Posted by: Darrell Johnson | June 24, 2009

a late entry (newsletter #1)

June 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been five days since my arrival at the Jefferson Street Baptist Center in downtown Louisville, where I have begun the HOPE program along with eleven other young men and women who have selflessly decided to give up their summer to serve the homeless and urban poor. During these past five days I’ve encountered many new people that the Lord has put before me to take time to invest in and to share the Gospel with. But at the same time I’m coming to better understand the Gospel myself, by watching it lived out by my fellow HOPE team members as well as the staff, volunteers, and residents at Jeff. St. The men and women serving at Jeff St. have been quite inspiring to me and they have been very encouraging to all the new HOPE team members. This hasn’t only been a transition for the new servants coming in, but for the present staff and volunteers as well. Before this new HOPE team arrived there were only three HOPE team members (or Hopies…as our HOPE Director, Jesse Eubanks likes to call us) for the past eight months and their patience and guidance through this training period has served as a wonderful reflection of the grace and love of Christ Jesus. The three original “Hopies” names are Kerry Spencer, Matt Norton, and Lindsey Albertson…and I’d like to encourage you all to keep them in your prayers as well as the rest of the HOPE team, our director, and all who are affected by the mission that takes place at Jeff St.

As HOPE team members we serve five days a week in the day shelter. The other two days are reserved for community outreach and a Sabbath (or day of rest). Our services in the day shelter consist of sorting and distributing mail for 1,600 (appx.) men and women in the community, as well as preparing and serving meals and distributing toiletries, towels, and wash cloths for those who wish to take showers. The day shelter also provides people with access to two washers and two dryers. Laundry detergent as well as dryer sheets can be picked up at the main counter in the cafeteria. Another opportunity to serve is in the day shelter’s storage closet, where we allow guests to store their belongings in suitcases and backpacks for up to a month. After a month is up the men and women need to renew their spot in the storage closet. This space is very unique to the city’s homeless population; being that Jeff St. is the only place where such a service is offered.

The best places to get to know people who frequent Jeff St. are at the front desk and the storage closet. Many faces are familiar; at times Kerry, Matt, and Lindsey will be recognized in other parts of town as they too can point out to us new folks some of the regulars at the day shelter. Some faces we may never see again. Some folks may have just gotten off the bus into Louisville and they may just end up staying a day or two; with an average of 200 visitors a day it’s difficult to say. That is, until new faces become familiar ones.

The best way to become familiar with the people here at Jeff St. is to take time to get to know them and listen to their stories or give them a helping hand. One of the residents here just recently asked me to help him out with a computer that he had. He had never e-mailed anyone before and much to my surprise the 71 year old resident was quite eager to start sending mail out into cyberspace. When I asked if he had any e-mail addresses in his computer, he looked up at me smiled, and asked if he could have mine. He then continued to tell me that he didn’t have any e-mail addresses, but that he wanted to start getting some…so he could “call someone.” (That’s how Mr. Robinson referred to sending e-mail). When I had finished helping out Mr. Robinson he thanked me repeatedly and then offered me a coke from his little fridge in his room; a kind gesture from a kind man.

Another guy, Rob, asked me for my name; after telling him my name he as well as many other folks, who have been guests at the day shelter or residents here, continued by asking me “where’s your other brother Darrell?” But it’s good to see the people get a laugh here and there. It’s great to sit back and watch as my fellow HOPE team members engage in conversation and get to know the folks here better. The Lord has blessed us with wonderful opportunities to serve here and I want to thank you all very much from the bottom of my heart for all your questions, prayers, love, and support. I encourage you all to, again, keep lifting us up in your prayers. Pray for the city of Louisville, that it would be transformed by the Love of a Holy God.

Take care & God Bless,

-Darrell

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