God Gives Hope In Hard Situations - Letter From Kyle
We have so much to celebrate as we reflect back on all God has done through our church in the past 50 years. The first story we want to share with you shows that God gives hope to hard situations.
That's exactly what has happened over the last decade, as God has been at work through Eastern Hills in the development of three local non-profits which love and serve diverse populations that are in hard situations. The refugee community through Hopeprint. Families with special needs through David’s Refuge. Inner city youth through Pass ‘Da R.O.C.K.
In 2010 Hopeprint started as a potential catch-all organization that the church would use to engage the broader community and serve those in need. Without a clear end in mind, we began faithfully putting the pieces together.
Then God made his purpose clear through former staff member, Nicole Watts, who had recently felt called to move to the north side of Syracuse in order to fully open her life to the refugee community. The identity of Hopeprint came into sharp focus – they would empower resettled refugees within our city to thrive.
The people of Eastern Hills joined the story in lots of different ways but ultimately, they chose to be present in the hard situation of the lives of refugees. This year’s Hopeprint Culture Gala was such a beautiful picture of lives and communities intersecting that I couldn’t help but be in awe of the work God has done.
Watching Warren and Brenda Pfohl walk through their son David’s final days here on earth was both heartbreaking and inspiring. The heartbreak is obvious. Their faith was inspiring. The Pfohls believed that somehow God would meet them in the midst of devastating loss - that God would provide hope to this hard situation.
David died in October of 2009. And exactly two years later, David’s Refuge was born as a new organization that would breathe life into parents of children with special needs or life-threatening illness through weekend respite, helping them to know that they weren’t alone, that God loved them, and that what they did mattered.
Seven years later, David’s Refuge has served over 700 families across central and western New York with an expanded focus on providing opportunities for relationship and community, and encouraging parents toward healthy self-care practices. God gives hope in hard situations. Through their ongoing presence and participation, so many of our congregation have helped shaped this story.
The first time I met Nate Peña was in 2005. He has since confessed to me that he wasn’t sure we would have much in common, and from the surface of things that might seem true.
Nate grew up in poverty in LA and I have always been a FM suburbanite. But we bonded over our love for Christ and sports, and since then we have traveled though quite a few seasons of life together.
Nate inspires me. God got ahold of Nate’s life and he has since given his life to youth that struggle in the same hard situation he grew up in.
Pass 'Da R.O.C.K.’s vision is to redefine the realities of inner city youth from desperation to hope through basketball and mentoring. Nate and his wife, Becca, don’t just talk - they live alongside and within the community they’ve been called to serve.
Through partnership with Eastern Hills, the capabilities of PDR have grown significantly in the past year. Nate has become the full-time director, the board has grown, and the organization now has an official relationship with the Syracuse City School District so that more kids could be served. Another beautiful story of God giving hope in hard situations.
In every one of these instances, God’s formula for bringing hope to hard situations was the same. Hope came through a person whose life God had been at work in. They were obedient in answering God’s call to be present in hard places. And when these leaders invited others join them, the beauty began to multiply: as people join others in hard situations they too get to experience God.
This has happened for the people of Eastern Hills in countless ways. We too have experienced God and the faith, hope, and joy that comes from joining with him!
I hope you can join us this weekend as we Celebrate what God has done through Eastern Hills! Keep an eye on your email later this week, I’m excited to tell you about some opportunities we have to Catalyze Hope for a school in Syracuse.