Just over a year ago, at the beginning of January 2016, I invited you as a congregation to begin praying about the possibility of renovating the house on our property so that it might be used as a source of temporary shelter for refugees entering the country. We began a process lasting several months that included opportunities to learn more, pray, and discern together whether this might be the direction God was leading this church. While we understandably did not all agree, the church voted to move for-ward with this project, and we began demolition work on the house last May.
From the beginning, I acknowledged that in order for this renovation effort to happen, we would have to trust God to provide the volunteers and the resources. Throughout the process, we have been blessed to have representatives from about 10 different churches participate in hands-on work on the house. We have received sufficient financial support from a variety of Baptist groups, churches, and individuals to pay for all the work that has been done. Some professional contractors have given us amazing deals on their work, and we have had some contractors who have charged us only for materials purchased while donating their labor costs. I certainly had no idea exactly how this process was going to work when it began, but I have seen many examples of God’s faithfulness in providing exactly what was needed at just the right time.
Thankfully, we are now ready to move furniture into the house and begin welcoming families and individuals in transition and in need. We will be hosting a Service of Dedication/Open House on Sunday afternoon, March 5 at 3:00 pm. We invite you to join us as we dedicate this home to the work of God’s Kingdom. You will then have a chance to see the house and enjoy some light refreshments. For those of you who remember the old offices, I truly believe you will be impressed by how nice the house now looks.
While we are still waiting to see how the political situation will unfold as it relates to refugees, we have been in conversation with World Relief Durham, and it looks there is a family who will be our first guests in the house soon after the Service of Dedication/Open House. This family includes a mother with a possible cancer diagnosis and two teenage children. We will share more details in the weeks ahead and let you know how we might be able to support and minister to them, but I invite you to pray for the ministry of Hope House, the first family who will stay with us, and for those who will be our guests in the months and years ahead.
Tony Campolo tells the story of a day when a man brought his young adult son into Campolo’s office and pushed the son into a chair. The father then began to make it known in no uncertain terms that he was unhappy with the way his son had turned out. “I sent him to college to get a good education, to make something of himself, and people like you got his head turned around. Look at him now. He’s doing mission work. He’s out on the streets with pimps and whores and drug pushers. He’s given away his money to poor old ladies. He’s living like a pauper and all he cares about is reaching out to the losers of the world.” Then the father added, “Don’t get me wrong, Campolo, I don’t mind being Christian – up to a point!”
Campolo notes that when he tells that story, there are always waves of snickering and laughter that go through the congregation, and then he reminds his listeners, “Aren’t we all that way? Aren’t we all ready and willing to be Christians – up to a point? And shouldn’t we all realize that if we want to be true followers of Jesus we will have to move beyond that point?”
Campolo has a knack for challenging hearers and readers at the very core of our being and the foundation of our faith. In a world where there is much debate about what it means to be Christian and what the church needs to be and do, we must begin by hearing and obeying the call of Jesus who told us in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” It is never enough to be Christian or follow Jesus – up to a point. We must offer God all of ourselves and hold nothing back from him. We must prayerfully consider what we must leave behind in order to follow Jesus. Let us, then, commit ourselves to praying that God will help us know how to move deeper in our commitment and service to Christ and God’s Kingdom. Join me in praying that God will help us see what attitudes, actions, thoughts, and priorities need God’s transforming touch.