The Root Cellar Values

God's Kingdom

We pray to see God’s Kingdom come and His will be done in our neighborhood, just as it is in heaven.

When we met Joanna*, she was unable to meet our eyes and barely able to walk. After living in the shelter for 5 months, she had returned to her old vice, alcohol. Having lost the ability to parent her sons, her mother had stepped in.

Joanna’s mom, Trisha*, began attending the Ladies’ Breakfast Program and asking for prayer for the family. The ladies responded with concern and love. Trisha found a tiny apartment and, as small as it was, it was home for the family.

Joanna, who often lived on the streets, was arrested in early March and shortly thereafter, the courts began deportation proceedings. We wrote to Joanna while she was in jail, sent her a Bible, and continued to pray for her. After she was released she told us that she read the Bible often and found herself turning to God, asking for His help and guidance.

She also began reading various Bible study books where she learned the truth about God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice for her life.  “I began to experience the Holy Spirit guiding me,” she says. I realized I couldn’t rely on the other women in prison with me for counsel and support.” Joanna found that as she sought God in prayer, she received wisdom and His assurance that He was near and everything would be ok.

She was completely surprised and elated when the judge found in her favor and released her from jail. She was also granted her asylum request and now knows that Maine is her new home.


“I feel like I had died and now I have come back to life,” she said on her first day back home.  Jen Carter, Ladies Breakfast Program volunteer said, “We’re seeing her change right before our eyes.” 

Please pray for Joanna and many others who we serve. We continue to see God’s hand in answer to prayer and God’s kingdom experienced as we grow together in faith and hope.

Interdependence

We empower one another, humbly growing together as we rely on each others strengths.

The Root Cellar Board of Trustees recently revised our Mission, Vision and Values statements. Over the years we have grown in many ways, but our vision of “being rooted in urban areas of need as God empowers, unites and transforms our neighborhoods through the love of Christ” has been a constant. One of our value statements is “Interdependence.” “In the way of Jesus, we empower one another, humbly growing together as we rely on each other’s strengths.” That interdependence is often experienced in unexpected ways. 

Peggy Hinman, Portland Adult Program Coordinator tells this story:

“I awakened one morning and remembered a chapel service I had attended in Bible college. A choral group started the service singing a song that went like this: “It keeps on coming back, it keeps on coming back. Everything I give to Him, it just keeps on coming back.”  Before long all the students were on their feet, clapping to the music and singing those simple words.

Recently I decided to call Cedars Retirement community to see if they had a need for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). I was connected to Angela Hunt, their Chief Operating Officer and her answer was “Absolutely, when can we meet?”

We met with Angie and before long The Root Cellar had another amazing CNA program launched.  

Later that week I took paperwork to the facility and while at the front desk a familiar face appeared. She didn’t recognize me but I remembered that she had come to The Root Cellar for many years donating blankets and clothing. She always thought of things the children would like to have and believed in our ministry. It was truly humbling to realize that she was now a resident at the facility. 

My greatest joy is to know that The Root Cellar can give back to her by providing some of the best caregivers that we have trained in the CNA program. 

Some of the same people for whom she provided blankets and clothing will now be helping her with daily needs, proving that we truly are interdependent on each other.”


Shalom

We join God in His work of reconciliation; seeing that which is broken redeemed to new life.

Shalom is often experienced in unexpected ways. 

During our Thursday morning Clothing Distribution, we experienced the day-to-day difficulties of our new refugee families, sometimes in heart wrenching ways. One gentleman, James, had his backpack stolen while he was with us. His English was very limited, but we learned that his official paperwork, his visa documentation and more than $700 were in it.

At first we were puzzled why he would keep such valuable documents and all his cash with him in a backpack but then we realized that he had no access to a bank or a deposit box to safely keep his possessions.

Most of our new refugee families arrive in the United States with everything they own and, having had many traumatic experiences are understandably slow to trust even federal or banking establishments with what they own. They are unwilling to leave important things in the small apartments given to them by the city and often end up carrying them wherever they go. 

In this case, James, was painfully upset over his loss, knowing that without documents he might face deportation.

Fortunately, we were able to track down the offender who took the backpack and, after negotiation with both of them, which happened in a number of languages simultaneously, we followed him down the road to a dumpster where it was hidden with the documents intact, but the money missing. After everyone returned to The Root Cellar and more conversations with both of them, we witnessed the offender on his knees and deeply afraid, petition James not to press charges, after giving back more than the money lost. James said it was more important to have peace between them. 

It was a moving and unforgettable moment for all of us as they shook hands and parted ways. Great misfortune was avoided and a just and peaceful resolution, that once seemed impossible, was found as we worked together. 

Compassion

We act when we see injustice, pain or need among our neighbors.

At five years old, Ciella is in Kindergarten. It was surprising when we saw her solitary figure walking towards The Root Cellar’s door, tears were streaming down her cheeks. She paused at the door and seemed unsure what to do. The moment we saw her we rushed towards the door and pulling her into our warm building and our caring arms. 

Over a cup of hot chocolate accompanied by cookie, Ciella’s shared her story. She had gotten home from school to find a locked door and no one home. We reassured Ciella and spoke at length with her mom. It was wonderful to see Ciella’s tears dry up and the anxious look on her face ease. That day Ciella learned that she is always welcome at The Root Cellar and she never needs to worry about where to go again.

Stasha is 33 years old and seeking asylum in the U.S. Unfortunately her stay at the homeless shelter has not been a positive experience. It has been sad to see her fall into old habits and addictions. Stasha’s mother, who has custody of her two boys and also lives in the shelter, brought her to The Root Cellar’s Ladies Breakfast Program. “I don’t know what to do,” she said. “Stasha was out in the snow all day yesterday. Can you please help us?”

Root Cellar staff and volunteers rallied around Stasha and her mother, gave them a warm meal, counseling, and prayed with them. We will be helping her mother and kids find and move into housing and also help Stasha find treatment when she is ready to commit to it.

Welcome

In the way of Jesus, we seek to create a culture of Welcome. We are hospitable to all people.

Once, Jesus was asked a very important question, "What is the greatest commandment?" He gave a very simple and yet life altering answer. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40)."  What Jesus does here is fascinating. He claims that the 2nd is just like the first - meaning - it is equal to the first.

This leads to a very practical question - what does that look like in Lewiston? We are going to spend some time unpacking each of our new values. My hopes that this will start a conversation in Lewiston Auburn about that very question. What does this look like? How do we do this? 

Let's get to it...

NOTE [ If this whole Kingdom of God stuff is a new idea for you - I highly recommend checking this out.]

 

VALUES | In the Way of Jesus, we cultivate a culture of Welcome.

 

Brennan Manning is a hero of mine.  He was a priest, an alcoholic, a failed husband, and writer of many books - most notably The Raggamuffin Gospel. Brennan understood one thing - maybe the most important thing - with crystal clarity. He would often say, "God loves us as we are, not as we should be, because none of us are as we should be." 

We love our neighbors just as they are - with no agenda. All are welcome. This means we exist to welcome the native Mainer. We welcome the immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeker. We welcome people of all faiths or no faith at all. We love and welcome our neighbors. Period. 

We are dedicated to all of our neighbors and building a neighborhood with them. As the local refugee and asylum seeker population has grown, it has become necessary that our ministry grown with the neighborhood. Offering programing like our emergency and co-op food programing, English Language Learning and Jobs for Life give us a practical opportunity to live out the commands of scripture to welcome the immigrant, sojourner, the stranger. 

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. -Leviticus 19:34

In Matthew 25, Jesus directly identifies Himself with the needy, the immigrant, the prisoner. He says, "If you have welcomed the least of these, you have welcomed me." In the same breath, Jesus both uplifts the needy and marginalized and comes down to them. How important is the refugee, the prisoner, the needy in the Kingdom of Heaven? According to Jesus, welcoming them is like welcoming Him. 

Welcoming neighbors is essential to following Jesus. May we be found faithful to this command.