Posted by: Asha Davé | August 2, 2009

Day Sixty-eight: My Final Letter

HOPE_Logo_Header_-_Summer_2009

I love my name. It means hope, so I have always felt it is my calling to bring hope to those who have none. This summer, HOPE has allowed me to truly experience what that looks like. Hope looks like a woman calling me as if I were part of her family to let me know the visiting hours of the mental hospital she checked herself into. Hope looks like a homeless man using his skills to write poems that glorify the One who transformed his life. Hope is seeing a group of men jump up and grab mops and buckets when the closest thing they’ve got to a home starts to flood because of the torrential downpour outside. Hope is loving on a group of women by painting their fingernails and toenails, doing their make-up, and sharing Truth from the Word of God with them. Hope is having a friendly, civilized conversation about college football with a man who used to scream and cuss about how hypocritical and racist we were. Hope is a woman who feels special and set apart simply because I greeted her with her first and last name when she walked in the door.

In my two months and three weeks serving at Jeff Street, I saw countless seeds planted, friendships bud and miracles bloom. The summer was challenging from day one. It was uncomfortable and overwhelming. I felt anxious, homesick and scared at times. There were times when I wasn’t in the mood to show God’s love. But God still used me. He taught me about being a loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, self-controlled, genuine Christian and then challenged me to live it out every day.

I was challenged at Jeff Street to love on the people who took the toiletries and food for granted and yelled at me when I didn’t have a toothbrush to give them. He challenged me to sit down, shut my mouth, open my ears and heart, and listen to what the guests needed to get off their chests or what they needed to teach me. I learned so much about poverty and the hundreds of situations that force someone into homelessness. I encourage you not to give money to homeless men and women because the sad truth is that the majority of panhandlers do use it to buy drugs and alcohol. Instead, I challenge you to offer your time and love.

Before this summer, I couldn’t understand why people didn’t accept and understand God’s grace. But then I read 1 John 4:8: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I realized that some people (probably more than I’d like to think) have no love in their lives. They have no love from their families, friends, spouses, no one. So how can they know God if they don’t know love? I realized, the moment I read that, that my purpose this summer and for the rest of my life is to love people in order for them to know God. And maybe, just maybe, if I love them long enough, they will begin to love me back and begin to know God…because God is love.

I was challenged at home, by my teammates, to share. It was incredible to live in such close quarters with six of the most diverse God-fearing women I’ve ever known. God also challenged me to be humble. To humble myself enough to apologize when I’d hurt someone, and to humble myself enough to accept forgiveness and not hold a grudge against someone who’d wronged me.

I was challenged by our church, Sojourn. Every week, the pastor presented the Truth in such a powerful and motivating way. The leaders at Sojourn don’t judge, don’t snub, and admit that they are messed-up sinners too. They simply present God’s Word and let it guide and challenge. If you’re ever in Louisville, you must go. Also, it’s super cool and artsy, and everyone there takes great pictures and plays music. (Look up Sojourn music on iTunes, and you’ll be hooked.)

I wish I could pick Louisville up and put it down next to Gainesville. I’m sad to leave my new friendships, my teammates, Sojourn and Jeff Street. But I’m also excited to take all of the things I’ve learned about God and life and relationships and love to the University of Florida, Gainesville and Okeechobee. I’m excited to continue growing and becoming the best version of me…the woman God made me to be! I pray that my life will forever be an invitation to celebrate in God’s grace and love!

Please pray that I will remain faithful in deepening my relationships with the guests at Jeff Street and my teammates despite the distance. Please pray that I will continue to feed my hunger for prayer and the Scriptures daily. Please pray that I will love more and serve more every day. Please pray for the team members who have decided to continue serving on the HOPE team until next August. Pray that their passion for God and people will be reignited every day.

Although I will no longer be serving at Jeff Street, I strongly encourage you to continue supporting the ministry. Through building relationships with other members of the HOPE Team, staff, homeless guests and residents, God is transforming lives. I have seen the progress first-hand and have been so blessed to be a part of God’s work in Louisville. The ministry is based on Jesus and His love for the broken, poor and oppressed. But Jesus didn’t just meet the spiritual needs of the homeless, and we are called to do more for them too. Jeff Street also serves by meeting physical needs, which requires donations and funds. One hundred percent of your support goes towards transforming the lives of HOPE Team members and homeless men and women. If you’d like to receive the Jeff Street newsletter, simply send an e-mail to info@jeffersonstreet.com.

Thank you for your support and love.

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