Posted by: Matt Norton | November 30, 2008

December Newsletter

Dear Loved Ones,

When thinking back to my time in grade school and all the way up to the end of High School I remember always being very nervous and dismayed when a teacher would call on me. It was an instant feeling of butterflies that bordered on sickness. My hands would start to sweat, my mind would race. I was searching for what the teacher wanted. I had to come up with the right answer. I feared failure. I feared not being able to please the teacher with a correct answer and I feared for my reputation. I feared what people would think of me if I said something stupid bordering on idiocy. I could not fail because to fail was to let the teacher, my classmates and myself down. In a world lacking grace, my fear was paralyzing.

When I started here in Louisville three months ago I had that same fear. I was afraid that when I would have the opportunity to tell our homeless Day Shelter guests about Jesus and His love for them that I would screw up. I thought that I would get tongue tied, say something wrong or say something to which they would take offense. I feared rejection. I feared causing more hurt and pain than they had had previously. Over these weeks and months God has been removing this fear.

God has shown me through His Holy scriptures that He can use a wretched and tongue-tied sinner like me to communicate with His beloved creation. As I read through the Gospel according to John, verses 26 and 27 in the 14th chapter stood out to me. They say, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. “ Jesus is telling me that the Holy Spirit, which dwells within each believer, will be my guide. He will reveal and teach me all that Jesus has taught and by gaining a fuller knowledge of Jesus I may have peace in Christ Jesus. I no longer have to fear failure and rejection because although I may fail and be rejected according to the world’s standards I am guided by the Holy Spirit and have “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding”. (Philippians 4:7) I am God’s vessel for His use and each day I try to fearlessly follow Him as I am led by the Holy Spirit.

God has also shown me that I am led by the Spirit through countless encounters with Day Shelter guests and residents here at Jeff Street. It is a daily occurrence to have a lengthy conversation with someone, either a friend I’ve known all three months here or someone I know nothing about. Of these conversations 90% turn into the other person sharing his or her life story. The topics are intense. They leave me wondering what to say and leaving the other people vulnerable because of their honesty. I hear many stories of murder, drugs, sadness, prostitution, broken homes, depression, beatings, prison, physical illness, mental illness, betrayal, fear, and hopelessness. As I listen I know that I don’t have the words to properly console them and I don’t know if there are any words. As I listen I try to pray for each individual. I pray that the Holy Spirit can reveal to me what if anything I can do in each situation. Most of the time I am prompted just to listen and when appropriate let people know that Jesus loves them and He wants to be intimately connected to everyone as we go through our many struggles in life. God is teaching me to live a Spirit filled life full of Jesus’ love, mercy, grace, and peace.

The longer I am here, the more that I realize that most everyone I encounter within Jeff Street, and even without, would love for someone to be there and listen to them. For someone to listen and show concern with no selfish interest or ulterior motive is something they cherish above all else. For the homeless, most of their time on the streets is spent worrying about their next meal, how they’ll stay warm or where they will sleep. To be able to think beyond their immediate needs, thus removing momentarily, thoughts of desperation is a huge blessing.

We are all broken people with sin in our life that weighs down our hearts and souls. God put us here together in community to help each other through our struggles. There is so much need in the world today that it is overwhelming, however I believe that it is better for each of us to start to ask ourselves how we can ease such pain than not to do anything at all. I challenge you today to reach out, to think of how you can be a listening ear or helpful hand to someone, in order to ease some of the pain in this world. Human suffering is everywhere and in every context. Jesus says in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” We are all sick and I pray that we seek to minister to the each others needs. If we want the world to change, it will start by individuals changing with the help of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord that died on the cross so that we may be made whole in Him.

I thank all of you who are supporting me. You are great and I could not get through this without you. Please keep praying for me as I continue to try to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice”. (Romans 12:15) Here are a few prayer requests. Thank you once again!

  • Zach- He is out of the hospital and trying to get his life straightened out. Pray that he may follow Christ and that in his times of trouble he may turn to Jesus for comfort.
  • Pray that individuals will follow Jesus’ example of becoming a servant to all those in need.
  • Pray for the homeless as they seek to find warm places to sleep.
  • Pray for Boldness and Perseverance as all the Jeff Street staff and volunteers seek to serve the people here.

With Jesus Christ’s abundant love, grace, and peace,

Matt

TO DONATE TO HOPE | Send your tax-deductible donation to

Jefferson Street Baptist Center | Attn: HOPE 733 East Jefferson Street | 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

Visit the HOPE website at http://www.hopeforlouisville.com

Visit our online journal at http://www.hopeblog.wordpress.com

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