ministries.”

Pinkney brings the review back to the story of Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda. “I always consider of that story as we weigh the work,” he says. “We’re asking tough questions. We’re having to reeducate this village to a better way than what they’ve been receiving in the past. Questions like, ‘What’s the best, and right way to do this?’ ‘Are we doing Christ-centered work, or are we just doing social-services work, but not really changing lives? Just flitting people along?’”

He concludes: “We wish to be not in the housing or the feeding business, but in the mutation business.”

Author’s Note: To hear my review with Colin Pinkney, which includes a walking debate of The Harvest Center, click here. And to share a story of what God is doing by His people to revive all things in your community, write me at wsmith@colsoncenter.org



Warren Cole Smith is an inquisitive publisher and author as good as the Colson Center vice- boss for goal advancement.


Image pleasantness of Colin Pinkney.

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