Posted by: Brett Duncan | July 6, 2009

July Newsletter

HOPE Newsletter
July 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Last week I attended a church service with one of Jefferson Street’s ‘Fresh Start’ residents; the message was about ‘not giving up’. In his sermon the preacher defined the word discourage (thefreedictionary.com defines discourage as ‘To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit’), and also mentioned this story (which I found on boyscouttrail.com):

The Devil announced a “Going Out of Business” sale – which of course we know doesn’t really mean he was going out of business.
He laid out all the tools of his trade with pricetags for anyone to purchase. There was hatred, jealousy, envy, greed, and more – a darnright nasty bunch of devices, all for a price.
Some of the tools were pretty complicated items with buttons, spinners, ratchets, and gears. But, one was surprisingly simple (a wedge). It was very worn, scratched, and scuffed – and it was far more expensive than any of the other high-tech tools.
Someone asked, “What’s this one?”
“That’s discouragement,” the Devil replied.
“Why’s it so expensive?”
“Because,” said the Devil, “it is more useful to me than any of the others. Most people can see the other tools coming and stop me. But, with discouragement, I sneak up on them, a little at a time, slowly pry them open, and get
inside where I can use my other tools.”

C.S. Lewis has a similar quote, “If Satan’s arsenal of weapons were restricted to a single one — it would be discouragement.” And in the last few weeks I’ve seen discouragement on more faces than I can remember. I’ve seen black eyes and busted faces, grown men throwing fits; I’ve seen drunks, druggies, people who sit alone all day, and people that sleep all day. Whether the people coming here have physical or mental disabilities, addictions, health problems, traumatizing pasts, etc., or no problems at all they’re still homeless, and that’s discouraging all by itself.

I’ve also seen hope. Earlier this week as a man was putting his belongings away in our closet he said, ‘The past 2 years have convinced me that God can get me through anything’. I’ve seen people excited to have new jobs and new places to stay and I’ve read a homeless man’s poetry to God. We may call ourselves the HOPE team but we haven’t given anyone hope. What can we really offer these people? We can’t fix their lives. We can’t get them jobs or find them apartments. We can’t give them bus fare, fix their limps, heal their minds, overcome their addictions, protect them from thieves, stop their coughs, or keep them warm at night. But, in representing a God that loves them, we can be people that care. We can offer a safe place to stay during the day. We can listen to stories from pasts, and ask about future plans. We can offer friendship and through that friendship point them to Christ. We can offer them Christ, and Christ can give them hope. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

A lot of our residents have hopeful stories. I know a man that is newly sober, seeking the Lord, a steady part of his oldest son’s life, and entered our program with the hope that he could continue to be a part of the lives of his wife and two youngest sons. There is another man here who has spent most of his adult life in prison, and much of the rest enslaved to drugs and alcohol. He has a desire to be free of his addictions, and a new desire to seek God. One of our residents has plans to write a few books, another left us to attend college and get a job, and another is trying to find a job working with horses. God is visibly impacting and changing lives in this shelter.

I’m happy to be where I am right now. I’m excited to see what God is going to do here during what’s left of the summer; I’m sure He has great things in store. If you want to pray for me and the other HOPE program volunteers, we’d appreciate it. Here’re some prayer requests:

• Pray for me and others in this shelter; that we are not discouraged.
• Pray that I find and capitalize on opportunities to encourage the people around me.
• Pray that the HOPE team is bold, not timid.
• Pray that we are capable to do the things that God wants done.

Thanks for reading and caring. God bless.

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