One reason I love my job is that I can bring together design and ministry. Through my business, Corissa Nelson Art, I get to create designs for non-profits, churches, and ministries. Each of these ministries has been an encouragement to me. Each time one of you drops me an email outlining your new creative ideas for bringing Jesus to the world around you, I give thanks and run for my sketchbook. As we enter this season of giving thanks, it is the perfect time to introduce you to this ministry project. Haven Project is a new non-profit in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. I recently worked with my dear friend, Hilde Miller, to create a logo and bounce around some branding ideas. This was only a small part of the project, though. There is much more to this story. I’ll let Hilde tell you how it all began and how you can get involved, too. Read on…
I don’t often find myself crying while reading Christmas lists. But this list was an exception. The fifteen year old “wanted” socks but “needed” razors. The four year old “wanted” a doll but “needed” new pajamas and gloves. The mom wrote that she didn’t “want or need” anything other than to be safe with her children. Two more children’s “wants” and “needs” were included on this list….simple “wants” and heartbreaking “needs.”
Every Christmas, my mother and her group of wonderful friends “adopt” a family in their county who have come upon hard times financially. That year, they received a list of “needs and wants” from a family whose mother had just fled with her four children to a domestic abuse shelter. The father had physically abused his wife and his children, ranging in ages from fifteen to four years old, for many years. These five souls now sat in a shelter, scared and alone, with Christmas time approaching.
Ready for some perspective? I was about to get it, ready or not. Here I was, sitting at my parents’ home feeling a little sorry for myself. I had a difficult day and was sharing the details with my mother. When I stumbled across this Christmas list lying on her table, I knew God was impressing on my heart, “How’s your day look now? Count your blessings…you have many…now go help….You should start a group like this where you live, you can do this, I’ll help you…”
And seriously right then and there, reading this list, tears streaming down my cheeks, embarrassed for my “bad day” while thinking of the worse day these five people were having, I knew my heart had been burdened (in a good way!) to start a similar program in my county. It was about getting over myself by getting out of myself to help others. And that is how The Haven Project was born.
I approached Pastor Martin Wildauer at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Washington, WI. I didn’t know exactly what to say. I didn’t know exactly what I was proposing. But I had an idea. And I could pray. We spoke about the needs of those in Port Washington (and the county as a whole) and how if we worked to meet their physical “needs and wants” at the holidays, wouldn’t it be amazing to also meet their spiritual needs, and to create this program to function as an outreach tool? I remember saying to him “We desperately want a little one to get socks and pajamas and a doll….and we can do that…but what we want even more desperately is for them to know about Christ.”
And so, little by little, Haven grew wings. We brainstormed on how to locate families in our town and county that could use Haven’s assistance, how to raise funds, how to logistically make this non-profit run. With an amazing group of volunteers from Saint Matthew in Port Washington and Our Savior Lutheran (where I’m a member) in Grafton, we’re piecing together an organization where people may turn to receive assistance at Christmas when things are financially difficult. However, our true aim, our true desire, our true “need and want” for Haven, is that the Holy Spirit penetrates every single person who in any way touches this project, to come away with the truth of the gospel.
And hasn’t the Holy Spirit promised us that His word will not return empty? So onward we go -- armed with jackets and dolls, board games and gift cards. But we are armed with so much more…as we prepare these packages for our Haven families, we includes Scripture, we include devotions, we include a county resource list, we provide church service days and times, we provide “the one thing needful” (Luke 10:42). Our Haven families just may not know that “one thing” yet. But our prayer is that they will.
Let’s share that message. Let’s share the message that God is good, even when times are bad. Let’s share that times change, but God doesn’t. Let’s introduce as many people to Him as we can. Why else are we here?
That’s why Haven is here. How can we all help? The opportunities to help The Haven Project are many. We are hoping to locate sponsors who would “adopt” a Haven family and aid in fulfilling their simple “wants and needs” list. Maybe you and your co-workers could do this. Maybe you and your three best friends can do this. Maybe your office will sponsor a family or two. Or maybe you’re in a position to make a financial donation to Haven. Maybe you know a family you’d like to refer to Haven for assistance. And of course, we all can pray.
Reach out using the contact information below. We’ love to talk with you. In fact, we can’t wait. That’s why we’re here.
Hilde is a licensed lawyer, former Army Captain, and military prosecutor and defense JAG attorney... you know, all that stuff that sounds cool on a resume. But what she finds coolest in her life is all the stuff that a resume doesn't care about... being a wife to an amazing husband and two truly wonderful children and taking time to daily encourage her family in the Lord.