Midnight Concrete [video]

After tying in rebar and building the forms for the new fellowship hall foundation until 1:30am, the guys came back at 4:30am and started pouring concrete! Many hands make quick work (especially with the aid of time-lapse… 😉 ) Click “read more” to see for yourself!

Welcome!

Hello all,
As mot of you might know, on Wednesday nights we have met in our building in downtown Waco – a building that we acquired in 2007 in an effort to reach out to people living in less than desirable conditions in the slums of Waco. In time, we found our efforts of evangelism shifting more to our own young people and to those relatives and friends who had come to know us at our community property – Brazos de Dios – and the local community at large, and wanted to begin worshipping with us. So, in the spring of this year – in keeping with that shift – we decided to make a move out to our community property, and have been meeting in the large auditorium we have for Easter and Christmas services and other larger services. However, our desire from the beginning has been to build a smaller building, perhaps more suited to the size we are as a Wednesday night group.

And so…Welcome to our new blog! Last week we broke ground on our new fellowship hall, and have been working on it (as you will see) literally night and day in hopes of meeting our goal to have it ready for use next March! Follow here as we post updates on this project that is so exciting for us, and that we hope is exciting for you. Along the way, we may share news of what God is doing in other places, too – it seems God is doing a lot in many places all over the world, and we hope these updates will inspire and encourage you to be all that you can be for His kingdom.

Try Again!

Lately I’ve been reading in the book of Acts about Paul’s efforts to do God’s will. Undaunted by other’s opinions and his own failures to understand perfectly what God might have been saying the first couple times, he kept moving and knocking on every locked door, until the right one was opened—Macedonia.
Although human beings in general long for success, what we’re so often unwilling to do is to try every door until it’s opened. We don’t realize that success, victory and ultimately the will of God, come through trying, failing, getting back up and trying again.

So we, at Spring of Hope Ministries have committed to try. If we fail, we try again.
I think of one small story. Two of the girls decided on Valentine’s day, a couple years ago, to make beautiful, heart-shaped cakes to sell at a dog show in Austin. The great “idea”, along with money, time and energy was literally wasted on the cement sidewalks and municipal dumps of the “big city.” The poor girls headed home with broken spirits and empty purses. “We need to make the money back,” Asi said. “Let’s make breakfast burritos Sunday morning after Church.” Now, two years later, this seemingly small idea, with the intent of only paying back the lost money of the audacious venture, has helped to support the ministry ever since. Needless to say, “God works all things for the good.” Even when one idea fails, it helps to spawn a better one that just might succeed! And when we all work together, dreams do come true.

I remember the crushed feeling a couple years ago of trying, with everything I had, to help a hurting family that was coming for awhile—the time we spent together, the phone calls, the trips to and from their home an hour away—only to have it all hurled back in our faces. We were forced to ask, “Is all this expenditure of recourses, emotion and care really worth the probability of failure?” Well, it is worth it to love, it’s worth it to sacrifice, because really, love is its own reward. And when you know you’re doing all you do for God, Who is love, your life becomes meaningful and worth it, regardless of whether people accept or reject your hand.

I believe that the biggest victories we have seen yet, have come on the crashed waves of some of the biggest failures. The song rings true “fantasies and illusions will drift out with the tide, but if you’re dream is from heaven, those waters will soon divide!” Not only will we see the “big waves” rolling in with high crests of excitement, but I believe all the waters, even those deep with seeming impossibility, will soon divide and we’ll be walking on dry ground.

We’ve just got to keep trying, trying trying!

–Ephratah Stein

Hands of Mercy—Signals of Hope

The lifeless, dry atmosphere of Quality Care is the last place you might expect to find a bubbling fountain of hope. I think this challenge to love’s mission has made Quality Care a favorite for me from the start. To needy people, unaccustomed to being cared for, a word of kindness can be like a cup of cool water to the captive of the desert.
The gentle demeanor and childlike sincerity of one particular lady sticks in my memory. Though I’m in my early twenties and she’s near ninety, I feel as if we’re friends. I have been seeing Mrs. Dowers every month for a little over a year now. Since our second visit, I have prayed that the love shared between us would not dissipate with each time lapse, but be remembered and accumulate as a memorial of hope and encouragement during her lonely times.
When I knew that we would be able to see her again this week, I felt excited with anticipation. As we sang out the first few songs, I could see her, eyes closed, soaking up the meaning in each word and the feeling from every note.
Daniel admonished: “treat each new step of obedience as if your salvation depends on it, which in fact it does. It is the ongoing faith of obedience that prevents our hope, endurance—our relationship with God from becoming stagnant.”
When a person knows they’re on the platform, waiting for the last train, they catch every word of instruction, every signaled whistle, every motion of the Conductor’s hand.
It’s rewarding beyond words to imagine that God could be using such as us to pass His signals of love along the line of waiting passengers—”People get ready; there’s a train a-coming. You can let go of all the baggage of earthly things, the fears of inadequacy. Just keep pace with every word and signal from your Captain because faith is your key. Just get on board.”

A thankful team member

Possessing Your Soul by Patience

An Outline to a Message By A. Z. Adams, February 2010

What is this Birthright to Me?

Genesis 25:29-34:   Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary. “Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day. And Esau said,”Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”  Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Three insights into Esau’s fall:

  1. Esau’s great temptation and fall began with an unfounded weariness in doing good. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:8-9).”
  2. He then succumbed to a deceiving attitude of self-pity when he rationalized his brash forfeiture of God’s will and blessing by exaggerating the nature of his troubles. The writer of the book of Hebrews speaks to just such an attitude in the twelfth chapter, the third verse: “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin (Heb:12:3-4).” Esau was not about to die!
  3. By giving great significance to the base appetites and impulses of his flesh, Esau actively despised God’s sacred gift—his birthright.

How Could I Succumb to Such a Sin?

Impatience is becoming weary of waiting for the right time until one is consumed with anxiety for the present and acts stupidly. Impatience can only take full possession of a heart that has lost gratitude and joy for God’s undeserved mercy.

Allowing an attitude of impatience to smolder in your mind is like puncturing a tiny hole in a giant sea wall. Through such a breach, will eventually flood a torrent of frustration, anger and bitterness as to drown the tenuous faith of any believer.  I was in a conversation last night with a young person whose life I believe is becoming a tragedy of just this sort of destructive spirit of impatience. Impatience is a symptom of a complete lack of vision or at least a shortsightedness that equals blindness. This particular individual was, at one point, committed to doing the will of God and waiting on His promises. Somehow, when circumstances didn’t line up with his wishes after a snap of a finger, he became weary in well doing. This young person was able to forget the gratitude and joy that once filled his heart when God gave him a chance to climb out of the pit of sin and begin the walk of faith.

Impatience is forgetting what once inspired and gave us hope. It is looking instead down at our feet in frustrated despair; grumbling as if our present wilderness was God’s promised Canaan.

Jesus speaks of God’s work in our lives in terms of the expensive, time-consuming task of constructing a building or tower that will stand against earthquakes, wind and rain storms and the general use that time will inflict upon it. Imagine if that house or tower under construction could talk. Would it demand an explanation for the endless and merciless cutting of the saw or chipping of the chisel? Would it wince and whine every time the hammer hit? Would it question and protest against the layers of paint which threaten to smear over it’s newly gained identity and image? You answer, “no, for apart from all this harsh dealing it would have no form, image or existence.”  This truth is obvious with an inanimate object like a building, a clay vessel or a tool. But somehow we humans, though acknowledging we are God’s workmanship with our mouths, in our subconscious attitudes we assume far greater autonomy.

Isaiah 45:9:   Woe to him who strives with his Maker!  Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, what are you making? Or shall your handiwork say, He has no hands?

James 1:4:   But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

From this passage in James, we understand that the consequence of impatience is incompleteness and general lack. It’s ironic that most people become impatient precisely because they feel they are being deprived of something. In the above verse, James defines patience as a work, a process that we must submit to and only then can we say that we lack nothing

Impatience is not outright unbelief, but an unwillingness to wholly submit to God’s timetable in waiting for that which we believe He would give us.

We forget that the very shortest period of the house’s life is the building stage.  And when, in our construction years, God begins to establish us on the unchangeable foundation of His word, He takes the scattered gifts and pieces of our lives and sinks in nails of joinery for lasting relationships, or He precisely shapes us by cutting or marks us with the paint brush of His identity, we have the chance to endure the present troubles for the promised land beyond or to give in to impatience.  “Why is everybody poking and beating on me?,” we may ask. “I can’t live my life like this forever!” We forget the building process is the shortest period of our lives but that we will live with the results for all eternity. The impatient unfairly complain about the time necessary for precision and perfection but they would likely also be the ones to point the finger if life’s circumstances didn’t line up to their expectations. Anything of value requires a price.  Sometimes we pay this price through things we must give up; other times God asks us to wait and trust. Peter instructs us not to misunderstand God’s deliberation as careless slackness. Rather, God sees that we’re not yet ready to handle the promise, so He retains it until we are able to receive it.

2 Peter 3:8-9:   But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Hebrews 10:35-36:   Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

Impatience leads to frustration; frustration leads to anger; anger leads to bitterness and ultimately, the corruption of our childlike faith which would sustain us in the trust that “Joy comes again in the morning.”

Keep your feet upon the HIGHWAY of HOLINESS where even a fool cannot stray.  Don’t cut short the construction work of God in your life, lest you find yourself a half built tower, a partially made vessel. Don’t let impatience interrupt the slow process of salvation, lest you tumble into the barren potter’s field wherein lies the shards of those unfinished souls that never found their eternal purpose and therefore remained lost, forever wondering what might have been had they trusted love.
As Jesus said, “By your patience possess your souls (Lu 21:19).

A Cup of Cool Water—9/20/06

As I walked down the bare and rank smelling hall, I could hear the cries of a lady continually calling out from one of the dimly lit rooms: “Could someone get me some water? Please, I need some water! Get me water!” A drink of water may have been the least of her physical needs. What could satisfy the longing in her life? I felt a love burning in my heart for this lady but what could I do? Yes, she needed water, but I knew it wasn’t just another cup of natural water. I sensed the weight in the realization that I had the true water that she needed (John 4:10). How could I, or should I, try to help? I wished she could just come to one of the services that we held in the auditorium at this rest home every Wednesday, but it did not appear that she could even get out of bed.

I walked away from the open door of her room, down that hall, lined with pink and yellow wallpaper, a “cheery” mockery of the pervasive gloom. I whispered a prayer, “God, would you please make a way for me to help this lady?” I put the situation in God’s hands. Now I would wait to see where He might lead and what He would do.

A month had gone by; I was again speaking to a group of elderly people on a Wednesday night. As I looked up from their faces, I noticed a latecomer wheeling through the back door of the auditorium. It took me a second to realize that the newcomer was the very lady that I had prayed for. I was already speaking about praise and worship and what it meant for us to lift our hands and voices to God when we felt His Presence. I asked if anyone thought it strange or unusual when a child or grandchild came up with his or her hands in the air saying, “Hold you daddy?” Everyone’s heart seemed to recognize this universal expression of need. We all knew how it felt to see a child reaching toward us. I remember saying that if we would just reach out our hands to our heavenly Father, Jesus couldn’t resist picking us up. He was only waiting for our expression of need to lift us into His arms. The music and singing began, and the presence of God seemed tangible. That dear lady lifted both her hands in the air and started crying out to the only One who could truly help her.

After the service ended, she wheeled over to me still crying and said that until that moment in that service, she had never lifted her hands, but now she was reaching out to God and how wonderful it felt. She had, for the first time that night, sipped from the living waters that Jesus spoke about. That night birthed a wonderful friendship that lasted for the next two years. I had the privilege to sit by her bed for many hours over the next two years, as she fought that greatest of all battles. We talked about everything from the weather to steps of salvation. In spite of the numerous tubes attached to her body and the technology cluttered around her bed, we were able to share the peace of God through prayer and song many nights.

The day did come when she was to finish her fight on this earth, but what she did for me did not die with her tired body. After that night in the service, she was able to find happiness, contentment and grace to enjoy the days that were left to her, even in a not-so-enjoyable environment. I feel that this is the ministry of “Spring of Hope,” finding the love of God ourselves so that we might help bring hope to a small part of all the scores of hopeless and hungry people in this world.

Ephesians 2:12–14: Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…”

—Jeremy Adams

No Crowd to Hide in—7/30/05

Getting a group of people, especially young people, to work together is not always very easy. We had a lot of growing pains learning to submit to one another & not to always think our own opinion was the opinion. But each growing pain drew us all closer to one another until now I consider the other young people who I sing with some of my very best friends.
We had been going to Meadowlands for a little over two years and we had just gone through a very big growing pain which really drew us all together when some of our friends from Meadowlands moved to another assisted living across town called Ridgecrest. They begged us to come and start a ministry at their new home. We knew that we wouldn’t all have the time to go to both places every week with all the other things we had going. So we began to pray about what we could do to meet this new need. The day after Easter, the six of us who were able went to Ridgecrest for the first time and held a service there. We really felt a connection with the people there and we felt that God had opened a door for us to start going to Ridgecrest on a regular basis.
I really felt excited about this new step that the Lord was leading us into and I felt that I was supposed to go to this new place, but at first I had a hard time with the idea of a “split.” I felt that after all that God had done to draw us together, a split would be counter-productive and serve to drive us apart. But we felt that the Lord was in it, so we all prayed through our misgivings and about where the Lord would have each of us to go.
On June 24th, 2005 we officially “split” and approximately half of the group went to Ridgecrest. I was part of that group. We felt an excitement as we practiced and prepared to go for the first “official” time.
The first service was full of bloopers, like forgetting the words to songs that we thought we could sing in our sleep. But through the “split” the Lord has brought all of us to a new level in our participation. When there are close to twenty people in the group, it’s easier to get lost in the crowd and assume that someone else will have the word to speak or the song to sing. But when there are only seven or eight people, each one feels more of a responsibility to come into their place and fully participate.
The Lord has drawn us very close to many of the people at Ridgecrest, which makes the “split” well worth it. But really, it wasn’t a split at all in the sense that we were thinking of it as—like we were becoming two separate groups. We still practice together and pray together, and we have had the opportunity to sing together on many occasions. It was only a split in the sense of branching off—we’re still part of the same ministry, but now there’s a fork in the tree. And who knows how many more forks the Lord will bring in the days ahead. I look forward to what He has in store for us, because I know how much good He’s brought already in each of our lives, as well as in so many other’s lives.

–Hadassah Stein

Evie’s Reflections

I’m sure we must look like a sight sometimes marching down the halls of the local nursing homes with our guitars, violin, accordion and flute, but I don’t know what could compare to the feeling of bringing a little joy into the lives of people who have so little to look forward to.
At the end of a long hall in a dim room we all would crowd into Mr. Payne’s room. I’ll never forget that last time we sang for him. He lay almost motionless on his slightly raised hospital bed. As we sang, the presence of the Lord filled that room. It was so tangible I felt like we could just take one step and be right in heaven. We took turns telling him what we knew might be the last goodbye. I bent down and told him that we would be praying for him. In a barely audible voice he said “thank you”. At his funeral his daughter told us that he would always talk about the “church singers”.
Sometimes as we sing to the residents of Meadowlands or Lakeshore Estates, as I look out at the people, I am filled with a sense of wonder – each face tired or smiling or sitting expressionless – holds a whole life, much of which was lived before I was born. And I wonder: what have these people been through in their lives? What wisdom might they have, what gifts and talents have forever been laid to rest. The deep sense of gratitude fills me to be able to bring a spark of life into their lonely world.
We’re definitely not professionals – just amateurs. We do it because we love it.

–Evie Nolen