‘Giving back’ had always been a regular practice for Joe and Linda Caponigro, but not until the couple moved from Atlanta and paid a visit to Houston’s First did they realize God was calling them to a deeper level of giving.
“A little here, a little there had been our approach,” said Joe. “In the middle of Pastor Gregg’s message on living out the Great Commission, Linda and I looked at each other — and the light went on.” They joined the church and followed up by making a commitment to MISSION 1:8, the two-year generosity initiative that began in 2013. God encouraged them to give in an even deeper way.
The Caponigros’ involvement with the Houston’s First missions showcase, Missions Expo, and Houston 1:8, an annual weeklong local mission effort, was the launching pad for ministry to their new community.
The couple got involved in Generation One, a ministry focused on rebuilding, both physically and spiritually, Houston’s Third Ward, an impoverished area populated by gangs, drugs and many homeless people. They found themselves being stretched as never before as they sought to cultivate relationships in the community.
Linda and Joe met Tony, Brenda and William, all residents of the Third Ward. “Each of them had homes with no hot water, no electricity and no heat,” said Joe. “After Missions Week was over, Linda and I decided we couldn’t just tell them, ‘See you next year.’ We were in for the long haul.”
The couple began meeting with Tony, Brenda and William on a regular basis, spending time with them on the weekends, helping them with necessary chores like washing clothes and grocery shopping, and spending time over meals together. They also invited them to church and their Life Bible Study class.
Soon, Linda and Joe began to see God at work in their new friends’ lives. William got a new job, as did Tony, who was able to move out of the Third Ward into a new community that allows him to keep his dog, Scooby. Tony, Brenda and William made decisions to trust Christ. Tony is planning to be baptized at Houston’s First.
“We see growth, what God has done — and is doing — in their lives,” said Brenda, “and how he has enriched ours in knowing them.”