Posted by: coran stewart | July 5, 2008

Dispatch Dos- July Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

In the book of Joel, the Lord proclaims through his prophet that in the Day of the Lord, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28)  In the face of the homelessness, poverty, racism, and injustice I see here in Louisville, I am tempted to see this as more of a pipedream that the promise of our God.  However, whenever I open my heart and eyes to the movement of Christ and His Spirit here at Jeff Street, I see miracles every day.  I know that it is through Christ, “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (Matt. 11:5).  Each and every day at HOPE, I am powerfully reminded of the extent to which I underestimate the power of God.

Once again, I have to express my sincerest thanks to all of you who have supported the ministry of HOPE.  Your donations make it possible for Jefferson Street Baptist Center to host my team members and me and support the work we do.  I cannot tell you enough how thankful I am to be in this position that allows me to be witness to the movement of God’s Spirit among the poor in Louisville.  Also, I thank you for all of the prayers you lift up for my work here and for the people I meet every day.  I pray you will allow me to humbly testify to you about some of the amazing experiences of which I have been blessed to be a part.

On Wednesdays, our men’s team takes time away from the day shelter to have a day of outreach for the residents at Jeff Street.  We have now been bowling a few times at a church here in town, but last Wednesday, we had the opportunity to go to a Louisville Bats baseball game.  Their organization graciously donated tickets to us.  We posted signs throughout the building and personally talked to all the guys, inviting them to come.  We got such varied responses as “Great, I love going to games” to “No thanks, I’m not really a fan of sports.”  The real blessing in the story is that two of the residents here who hardly ever open up and are quite difficult to talk to at times took up our invitation.  These men who often sit alone during meals and seem to never socialize were able to come with us and enjoy a game of baseball outside the shelter for a while.  Knowing these men, I am convinced that it is only because of God opening hearts that have been closed for so long that they came with us.  I am not the biggest fan of watching baseball games and the roasting mid-day heat was not easy to deal with, but it will be one of my most memorable experiences from the summer because God tore down my preconceived expectations and moved in the hearts of guys where my own efforts had been fruitless.

Another amazing experience I’ve had is the ability to talk to one of the newer residents about the power of Christ’s love to bring reconciliation.  This man came out a very turbulent marriage of 8 years and found himself in a pretty rough spot.  However, the blessing to come out of his marriage is his three children about whom he never stops talking.  The light on his face when he speaks of them is unmistakable.  He grew up in church during his youth, and we have talked several times about how he bears a responsibility to rear up his children in the church in order to establish a spiritual base in their lives.  We have also talked about what the Gospel means for his own life including that in Christ there is no condemnation, and his past cannot hold him down.  We have also talked about how Christ’s love can perhaps one day bring about a kind of reconciliation with his ex-wife.  In the fall he will be going to U of L to begin finishing a psychology degree he began many years ago.  He really wants to be able to give back to the poor and homeless in Louisville when he has met this goal.  Please pray for him and ask God to continue to make Himself known in this man’s life.

Of course I continue to meet all sorts of people as I work in the day shelter.  Every day I come into contact with people who have great testimonies of faith and with people who have great need for love.  Please pray for me as I try to be a light and witness for a Gospel that has power to change.  Pray that my team and I will always remember it is Jesus Christ we serve and who works within us to preach the good news of his love that brings reconciliation and liberation;  reconciliation that crosses racial and socio-economic divides and liberation that testifies against oppression as dehumanizing and an affront to God.

May the God of Grace and Peace be with you all and let me leave you with this quote by the radical Christ follower and martyr Oscar Romero:

How I would like to engrave this great idea
on each one’s heart:
Christianity is not a collection of truths to be believed,
of laws to be obeyed,
of prohibitions.
That makes it very distasteful.
Christianity is a person,
one who loved us so much,
one who calls for our love.
Christianity is Christ.

Sincerely in Christ,

Coran

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Responses

  1. GOD BLESS YOU, CORAN, AND ALL YOUR TEAM MATES AND THE RESIDENTS YOU ARE SHARING WITH. I WILL BE SHARING YOUR LATEST MESSAGE WITH MY SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS THIS MORNING AS WE ARE REMEMBERING YOU ALL SUMMER IN THOUGHT AND PRAYER. YOU KNOW HOW VERY PROUD WE ARE OF YOU AND LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND GOD LOVES YOU EVEN MORE.
    IN HIS LOVE AND OURS,
    UNCLE RICHARD & AUNT SUE


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