Late in the summer of this year, a dear friend from our church asked us to help with an amazing project. Jason ‘Smiley’ Abrams, a local college campus minister with InterVarsity Fellowship (IV), shares his vision for a Discipleship House in Jackson in memory of (and to continue the work of) his father, Andy Abrams:

“Imagine if every neighborhood surrounding the college campus had a house where intentional missional community living took place. The common areas in the house could be used for bible studies and other off-campus gatherings that would build relationships over food, fun and fellowship. The students would not only be discipled through community living, but they would also make a positive impact on their surrounding neighborhood. This holistic discipleship allows students to have eyes to see the harvest on their campuses. Then, they would be able to see unreached places on their campuses in order to be even more intentional to reach unreached students.

Is this a discipleship house or a rental property? Jackson, MS is not a typical “college town”. However, there are 3 HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges), 3 Private institutions, and 2 community colleges with multiple campuses educating over 40,000 students total. Each school has a different gift to offer the city. The majority of the students are commuters. However, with the exception of limited student housing on campus, there are not ample rental properties close to many of the institutions. This forces many commuters to stay with their parents or rent from slum lords. There is a need for good quality rental properties. With proper management, we will maintain affordable yet quality homes with the clear mission to financially support the staff on the campuses in the Jackson metro area as well as provide discipleship opportunities for residents.”

1. Developing Disciples. Students will share life together through intentional missional community. Tenants will participate in leadership development and multi-generational small groups. IV homes will be open to host off-campus events such as movie nights, bible studies, dinners, etc. in order to grow the IV community on campus.

2. Networking. IV homes will be located in neighborhoods near the college campus. One of our goal is to strategically partner with churches, local businesses and community leaders across the Jackson Metro Area to focus on holistic development. IV College students will be able to serve with local nonprofits to impact the marginalized in our society. During the summer the homes will be used to house students who participate in the Jackson Urban Mission Program (JUMP).

3. Rebuilding. InterVarsity Campus Jackson dreams to empower students to help rebuild the brokenness within our communities in 3 ways:

a. Physically. Purchasing homes in the neighborhood will increase value in places that are often marginalized.

b. Spiritually. A Christian home on a block will provide an atmosphere of prayer and worship. It would also allow residents to grow in spiritual formation by having community and accountability.

c. Emotionally. Restoring hope to hopeless neighborhoods and students.

4. Funding. Every InterVarsity staff is required to raise his/her entire salary. Rental revenue from the homes will provide additional resources for the area budget which will provide matching grants to support low networked staff, operating expenses, student scholarships, etc. Student leaders, volunteers, and staff will pay affordable rent of which at least 50% will be donated for the staff matching grants, 25% for property maintenance, 25% savings to purchase additional homes.

This is a multi-family property containing 12 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and 2 kitchens. We purchased this property for $18,000 plus closing costs on April 13, 2018. A property this size would typically need over $300,000 in complete total rehab costs. The combination of a strong foundation, multiple volunteers, and strategic church partners, we plan to save over $100,000 in rehab cost. The property has no major damages to siding, flooring, roofing, and foundation. However, we plan to raise approximately $200,000 in renovation costs including electrical, plumbing, remodeling, painting, appliances and furniture.

We plan to divide this multi-family property into separate units. The first unit will contain a full kitchen, bathroom, a basement, guest room, prayer room, office, and living room. The guest room will be used for any visitors that may come to partner with InterVarsity on campus. We may also use the guest room for AirBnB weekend rentals at least once per month. The office will be equipped with state of the art video conferencing capabilities, planning tools, and a well stocked library of InterVarsity Press books and references available for IV staff, volunteers, and student leaders for bible study prep. The prayer room will be equipped with surround sound, scriptures, candles available for individuals or small groups any time. Staff, students or volunteers will be able to use kitchen and living room space for fellowship opportunities. The remainder of the property will be used for student residence living.”

Donate or get more info for this project: Andy Abrams Foundation

Filmmakers: Pioneer Productions

Church: Common Ground Covenant Church

Music: When Mountains Move