April 2000 Newsletter
The Letter from the Heart
Greetings dear friends in the name of Jesus – ‘the hook on which all hope hangs!’
When I think about how thankful I am to be trusted with this great ministry, I am filled with gratitude for you. Thanks for helping to release us to do what God has called us to do. The ministry continues to stretch us: Hannah House, Work Groups, The Coffeehouse, Good Gifts, The Retreat Cabin, The Emergency Shelter, preparations for Summer Kids Club/Summer Service and mostly the PEOPLE God has sent us! God continues to supply JOY for the strength we need in answer to your prayers. Thanks for supporting Good Works!
FAST FROM SHELTER – # 11
Since 1990, our staff, volunteers and other concerned friends have gathered each year on Good Friday to Fast From Shelter. We “abstain from shelter” for one night as one might fast from food. Our purpose is to better understand those who Jesus calls ‘the least of these’ in Matthew 25:31-46. We take sleeping bags and stay outside in uptown Athens overnight. We spend time in worship, prayer and share from scripture about the poor, especially the widow, the orphan and the stranger. The Fast really enables us to grow personally and spiritually. It is like a seminar experience. If you’d like to know more about the Fast or would like to read the reflections of others on last years Fast, click here.
THE CULTURAL WAVE
As many of you already know, I travel and speak frequently throughout the year. During each season of speaking, the Lord seems to give me a ‘word’ to emphasize to the body of Christ. I sense that the prophetic word right now is a warning against the sin of ‘busyness’ and what this sin is doing to our human relationships. The tidal-wave of our culture is overwhelming us with muchness, manyness and more movement. Fast food wasn’t fast enough, so drive-in windows, and microwave ovens emerged. Speed has become an idol of sorts (along with convenience) and has wormed its way into the dominant Christian culture along with productivity and accomplishment. I fear that it is all leading to a frenzied pace of life where, in our efforts to do something for the kingdom, we walk right past Jesus on our way to teach or take the latest seminar. Has talk of being busy come up in your conversation with friends? Are you aware of the cultural changes that have made ‘being busy’ an honored status symbol? Who is it that suffers while we are moving at this fiendish pace? Certainly family and friends. But may I also suggest another group? I believe that the cultural wave of busyness ultimately diminishes the care we provide the vulnerable, powerless and the poor of our communities. Indeed, I wonder if there is a connection between making time to serve the poor and making time to serve God.
One of the ministries of Good Works is Hannah House, a place where recovering men and women can live for up to 2 years in a supportive yet structured Christian Community; where love is balanced with accountability and responsibility. Each person who applies to enter the Life In Transition program at HH must go through a 30-day process that includes a two-part application and several interviews with the staff. From the beginning, Hannah House has been designed not as a professional recovery center, but rather as a place where the body of Christ can work together to help hurting men and women to “rebuild the inward ruins of their lives” (Isaiah 58:12); a place where growing Christians can love and support people struggling to get back on their feet. Our vision is that everyone who comes to live at HH will, like the boy Samuel in I Samuel 3, learn to hear the voice of God and become a prophetic influence into their own generation. But God has clearly given us the understanding that this ministry’s success will depend upon volunteers (interns) who are so radical in their desire to follow Christ, that they agree to move into Hannah House for 6-12 months and mentor a person in recovery. Unfortunately, right now we don’t have enough interns. I truly believe God has given us this model of discipleship. Would you pray that God would move upon the hearts of single men and women to serve HIM in this vital need? We will soon need to turn down prospective residents simply because we don’t have enough interns. I know that there are single men and women who want to serve Jesus in this way. Will you pray we will find them? Will you ask God to lead them to us?
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the needs of the poor and homeless. I know. Twenty years is a l o n g time. The combination of limited resources and limited staffing to meet unlimited needs can cause me to become weary and often lose perspective. Occasionally I say to God “Lord, why have you sent this person to Good Works? I cannot help them.” If I’m listening (and listening is THE KEY to receiving wisdom), I can often hear the ‘still small voice of the Holy Spirit’ say in response “I know, I have sent them to help you.” You see, through the lives of the poor and needy come gifts—special blessings to those who serve them. Not the kind of thing you get for your birthday or at Christmas and not the kind of thing money can buy. No, God gives us something through ‘the least of these’ that is more like a treasure so that we can take hold of what scripture calls “life that is truly life”( I Timothy 6:19). Consider some of the life-changing volunteer opportunities through Good Works. Click here for more info. Maybe the very thing we are thirsting for will appear to us as we serve those who cannot repay us!
You will soon be receiving a letter asking for your help with Project 2000, our new administrative offices and hospitality business. Would you prayerfully consider helping with this project? We are seeking funding, supplies and volunteers. Would you pray for this project to succeed? Could you help encourage (or organize) an adult work team to come to Good Works and assist us with this project? If so, contact Paul Richard @ 740.594.3336.
In closing, I want to encourage you to visit Good Works sometime this year. If you are coming from out of town please accept this invitation to stay overnight at Hannah House. We very much want to show you what God is doing here! If you would like to work with your hands, there are many projects (garden, greenhouse, construction) you can help with. You can even come as a family and teach your children the value of serving the poor. Come for a day or stay for a week. Pop in or call ahead. We’d love to visit face to face!
Love is a verb,