How God is using a local family’s vision and faithfulness to impact the city
God’s plans can sometimes be a mystery, yet He asks us to trust him and not doubt. Just when it seems clear what He is asking you to do, circumstances can seemingly fall apart or fail to materialize in the way that you thought, at times leaving believers scratching their heads.
For one local family, the decision to faithfully practice generosity as a lifestyle, season after season, was clear, but what God was doing through it took years to fully materialize.
For Jim and Jean Jacobs (center and left in photo) of Brunswick, who came to know Jesus together as newlyweds, their faith shaped a lifestyle of generosity for themselves and their children. Their daughter Chrissy (Jacobs) Scarcella (right in photo) recalls memories of giving from her childhood, and says, “I saw genuine joy and excitement when my parents gave gifts of all sizes, opened their home to friends in need and modeled what it looks like to trust Jesus with the results.”
Having been raised with a heart of generosity, it comes as no surprise that Chrissy would find herself drawn to the city as a young adult, wanting to do what she could to demonstrate the love of Christ to those struggling. She taught in Cleveland Public Schools, where she saw first-hand the needs of her students and their families. She also volunteered with her mom at a center for victims of human trafficking, where Chrissy quickly realized their largest need was for housing.
In 2008, she and her parents purchased several investment properties with the hope of generating additional income. The homes presented many unanticipated challenges, and in 2011, after a particularly destructive family had moved out of the Storer Avenue house, Chrissy began asking God for a better plan and purpose for the property. Shortly after, Jim, Jean and Chrissy converged on the idea of starting The Lioness Foundation to provide housing for victims of human trafficking. While the original vision for the house has transformed several times over the years, God was always faithful to bring the right residents for Lioness in the right season.
As Chrissy married and started a family of her own, keeping up with the property and fundraising efforts became more and more of a challenge. “There were times when we felt like giving up, but God would bring us someone new in need of help, and we knew we needed to keep going,” Jean said. As the final residents let the family know they were ready to be on their own, they once again began to ask God for his plans for the house.
In the fall of 2019, while doing some insurance work for her dad’s business, she was issuing a policy for a vacant property on Storer Avenue – just down the street from the property her family owned. She stumbled upon a home nearby owned by BHITC. Unfamiliar with the organization, she turned to Google and BHITC’s website to learn more. Shortly thereafter, she called the organization to discuss its housing efforts and vision for the Clark/Fulton and Stockyards neighborhoods.
Before long, she and her family met with BHITC’s Jeff Stredney, Director of Social Enterprise, and they decided to GIFT the Storer Avenue property owned by The Lionness Foundation – in move-in ready condition! – as a donation to BHITC as part of its growing ministry in the neighborhood! Photo on right shows Chrissy Scarcella (right) with BHITC’s Jeff Stredney (left), Director of Social Enterprise and Nick Tribuzzo (center), Manager of Legal Services at The Hope Center, who was able to do the notary at signing for the property late February.
Chrissy says, “I’m very grateful to be passing the torch onto BHITC instead of laying the torch down and extinguishing it. It’s going to an organization that has the energy and resources to keep it going and do so much good with it. We are confident the house will continue to fulfill the vision God had given us for it in the hands of BHITC.”
Her mom, Jean, says, “It’s exciting to know it’s doing what it’s supposed to do…what it was always supposed to do! At some point, it was someone’s dream home, and now it will be again.”
When asked if their decision to parent through the lens of generosity was intentional, Jim says, “When we came to know the Lord early in our marriage, that made all the difference. Then, as needs arose over the years, if we could physically, financially or spiritually help, we did. The answer was always simple – YES!” When you give to God, He multiplies it!
Meet Rev. Will Henderson, the house’s anchor tenant!
A friend of BHITC and Christian Missionary Alliance ordained minister, Rev. Will Henderson (below) became the anchor tenant on April 1 for this five-bedroom house with bonus third floor space!
He brings very broad east and west side urban experience along with organic house church plant experience. Will is excited to live out incarnational ministry for the King in Clark-Fulton. As a grill master and chef in addition to his pastoral role, Will is already looking to use the side yard for a HUGE block party cookout once it is safe to do so again!
“He will be a blessing to BHITC in our targeted Clark/Fulton and Stockyards neighborhoods, and we know this will soon be a missional community house for others in need of housing,” says Brian Upton, BHITC’s Executive Director.
The organization plans to bring in other tenants soon as circumstances in their lives align with the vision for this house. Although others will come and go, Will serves as a constant presence in the neighborhood and reminder to God’s never ending love and faithfulness!