Posted by: coran stewart | August 2, 2008

All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in HOPE

August 2008 Newsletter

 

Dear Family and Friends,

 

The Bible tells the story of a man on a journey who had a profound experience along the way, one that forever altered his life’s journey in the most powerful way.  The road to Damascus turned out to be the pivotal point in the life of a man named Saul, so pivotal he even had to change his name to Paul.  You see Acts 9 tells the story of a man fueled by anger and hate looking to find and persecute Christians.  It also tells a beautiful story of conversion where this man comes face to face with the one they call Jesus.  Saul is knocked to the ground by the awesome power of Christ, and his life is completely changed so that verses 19-22 tell it like this: “Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.  At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’  Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.”

 

I reference this story to tell you about another story, my story this summer.  I believe I, too, have had a sincere conversion experience by coming face to face with Jesus.  Certainly I was not converted from a hunter of Christians to the faith’s most distinguished promoter, but I believe I have come to a much greater understanding of what living the Christian life means.  Also, while I was not knocked to the ground by a vision of Christ in power, I have been floored by the image of Jesus in “the least of these.”  I cannot imagine having spent this summer any other way than here at Jeff Street serving, learning, and, most of all, growing.  I wish all of you could have experienced this here with me because I know that none of you would have regretted it, either.  Please know how sincerely thankful I am for all of the types of support you have given me this summer: monetary, emotional, and prayer.  Though this is my last newsletter and last time to express my thanks in this format, I will never forget how generous you all have been and how incredibly blessed I am to know you.

 

In a letter I received this summer, my friend explained some of her meditations on what it means to say Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  She wrote to me about how she is coming to understand that claiming Jesus as the Way means we ought to make it our focus to live our lives according to His Way.  I couldn’t agree more.  Jesus was more than willing to practice what he preached.  The “least of these” whom he calls us to feed and clothe are the very people with whom he chose to spend his time.  This is the life I have come to learn I am called to lead, a life focused on both word and deed.  If all of this talk about deeds worries you, please do not be alarmed.  I am certainly not advocating a works based Christianity.  However, I am making the bold claim that faith in Christ will lead to good works.  Galatians 2:20 makes the incredible statement that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  If Christ truly lives inside of me, the life I live must necessarily look like the life he led.

 

Reading the above, I guess this letter is more for me than you.  This is my chance to put some of the things I have learned and the incredible ways I have been impacted in black and white.  This helps me to begin the process of digesting all of this and to think about how my life and relationships at school and everywhere else I go will be different thanks to my time at HOPE.  With that said, however, I hope there is something in my reflections that has encouraged you.  I guess that is another way I have been changed by this summer.  I have a much greater desire to tell people about the evils of homelessness, poverty, racism, and undiagnosed and mismanaged mental illness.  I also desire to tell people the solution to these evils is found only in Jesus Christ.  It is Jesus Christ and His Spirit that brings about community between his people which leads to real change.  Building relationships with the men here at Jeff Street has shown me that it is impossible to truly help people and point them to Christ without taking the time to sincerely get to know them and learn about their life’s path.

 

My experience this summer and the people I have met here have left an indelible mark on my life.  Experiences like talking to a resident here about his efforts to get back on his feet and take care of his children and sitting down and discussion the Bible with a new Christian who a couple years ago was an alcoholic on the streets will forever encourage me to look at people I meet through the eyes of Jesus rather than the world.  I can no longer pass a homeless man on the street without wondering about the story behind his life.  Also, I cannot forget how blessed I have been by God to have had this opportunity.  Each day I am awed by how an all powerful God chooses to use such a foolish thing as myself to point to Him.  After this summer, it is my prayer that each of you will come to understand how blessed you are by God to have a ministry and will actively seek to know how God wishes to use you.  Once again, thank you all so much for the encouragement and support you have provided throughout the summer.

 

Sincerely,

 

Coran Stewart

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Responses

  1. Coran, thanks for your well thought out words. I want you to know that I’ve enjoyed getting to know you as we’ve prayed, eaten, talked, made fun of Aaron’s music, and lived daily life together. I’m so thankful to God to call you my brother in Christ. (Isn’t it amazing that we can do that?) I hope you and Aaron are having a terrific week at Jeff Street. Remember to always “make the most of every opportunity,” and please pray that I will do the same here! Love you, man.

    Cameron


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