Posted by: Emily Shemwell | June 17, 2009

Emily’s June Newsletter

May 31, 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

I am excited to write and tell you about my current summer plans. This week I began my summer missionary work with the Jefferson Street Baptist Center in Louisville, KY. I truly believe that the Lord has guided me here to the Center’s HOPE program. The past six months have been the most challenging in my life so far. After a personal tragedy last November involving the passing of a close friend, I found myself struggling spiritually. But despite my doubts and questions, God met me where I was; He accepted and loved me just as I was – hurt, broken, angry, and depressed. In the midst of my valley, He humbled and embraced me in His unfailing love. It is because of this, that I want to share and show that love to others. I want to let people know that I love them, and more importantly, that God loves them, just as they are, no matter what their addictions, beliefs, fears, or financial situation.

I am one of twelve members, seven women and five men, of the HOPE Team, an urban ministry for the homeless specifically designed for young adults to reach out to people in practical service and with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. HOPE team members not only serve in the Center’s Day Shelter, but also establish meaningful relationships with their neighbors, become involved in a local church, develop an encouraging and accountable Christian community with their teammates, and grow in personal discipleship.

Here in Louisville I am living in a cute, two-story house with six compassionate and godly women who are from Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and all over Kentucky. So far, we are making it fine sharing two bedrooms and one bathroom (yes, we have only one bathroom!) We have no television, occasional access to internet, and live on a tight budget of $150/month for groceries, personal hygiene products, special food items, and other reasonable living expenses. We have limited availability to vehicle use; we are only allowed to drive somewhere alone on our Sabbath days and will often use public transportation as a ministry opportunity. While the rules may seem tight, they are all set in order for me to gain a better understanding of what my low-income neighbors experience and what some of the Center’s Day Shelter guests do not even have.

Since my arrival on Monday, I have started training at the Center and I am slowly learning about the culture of the inner city. Learning the ropes this past week has been overwhelming at times, but I know that the details will become easier with practice. I am eager for this week to start because I will get to experience what a full week as a HOPE women’s team member is actually like. The women’s team will be working in the shelter four days a week and will devote every Saturday to neighborhood outreach. On Sundays we attend Sojourn Community Church and may also spend time reading required curriculum or spending time in the city getting to know people. Mondays are our Sabbath day, a day we are required to take off from ministry in order to renew our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Each month I am here at the Center, I will be writing letters updating anyone who can support me through finances or prayer. As a HOPE team member, my goal is to raise $2100 to cover the cost of living, eating, transportation, and training for the summer. Any financial gift you can commit will help me achieve my goal and help make my ministry possible. If you feel led to help in this way, please send the completed response card with your tax-deductible contribution made payable to Jefferson Street Baptist Center, attn: HOPE, 733 E. Jefferson Street, Louisville, KY 40202. Please make sure to designate your check to my support by writing my personal account ID number (HOPE-S09-ES1) in the memo line. If you are receiving this letter by email and feel led to make a financial gift, please email me (eshemwell@gmail.com) your mailing address along with the amount of the financial gift you would like to contribute, and I will place you on my monthly mailing list.

If you cannot make a financial gift, but will commit to praying for me through the summer, please let me know that as well. I will especially need your faithful prayers in order to reach others for Christ this summer. My prayer supporters will also be receiving a monthly letter to keep you updated on how your prayers are helping my ministry.

I want you to prayerfully consider how the Lord wants you to contribute to His work here in Louisville through my commitment as a HOPE team member. I hope you will join me on this exciting and wonderful adventure as I share the love of God through word and deed.

Blessings,

Emily I. Shemwell

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