Posted by: Matt Norton | November 1, 2008

November Newsletter

November 2008
Dear loved Ones,
It has been another extraordinary month here in Kentucky. God continues to bless my time here with wonderful and fruitful relationships. He has also given us all spectacular Fall weather that has allowed us to stay outside and enjoy the beauty of His creation. For the homeless, the warm weather means less time spent huddled in a homeless shelter worrying how they will stay warm for the night and more time spent outside looking for jobs or just basking in the sun at one of Louisville’s beautiful parks. It has been amazing.
Within the walls of Jeff Street I have been able to meet and get to know numerous people. This month though there was one who really stands out. His name is Zach. He is a simple farm guy from Kentucky. He is a nice guy with a fiery temper. The more and more Zach and I talk the more small snippets of his past come out. He told me that his wife, with whom he had three children had passed away less than a year ago. Along with her he recently lost one of his daughters and both of his parents. It was a glimpse into the pain within. Some days he says that he is on top of the world and others he says his life is a living Hell. His view of the world seemed like a yo-yo; up and down, dependent upon the ebb and flow of circumstance. This became more and more apparent recently. He told Kerry and I on separate occasions that he was tired of being tired with his life. When he told me that I did not know what to do, so I did what I should do more often, I prayed and still pray for him.
It was nearly a week after I had started praying for Zach when he stopped showing up at Jeff Street. Two days later that we got a call from a gruff-voiced man. It was Zach. He was in the hospital because he had collapsed at work. He asked me to come visit him. With God’s greatness and power He somehow orchestrated one of the most powerful and dynamic visits I’ve ever had.
As I waited for three o’clock to come around I planned to go alone to the hospital. Right before I left, out of nowhere, Kerry decided to come. When we got there Zach told us he has black lung and COPD from smoking and working in the coalmines. He also mentioned in a very somber tone that the doctors don’t know how long he will live. They said maybe a week or maybe 10 years. He quickly moved the conversation on and said his girlfriend had asked him where he’d be if he died on the spot. He said without a doubt, Hell. Kerry and I were very saddened right then but we knew that we could offer him a better alternative. I immediately prayed to myself that God would give us the right words to say in that situation. Then, Kerry asked Him about Jesus. He said he didn’t know much about him. Kerry then told him about Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins. He said something similar to what is says in Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Next Zach started to open up. He told us about his past. He told us that he had done drugs and still does. He has been promiscuous. He told us that he had robbed people before. He said that he did not think God could forgive his sins. We continued on telling him about God’s grace and how God gives abundant blessings to all of us, all undeserving, and never because we have done something for Him. We talked very openly for about 30 minutes letting Zach ask questions and then we responded as the Spirit led us. I would never have expected the day to hold such a powerful, profound, and eternally important encounter.
As soon as we started talking I realized Zach had a roommate. I hoped that we weren’t bothering him and I soon found out we weren’t because he pulled back the curtain and said, “Excuse me, I’ve been listening to you and I have something to say. I am a retired pastor and…” He went on to help us try to explain briefly God’s love for all people. He told Zach how Jesus came to save us by dying in our place and granting us the option to believe in Him and have eternal life. It only got better when his daughter in law came in. She shared her testimony of God’s power and how she realized God’s intense love for her after her husband passed. All this fell into place because God had orchestrated the whole day and used His children to show His love to the world.
After that glorious day visiting Zach I went back to visit him. I was really excited to see him. I was hoping that God was working in him since he realized he had a God shaped hole in his heart that only Jesus could fill. I asked him that next time where he was with God and he said he knows God is watching out for him with great love. As we continued to chat he said in his 34 years of life he had never turned to Jesus. He always rejected him. Now he wants to change that.
Zach is still in the hospital, to this day. His health continues to fade and his attitude varies drastically every time I see him. Sometimes I come and he is telling me all the blessings God has given him and other times he tells me that he just wants to die and get it over with. I don’t know where exactly he is with the Lord but I have to admit it seems like the Holy Spirit is changing him. He now seeks God’s counsel and solace. He is sorting out many problems and issues in his life. I pray that God continues to draw him closer and I pray that I may be able to be used to help in any way. The situation is messy and I have no clue how to handle it but I pray to God every day that he helps Zach to understand him more. I also pray I am obedient to whatever the Lord calls me to do.
This month has been a roller coaster ride. I have been up and down and everywhere in between. God is doing so much and I thank all of you for supporting my ministry with your thoughts, prayers, encouragement and financial contributions. Here are a few things that you can pray about for the ministry and the Hope team. Thank you very much.
• Zach- that he may be inundated with love from Christ and Christians around him and that he may seek Jesus in all of his troubles and rejoicing.
• Boldness- that Kerry, Lindsey and I may tell others the good news, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and we are reconciled to God, whenever the Spirit leads us.
• The homeless- that they may find warm shelter as the winter months roll around.
• Perseverance- that we, the Hope team and staff at Jeff Street do not get burned out with our service in a place of such great need.
If you’re interested the Hope team has an online blog. You can read about more stories that happen as God molds us more in to the image of Jesus Christ. It’s at http://www.hopeblog.wordpress.com. We also have another new feature. Now if you feel led to give financially you can do that online by going to http://www.hopeforlouisville.com and clicking on Donate Now. Thank you all for your love and support.

With Jesus Christ’s Everlasting Love,

Matt Norton

TO DONATE TO HOPE | Send your tax-deductible donation to
Jefferson Street Baptist Center | Attn: HOPE 733 East Jefferson Street l Louisville, KY 40202
Matt Norton Fund ID #: HOPE-0809-MN1 Make sure to include ID in the check’s memo line
Fundraising Goal: $6,600 I Raised to Date: $4,440
Visit the HOPE website at http://www.hopeforlouisville.com
Visit our online journal at http://www.hopeblog.wordpress.com

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