A Day of Hope

April 19, 2010

Last week I had meetings every night but Wednesday. Two of those were in preparation for last Saturday’s event: Day of Hope. What an incredible event! Twenty-eight local churches, 32 nonprofit organizations, 30 financial sponsors, 8 health agencies, cooperation from the city government to offer the event on the courthouse lawn… 900 volunteers served more than 2,300 people who had all kinds of needs. Many of them were out of work. Some were homeless. Others told stories of desperation. But no one left the premises without a bag of food and a heart full of hope.

Activities included a children’s tent full of fun for kids and their parents. The children also heard about the love of Jesus from a kid-friendly stage presentation. Adults received help with writing resumes. A few local businesses set up a job-fair tent and actually had openings to hire some people. Medical professionals gave health screenings. Local bands and dancers provided free entertainment. And volunteers handed out 40,000 pounds of non-perishable groceries in bags to every adult guest. Gary and I worked in the prayer tent, helping entertain the children of people who expressed spiritual needs. If they (the adults) requested prayer, two trained people (from various churches) took them aside to listen, encourage and pray. About 170 people got personally acquainted with the Savior. Their lives will change forever because of last Saturday, not because of what we did, but because they met the One who was in charge of it all.

The point: the follow-up. A number of churches had planned special events to follow up with Day of Hope guests. People are already assigned to those who came to Christ. They’ll need encouragement and nurture in their new faith. And lots of prayer. Hopefully, the event will be a catalyst for us to live differently, not one day out of the year, but every day.

I wonder if compassion is really a way of life for me? It’s so easy to ignore need. After so many scams, frequent warnings about stolen identity, syndicated begging, drug addicts with sob stories… there are calluses on my heart. How would Jesus handle those people who ask? What would He say to those who think they’re so far gone, they won’t even bother to ask? In the ugly face of urban desperation, I feel so small and insignificant. Even if I’m sensitive to the situation, I’m extremely limited in what I can do about it. So I let that stop me and I don’t do anything.

I pray for tenderness where God filed the calluses last Saturday. I pray that when God gives me opportunity to exercise His compassion, He will remind me of His perspective. And I’ll also pray for courage to follow His lead.