Come Around the Line

This fall, the girls in our Teen Council program have been individually organizing different  service projects for our group to participate in.  One of those projects involved helping out at a local soup kitchen not far from Hope House.  Before we were allowed to lift a finger to help, we first had to watch a short training video.  The video walked us through the history of the organization and shared its vision and goals.  At the very end of the video, a man shared a story that really touched me.   There was a visiting group of volunteers who had come to help prepare and serve meals.  The group worked hard prepping food and loving on the people in line as they served them. Toward the end of their time, a woman who was serving the food suddenly stopped and screamed.  She ran out from behind the serving area and grabbed a man that was in line.  It turned out that this man was her brother that she hadn’t seen in 15 years!  She smothered him with hugs and kisses, embracing him as they talked for the rest of the time.   It goes without saying that everyone in both lines was shocked.  What are the chances of something like this happening…especially after 15 years?  But what stood out to the man sharing the story was the genuine way this woman literally embraced her brother.  She had seen numerous people while volunteering and lovingly served them all well, but when she saw her biological brother, it was a completely different reaction.  He said that is the goal of their...

Living Missionally

As a new addition to the Hope House family, I had the unique perspective of looking in from the outside as I transitioned. Slowly turning to look outward into the world, I grew accustomed to the new life in which God had placed me. Life on the inside of Hope House ministry is so different from that of a 9 to 5. In a workplace, you are expected to complete the tasks you are assigned and you may seek advancement or a pay raise to further your career. This upward motion is a necessity for success in a career and there is nothing wrong with this focus. This strategy would not work in the ministry at Hope House though. Relationships get in the way of tasks that need to be completed and lines between work life and not-work life get blurred and sometimes erased altogether. The house needs to get cleaned for the next program but there are kids outside who want to play ball or just sit and share life with you on the porch.   This is because ministry is not a job you can clock in and then clock out of at the end of the day. Ministry is continuous, messy, beautiful relationships with people: constantly humbling yourself to the needs of those around you, surrendering your schedule, loving them unconditionally. After a few weeks at Hope House, I realized this was much harder to do than clean a bathroom or sweep a floor. Cleaning? I could do that on my own, but loving? And not just that, but loving everyone? I felt as if I...

Blown Away by the Body!

Blown Away by the Body! Hope House allows for a unique opportunity of self-discovery. Those who have chosen to embrace its culture – one of community and real crazy love – have experienced the joy of being used by God, in both expected and unexpected ways.  Each and every person involved brings with them a unique set of talents that we love to put to good use, as well as an openness in allowing God to stretch them and show them yet undiscovered gifts that may have been inside of them all along. That’s the beauty of what happens when you serve the Lord!!!  The simple step of joining with a ministry and helping to shine Jesus’ light, even in the smallest of ways, allows us to see much clearer all that God has to offer, whether to us personally, to someone we are serving, or to us as a community as a whole.  That’s what makes this idea of community and being a part of the body of Christ so powerful.  God has work ready for us to do.  He has given us the ability and resources to carry out the plan.  All we have to do is trust that He will be with us as we go. The body of Christ has an amazing amount of gifts and talents.  We at Hope House see what can happen on a regular basis when a small amount of people decide to throw down for Jesus in a way that is truly their own.  So we want to say thank you for bringing your unique gift, offering your time, praying, supporting financially,...

Hope House Detroit Summer: MAX IT OUT!

Kick-Off Big Event Every year, in the summer, we at Hope House host Big Events to help raise awareness for our programs at Hope House and kick start the summer. This summer’s kick off Big Event was completely designed and lead by our four students in Teen Council. These girls did everything!!! –They came up with the theme, games, food, as well as designing shirts to raise funds to help execute the event and passed out fliers around the neighborhood! It was truly awesome to see them rise to the occasion on the Big Event and work together, run a volunteer meeting, problem solve, and direct people all day.  There were a few hiccups like with any event, but the girls showed why they are on the council and the potential that God has placed in each of them. Coming Soon… This summer saw the opening of the new play structure built last October on the lot behind Hope House. The kids love it! It provides a great sheltered area for younger children to play safely. Gary plans to build a park pavilion in the lot next to it to create a space for families to come, barbeque, and spend time together. There will be picnic tables and even a bonfire pit! We are looking forward to having an area families can come spend time at Hope House! We hope it will be a place for togetherness and relaxation. Introducing… Troy Wilkinson and Hannah Kwiecinski joined the Hope House ministry team as the new House Directors in May. Both Troy and Hannah are recent graduates of Rochester College and...

Love One Another

I was planning on writing today about a completely different topic but, as usual, I find my mind focused on somewhere else instead.  And with the largest mass shooting in American history happening earlier this month, I guess that’s understandable.  It would be oh so easy to politicize this horrific tragedy and use it as a soap box from which to broadcast an opinion about a particular candidate or a certain law, which seems to be the popular American thing to do now when these types of events occur.  But instead, please allow me to dig a little deeper and examine what may very well be at the root of a much larger issue. To get right to it, I think it’s hate. At first, hate doesn’t always seem like that big of a deal.  We throw the word around casually, saying we hate this vegetable or that style of music.  This seems to match the simple definition as found in Webster’s Dictionary: a very strong feeling of dislike.  But check out the full definition: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. Whoa.  That seems quite a bit more intense.  And a quick skim through the world’s and our own country’s history unfortunately provides a lot of examples.  Native groups and settlers.  Race against race.  Nation against nation.  And, perhaps worst and least understandable of all, religion against religion. There has always been plenty of hate to go around. Maybe that’s why Jesus chose to talk so much about the opposing force: love. Especially as His time on Earth was growing short, Jesus...

And Who Is My Neighbor?

When I was in college, I used to always look forward to the time when all of my friends and I could leave our Christian campus to go do ministry out in the ‘real world.’  We would often go to feed the homeless in Cass Park or go to a nearby non-profit, God’s Helping Hands, to help sort clothes and food.  I also had occasional bigger ministry opportunities, such as going to the Bronx in NYC twice to work with different organizations, heading down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to lend a hand to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and spending a week in Detroit working with HCC.  These moments of doing ‘real ministry’ really opened my eyes to people in need, and they always made me feel really good about myself. But then I would return to my everyday life and those positive feelings of making a difference in the lives of others would fade.  I fell back into my self-centered routine of my own spiritual journey and rarely thought much of helping others.  I longed to be back on these trips doing ‘real work’, important work.  I felt like we a Christians made the largest impact when we retreated from regular life to focus solely on ministry.  My eyes better saw the needs around me when my brain was geared towards doing ‘real ministry.’  Being on the mission field forced to me to be more intentional about thinking about others, where they were coming from, and being empathetic towards them.  And it certainly helped that a lot of the talk on those trips centered around concepts like imagining...

You Matter. Your Story Matters. Jesus’ Story Matters.

This year, our Middle School girls club, Thank God It’s Girls Club (TGIGC), has been exploring the fact that each girl matters and so do their stories. On Tuesday evenings, we share highs and lows of the week over a delicious snack, we play fun games, do crafty activities and have girl talk related to our theme. Tuesdays are easily one of my favorite days of the week because I get to spend time with these sweet girls; they are full of life, energy and lots of fun, very giggly and silly, smart and kind; they’re precious, they’re priceless, they’re full of potential, and they matter. Looking back, there is so much that could be written about our girls, and especially, about the countless times God has been with us. The best part is that He relentlessly continues to show up at Hope House week after week, and today, I was overjoyed to see Him again. With Easter around the corner, the sponsor team (aka the friends I get to lead TGIGC with) put together a fun time coloring eggs and a more serious time discussing the last days of Jesus’ life, leading to his death and resurrection. We used the resurrection eggs to do this which was how the founders of girls’ club (Becky and her friends from Brighton) shared this story a few years back; if you’re wondering what these are, well, allow me to tell you. They are a set of twelve plastic eggs each containing an item that symbolizes a piece of the Easter story. For example, the first egg had a plastic donkey in...

A Year in Review: Hope House Detroit

Embracing the Interruptions I’m constantly amazed at how Jesus treats the people who interrupted Him during His ministry. He treats each of them with great respect, kindness, and intentionality. It’s like each person is the only one in the world at that moment, and nothing else is more important. He is God for goodness sake, and He is on this earth with important things that he needs to do, but He still takes the time to stop and embrace the interruption. In fact, it usually seems that the interruption itself was where His most important ministry work took place. For it was in those crucial moments that He touched people, healed them in powerful ways, and then sent them out. Think about it…Jesus more often than not: • Embraced the interruption and gave them significance with a new name • Healed/ touched/ forgave/ saved them • Sent them out But as I reflect on what we do here, at Hope House, I have come to realize more clearly that Jesus isn’t a tool. He isn’t some program or system that can be used to get a better outcome. He is a Friend. A Healer. A Savior. And if we are really honest with ourselves, we need Him now more than ever before. We need Jesus to give us a new name, heal us, and send us out.  Only after He has done that for us can we be a witness for Christ. We become His living examples of what it looks like to go in peace after being healed and renamed. So if you are not making space in your life for embracing interruptions, think about...

A Christmas Moment

My heart swelled as my daughter and I listened to the unparalleled Boston Pops Holiday Concert. Songs that rekindle the sweetness of childhood. I tear up every time. Earlier last week, I basked in the warmth of Christmas dinner with our Hope House family. I realized that every one of them is an answer to a prayer we have prayed. I felt humbled at the Lord’s beautiful provision. The beauty of Christmas, the meaning of Christmas touches our hearts in a variety of very special moments—moments, like the Pops concert and the HHD dinner, that are rare and rich. Premier among such moments for me this year was the Living Nativity that our Hope House kids put on. Watching our kids publicly put on an outdoor production, knowing each one and their personal challenges, seeing and participating in those moments of growth and identity, those sweet moments rank among the best for me. For example, one of our 18-year-old young men arrived just before the show started saying he needed to get in costume because he’s “always” a Wise Man. The Wise Men were already cast and costumed. So he put on an angel robe and sang with the female angel choir all three times through the show. A snapshot of a vulnerable guy who feels a sense of belonging and ownership.  He wore his halo home. I was blessed as the little shepherds kept time to the music with their shepherd crooks.  As the elementary-aged Wise Men strode with purpose and determination, their robes and head-pieces flowing in their wake, I considered for the first time what that...

A Lesson in Encouragement

I had half of a blog post written when something so cool happened that I realized I needed to write about it instead! So I’ll share some about our program Thank God It’s Girls’ Club (TGIGC) another time, but today I am happy to tell you what happened at our last Teen Council meeting. A little background: Teen Council is a fairly new program at HHD where my co-leader, Riley, and I meet with a small group of high-school students to talk about leadership and give them opportunities to practice leadership skills in our community. As the group progresses, we are hoping that the teens will come up with, plan, and run their own events or service projects in our neighborhood. At our most recent meeting, Riley taught a great lesson about encouragement, and how important this trait is as we lead and participate in whatever communities we are a part of. The main focus was a section in Acts where we see the early believers sharing everything and selling their possessions to meet the needs of everyone in the group. It is here where we are introduced to Barnabas –called this because it means ‘son of encouragement’ – who is so captivated by the early Church that he, too, sells some land he owns and brings all of the money to the apostles to use. As we tried to explain how this radical lifestyle might look today, Riley said it would be like if Gary & Becky sold the Hope House and used the money to meet the needs of the neighborhood. One of the girls made a...