Spring of Hope launched in April of 2002 as a handful of teenagers wanting to share some joy and life to the less noticed seniors in the Waco community. However, before a few years had passed, we had grown in size and perhaps at least a little in skill. We were singing weekly in nursing homes and retirement centers around central Texas and loving it. The contagion of faith is never contained within our expectations. Soon we began to dream of having a place local to so many of the needs we saw in the east Waco area. We wanted to reach honest hearts and communicate to all who would listen the message of the overcoming triumph of grace. We keep finding such brothers and sisters. From January 2007 when we all committed to a mortgage on an old retail place, it’s never ceased expanding. In prisons around Texas, at Teen Challenge centers abroad, to youth of troubled backgrounds, and still every week to the elderly, hope is springing up! 😉 Learning to LIVE and give the faith we profess–and doing so only by the power of God’s Spirit–that is still what all our efforts are about.
Voice in the Wilderness Chapel: Our more than adequate auditorium began as no more than a rundown retail place–a conglomerate of many different building additions and remodels. Our chapel boasts five different floor levels and lame structural angles sufficient to frustrate the most patient carpenter. Yet, somehow it’s always seemed the perfect atmosphere for hearing and believing the radical promises of regeneration God offers to lives just as deteriorated. In fact, after this many years of prayer and faith, visitors often comment that the place seems sacred and even beautiful. What we know is sacred is the unity and truth felt and heard among God’s people. Sunday morning services begin at 10:30, Wednesday evening service is at 7:30, followed by a sit down meal.
HANDS OF MERCY: Dedicated to encourage many of those most needy for comfort and mercy in our area—the elderly, the sick, the lonely—this team of singers and mercy warriors has become a regular fixture at more than half-a-dozen old-folks homes around Waco. As smaller groups of three or four, they also regularly visit and sing to various individuals, many of them bedridden and in need of encouragement.
It was ten years this past April since a handful of eager teenagers marched into Meadowlands Terrace to hold our first music service. We sang that day to wonderful folks who’s faces and personalities cling to my memory still. They were seniors from all walks of life—WWII vets, retired politicians, business people, cotton farmers—reminders of a not so distant era in our country’s history. The outreach ministry (SHM) that many of us feel privileged to share in today began in those old folks’ homes. We wanted to bring some sunshine of hope and joy into those dingy homes and I think we did. However, I’m sure they had a greater influence on us than we on them. Maybe the nostalgia of these memories explains some of my excitement concerning our current new nursing home team. The current group is full of new energy and purpose, contributed by the recent batch of young people to assume the responsibility of its mission. Daniel and Dara Saylor and Brian Claborn coordinate and oversee this team (comprised of around 18 enthused young people) and it’s varied activities.
PRISON MINISTRY: While our ventures into the various state and local correction centers are not without their regular obstacles and interruptions, our faithful team of men and women continue to arm themselves with truth and march through those iron doors each week in hopes that one more soul may respond to the power of so great a love as we’ve been shown. How many times this inflexible system has aborted our well meant plans, I couldn’t count. However, before yielding to Mr Quitter’s great temptation, we recall those snatched from the fire who now thrive in our midst as beacons of hope and we go again. Just seeing the face of one man from the prison here in Waco whom we baptized, participating in our Monterrey church fair, was enough to fan the flame of perseverance anew.
TEEN CHALLENGE: Certainly, it is time more than anything else that can prove how durable our efforts are in this field. However, I just love seeing in our Wednesday services the sun-burnt faces of so many guys, given the chance to come here and work to support their mission. So much possibility and promise invites them out of the broken patterns of their past and into the narrow but good way of life. Last Sunday, a real inspiration to all of us who’ve labored in this field was to see one who came to us from this arena baptized as a committed and true brother.
PRACTICAL VENTURES: I still can’t take for granted the wonderful new auditorium we now meet in. We dream and plan for so long that when we actually succeed in such an endeavor, one can’t help feeling elated with gratitude for God’s truly gratuitous provision.
The music sounds infinitely better than in the low-ceiling chapel. We can now easily accommodate 360 without feeling like caterpillars in a pile. 😉
Every week another vestige of our former warehouse is replaced by an enhancing feature. It’s still just as ugly on the outside but I like to think that there’s something symbolic about our outreach sanctuary being well hid in the rough exterior of army green warehouse cinder block.
Boy, does that AC system work! The ceiling is flat black with the trusses visible, at least if you can see past the lighting. The floor is several shades of grey concert. The chairs are of three different makes and color. The platform is just stained plywood. However, we are happier with this auditorium that we cut and shaped out of a 70 year old warehouse shell, than if we were meeting in some red-carpeted chapel with stained glass windows.
We have yet to finish the offices behind the stage. Pablo has quoted Daniel 3k to cut out and replace our current dangerous ramp with one at the appropriate grade. The new bathrooms will add 8 facilities to our current restroom accommodations. They should be complete within 3 weeks. Bro John V. has offered to help us finish and paint the entire exterior of both buildings soon. The windows will need extensive caulking and minor trim work before we’ll be ready for paint.
“We work the field of souls, together you and I
Some fields are blooming now, other fields are dry
We are not the same but differences aside
We will work the field of souls, together you and I
One is off to foreign soil to work a distant land
Another anchors close to home to hold a neighbor’s hand
Who has served the Father most and who has labored best
That life devoted to our God, that devotion will be blessed”
–The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir