An Old Man and a Boy
This month, we wanted to share a story from an urban ministry organization from whom we have learned so much: The Bridge Ministry of Acadiana. While we are starting our second year of urban ministry, the Bridge is completing their tenth year of effective ministry. In this story, one of their volunteers looks back over the last ten years and realizes how much God has transformed him through that ministry. I believe this story sums up one of the great gifts of urban ministry. As we teach 9 year olds how to read, God teaches 49-year olds how to love as He does.
The other night I was getting ready for the neighborhood Men’s Bible Study when a 6’4” young man walked in and looked at me with a bright smile. My heart leaped as my mind immediately flashed back 9 years ago when this young man was ten.
He came over, hugged me and began telling me that he had thought of me often. He told me how much he appreciated the Bridge being there every day for them. He knew that he would not be where he is today without us.
I then flashed back to our first summer camp nine years ago, when I asked him and nine other boys what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their silent response and blank stares startled me as I saw that they had no dreams. One year later, this young boy told me that he wanted to become a lawyer. He had a dream! So, I looked up and asked the tall young man in front of me now, “Are you working on becoming a lawyer?” With his great smile, he said, “Yes”.
I told him that I remember at the funeral of the Youth Coordinator, how impressed I was when he, out of our 30 children, boldly stood up in front of a few hundred people. With a presence beyond his 12 years, he spoke about this man he had respected, loved and lost. I knew then that this young man was going to be an extra special man someday.
I was fighting back tears just looking at him now. I told him he was going to be a very good lawyer, but more importantly a great man, husband, father, and community leader. I told him how proud I was of him and that I loved him. I told him that he had a good mind and a caring heart, and a gift for speaking. “God has blessed you to bless others.”
Again, he thanked me. Then I thanked him. With a curious look he questioned why I had thanked him. I explained that an older man, like myself, needs a boy, like yourself, to have meaning and purpose in life. I told him that us older guys need you younger guys, as much or more than you younger guys need us older guys. “You see my young friend, through you, God has enlarged my heart and brought me closer to Himself.” Just an old man and a boy.
I appreciate the Bridge allowing me to share this story. Ministry is a two way street. When we participate in God’s redemptive work in others, God does His own redemptive work in us. At New Hope, we want to encourage you not merely to read about God’s redemptive work, but participate in His redemptive work in the world. Change the world by demonstrating God’s love to others; you will never be the same!
Resource of the Month
New Hope Community Development of Acadiana
One year ago, New Hope’s tutoring program had 10 volunteers – half of them had the last name Newman. We tutored 16 children twice each week. Things weren’t pretty. We had our share of playground fights. We had 8 children on our waiting list for four months because we were stuck at 10 volunteers. We turned our faces to God and pleaded for His direction and aid. Then February, God performed some miracles. The Director of the J Carlton James Center realized that we had two kids who were disrupting our entire program. He kicked them both out. Peace entered the program. Shortly afterwards, two organizations partnered with us, providing us with 16 additional volunteers.
This fall, New Hope Community Development of Acadiana began to tutor three days each week. This December, we have 40 children enrolled in our tutoring program and have over 50 volunteers. We are blessed to have formed strategic partnerships with over a dozen organizations, including: Alpha Phi Alpha, AmeriCorp, Love, Inc., National Society of Black Engineers, Lafayette Kiwanis Club and the Black Male Leadership Association.
For New Hope to continue to grow, we need God to continue performing miracles. With 40 kids and almost 60 volunteers, we now need two part-time interns to help us run the program. That will cost us about $800 each month. We are planning a four-week summer program that will cost $6,000. We are outgrowing our current tutoring facility. We have room for about 5 more students. We are trusting God to help us acquire a house in the neighborhood for tutoring our middle schoolers and for Bible Studies.
Lastly, Kris and I are doing this ministry full time. There are many of you that have supported us in order to make New Hope’s ministry possible. This May, we took a financial step of faith. Kris left her part-time job so she could focus all of her energy on expanding our ministry. We would ask that you would consider partnering with us this coming year.
If you would like to support Kris and me personally, please send your tax-deductible gifts to:
PO Box 91865
Lakeland, FL 33804
Write “New Hope, Lafayette” on the memo line
If you want your gifts to go directly to the tutoring program, please send your tax-deductible gifts to:
New Hope Community Development of Acadiana
PO Box 53654
Lafayette, LA 70505-3654
Thank you for your continued support, prayers and encouragement.
John & Kris