It was probably the first or second year in Hope’s existence that I felt the Lord spoke to my heart regarding how He sees the Hope Center. It was during those early days of seeing Hope birthed and finding our way. This encounter with Him occurred as I was reading the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus said in verse 18,
“I will not leave you as orphans…”
It was at that moment that I felt like the Lord said to me that the most important thing the Hope Center can do is to…………stay open. Think about it, I have for about 12 years. I would have thought the most important thing the Hope Center could do is:
1. Save souls
2. Provide meals
3. Help youth and children excel educationally
4. Provide a refuge
5. Provide employment
Those 6 plus things are all very biblical and at the core of who and what the Hope Center is and does. But to “stay open” doesn’t sound overly impressive unless you’re an orphan, unless you don’t have a dad in your life or some type of “father figure”. Doesn’t sound impressive unless you’ve experienced abandonment, unfulfilled promises and deep loneliness.
I once heard a pretty insightful question regarding how significant churches are in the city in which they reside. The question was, “How long would it take for your city to notice if your church no longer existed?” Cities aren’t aware of the existence of a lot of churches. Therefore, if those churches ceased to exist, not many would notice. Hopefully I don’t sound cynical, but the question is a valid one.
So why not apply it to the Hope Center for Kids? How long would it take Omaha to know if Hope no longer operated? The question highlights the level of impact (or lack) and need (or lack) of Hope. I know I’m not totally objective, but I think it wouldn’t take long for people throughout the city to get the news.
1. Hope Financial Partners- within 6 hours
2. Hope Volunteers- within 3 hours
3. Hope Neighbors- within 1 hour
4. Hope youth and children- minutes
If the Hope Center closed, it would fill the orphan heart that many Hope Members struggle with, with new levels of abandonment, loneliness and despair. Their hearts would be flooded with questions like, “Where do I go now after school?” “Will I ever see Pastor King, Miss Deb, Misty, Alyssa, Will…again?” “I thought Hope would be on 20th and Lake my whole life?” “My daddy left me and now Hope has too.”
As I wrote my book, “A Thousand Screaming Mules”, what emerged was that my primary motivation in longing to see a Hope Center birthed was out my fatherly heart for youth and children. I don’t want one kid to feel like an orphan. Every kid needs a dad. Every kid longs for a father to be engaged in his life and his heart.
I want my children to know that their dad/me, is on a mission to know, pursue and see each of their dreams become a reality. My Heavenly Dad makes my dreams come true. That’s who He is. It’s His character.
So when Jesus told His disciples that He would never leave them as orphans, I believe He’s still saying it today. Every day when youth and children arrive at Hope, it’s a holy hint as to what God is like. So many of our Hope kids have been a part of Hope for 5, 8, 10 plus years. They’re not alone. We’re here! We’re still here! “Is Pastor King still here?” “Why yes, here’s right over there!” “Where’s Miss Deb?” “She’s in her office, talking to a 10 year old girl just like she with you 7 years ago.”
13 years of Hope. The doors are still open. Lord-willing, they’ll open again tomorrow at 3 pm. The doors open because He opens them through His people: Staff, the Board, Partners, Volunteers, and Intercessors…
Was Hope successful in 2011? Yes! How do I know? Because we stayed open. That’s the most important thing.