Hope. It’s a small word that carries enormous possibilities. Hope sees us through life’s darkest moments and promises us that tomorrow has the potential to be brighter and better.
This weekend, the River held our first neighborhood missions outreach at a local apartment complex. The event was called HopeFest, and while we were there to minister hope to the families and individuals who call Boardwalk home, I have come away with a renewed sense of hope in my own heart.
Our hope was that this event would open the door for us to establish a foundation for ongoing ministry to the residents of Boardwalk, and we plan to launch an onsite Bible study there this fall. If you’ve ever done any kind of outreach or missions work, you know that no matter how grand your plans and sincere your intentions, you can never really know how a people group will respond until you just get out there and do it. The response was very positive this weekend, and we are greatly encouraged. We saw the the beginnings of relationships as some shared their personal stories and lives with us.
One of our own River members, Paul, lives there at Boardwalk, and he has opened up his apartment for the Bible study, which is an answer to prayer, because though the complex manager is very supportive of our efforts to minister to these residents, there is no available meeting space. Paul’s offer solves this problem, and we had several people sign up for the study already. The hunger is there – all we have to do is show up and feed them.
There is much more to tell about this weekend than I can share here and now, but one of the things that blessed my heart the most was seeing some of our own River members, who themselves live in similar circumstances as the people we were there to minister to, rising up to step outside of their own difficult situations and whole-heartedly serving others. What a joy to see this new wave of first fruits. These precious people are the reason we do what we do, the reason we have persisted when it seemed that we were laboring in vain and we thought no one was listening. They are the fruit of our lasting hope to see lost, lonely and hurting people found, restored and healed.