Hope Happens

Sharing Hope: Mariah's Story

"This past Club Hope has to be one of the best Club Hopes I’ve ever been too. Not much had changed. There was nothing new to add the the agenda. No crazy behavior other than kids being kids. But for me this was so altering for my heart. God had been preparing me for this club beforehand.

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You see, I have this tendency to go to Club Hope with a certain agenda and expectations. I’m going to make sure the kids aren’t too crazy and the behavior is always controlled. I’m going to dig deep into the personal stuff and pull out what’s been going on. (Lots of pride from me huh?)
But a friend of mine sent me a verse that God was stirring in my heart: 'How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?' (‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I had been doing that a lot lately and not even realizing it. I would go in and try to do things by my own effort and walk away frustrated or disconnected or both.

Today was different.

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Today I came and I just wanted to love the kids. I didn't want to change behaviors or force conversation. I just wanted to understand where they were at. I just wanted to love them with no expectations in return. It seems simple but sometimes life and your own plans have a way of complicating things and missing the whole point.

There was one girl in particular - one I met at Impact Clubs this year. I was the one who went to her house and found her family and brought them. She remembered me when I didn't remember her. She just slid up next to me and hugged me. And when I realized who she was, it was like God was showing me how much He's still using me even when I forget or get caught up in little things. Her face was just so glad to see me and be near me. It was like I understood what God wants from us. I was just really humbled today.

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The story doesn’t end there.

During group time they made me almost cry. At one point one of the girls started talking about fear and how she gets that feeling of fear like someone is walking behind her waiting to attack her but in reality there is no one there. A lot of the other girls agreed. And so I asked them what they did to make the fear go away. Some said think positive or think other thoughts. I asked them what happens when that didn't work? They just said they stayed afraid.

As I kept questioning them, I asked them, "what do we actually do for you? Why are you here? What’s the point of you being here? Sure we provide a safe place for now but what happens when you go back home? What do you get here that you bring back home?" (My tone was forceful, almost accusative because I wanted them to understand that I wanted real answers--not just answers they'd think I'd like.)

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One girl answered "You give us hope."

My heart just broke. Like wow. Hope. Real tangible hope. Real truth. That no matter what God is always with them. God is powerful and true. That they can believe that no matter what comes their way. That God sees EVERYTHING that is happening in their lives. He see all the pain and sorrow and moments that life brings and he CARES. He cares about them so much and they can believe that.

I told them all of that and it's so crazy to be privileged to be the one to declare these truths to them. They just let me speak and they even gave their feedback but ultimately today they just needed to know God cares.

It’s so simple that it’s easy to miss. I’m so glad I put my perspective right so I didn’t miss it.
 

Hope Happens: Changed

This week’s Hope Happens story is about a little boy who has come to Club Hope since Hope for Kids was founded. This guy was always known for being off the walls crazy and rambunctious, and never wanting to follow the rules! Time after time we had to suspend him from our events because of lack of obeying or following rules. Yet Hope for Kids never lost their love for this child, and continued to invest in home through personal visits, taking he and his family out to eat, and most importantly- prayer. Well, for a few months Hope for Kids lost contact with this family, and didn’t see him at any of their events for a while, when finally, just this past Saturday, he finally came to Club Hope! However, this young boy was a completely different person on the inside. Everyone was shocked at how well behaved and respectful he was. God has a plan for him. A very specific plan. And He is at work in his young life, and through endless prayer and consistent investment, we are lucky enough to witness firsthand just how the hope of Jesus Christ can change a life, no matter how young!

Hope Happens: No Fear

At our January Club Hope event, I had the privilege of teaching one of the younger girl’s small groups! I’ve just recently started working with this age group, and I love getting to connect with these girls so much.

The memory verse we learned in small group that day was about Abraham’s faith, and we talked about what it meant to believe that God had a plan even when we couldn’t see what was coming next. This group of girls had a TON of energy that day, so after we worked on the verse for awhile we played a game before I tried to settle them down. Just before they were about to leave for the bus ride home, we sat down and one of the girls volunteered to pray. Somehow she still was pretty wound up and kept fading into a giggle fit every time she started to pray. It was pretty funny at first, but after about ten false starts, I felt prompted to ask the girls about what prayer meant to them.

We started talking about how when we prayed, we could have faith that Jesus was right in the room, listening to us talking to Him. We talked about how we could just tell Him whatever was on our mind, and He didn’t mind if we had our words perfectly figured out–He loves us, and He hears us.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
-Matthew 7:11

The little girl locked eyes with me and calmed right down while I was talking–I could tell she was really listening. Then she asked to pray again, but this time she was completely focused as she prayed for her family and thanked God that we could all be together at Club Hope.

This girl’s prayer reminded me of something my mom had been dealing with that week with my five-year-old brother. He’s been learning how to write his alphabet, but whenever my mom sat down to teach him, he would start getting really goofy and end up scribbling. After a couple days of this, my mom prayed about what to do because it was getting really frustrating. The next day when my brother started getting off-track again, my mom asked him if he was afraid of making a mistake. The little guy said yes and started crying, and my mom was able to talk to him about how he doesn’t need to be afraid.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that even happy little kids can be so scared of failure, whether it’s while they’re at school, playing sports, or even praying aloud. Sometimes all it takes to chase that fear away is a reminder that they are loved.

Something that never fails to blow me away when I really think about it is this: God delights in me.

“As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.”

-Psalm 16:3

He loves each of His children far, far more than any human mind could ever comprehend. I’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve this love, but He protects, forgives, and cherishes me anyway. If I could share one thing with all the children we reach that could shape the foundation for the rest of their lives, it would be this: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment…We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:18a,19)

These kids often have so many reasons to be afraid, but we serve a God of unfailing love. He loves to hear our prayers! When you have the opportunity to remind a child of this, it’s amazing to see the difference in their prayer.

Hope Happens: the latest stories

Hope Happens videos feature stories of how God has worked through our ministry. Find even more videos on our Youtube channel!


Last week we had the opportunity to visit a family who had moved away from Hope for Kids!

It was so fun to reconnect with them and it truly proved how lasting and strong relationships built on hope can be. Please comment below if YOU would like to be a part of your own Hope Happens project!


Cameron shares the story of our most recent outreach opportunity–an Impact Club at a Springfield shelter! 


Cameron shares the story of how one family experienced hope through a personal visit!


Jeremiah shares the story of how taking the time to invest in one child made all the difference at a recent Club Hope event!


Cameron shares the story of how a simple act of kindness shared God’s love with a hurting child.