Safe House At Red Bank UMC Is Making A Difference In The Community

Monday, December 30, 2013 - by Phil Wade

With the moving of Red Bank Middle School this year, students who want to attend Safe House at Red Bank United Methodist Church have to take a bus. On average, 25-50 of them make that trip every week day. 

It’s a healthy decision, notes Rev. Jeff Lambert, pastor of Red Bank U.M.C. “With latch-key kids in middle school,” he says, “they are old enough to stay home by themselves and just old enough to get into trouble.” Add to that stronger emotions and developing maturity, and handling these kids can be a challenge, but at Safe House the kids have somewhere to go until their parents get home. “Parents who don’t get off work until 5-6 love it. They don’t have to worry about their kids.”

At Safe House, the church offers games in their gym, laptops for learning, and game systems for playing. “We do a 15-minute devotion,” Rev. Lambert explains. “Sometimes it’s religious in nature and sometimes it’s practical advice, like staying in school and not doing drugs. We don’t try to shove the Bible down their throat, but we do share Bible stories.” 

They also organize tutoring with qualified volunteers, so those who need it can get help. 

“One-on-one tutoring for 30 minutes or an hour, three to five times a week, will make a difference in a kid’s grades,” Rev. Lambert says. “Sometimes you don’t want to ask dumb questions in front of your friends [in class], but if you’re with someone one-on-one, they can know exactly what you’re missing.”

Red Bank U.M.C. sees their community trending toward younger, more diverse, and lower income people, often single mothers, and free programs like Safe House are helping. Of those who come, 80-90 percent do not attend the church, though they may attend elsewhere.

Safe House has strict rules. “It’s very organized and supervised. Every room has an adult in it and cameras too,” Rev. Lambert explains. They want to the students to know they are being watched in order to help them control themselves. Both the rules and the supervision are there for everyone’s protection.  

“We want to make sure they know the church is a place where people love you,” he says.

Rev. Lambert talks about one young lady they have helped since her sixth grade year. “She’s a sweet girl,” he says. “When I first got here, we began trying to connect the [Safe House] kids to our church kids. We will feed them for free on Wednesday nights so they can connect with our youth, and she started coming to that. She was saved and baptized, and when we realized she was poor, we have been taking care of her ever since.  

“All you have to do is tell somebody here she doesn’t have a coat, and the next day I’ll have a coat for her. This church has people with a heart for kids. And then we found out she didn’t have a bed. She was sleeping on the floor. So I called this guy and told him about her. He said, ‘When does she want it? I’m off work. I’ll go get one.’”

Because this young lady is the only one of her family who attends a church, Rev. Lambert has been able to give her family some pastoral care. 

“We’re trying to make a difference in people’s lives,” Rev. Lambert says, by building trusting relationships. 

Phil Wade is a local writer and native Chattanoogan. Find him on Twitter: @Brandywinebooks or LinkedIn. He blogs regularly at Brandywinebooks.net



Middle Valley Church Of God Holds Resurrection Celebration Sunday

Middle Valley Church of God, located at 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, "Everything Is Going To Be Alright" in the  10:30 a.m.  service this  Sunday,  as part of the church Resurrection Celebration.  This sermon is part of a special series of sermons based on the need for the church ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: What's In A Name?

The other day I was reading an article that said biblical names are declining in popularity. Aha. That’s why I haven’t heard of any babies lately being named Mephibosheth, Absalom, Hophni, Jereboam or Eliphelet! And given the ruthless reputation of Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 18-21), it’s no wonder that’s not a name of choice in maternity wards around the nation. Who would want their ... (click for more)

Tennessee Broadband Expansion Bill Sought By EPB Put On Hold For Now

Advocates for broadband expansion in Tennessee, including Chattanooga's EPB, announced Tuesday that efforts to extend community-based fiber optic networks are being placed on hold for now "because there is not enough support among state lawmakers to change a state regulation that prevents the expansion of municipal fiber optic systems." EPB earlier won a ruling from the Federal ... (click for more)

Haslam Adds K-12 Funds In Budget Amendment

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks, including added funding for K-12. The governor last week met with school superintendents from the largest systems in the state over the issue of state funding for K-12. The next day, the Hamilton County Schools joined ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Goodbye, Dr. Nassour

About 51 years ago, right after Jim Creel had graduated from the University of Texas and was in Guadalajara for medical school, he was surprised to find a complete stranger sitting on his battered and dusty Volkswagen. “He had seen my Longhorns sticker and was thrilled to find somebody else in Mexico who loved the University of Texas. “That’s when our friendship started and it ... (click for more)