Newsletter Summer 2017: He Is Doing A New Thing


He Is Doing A New Thing

During this summer, I was involved with our church’s vacation bible school.  Before the week came, my attitude was not what I wanted it to be.  At first I was resentful of losing a whole week of my summer in order to supervise kids that I didn’t know.  In addition to this, I disliked the theme of the VBS and the music.  I wasn’t alone.  There were several voices that were expressing disapproval and criticism.  When the week arrived, I resigned myself to take it one step at a time and to prepare myself for something that could be awful or at the very best, awkward.

Luke 24:38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?

Upon entering the church, I was aghast at the sanctuary magnificently adorned with decorations.    The volunteers smiled and laughed, zealously acting out their parts.  There were lines of happy children waiting for everything to get going!  The first day was great fun and every day after that.  Kids sang Jesus songs.  They memorized scripture.  The gospel was preached.  There was goodness and light and every part humming along in harmony like a perfect song.  God made it an amazing success!

2nd Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Why should this kind of supernatural success still surprise me after being a Christian for 30 years?  I think it is because God is always doing a new thing.  Even after every Read Around the Block at Hope House I am awed by how God takes our weaknesses and flaws and the kids’ weaknesses and flaws and He dances among us, making everything beautiful.  He gives us kind glances, willingness to do dirty work, gentle words and touches, and understanding beyond words.  All praise and glory to God!

Isaiah 43:19  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.


Introducing The Hope House Mural…

During the Fall semester, we began working with the kids in our programs to create a design for a mural to be painted on the side of Hope House. Many kids submitted designs and with the help of an artistic team including Karina Fluker, Rae Chowning, Angel Kelly and Hannah Wilkinson, a design was compiled.

The beginning of summer, we carefully began plans for the painting of our mural. Colors were selected, the wall was primed, and and we painted. A scaffolding (thanks to Tom Freidland) was assembled to complete the higher sections of the mural. After many hours of painting, finally the design came together as something we felt reflected the heart of Hope House. The best part was how much of our community (both kids and adults) was part of the process. We hope you will stop by and see for yourself our new mural and how awesome our community is!


Our First Summer With A Cafe

The opening of the Hope House Café was a new addition to the house this summer and boy was it a hit! We saw God working through the café from start to finish. The planning stages began months ago when our Teen Council, composed of involved high schoolers, were asked to plan, design and execute all that it takes to start a small business. They faced the challenge head on and with help from the staff, we created an atmosphere for kids in the neighborhood to come feel safe, known and loved -all while enjoying some lemonade and Bosco Bites.

One of my favorite things about the café was the opportunity we had to hang out with kids rain or shine. What once left us feeling like barren land now is where streams of relationships are welling up. In previous years when it rained that meant kids would run home, whereas this year kids and volunteers could run inside to seek shelter (if hours allow it).

Those open hours led to moments that I will cherish, moments like:

• Spontaneous games of Catch Phrase with boys from the basketball court that went on for hours.

• Painting nails until the smell of nail polish cannot escape our nostrils.

• Volunteers’ talents and abilities being utilized to teach kids how to play the piano, specifically songs from Frozen that we all could sing.

• Karaoke nights that you can hear from outside.

• And movie nights that left a popcorn trail we were cleaning for days to come.

The café this summer was filled with fun times that sprang up unsuspectingly, sometimes in our weakest moments. I’m reminded that it really was and is Him working and His power that caused the café to run this summer.


Bringing to Fruition

I often marvel at God among us in the summers at Hope House. I call it God gone wild because He can be evidenced in so many lives and situations, both seen and unseen. God is a multi-tasker, and He is at work even to this day. I have a nearer understanding of the expression that He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. To be honest, I find this facet of Him to be overwhelming and sometimes frightening, wondering if I am able to respond to His tidal wave appropriately.

This lavishing nature of God has been sensed always at Hope House, and especially this summer as He matures much of what He began. More kids. New kids. New volunteers. Seasoned volunteers. More interacting: basketball, programs, our new café, a rap concert with Trey Little, computer labs for high schoolers, job training program to hire and manage 7 neighborhood young people, visiting in the neighborhood, BBQ’s on weekends, a student-led mural, and discipling/mentoring young people. He lavishes opportunity and grace to meet it, one day at a time.

In our 8th summer at Hope House,  we are thankful for the blossoming of years spent together here.  Wonderful neighbors, kids we’ve known since preschool, kids maturing into amazing pre-teens, teens, young adults.  We have also seen a blossoming among the young people we have been privileged to live and serve with at Hope House. Past interns are now husbands and wives and moms and dads and missionaries and rock stars and servants. And from that field of wonderful laborers, some have stayed with us or returned to us. We have had the honor of learning and loving with these young people, some of whom are now staff and have been living this life together for years. And Gary and I have seen them grow and know that they can do this following of Jesus themselves.

So on September 5, Gary and I begin to function as executive directors of Hope House Detroit, overseeing the direction, tone, and big picture.

Jessica Brown, who came to HHD as a college student on Spring Break and later aced our summer internship program, has been on staff for 2 years. Jessica has been transitioning for over a year so that she will naturally move into the role of Director of Operations, overseeing the day-to-day ministry with her strong administrative skills and gentle, strong heart.

Riley Chowning has been on staff at HHD for 2 years; we call him our Campus Pastor. Riley is equipped and will naturally provide leadership as Assistant Director in charge of Student Care. To be honest, he takes care of all of us.

Hannah Wilkinson and her husband Troy also first encountered HHD during college service trips. They are our House Directors in charge of the house, its residents, and functions. Hannah will naturally add Director of Programming to her role. With a good knowledge of the programs, a strong administrative gift, and a determination to let God glow, Hannah will rise to this trust.

As Jessica, Riley, and Hannah have grown into these leadership roles, the Lord has provided other amazing young people to take on pieces of the puzzle and also to add to the heart the Lord expresses from here.

4-5 years ago, Amy Paruk and Kasey Moore both lived at Hope House for 5 weeks on Cru Detroit Summer Projects.  Their hearts were stolen for urban life and ministry, and they have moved back this summer and put in sweat equity. They undergird the things that are going on as well as bring their own vision and ideas along. The Lord has also added Joy Ferguson (Read Around the Block), Maria Banou (Financial Assistant, stayed at Hope House on college Spring Break trip), Danielle Clark (PR, college Spring Break, college internship at Hope House), and Dana Rodriguez (Volunteer Coordinator, college service trip, internship at Hope Community Church). The cherry on top is volunteer staff Karen Gomez (girls’ club) and Matt Brown (hospitality and past intern.)

So yeah, the Lord is doing a new thing. He is bringing to fruition seeds He planted in the past 8 years. He has been preparing it, and He has done it. He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. Please pray for the entire team as we transition into the fullness of His plan.


Ways YOU Can Get Involved

PRAY! We cannot do any of this without calling on God! Some things you could be praying for:

• The Hope House team to stay fixed on God and looking for His direction.

• Volunteers (specifically for Read Around the Block).

• The kids to feel known and loved by us and the Lord!

• The volunteers to be blessed and feel valued.

VOLUNTEER! We’d love to have you on our team! There are numerous ways you can volunteer (programs, outdoor fun, big events, etc.). If you’re interested, contact Dana Rodriguez at

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