Posted by: Emily Shemwell | October 5, 2009

October Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been almost two months since I’ve last written. As many of you know, I’m serving as a HOPE missionary at Jefferson Street Baptist Center in Louisville, KY for the next year. I began the HOPE program this May as a summer missionary, but felt God leading me to stay on for the year term in order to build deeper relationships with the day shelter guests, residents, and neighbors in hope of eventually sharing the Gospel.

Within a month of being back at Jeff Street, relationships are already going deeper. Some are changing from acquaintances to meaningful relationships. Some are changing from meaningful relationships to sincere friendships. Take Jason for example… Jason, a current resident, was a frequent guest to the day shelter this summer. He always came in with a smile and positive attitude. We usually met at the kitchen window in the shelter cafeteria as he asked for a towel, washcloth, soap and other personal items needed to take a shower for the day. Besides his bright smile and optimistic attitude, the main thing I noticed about Jason was his unique laugh. He concludes every comment, joke, or question by laughing. It’s not inappropriate; it’s just how he is – he has a joyful and contagious spirit.

Since Jason moved in two weeks ago to become part of the Fresh Start addiction recovery program, we have had numerous personal conversations. On three of the four working days this past week, I found Jason eating a bowl of cereal and drinking coffee in the residents’ cafeteria (actually, one day he found me there). I make myself a bowl of cereal, join him across the long rectangular table, and immediately the conversation begins. He usually starts out by asking me how my day is going or what I had done the night before. We may end up talking about anything from the weather to healthy eating, from his past life of homelessness to his continual struggles with alcoholism, or even the message at church the previous Sunday to his daily battle of fully trusting God. Our 7:30AM breakfast gathering turns into a 30-minute sharing of life stories. What first started out as a “coincidental” meeting is now becoming one of my favorite parts of my day.

It is the little moments, like talking and eating breakfast with Jason, which lead to deepening relationships. It is the little moments that reinforce that this world is full of people who need a faithful friend to not give up on them. It is the little moments that can turn the most challenging of days into reminders of why I am here – to share the Good News of Christ’s love and grace through both word and deed by developing honest and open relationships.

While there were many of these encouraging moments this past month, there has been a fair share of challenging moments as well. Along with the start of the year program, came new responsibilities at Jeff Street, a new HOPE team, and new roommates (with a much different living situation). The six other ladies with whom I shared a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home are now gone. While two of my summer female teammates are still living with me (one, Jessica R., is also serving the year term, and the other, Lindsey A., completed the year term and is now working downtown, and we are joined by a new female team member, Linsey E.), I’m still having trouble adjusting to the different environment that is associated with change. I knew the year term would be different than the summer, but I did not know what exactly to expect. Trying not to have expectations for a new situation is always tough, and I am having a harder time adjusting than I thought I would to the new situation. Over the next month, please pray for strength and endurance as I, along with the entire HOPE team, adjust to the intensity of the program. Pray that, as I take on new roles and responsibilities at Jeff Street, I will look solely to HIM for wisdom and discernment. I seek to do HIS work and bring glory and honor to HIS name; for I am just His instrument and am grateful that He’s chosen me to be His messenger.

Pray for the entire HOPE team that we may become unified as a body of believers and put aside our own selfish desires for the greater good of the team. Pray for the Jeff Street staff to faithfully seek God’s guidance as they lead this ministry. Also, pray for provision. Jeff Street recently lost $40,000 in government funding because the leaders here felt that these grants hindered the sharing of the Gospel. As a result of cutting ties, our budget is tighter. We are taking a step of faith and trusting God to provide. I ask that, if you can assist the ministry here in anyway, please step-up. As a HOPE team member, my goal is to raise $7700 to cover the cost of living, eating, transportation, and training for the year. Any financial gift you can commit will help me achieve my goal and make the ministry of Jeff Street possible. We are also in need of toiletry items, especially deodorant, razors, and toothbrushes, to pass out to some 150 homeless guests on a daily basis.

Nothing is possible without your unceasing prayers. Your cards of encouragement and kind words are appreciated more than I can ever tell you. Thank you for your continual love and support of the work that God is doing in my life.




  1. I’m Praying for all of you. Keep your focus on Jesus!

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