Posted by: Emily Shemwell | July 6, 2009

July Update

Dear Family and Friends,

First of all, thank you all for your prayer and financial support! I have reached about one-third of my financial goal thus far. Your financial donations, as well as your faithful prayers, are what make my ministry possible here in Louisville. Thanks so much!

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I first arrived here. The time is flying by and I know the next month and a half will be no different. While I am immersed in the new culture of the inner city and a challenging environment of a homeless shelter, I feel at home. While the Lord has definitely brought me out of my comfort zone, I feel a peace at being right where I am. I know that this is right where the Lord wants me to be at this time.

Working at the shelter is overwhelming at times, but is also very rewarding. About 200 people come to the shelter a day to check their mail, store their bags, take a hot shower, get a cup of coffee, do their laundry, or just rest. Last week, while passing out toiletries to the guests, I decided that I wanted to do something for the women who come in daily. (We have more male guests than women). So, with the Holy Spirit’s nudging I took the initiative to start up a women’s Bible study with the underlying theme of self-worth. All of my fellow women teammates were on board, so we started brainstorming ideas and making a plan. We decided to do something to make the women feel better about themselves each week (like giving them a manicure/pedicure) while also tying the issue of self-worth to the Bible and building deeper and more meaningful relationships. Please pray that the women at the shelter will be responsive. Pray that we will get the donated supplies needed to assist with the study. Pray that the Bible study will simply glorify and honor God, as that is what all of us HOPE team members desire to do.

I feel at peace living with other devoted and passionate sisters in Christ. With seven different personalities and backgrounds, conflict is bound to happen, but it’s how we respond to the conflict that makes the difference. In our moments of conflict, we, as a team, work through them with honesty, humbleness, and love and learn from them. These challenges have only made the community among the women’s team stronger. I’m excited to see how much closer we will bond this next month and a half as we learn how to do life together. Pray that we will faithfully keep our eyes on Christ as we learn to bear each others burdens and love and encourage one another.

Attending Sojourn Community Church on Sundays is always a blessed time for me. I feel at home being part of a body of believers who live out the truth in both word and deed and who point to the historical Jesus in all of their ministries. The week of July 13-18 Sojourn is hosting their VBS. Three other teammates and I are helping out with this ministry. Pray that seeds will be planted in the hearts of the children that come to VBS.

When I came to Louisville I guess I expected an immediate, clear and direct “ah-ha” moment from God as to why I was here. Today, for the first time, I finally felt my purpose for being here at HOPE this summer. It came this afternoon, when two of my house mates needed someone to get some undergarments and clothes for a homeless woman, Tanya, who is a prostitute and drug addict. When my house mates first requested for help, my other teammates and I were not sure how we were going to purchase the clothing needed. Another teammate, Kiana, and I contributed a few items and then I remembered the $20 my mom had sent me last week. I had yet to have a reason to use it, until today. Kiana and I went to Goodwill to purchase the final few items and delivered them to the park where Tanya was waiting in the rain along with my house mates. She was so thankful for the few clothing items we brought her.  It was an eye-opening experience for me. I physically saw first-hand the lifestyle of a homeless woman. Tanya needed help today, and she came to the right place when she ventured to Shelby Park (which is just 2 block from our house) to find seven missionaries ready to serve.

Reflecting upon the past month, I have encountered many “ah-ha” moments, but I’ve had to look for them. Such moments have come… They came when I’m looking into the eyes of an anxious schizophrenic divorced mom who was just looking for a friend to listen to her; they came after the children I played with in Shelby park beg me not to leave and make every effort to get one last hug; they came in a quiet time with the Lord when I realize how I am just like some of the ungrateful homeless guests I find difficult to love; they came when a house mate shares of a personal struggle and I get to pray for her because of her openness and honesty. They weren’t just handed over on a silver plate like my sinful self thinks they should be. I, along with my teammates, had to pray, seek, and then believe and rely on the Lord to reveal His plan for the day ahead of us. And guess what, the Lord provided these moments, just like today when we helped Tanya and also held a cookout for our neighbors, which we had planned some 4 hours before.  All of these moments were more than just a coincidence. They were the work of the Lord. He showed up like He always does, and these moments were more than I ever expected. Matthew 7: 7-8 states, ” Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” While it’s a verse I’ve read many times, today I’m transformed by it’s truth.

God is showing me so much here. Many times I struggle keeping up and processing it all. As you lift up prayers to the Lord, pray that I will not be overwhelmed by all that I’m taking in, but rather that I will apply the daily revelations to my lifestyle. Remember the ministry of Jefferson Street as we are feeling the effects of the economy. Pray that the HOPE team will remain unified and focused on God’s purpose and will for us here in Louisville. Pray that we may continue to rely on Him for strength and endurance.

I am still in need of financial contributions in order to meet my goal. If you, or anyone you know, feel led to make a monetary donation, I would sincerely appreciate it. Without your support through prayer and finances, my ministry would not be possible here.

Thanks again for your continual love and support!

In Christ’s Love,

Emily Shemwell

P.S. To stay up-to-date with all that God is doing here, visit the HOPE team member’s blog at or check out my personal blog at


Visit, or send a check to

JSBC, Attn: HOPE, 733 East Jefferson Street, Louisville, KY 40202.

Please write my personal account ID (HOPE-S09-ES1) on the memo line,

but do not write my name anywhere on the check

as this may negate the tax-deductability.

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