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May 2024 From the Desk of Dave McLean

We Are A Home, A Family And A Church I tell people who come to A Ray of Hope that we are a resort. We’re a last resort, but we are a resort. People only choose A Ray of Hope as a last resort. Maybe, sometimes we’re elevated to a second to last resort, as at the time there may be a worse option. But that’s only because they don’t know who we are or what we’re like. But, in general, I know where we rank, at first glance. But the longer people stay, their opinions tend to change. If you visit our homes and property, it doesn’t look and feel like a homeless shelter at all. In truth we’re not a homeless shelter, because when they arrive and are welcomed into our family, they now have a home. No one here is homeless. As a matter of truth, they are now part of a family that cares for them in a way they most likely have never been cared for. Our vision is for them to see Christ here. I have to say that I am so amazingly blessed in the ways that I see Christ here. I receive great joy as I see our staff- who are mostly serving for little compensation by comparison, but for great reward- love on those who have many needs. Can you imagine spending a great part of your life living where people prey upon you and hurt or use you and then at one of your lowest points moving into a home where people take interest in your needs and work to help you and serve you for the glory of God. As a pastor friend of mine says; we’re not here for “a bed and beans”, we’re here to solve physical, emotional and spiritual problems. Rightly connecting a person to God will provide the foundation for healing and health for the challenges they face. It’s night and day- literally. Not all are ready to leave behind the habits, and vices, but for those who are, they are so thankful, joyful and blessed. It is their joy, and the Lord’s joy that bring my joy. I don’t just belong to this “church” called A Ray of Hope, I’m in love with this church, which is really the people. We worship the Lord here; we pursue the Lord here. We work together, we serve together, we live together and we solve together. It feels like a large family or a small community, like a church, a very functioning church. According to the principles of God’s Word, we are a church. Christ is our only hope of healing and growing, and if we pursue anything less, we can only expect less. We will have those who leave or are asked to leave because they are not ready to honor the rules or carry their responsibilities. God requires truth and change, and we are gentle in the process, but, we are not here to enable that which brought them here. When I first started serving here years ago, it was awkward for me. I also looked upon our guests as those who were foolish for making poor decisions, but I now see my perceptions were wrong. As I get to know our guests, I see beautiful people who are in need of someone to come along beside them and show them their worth in our Creators eyes. Our Lord created them, and our Lord died for them. I can tell you, almost without fail before I meet them, that they were hurt deeply by one or more people that they relied upon for their care and trust. They were too young to take on their hurt and it festered into bitterness, disloyalty and self-destruction. It breaks my heart to see the hurt that a trusted loved one starts and then see the one hurt continue the process in hurting themselves and possibly others. If you teach a child that they are worthless, sadly, more than likely they will come to believe it and live it. These are the hurts that bring guests to our doors, and we are happy to welcome them in. I am seeing many come out of their bitterness and forgiving their offenders. If there is a dysfunction, there is a hurt behind it. We must look past the things that are uncomfortable for us and allow them to take us to their inner most hurts and pains. Then we must be trustworthy to heal the brokenhearted and share with them God’s hope, purpose and a future. This healing and transformation from a broken and lost heart to a whole and God centered heart takes years or even a lifetime, but I see this progress every week and it is exciting to see them blossom. It also helps to understand that those who hurt you were once hurt themselves, and we can have compassion on them for that. You have been created for a purpose by the One who is beautiful and powerful, you are not what others may have convinced you to believe. Let’s forgive them, love them and rise to the calling of God the Almighty! It is only through the forgiving of our enemy that our enmity will fade away and in its place will rise the person we’ve always hoped to be. A sure sign of our healing is when we go beyond forgiving and show compassion and love to them. It is here that they see the love that Jesus has extended to us, and it is here that Jesus sees that we understand the love that He has extended to us. We were at one time His enemy, and all He did was continue to love us. Rest assured they are in need of healing also, otherwise they wouldn’t have hurt you. Vision, purpose, life and love- I cannot imagine going forward without them, and in truth you really can’t! This is why we are not a shelter; we are a church home or a home church depending on how you see it. God cares deeply about those hurting, because He knows how they’ve been hurt, and he wants to see them healed. He also knows that they need more than beds and beans to be helped. Beds and beans don’t bring the joy that discovering God face to face and heart to heart bring. Discovering God lifts them up “with wings as eagles”, and if I might add, lifts the rest of us up right along with them! There truly is no greater Joy!!! Amen? Amen! Dave

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