Conversation is the important element of the ministry of Street Hope. We have several regularly scheduled programs but these are not the essence but instead provide the occasion for conversation. I get to ask and answer innumerable questions over the course of time. These are the times I live for!
With the help of our friends from Penfield we put on a Turkey and fixings supper for folks in our community. As one fellow was being served he asked me “Why do we make such a big deal about Christmas?” I began to explain that I saw the crèche as a launching pad. God had sent his Son (It never hurts to refer to John 3:16 because it is one verse most folks still have heard of.) on a mission to rescue humanity. I recalled to him that the birth announcement included the words “a saviour is born”. Christmas standing alone means little apart from the saving activity of Christ. The whole scope of Jesus’ biography need to be taken into account, from the crèche to the cross! Then he asked me one more question. He had probably heard a thousand ‘soup kitchen’ sermons in his time and remained unconvinced. “Why are you Christians so hung up on the cross?” He hurled the question at me. When I get a question like that two answers always occur to me one for me to keep to myself and one to share. When asked “Why we are hung up on the cross?” I immediately thought “Because Jesus was hung up on a cross! If we want to be like him we should be too.” The one I gave the gentleman more closely resembled Jesus’ conversation with the folks on the Emmaus Road. “And beginning with Moses and the prophets he explained to them what was said in scripture about himself” Luke 24:27. (I have found it is better to follow Jesus’ example than to be clever.) The fellow listened attentively yet sceptically but the other 4 -5 people at the table also listened. Jesus was born to die. He was born to save us. He was born to break the chains of slavery and usher in a final exodus and to establish the Kingdom of our God!
I have never seen those folks in a church service, though they might well attend without me knowing, but I do know that in those few minutes they heard “Good News”. This Good news excites me to no end and it is a thrill to be able to share it. The key for us at Street Hope is to create the conditions under which these conversations can naturally take place.
One of my friends, someone who attends most of our ‘anchor’ events, has begun to have these Good News conversations with people throughout his week. He texted me the other day to pray for him as he chatted with someone. Street Hope is a school of discipleship for him!
We don’t feed hundreds regularly. We do not help people out financially. I often say “I’d rather be your friend than your banker”. There is a whole world of things we do not do. There are a few things we do well. Conversation, especially over coffee is one of them.
We pray that 2017 will be a conversation laden year for Street Hope and that as the Good News is shared that God by his Holy Spirit will work in lives so as to transform them into his image.
Thank you for your support. As my mom used to say “Keep your fork, the best is yet to come!”