Posted by: Chelsey Bottoms | August 5, 2008

August 2008 Newsletter

August 2008 Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

As the summer is coming to a close, I am filled with stories and experiences that will last me a lifetime.  I am excited to get to share with you one last time about my time in Louisville before I leave.  Our team has gotten to share with many who society would write off as hopeless, and we have had the opportunity to show them hope in Jesus. I have been shown much about myself this summer, and my relationship with God has grown so much. I’m going to try to keep this as short as possible, yet include everything that I want to share.  However, whatever I do not get to include, I am more than willing to tell you once I get back from this summer!

I’d like to begin with a story about a man.  This man came into the Day Shelter regularly, and was a well known alcoholic. I had been previously informed that this man was a Christian, but even in the light of that knowledge, I still tried to avoid him as much as possible. One morning I was called over by a friend to play cards, and to my disdain, this man was going to be my partner.  I wasn’t too thrilled about this, but I figured I could last through a game with him.  To my surprise, it wasn’t this man that bothered me.  Rather, he stuck up for me when the other two players were tossing out some foul language and when another player was being a jerk.  I still wasn’t sure about him, but I continued playing over the next few days with him, learning a little about what was going on in his life at that time.  One day he came in and asked me to play cards.  We were short on staff though, and I didn’t think I would be able to play that day. After I apologized to him, he informed me that he was trying to get into a recovery program, so it was unlikely that I would see him again before I left.  I directed him to one of our staff who knows more about recovery programs in Louisville. Later, he came down and told me that they had found a program for him, but that our game would have to be postponed because he was leaving in a few minutes for it. I offered to pray for him while he was in the program, but I also prayed for him right there. After I was done praying, he raised his head with tears in his eyes and said, “Thank you. Thank you for what you are doing. I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I know that I need to.” I know that it wasn’t me that convinced him to get into an alcoholic rehab program, but I believe that God moved through my teammates and me to help him realize his need for it. A bit later, I was called to the storage closet, where this man embraced me and told me bye. I am blessed to have been a part of this man’s life for even those few of days, and I am glad that God allowed me to look past his alcoholism to the man underneath that truly desired to serve God.

One of the biggest things I have been personally working through this summer is learning what it really means to be selfless.  At the beginning of the summer I wrote about this desire in my journal.  Our first book we read as a team talked about thinking of ourselves less. I thought that this was an ingenious way of wording my desire to become more selfless. I have learned much about what the difference is between “need” and “want” both at Jeff Street, where many of the people only have their needs, if that, and within our team.  Being on a pretty strict budget this summer was scary at first, but it got easier as the summer progressed. We learned to do without many of the items that was just wanted, and leaned more on what we needed in order to get through the week. I pray and hope that this discernment will last for the rest of my life.  As they have mentioned several times at church, we are called to give sacrificially of our lives, whether it be of our time, money, or resources.  We have what others need a lot of the time. What I have learned about being selfless is not to completely deny myself, but to just give more of me to others.

I have learned a lot about trusting God this summer. For the past year or so I have been struggling with figuring out what God is calling me to do in the future. It is part of the reason I felt like I was supposed to do HOPE this summer, and when I got here, the struggle didn’t end immediately.  I still questioned what direction God was leading me in. However, I talked it through with some of the staff members at Jeff Street, which was really helpful. They encouraged me to just keep praying about it, and that, when the time is right, God will reveal to me what his plans are.  It helped to take the focus off of my stress and put more focus on depending on God for his revelation to me. As I flip through the pages of my journal, I see many references to verses concerning God’s love and faithfulness. He has promised to never leave or forsake us, and I can put my faith in that. God is worthy of everything we have, including our trust.  Nothing can separate us from the God of Love. I thank him for showing me this over the course of the summer and pray for many more revelations of him over the next year and over the rest of my life.

I want to thank all of you for your support, both financially and in prayer. You all have helped to make this an amazing summer for me!  God has moved in many ways, and I have been blessed in the opportunity to see some of those. Pray for my teammates and me as we say goodbye to the friends that we’ve made and, also, as we head back to college this month. Please pray for Lindsey, one of my teammates, as she prepares to come back in September to do the HOPE program for a full year. Pray for our relationships as they come to a close, that we may have made an impact in people’s lives.  Once again, thank you for what you’ve done. I appreciate everything and every opportunity you have helped give me. Praise God for the work that has been done this summer!

God bless,

Chelsey Bottoms

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