5 Lessons from COVID during 2020

2020 was quite a year – challenging in so many respects. With all of the changes brought on by COVID, our young people need support all the more; however, with the changes brought on by COVID, mentoring hasn’t been “normal” for nearly a year now. So, as with everything in life right now, we are learning to adjust and do what we can, when we can. As we look back on a year none of us will soon forget, we can say that we’ve learned some lessons that will also apply in this new year.


Here are the 5 things this unique season has taught is – and is continuing to teach us:

1. Flexibility & patience are key. For many, mentoring has had to move to an online format. It’s not the same – as anyone can attest who has sat through a Zoom meeting. But virtual connection is better than no connection; so, we do what we can, when we can.

2.  Our mentees need us, so we encourage our mentors to take whatever options they have. If it’s virtual, or writing notes, or occasional gatherings, we invite them to do their best to be there for their mentees with whatever format the school provides. Likewise, not all mentees make it to each session; even so, our mentors can focus on who is in their group at any given time. If a student isn’t showing up, the mentor can show their concern by continuing to pursue them – while not letting the absence of one student keep them from the opportunity to connect with who is there.

3.  With that in mind, this season provides an opportunity to go with smaller & simpler goals. Some mentees may need an extra dose of motivation to get online for their classes – or maybe just to get up in the morning. Perhaps they just need a safe place to share their anxiety and sadness, or their small joys and accomplishments. As we remind our mentors: small victories are still victories!

4.  COVID affects everyone – and it’s likely to affect our mentees differently than it does our mentors. Being aware and open to how others are experiencing this strange season can go a long way toward helping them process their feelings in a healthy way.

5.  Finally, a reminder: This, too, will end. This doesn’t mean that life will go back to “normal” (whatever that is), but it does mean that we will not always be where we are now. Of course, this is true not just of a virus or a cultural moment – it’s true of life itself. Nothing ever stays put. Life continues, changes – and we must continue, and change, and move forward. So, even if our mentors don’t think they are getting much “accomplished” with their mentees this school year, their consistency is making a difference. Even for those mentors who have had to “press pause” due to school guidelines, how powerful will it be for their mentees to have them be there for them whenever the school opens its doors to them? Their tenacity and commitment to their mentees won’t go unnoticed.

These are lessons our mentors are learning in this season. Perhaps these lessons aren’t just about mentoring – and in fact apply to life, as well. Maybe one speaks to you in the season you’re in?

Written by:  Jeff Dye, In-School Program Coordinator


By | 2021-01-15T14:05:41+00:00 January 15th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Empowering Girls to Rise Above

Making a difference in a girl’s life can look like many things. It can look like choosing to mentor her as she grows up or teaching her how to successfully cope with the big emotions she feels from a trauma-informed perspective. Both of these, and many more, are ways that Hope Collaborative does so well. But as I started the first few sessions of the new Rising Above program this past year, I realized there was a need to teach girls something they should never need to be taught: how to stay safe in a world where being a girl automatically makes you vulnerable. 

The Rising Above program was created to educate girls on the realities of human trafficking around us, ways to keep themselves and others around them safe, and to empower them to help fight human trafficking and violence. We call this group Rising Above because we want to empower them to rise above the statistics and the low standard that society has set for how they should be treated. 

The first day in class, after I gave the girls a summary of what the sessions would look like, I asked them “Raise your hand if you have ever been in a situation where you felt uncomfortable and unsafe?” Every hand went up. “Now keep them up if you feel like this was because you are a girl?” Every hand stayed up. Every one. Not only was this exercise eye opening for myself, it was also the first step in breaking down the walls of a girl believing she was the only one experiencing the fear of being hurt. 

Through self defense classes, teaching the girls how to use their voice, and human trafficking and abuse prevention sessions, the girls have learned several new strategies to confidently react when danger or conflict arises. 

It has been incredible to have past students tell me ways they have used what they learned in Rising Above to protect themselves. 

B told me she used a self defense move she learned in class after a guy grabbed her at a party the weekend before.

S told me she had used her voice to stand up for a friend who was being abused by her boyfriend. 

Z told me she received a message from a “creepy guy” on Instagram and after learning how traffickers and abusers use social media to find victims, she quickly blocked and reported him. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring this much needed information to these girls. It has been a powerful thing to be able to champion them to become advocates to make a difference. After all, we can al make a huge impact together, no matter how old you are. 

By: Rachel Allen
       Hope Place Teacher

Note: All images taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hope Collaborative follows all CDC and state guidelines for meeting safely in person.


By | 2020-12-15T15:03:01+00:00 December 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Prayer and Grace

We all need prayer and grace during this season. Ever since the Coronavirus became a thing early this year, we’ve all been discombobulated to some degree; some more than others. We’ve all found ourselves in similar yet different circumstances—dependent upon various factors related to age, income, health status, education, access to resources, housing, support, exposure to accurate information, and much more. As we continue to plow through as best we can—moving by faith and not by sight, let us always mindful to place ourselves in another’s shoes!

Many of us are walking by faith…literally.  Some of us have colleagues, family and/or friends that have personally suffered from COVID-19. Others have been impacted by employment issues affecting their family income, which can affect so many other dynamics—including one’s mental and emotional well-being. Some have been so traumatized by the ongoing issues of injustice against persons of African descent that the fight for justice and change have become almost as significantly important as eating.

At our virtual learning hub—taking place at our community development center, Hope Place, on any given day students show up hungry, tired, and/or not knowing what they need to do for their classes. Some of those students had not logged on for any NTI instruction prior to coming to Hope Place, which was already several weeks into the first grading period. Those students are extremely behind and we are working hard to get them caught up. But some live in single parent households where it is difficult to make ends meet. Some of those parents speak very little English and it is difficult for them to assist their children with their homework. I was helping a first grader recently who said he was wearing his dad’s shirt—not because he wanted to, but because he had to. You can imagine how big it was on his little body. When one’s physical and emotional needs are not met, it makes me wonder where learning falls on their hierarchy of needs scale.


When working with the students and talking to their teachers, I get the sense that everyone has a bit of anxiety right now. Nothing is working the way we would like it to. Some teachers are having to manage their own children who are learning at home while also trying to teach their class. That can be more than just a juggle. After-all, quite a few daycares have shut down over the past months, and still a lot of parents are hesitant about taking their kids to daycare due to the threat of exposure to COVID-19. With such a lack of normalcy and so much uncertainty, it is possible for us to lose sight of what God might be up to. It is also possible for us to lose sight of ourselves. Let us always remember who sits in the Captain’s seat, and let us extend grace to one another.

II Corinthians 13:11 tells us: “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (NIV)

In the midst of the struggle, we do have good news to celebrate!  Our In-School Mentoring is up and rolling in Oldham County with seven schools granting permission to have in-person mentoring and two other schools have agreed to allow virtual mentoring. Greater Clark County Schools have been allowing mentoring to occur virtually and we have recently received clearance to have in-person meetings as well.  Please pray for Jefferson County as we have recently received approval to start virtual mentoring.

Another piece of good news –  We just wrapped up two more eight-week sessions of our Juvenile Diversion Program in Jefferson and Oldham counties! We’ve had several challenges (mainly technological) facilitating these sessions virtually, but nonetheless we put our all into them! Please pray for these youth as our hopes are always to empower them to make wise decisions going forward.

Last but not least, please pray for our Hope Collaborative Staff, Volunteers, and the youth we serve. Please cover our schools, students, families, and administration as well.  Proverbs 15:29: “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” (NIV)

The things that we are facing now may seem overwhelming and an impossible task.  But this world has enough resources to overcome some of the major issues we are facing.  For example, the world’s 2,150 billionaires are collectively worth $10 trillion — that’s 30 times the amount needed annually to end extreme poverty.
Stay on your knees in prayer and take action where you can.  Offer grace and compassion to those who need it – not only during this difficult time, but at all times.

Peace & Blessings,
Aubrey R. Williams
In-School Program Coordinator


By | 2020-11-13T15:29:12+00:00 November 13th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Thoughts From a Summer Intern

Camp Hope

“How old are you?”, “Are you in college?”, “Do you drive a car?”, “Do you have a Tik Tok?”, “Can we play with your hair?” All these questions flowed as I introduced myself and took my first steps into my Camp Hope classroom. I’ve always been drawn to minister to middle school girls but being in a class of girls from ages 9-14 while being introduced to the ministry model of trauma-informed care was a completely new experience for me. Throughout the next few weeks of camp, I remembered what it was like to be a middle school girl. I remembered the insecurity, the desire for acceptance, and the need to be heard. I made it my goal to love those girls like Jesus does, to show them that they are loved and that their circumstances do not diminish their value. I made it a point to be 100% myself in hopes that one day they would be able to remember that one intern at Hope Place who wasn’t consumed with what others thought about her. I am so grateful for the work that God did here this summer. In just a few weeks, I saw students think about their words and actions first. I saw students treat others the way they want to be treated. I saw students face anxiety and depression head on. If God can bring this much growth in just a few weeks, imagine what he can do in many more months. My prayer is that these girls would never faint from asking many questions but instead continue to ask about God and his work in their lives. I am grateful for the ministry and impact of Hope Place because lives are being transformed.


Horse Camp

Imagine the most beautiful summer day – a perfect breeze, not too hot, not too cold and just enough sunshine. Nothing was going to stop the students from having a great few days at Horse Camp. Or so I thought. Two students, who I had developed a friendship with over the course of Camp Hope, were terrified to swim or jump off the dock into the pond. They spent most of their time on the sidelines or on a paddle board where they wouldn’t get too wet. I had tried to convince them the water wasn’t too deep and that it was safe to jump in. I would do goofy jumps or have other students make a big splash to convince them it was safe AND fun, but nothing. At least for the first day. I put in the same effort on day two – I was determined to get them to face a fear! As I swam over closer to the dock to check on some students, one of the previously fearful students screamed, “Watch, Miss Morgan” and she began to jump off the dock with little hesitation for the rest of the time in the pool. I was thrilled! A little while later, as I was sitting on my towel in the grass, the second previously fearful student ran up to me and asked if I would go jump off the dock with her. Of course I said yes! As we stepped onto the wobbly dock, I noticed some hesitation began to set in again. She looked at me and said, “I need you to distract me. I’m scared and I don’t think I can do this.” As I began to make silly faces, some other campers came next to her and behind her, supporting and encouraging her to take the leap! Finally, she jumped in! I was overjoyed! In one day, two students had faced a fear they previously refused to even consider. As I was driving home that day, I thought about how I’m so similar to these students. How often does God nudge me to do something and I say no or seek out a distraction? How many times have I seen someone else in the community of faith living out something I’m too fearful to do, only to find out it’s a simple leap of faith? And how often has God provided a distraction from my fear and anxiety, while simultaneously providing a community to cheer me on and support me?

I think I was able to connect with students over the past few weeks of camp because I realized we aren’t that much different. Our struggles and paths may look very different, but there is still a God who desires to know and reach us, even from a wobbly dock. I have learned so much about God’s love and faithfulness, and I pray that my students have as well. There’s so many more stories I could tell of how trauma-informed care at Hope Place is transforming lives. I am so grateful for my experience as an intern and the opportunity to pour into girls from all different walks of life. Hope and transformation have only just begun.

by: Morgan Kast
Hope Collaborative, Hope Place Summer Intern 2020

By | 2020-10-15T12:59:10+00:00 October 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Share Your Story

In his book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old, Parker Palmer writes that mentoring is less about “passing the baton,” and more about inviting young people to “join the orchestra.” This gives mentors the opportunity to help mentees learn to play, but also allows them to teach us the “music” of the emerging world. Plus, in an orchestra, we all have a part – and we get to make music, together.
A part of making music together is being willing to talk with mentees about our mistakes and failures. Palmer recalls sitting with 7 teachers one day at a faculty workshop. All of them had a story of youthful failure that actually led them into something more fulfilling. He asked: How many of you have shared your story with your students? None had. So Palmer challenged them to tell their students their stories of “creative failure.”
Perhaps our children are more likely to learn from us, not when we tell them what to do – or show them how we did something – but when we share our story. This sharing includes things we’ve learned and experiences we’ve had, for sure; but it also includes ways we’ve failed – and what we’ve learned from those failures, and where they took us. Through our openness about our story, maybe young people will see that mistakes are inevitable, that everyone struggles, but also that challenges can be overcome, and even failure can teach them to learn, grow, and move forward. In a time of pandemic, uncertainty, and anxiety, this is a vital message for our young people – in fact, for all of us.

Jeff Dye
In-School Program Coordinator, Oldham County
By | 2020-09-16T12:58:31+00:00 September 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Loving for the Long Haul

My story with Hope Collaborative has been far too brief. I began as an intern with Hope Place in June – the first week of summer camp – and I finished the last week of July. Those first few days I felt as if I had jumped into a river; not a gentle, quiet river but a strong and swift current. As someone who has volunteered countless times for vacation Bible schools, camps and cross-cultural children’s ministry, Hope Place was an abrupt awakening for me. I finished my first week with a smoldering frustration and nagging insecurity, because I really had no idea what I was doing. No matter how many times I broke up fights, they happened again. Raising my voice didn’t seem to magically make the group of young boys in my care sit still. I really was just a body in the room, unnoticed and, according to my own perception, disrespected.  Yet, I realized that God was using this swift river to cleanse me of years of residual pride and confidence in my abilities. Essentially, He was leveling the high places of my heart where I had exalted myself and set up grand plans for this summer and all the things I would teach these children.

A conclusion that I reached: Hope Place is much bigger than me and much greater than my time here. God was at work long before I arrived, and He will continue to work long after I leave. My work was short-term, but His is long-term. While I focus on making the most of MY time, He focuses on building something that will last.

I determined that my next step was to relearn, so I practically pleaded with Kristy to teach me how to BE with the boys. She helped me realize it was more important to build a relationship than control a classroom. It is far more meaningful to earn trust than command obedience. My posture changed from being an achiever to being a learner. I was not really a teacher, not really a leader nor really a captain. My job was simply to be present. I was only one drop of water in this river, and though perhaps I was unnoticed, my efforts and contributions were no less important. It was my job to supervise but not control, listen but not fix, and reprimand but not deride. Every moment I was with the boys was an investment – not in my ego or my résumé, but in their lives and in the long-term ministry of Hope Place. I began to see growth and kindness in the boys where I had only seen defiance before.  When I pointed out the good instead of reprimanding the bad, they began to respond by letting me in to their lives. Truthfully, I learned more from them than I taught them – likely because I stopped trying to teach them and started listening to them.

As I regretfully but gratefully wrap up my time at Hope Place, I look back and see that the greatest lesson Hope Place taught me was LOVE – in its raw form. All of my previous experiences combined had prepared me for maybe an eighth of the work God intended me to do at Hope Place. When God loves He loves for the long-haul. He loves me from the beginning to the end of my sanctification. He loves me through my angry outbursts (although they are internal, they don’t look much different from a 10-year-old boy’s). He loves me through my self-righteousness. His love does not equal approval, but He does not give up. This is the kind of love that Hope Place brings to the community. The staff and volunteers there consider the people living in the neighborhood worth the time and effort it takes to build a relationship with them, demonstrate the love of God and see lasting, eternal growth. This is not a love that comes and goes with feelings or desires, but a love that means consistently making the choice to sacrifice and commit for the good, the bad, and the ugly of life. This is the love of God displayed in the gospel, and His diligent, patient work in our lives. Like Him, those who work and volunteer with Hope Place love for the long-haul.

Mattie Jenkins
Hope Place, Summer Intern

By | 2020-08-25T14:57:03+00:00 August 25th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Mentoring May Be More Important Now Than Ever Before

What interesting times we are in! With so much uncertainty in the atmosphere, what a blessing it is to know that we are able to grasp onto the unchanging hand of our Lord Jesus Christ!  God did not promise us a life without difficulty, but He did promise to see us through if we trust Him! So, let us continue to trust Him in this season as we seek His face collectively.

As we attempt to plan and prepare for the upcoming school year, we are challenged in doing so due to the current state of society as a whole. It has not yet been confirmed how next school year will function, and therefore we are limited in our own capacity to plan adequately. However, we want to be ready to serve our students—whether that be in-person mentoring or virtually. Once we become clear on how schools will operate, we will then begin laying out our procedures for mentoring.

That being said, mentoring may be more important now than ever before. Those of you that have been mentoring students that were already facing significant challenges, can probably assume that those challenges have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. Jefferson County Public Schools reported that thousands of students never logged on once to get their Non Traditional Instruction (NTI). 

My assumption is that those students are some of the ones that were already marginalized, struggling academically and probably in some ways socially; dealing with various issues such as a lack of parental support at home, financial barriers/poverty, technological issues (not having a device and/or WI-FI), drugs and/or violence in their community, etc. Therefore, the disadvantaged have only become more disadvantaged during times like these. Think about it this way: do the students that didn’t log on fail for the school year? Do they get passed? How are they ultimately impacted academically & socially, and therefore in life (both in the short-term and long-term) by this disease? 

This is most certainly a time for God’s chosen ones to sharpen our swords and equip ourselves for the battle ahead. How will we as mentors and servants, confront the issues that our mentees might bring to us following the pandemic and the multiple issues surrounding race? How will your mentees view you as their mentor on the back end of the protests (if there is an ethnicity difference)? Will the protests even be over when school starts? How will your ethnicity and/or their ethnicity meet, either to bring harmony or discomfort to the situation? How will your individual experiences, level of understanding, views & perceptions of reality, and education play a part?

We certainly cannot predict whether or not your mentees will want to explore these topics of race with you. But I cannot imagine, particularly those of us that mentor on the Middle or High School levels, not being met with these conversations. These are not easy discussions to have. However, with the right heart/spirit of compassion, and a desire to act in the love that God gave us and showed us through Christ, true growth as “One Nation Under God” can be experienced.  I personally believe we can bring about the necessary changes to create an equitable and safe society for us all. How much are you willing to learn and grow this summer? How much are we willing to explore and try to truly understand how some are impacted in this society simply by ethnicity?

Peace, Blessings, & Love in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

By Aubrey R. Williams I In-School Program Coordinator
B.A. Psychology with a concentration in African American Studies
Morehouse College

By | 2021-02-04T19:41:24+00:00 July 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Praying for Hope Place


When I first began volunteering for Hope Place, there were no other people in the building.

In those early days, before HPASS kids filled the basement with laughter and conversation, I’d arrive in that eerie calm before the chaos. Soon after, neighborhood kids would bound in  to do their homework, Elevate Dance students would arrive for a lesson, and waiting parents would sit in a circle and pick up last week’s conversations. Life and energy would explode throughout the building.

But when I’d arrive, it was silent. 

As an extrovert with big dreams about the vision and future of Hope Place, it was a little disconcerting to find myself alone. In my mind, I’d expected to forge meaningful friendships with the colorful and interesting women from the neighborhood or gently shape the futures of the shining young students who found refuge in the halls of Hope Place. Instead, in His great wisdom, God brought me into a season of quiet solitude.

There were a few practical things I could do to serve while I was alone. I’d clean out closets or make popcorn for the coming rush of students. I’d sweep the floors or wash discarded dishes. But mostly, I prayed.

I began using my hour alone to pray urgently for the future of Hope Place. I’d pray for the staff and volunteers, who could have easily become overwhelmed and stretched thin. I prayed for the volunteers and ministry teams who’d learn more about their own world as they were immersed in this colorful world of cultures and contexts at Hope Place. And I prayed most of all for the children, women, and families who could potentially have their very first encounter with the loving grace of Jesus when they entered that building. 

I begged God for protection and favor. So many things could impede the purpose and dreams of Hope Place, including neighborhood violence, government interference, division and discord, lack of resources, trauma insensitivity, or other attacks from the enemy. I prayed that God would unite the staff and leaders of Hope Place, and that through their humble, passionate efforts, He would bring about His purposes. 

As I prayed, I began to imagine the transformation that He could accomplish there. I dreamed of unguarded laughter, breakthrough conversations, family transformations, and a shelter in the storm. 

Now, when I volunteer, there are kids everywhere. HPASS leaders genuinely know and love their students. There’s laughter and honest conversations and transformation. It’s everything I prayed for and more.

But as COVID-19 paused the activity in the building, it felt familiar and powerful to return to my old habits. 

In the absence of all the people, I prayed.

Written by:  Carla Williams

By | 2020-06-16T16:34:29+00:00 June 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Court Diversion Workshops Go Virtual

Last week, as they had done many times before, Hope Collaborative volunteers began meeting with students involved in Kentucky’s Pretrial Court Diversion Program. This time, however, the meeting was different. This time, the meetings were done through an internet connection.

Over the past month, amidst school closings and social-distancing measures, Hope Collaborative has been working with both the Court Designated Worker Program (CDW Program) and the Administrative Office of the Courts, to put together online versions of their Community Works Workshops. These workshops, which are a part of the Court Diversion Program, are designed to educate and empower kids who are working to have non-violent misdemeanors expunged from their records.

While education and accountability are key components of the Community Works program, the long-term hope is that, through these workshops, participants are able to develop relationships with caring adults who both support them and see past any legal charge or past decision. In just the two years of operation, there have already been many cases of these relationships continuing with Hope Collaborative volunteers even after the workshops have been completed.

With still many restrictions and shelter-in-place orders in effect, the new online format has presented many new challenges. Engagement and discussion through technology simply is not the same as compared to the in-person sessions that used to take place at three different locations within Jefferson and Oldham County. Despite these obstacles, however, the opportunity remains the same.

Even just a few weeks into curriculum, volunteers have already begun reporting positive interactions and observable changes in participants. In one group, each student was able to share and answer questions about their future goals. Talks of attending college or graduating high school were not only encouraged, but discussion around short-term goals and steps to achieve these dreams were also fleshed out. All of these interactions, despite taking place through a screen, were tiny steps toward change.

After completing the program, every participant will not only be given a certificate of completion, but will also be one step closer to wiping away a past mistake that could have impeded on a bright future. Thanks to the blessing of technology and the hard work of both Hope Collaborative volunteers and CDW Program staff, that process won’t have to be delayed.

Written by: Jason Allen
Hope Collaborative Staff

By | 2020-05-15T16:05:20+00:00 May 15th, 2020|Diversion Program|1 Comment

Vibrant Beauty in Unexpected Places

On a recent Tuesday, as I was waiting in the Hope Place lobby for my daughter to finish her dance class, I glanced at some light switches next to the main entrance. Though they worked well, the switches were dingy, with dirt trapped in the small letters etched into each switch.


In some other contexts, people might be worried about cleaning those switches, making sure they look perfect for all who pass through the building. I smiled, though, when I noticed this small detail, because, in the context of Hope Place, these dirty-but-usable light switches represent a much larger truth.

I have had the distinct privilege of working with Hope Place from very early on. My family and I attended the initial kick-off meeting, excited about this new chapter in the history of this building.

I say new chapter because my history with the Hope Place building extends far beyond Hope Place. I attend Grace Community Baptist Church, which was formed when Lynn Acres Baptist Church and Yorktown Baptist Church, where I attended, merged in 2005. The building that is now Hope Place formerly housed Lynn Acres, so I have gotten to see what’s happened at the building since something as incredible as Hope Place could barely be imagined.

My wife and kids were the first ones to volunteer, helping out with child care during C.O.F.F.E.E. on Friday mornings. In the fall of 2018, though, my wife, Sarah, connected with Lindsay Shores regarding the need for male mentors for elementary-aged boys.

The fact that I connected with Lindsay for this opportunity was full of past connections, similar to my past connections with the building. Lindsay had attended Lynn Acres when it merged with Yorktown. As a result, not only did the Shores and I suddenly attend the same church, they eventually became my youth leaders, as well. Now, after more than a dozen years, I was working with her to become a male mentor for a group that would include her son, Isaiah. When I began as a mentor, Isaiah was just a few years younger than I was when his parents were my youth leaders.

My first few weeks (okay, months) of mentoring certainly had their challenges. The abstract idea of mentoring young boys and actually living that out are often worlds apart. Though I certainly worked to bring about change in my guys’ lives, I began to realize that the most significant changes in their lives probably wouldn’t happen until I let change happen in my own life.

When I started as a mentor, I was trying to tightly control everything that happened. I was always looking for more: better behavior, more efficient use of time, faster results, somehow thinking that I could will my way to seeing life-change in these young men’s lives.

The longer I mentored, though, the more I realized that control is exactly what I did not need. Not that the time I had with my guys should be out of control, but that I needed to focus more on the good that was already there before I could focus on what could be.

Slowly, I began to accept that the craziness and unpredictability that I often experienced as a mentor were not necessarily bad things. Ultimately, they were just things, and I could choose to use those things for building up the Kingdom or for tearing it down.

The outcome would ultimately be determined by my willingness to surrender control of the future of the mentoring class and of these young mens’ lives to God’s sovereignty. To surrender to the God who lovingly stitched together and knew, completely, each of the boys He had entrusted to my care. To surrender to the God who made me and knew all my shortcomings and stubbornness and sin. To surrender to the God who knew the outcome of this class before the world was formed.

Slowly but surely, I relented. Not perfectly, by any means, and not without God revealing more sin in my own heart that I needed to deal with, but still, I was making forward progress. As I did, the most incredible thing began to happen. God opened my eyes, for the first time, to the true beauty of all that was happening at Hope Place. Not just with the guys I mentored, but in all the activities that keep Hope Place humming on a daily basis.

I was realizing, more and more, that the broken people around me at Hope Place were so precious in God’s sight. Not only that, but I was very much myself one of these broken people, precious to and loved by God. Not that I didn’t realize these truths before, but that they took on a much more immediate reality when I gave up control of how I thought things should operate. Instead of chaos, I now saw a buzzing hive of activity that only God could orchestrate.

I would compare what happens at Hope Place to a snowflake. Like a snowflake, the beauty at Hope Place is easy to behold, but only when you look through the right lens (a microscope lens, in the case of a snowflake). Also like a snowflake, though, the beauty at Hope Place is impossible for anyone but God to create.

I thought about all these things as I studied the grubby light switches while waiting for my daughter on that recent Tuesday evening. I whispered, to no one in particular, “those light switches, and that broken door handle, and that stained carpet, they mean so much, you know. After all, though they may be dirty and broken, they are not a lost cause. They are still so important and necessary, and with just a little love, they can be fully restored.”

As it is for the light switches and door handles at Hope Place, so it is for the people at Hope Place, a group of people that I am proud to be counted among.

Written by: Jonathan Fields – Hope Place volunteer

By | 2020-04-15T12:10:02+00:00 April 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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