Posted by: Chelsey Bottoms | July 9, 2008

July 2008 Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

As I sit down to write this newsletter, I’m a little overwhelmed with everything that has happened. Each day is filled to the brim with everything we do. I sit down in the afternoons to journal, and I forget things that just happened earlier in the day. But for your benefit, I will try to condense everything into a short letter.

To start out with, I would just like to update everyone on Jeff Street happenings. We have continued working in the three stations in the Day Shelter, but in addition, all of us on the HOPE team have been trying to just sit out with the guests in the Day Shelter to start building relationships with them. Though very intimidating for us, most of the people that come in just want someone to talk to. There is a big difference in those who will openly talk with you and those who seem to have a “Back Off” sign above their heads. I was soon to learn that those signs can be broken down easily enough.

When doing my Bible study the other day, I read Matthew 5:46, which says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” I had been finding it easy to connect with several people at the Day Shelter; however, there had been two women in particular who I just couldn’t connect with. They were ones with a “Back Off” sign, and though I had tried reaching out several times before, I had just about given up hope that I would ever be able to build a relationship with them. However, a couple of days ago I was working in the Storage Closet when one of the ladies came in to get her bag. While in the closet, she began rummaging through her bag. We have a rule in place that says you cannot open a bag in the closet for the bag’s protection, and she went on rummaging, knowing that I was going to have to approach her about it. Slightly afraid I would tick her off, I asked her to please take her bag out and even offered to help her with it. Setting it on the table, I turned around to re-enter the closet when I felt myself step on a foot. She was right behind me, and I was nervous to hear her reaction. Much to my surprise, when I apologized, she told me that it was quite alright and even thanked me for helping her! I was amazed!

Yesterday, I had an additional opportunity to talk to one more lady who had previously told me to back off, at least through her actions. I sat down at breakfast with her, expecting the same reaction I had gotten before. To my surprise, she opened up a little about her past, which allowed me to understand more of why she acts the way she does. It was nice to see her let her guards down a little with me though. Afterwards, we played a game of cards, partnering up for a win! It was good to connect with her before that, but I really felt it was helpful to find a similar interest in the cards. I would have never guessed we had that pastime in common.

I have a problem with patience, so having to wait for these women to open up to me was really tough. This was why I had pretty much given up when nothing had happened in a month. However, I finally saw that I could win their trust by showing them Christ’s love in my actions. Though they weren’t always the easiest people to love, it was worth it to see little glimpses of genuine affection from them. As I said during our time of prayer a few nights ago, I am finally seeing the hope that can be found in HOPE.

Though I have so much more to say, everything that I could tell would take up way too many pages. I would like to end with a request for your prayer support. Please pray for our team as we enter into our second month, that we will have the words to speak and love to give to the people we are building relationships with. Also, please pray for those relationships, that we will dig deeper in order to have a lasting impact. Personally, I would like for you to pray that I would have the courage and strength to be bold and share the Gospel with those around me. One of our team’s goals for the summer is to step out of our comfort zones in the Day Shelter and in the neighborhood where we live. We want to be bold in proclaiming Christ in everything we do, and sometimes it can be quite difficult to be uncomfortable. Pray for us as we become uncomfortable that we won’t back out, but that we will know that everything we are doing is for the glory of God. Thank you all for everything that you are doing and have done. I appreciate your support so very much!

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