By LORETTA FULTON
Ryan Goodwin, director of operations for Sonrise Ministries’ Houses for Healing, brings a unique perspective to the job–one he wishes he didn’t have.
Houses for Healing are 392 square-foot tiny houses that will provide free lodging for people from area communities who are undergoing longterm medical treatment in Abilene. The first phase of the project consists of four houses on two lots on north Hickory Street.
The project is the brainstorm of Sonrise Ministries pastor, Brian Massey, who hopes to build 20 houses on two sites before all is said and done. Goodwin, who also is pastor of Tuscola United Methodist Church, knows firsthand just how important lodging and expression of care are in time of medical crisis.
His son was born in July 2016 weighing just 1 pound, 13 ounces. He had to be flown by medical helicopter to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. The story has a happy ending–his son will be 2 in July–but it was touch and go for a while. The family had to spend time in Fort Worth and understands needing help with lodging.
“This really hits home,” Goodwin said.
Each house will be named for an area community and will serve residents of that city and surrounding smaller towns. A two-day open house was held at the first house completed, the Sweetwater House, Jan. 17-18. Massey said $11,000 is needed to complete the second house, which will be for veterans. A third house, serving Brown County residents, is in the planning and fundraising stages.
“We’re looking at that being built before summer,” Massey said.
Massey is asking churches in Abilene to sponsor each one of the eventual 20 houses that will be built on two sites. Ridgemont Baptist Church is sponsoring the Sweetwater House and Grace Point Church is sponsoring the veterans house. Wylie United Methodist Church has committed to sponsoring the Brown County house.
The first phase of the Houses for Healing project will consist of the four tiny houses, a community room, patio, and picnic area on north Hickory Street. Massey is hoping for a donation of four acres near Hendrick Medical Center to build an additional 16 houses.
“We need that land,” Massey said.
When both sites are completed, 19 of the 20 houses will be for people in area communities and one will be for veterans. As he always does, Massey gives credit to God for the success of the Houses for Healing. Sometimes the going has been rough, as when a major donor dropped out. But whenever something of that magnitude happens, Massey knows what is going to happen next.
“Here comes the Lord doing something else,” he said.
People staying in the houses will be selected by a ministerial alliance in the area community that a house is named for. The Sweetwater Ministerial Alliance will vet applicants for the Sweetwater house, with people being selected on a priority basis.
Massey hopes an added blessing will be seeing churches of all denominations working together in area towns to facilitate the process. People applying to stay in one of the houses don’t have to be a member of any church, or even a Christian. Massey compared the ministry to a meal.
“That meal is for everybody,” he said. “You want everyone to come join.”
Massey’s Houses for Healing may not be limited to Abilene and the Big Country. Already, people from Greenville, Dallas, and College Station have contacted Massey wanting more information.
“What we’re doing here,” Massey said, “is a model that other people are going to grab hold of.”