Thursday, May 29, 2014
Posted by Neighborhood Ambassadors at 8:36 PM
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Posted by Neighborhood Ambassadors at 8:26 PM
Sunday, November 10, 2013
A year ago we set up this blog anticipating our move to Challenge House 1 and excited about all we would experience and have to share as we embarked on our adventure. The year has not disappointed in experiences and adventures....we have made new friends, learned many lessons, and had so many new experiences.
What I quickly learned is that my lofty goal of blogging on a weekly or monthly basis was much harder than I had dreamed. Writing has been a favorite past time in my college days and something I have longed for years to do again. It is not for lack of content that I had writer's block many times over the past year, but rather often due to "living" out the experience and then having so many emotions to process along with all that has transpired.
We have no doubt after a year in our home that God appointed us to live here and is transforming our lives, our thoughts, and our faith through this calling. We have had so many wonderful moments, but they have often been in the midst of very hard things. Either by naivetés or rose-colored glasses or maybe even being wrapped up in our own lives...we somehow missed some very big things in the lives of those around us...this "ignorant bliss" of prior years is probably one of the hardest things to process.
So first to start with the good things....
Our neighbors are such wonderful people...we have been so welcomed and in many cases taken under the wings of others to teach us about the culture of our neighborhood, the history and tradition of where we live, to come along side us and work to share the love of Christ with those around us. We have shared stories, meals, and wonderful conversations.
Our neighborhood association...under Reverend Jones' leadership...this group of people have made me feel so welcome and included. They have given us a voice and also given us advice. I could not ask for a kinder group of people to have as friends and neighbors.
Our church family...from the beginning when the Hillcrest 20/20 youth prayed with us and our friends from church and the community came to commission and pray over us, our home, and neighborhood...prayers, encouragement, and sometimes listening hearts have proven so precious to us. Then there are those that have come to our home and served with us, whether handing out bags, picking up trash, or sharing times with the kids of our neighborhood...those who are serving with us are treasures to our souls.
Then there blessings that we could not have known before moving here...Kerri Pepper and the Holiday Elementary volunteers that tutor the students....John Allen and Kelly Jackson with the orchard project...the many Project Hopkinsville and backyard Bible club volunteers....so many people that see the mission and vision of Challenge House and love the people of Durrett Avenue.
So many other people and things that I fail to capture with mere words...
Then there is the hard.
Hard to endure, hard to process, hard to believe to be true.
There are times when serving in a ministry like this is so lonely...you know there are others available if you need them, but sometimes it is hard to know what to ask or how to convey all that you learn and see. Then there are some that you expect to be there, but they cannot do the hard with you...
Hard things - kids with no food...families with no electricity...families with no homes...kids with absent parents...friends that are trying to make a living, but are 10 steps behind and struggling to keep hope...neighbors that are lonely, because their family have moved on to better jobs, nicer neighborhoods...broken families...neighbors that once served our country in honor, that struggle to have their own kids show them respect....people that are lost and seeking salvation in alcohol or drugs...teens that are seeking approval in relationships leading to teen pregnancy...kids that reach out for help or those that cannot trust because they have never been in a truly safe place to learn trust...kids that we reach only to learn they are gone to another town or state....
In all of this hard...the reality is...these hard things are not isolated to our neighborhood here. It is likely that some if not all of these "hard things" existed in our former neighborhood...hurting people are not isolated by income, gender, race, locality...pain is no respecter of persons...yet we did not see before...how many do not see...cannot imagine...
Yet amongst all the good and all the hard...we have learned perhaps above all else that God is faithful. When we feel alone, we do not know what to do, when there is hurt we cannot fix...there are the promises of God that stand as a foundation. He does not falter even when we are emotionally exhausted and heartbroken...He has the resources, the answers...He is faithful.
So as year one at Challenge House 1 has come to a close...I hope once again that next year will be just as full as this one with wonderful and hard things...for it is in the hard that we have seen God's hand moved so precisely.
Posted by Neighborhood Ambassadors at 8:40 PM
Friday, July 26, 2013
Two weeks ago, 19 teenagers in 9th -12th grade ascended upon our home...each one chosen from many applications received for the AT&T program...the goal was to earn the $150 paycheck they would receive at the completion of their training and work.
I would guess that many of them came knowing the fun, friendships, and break from the routine they would experience each day...they probably didn't realize the work, change in their outlook on life, and the challenge to their futures this program would present.
The first week began with workshops from community leaders...business owners, pastors, school leaders, social workers, employees, volunteers...people from our neighborhood...people from the community...all people who realize what it is like to be a teenager with your entire life in front of you...young and naïve about all they would experience in life...people who have made mistakes, been mentored by great people, and who had continued regardless of life's challenges to reach for their goals.
These leaders taught about work and life...how faith and attitude impact both. A school leader shared with them how the Bible tells us, "you will reap what you sow." A pair of community leaders shared the many valuable lessons one can learn in Proverbs. Several men shared the challenges they faced growing up in these streets and very personal losses life has brought and how they continue to persevere.
We started the program with nineteen and ended with eighteen graduates...we were recently told...you can't help them all...they have to want to learn and grow...these words are true, but it also makes us more determined to reach out to the one and let them know that they matter.
Parents, friends, community leaders, job training mentors, and workshop leaders all gathered today at Challenge House 1 to celebrate these teenagers. Their hard work, their learning, the maturity they gained over the past two weeks. The students brought in timesheets, essays, and shared with all of us about their experiences...the good, the bad...some learned in job shadowing that they are in pursuit of their dream job...others decided they still have decisions to make regarding the big question of what they will be when they grow up.
The hope for these kids is that they leave a little wiser, motivated and inspired to always give their best...to be grounded in their faith...to pursue their dreams...
Attitude.... Training.... Teamwork.... a life changing experience for so many...
Posted by Neighborhood Ambassadors at 9:05 PM
Sunday, March 3, 2013
This passage of Scripture I have read many times in my life, but has led me to contemplate our ministry and a current project we are undertaking with a new appreciation and understanding.
Specifically I was struck by the four types of soil on which the sower went out to plant:
- good ground
We are currently working on a neighborhood project to plant a community orchard. Just as with farmers we are not going to the lot and planting trees...there is a great amount of preparation work to ensure the soil is ready for planting, so that the conditions are right, and the trees and plants will produce a great amount of fruit.
With our orchard plot we will have to take several actions:
- Test the soil to ensure it has the right amount of nutrients and acidity levels
- Remove an old foundation and rocks from the lot
- Clear out any garbage, weeds, and thorn bushes
- Cultivate the lot, so that the entire plot is good ground versus just small sections
If we went out today and just planted the likelihood is that many trees and plants would die, but with cultivating the entire lot, the trees should be able to take root and grow to produce much fruit.
When entering our neighborhood we knew that we would face challenges in sharing our faith and reaching some people. We know if we rush in and go house to house to offer our services and share our faith that some may be receptive, but others may refuse us indefinitely. You see as people we all are like the plot of land described in this passage on the sower....some of us have fallen to the wayside, some of us have experiences in our lives that have hardened us to others leading us to live in mistrust and building barriers of protection around us, and then there are times when we become ensnared in situations that leave us trapped, weary, and burdened. Then there are some that are ready, longing for help, direction, guidance.
Posted by Neighborhood Ambassadors at 12:41 PM
Monday, February 25, 2013
God has been working on my heart since moving in Challenge House 1. You see for years I have been blind to the hurt and struggles of my community...my neighbors. There is an indifference in our society if we do not see it and if we do not cause it, then it must not be our responsibility.
Friends that is so wrong. The hurt, the struggles, the seeking for something missing...it is our responsibility. My adoptive mom friend, Sarah Westerfield posted this above video, as adoptive parents we were able to see a need, in our cases around the world, and take action, but that does not in itself complete our commission to care for the fatherless and widows. It is not a one time act, fulfilling our obligation and we can then live our American Dream expecting others to take care of the rest of the hurt and pain in the world.
Our town, Hopkinsville, has widows and fatherless that are struggling to make it through each day. They are faced with trials that I could not fathom before moving into our home. It breaks my heart and overwhelms me with guilt and shame that I could live with an indifferent attitude for so long. However, God does not want us to dwell there...He commands us to take action...to show HIS love and HIS grace, because it is not overwhelming for HIM.
Friends we need your help...we need others to come along side of us and say, "This is the time to take action....this is the will and command of GOD...these HURTING and BROKEN people are our mission field." Then we need you to not just say these words, but to TAKE ACTION...
This neighborhood, these children....they are GOD's HUDSON...
Posted by Neighborhood Ambassadors at 8:57 AM
Friday, February 1, 2013
02/15/2013 and 02/22/2013
(5pm – 6pm)
- 03/8/2013 and 03/22/2013
- (5pm – 6pm)
Woodworking projects can be entered into the local fair as a 4H project entry.
Classes are for ages 9 – 19 and will be limited to the first 10 kids to complete the 4H registration form at Challenge House 1. This is a free program.
If you are interested in working as a volunteer on these specific dates, a 4H volunteer form must be completed before the first class begins. Forms are available at Challenge House 1.
Posted by Neighborhood Ambassadors at 6:42 AM