monday, july 10th, 2017
so, i’ve sorta put off writing these first couple days because i haven’t known exactly what to write or where i wanted to start. there are so many beautiful acts of God happening; it’s difficult to make up my mind on where i would like to begin. one introductory post will not be enough to thoroughly introduce the church, its mission, circumstances which surround it, and of course, the children!! i’m sorry.
beginning with the church: 77 alaska street, New Hope Community Church sits adjacent to the West Brighton housing projects community on Staten Island in New York City. celebrating 25 years of ministry, New Hope seeks to serve as a safe haven for children and families in this tumultuous neighborhood where there are ample amounts of gang violence, fatherless homes, abuse of all variances, and overall brokenness. the current system has graciously and lovingly fostered these evils. it has created a tempting host for them to reproduce and permeate the lives of each family living in each of the eight towers. they infect and ruin the lives of the children. returning home is oftentimes not a safe and secure environment. As if it is a parallel world, the streets are more desirable than their apartments. By the time a child is in middle or high school, they are more likely to become entangled within gang dealings, drug happenings, and inappropriate relationships. These evils offer a source of “income” for the child looking for a “quick fix.” Attention is diverted away from school, studies, the furthering of an education, or attainable careers. How easy it is for the children and young adults to fall into the lifestyles of those before them and become trapped in the cycle.
programs like New Hope’s basketball ministry and youth group actively seek to get young people into the building, off the streets, and hopefully into a relationship with Jesus. it is no secret that God has the power to transform any life and redeem any heart. the hope is that through ministering to the children, the parents will perceive the positive change in their child’s life and desire that same positive change too. reaching out first to the kiddos provides promise of breaking the cycle.
unfortunately, the fruits of the labor of many is not highly apparent. a lot of times it is overwhelming and a lot of times it is frustrating. Overwhelming to pour all of your love into children from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening and walk them to their local elementary school along sidewalks with weed infused atmospheres; Frustrating to repeatedly encourage them to be loving in their words with one another from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening but know that they are returning home to abusive families with little love and there’s nothing you can do about it. when you want so badly to just pluck them out of their circumstance and plop them in a healthy, nurturing, Jesus loving family, is when you pour more love, more truth, more mercy and grace – even if it seems futile. sometimes it only feels like putting a bandaid on top of a bullet hole, and you may ask the church family of New Hope: “why would you pour your lives into trying to fix a system that can seemingly not be fixed?”
the answer? for the kids. for even just one child – to have a positive influence, to offer hope, and to give love – for even just one child, it is all worth it.
“Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.” Second Corinthians 4:1-2