Hope lives here.

The mission of Hope House is to promote community transformation through the Gospel of Christ. It is our deepest conviction that we have been called to bring God's Church to the people and that Kashmere Gardens has been "laid at our doorstep" for this purpose (Luke 16:19–31). We provide transitional housing for people who want to change their lives. We bring spiritual and social services to the community. We partner with citizens from the local community and greater Houston to improve the neighborhood. In all of these ways and more, Hope House brings transformation and hope for future generations.

Every day there are new stories of redemption, and each individual story helps to shape the world in a positive way. Because of this, our vision is big and so is our commitment. We invite you to learn more about how we bring hope to some of Houston's neediest people, one life at a time.

The Gospel, Racism, and MLK

Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 09:01 AM
posted by: Dave

Once God made the world and everything in it, He declared it to be  “good”.  Shalom (peace) ruled creation (Genesis 1 & 2).  Soon our original parents decided to go rogue,  and shalom became an increasingly rare commodity on planet earth.

By Genesis 6,  we read “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…and the earth was filled with violence.” (verses 5 & 11).  It is interesting to note that the writer specifically links evil thoughts with violence.  Much of this violence was based on race and culture.

Between the time of the fall and the birth of Christ,  God chose to prepare the world for the Prince of Peace through the ancient nation of Israel.  However, He did not limit His work to that group of people. God was intentional in choosing to work through non-Jewish people in weaving His tapestry of redemption. Rahab and Ruth (Gentile women) were included in the lineage of Jesus.

The Gospel writers made a point of including examples of Jesus working with Gentiles. The Samaritan women at the well (John 4); the  Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7), and the healing of the 10 lepers (Luke 17)  are 3 examples.  After His ascension to heaven, the Prince of Shalom sent 2 of His apostles to bring the Good News to Gentiles (see Acts 9 and Acts 10). Redemption was offered to every tribe and tongue.

So, after all that, the Church got the message that all races are made in the image of the Creator, and all should be treated with dignity, right? Not exactly.  A tacit review of Church history demonstrates racial bias among some of the great leaders such as Martin Luther, the great German reformer, and George Whitefield, the great evangelist in early America.

There were, of course, notable exceptions. Augustine of Hippo encouraged the Roman emperor to do away with slavery.  John Newton and William Wilberforce, two Christian leaders in 18th century England, were instrumental in the abolition of slavery Great Britain..   Quakers led the way in 17th century America in fighting slavery.

And yet,  by the 1960s,  violence in the name of racism was firmly entrenched in American cities, from  the Watts riot in California to the church bombings in Alabama.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “The most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning, the same hour many are standing to sing: “In Christ there is no east or west”.  For all that he accomplished, Dr. King’s work toward racial equality in the name of Christ in America is far from over.

Dr. King stood alone in the struggle to win the hearts and actions of the very people who claimed to be followers of the Prince of Peace. The term “preaching to the choir” takes a whole new meaning as we watch him write his “letters from a Birmingham Jail” to 5 established religious leaders who bid him to be silent and wait for change to take its course.

My question is, why? Why, after countless admonitions from the Bible does the Church of Jesus not enthusiastically embrace the Bible’s teaching on the equality of all men? Why, after Christ’s new commandment for His followers to love one another, and His High Priestly Prayer for believers to be one, do we still need books and seminars and training on race relations? Why was the issues of slavery  and the Civil Way, 1800 years after Jesus left the earth,  even an issue? And why, in the year 2018, does the church and American society answer racism with shallow sound bites or by creating rules of  political correctness that put band-aids on gaping wounds and divide us with trivial rules and power plays?

Before you point your finger at the KKK, or politicians, or “those guys out there”, take a look at yourself. If you are a Christ follower, you are what Jesus called the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt and light are agents of change. Salt can take a dull tasteless meal and make it delicious. Light overpowers darkness when they come into contact. The Church of Jesus Christ sets the bar, and the world works off of her lead. When the Church turns a blind eye toward injustice, the world system will reach no higher. When the Church defends evil,  why would we expect the world system to do otherwise?

Jesus told us that we will receive power form on high when the Holy Spirit comes. The power that the Spirit brings is to set us free from sin and free us to walk in the steps of Jesus. The Spirit brings power for us to bring Shalom to our families, our neighborhoods, and our world.  And yet, 2ooo years after He spoke those words and sent the Spirit, the Church is  still bogged down and divided.  And  the world system follows our lead.

It is not too late to march with Dr. King, at least in spirit. Christians can make a difference in their families, in their workplace,in their neighborhoods,  and as part of the Church impacting our world for Christ.  I was raised a White, Southern Republican. There is nothing wrong with that. What was wrong was that for years I limited my interaction to people who looked, thought, voted, and believed like I did. Coupled with that, I limited my Bible study to the familiar passages that were preached every Sunday in my church that was populated by White, Southern Republicans. I had little grasp of the Bible’s message of redemption as a whole, or of differing points of view. Over the last 20 years God has graciously shown me a new way at looking at things. That new way of thinking fuels Hope Houses Houston and other ministries working around the city of Houston.

May I suggest a few ways to begin to walk more closely with Jesus and Dr. King in the area of race relations and justice?

  1. Become intentional about studying the Bible as a whole. If you have not done this before, you wail run into some passages that seem very out-of-or place.  Don’t freak out. Make a note of the passage for later investigation. The book “How To Read the Bible For Al Its Worth”  by Gordon Fee can be very helpful to readers in understanding the context of many of these passages.
  2. Be diligent in asking the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out. Take the Psalmist’s prayer, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me,   and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23 & 24)
  3. Go out of your way to develop relationships with people who differ from you in background, beliefs,  race, politics, etc. Enter this relationship with the goals of friendship and learning from their perspective. Practice active listening; do not look for opportunities to argue your point.  See https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/active-listening.html
  4. Visit other churches in parts of the city different from your own. Come with a goal to listen and learn; not to evaluate and judge.
  5. Read books like Generous Justice by Tim Keller. Keller does a masterful job at laying out the Bible’s teachings on justice, which will cross  the barriers of race, political affiliation, and economic paradigms.

Jesus told us to go out and make disciples, teaching them in His name. That covers everything from being born again to how to influence His world in His name for Shalom. It can’t be done by the few Dr. Kings. It can be done by the collective Body of Christ. Lets get to it!

 

 

Breaking the Cycle

Sunday, October 4, 2015 @ 08:10 AM
posted by: Dave

Dave with neighborhood baby

Earlier this year I took a full-time job as a drug counselor at a Texas state prison near Houston.  I was somewhat discouraged to take time away from the ministry at Hope Houses Houston to work at the prison. Little did I realize that God had a plan in all of this.

For years we have worked with single-parent families in our neighborhood. Almost without exception, the husbands and fathers in these families are in prison, or have prison records. Many are repeat offenders who return home only to be incarcerated later.

How does this impact the children in these families? Generally speaking, they become emotionally numbed or hardened at a very young age. You can see this in the way they avoid eye contact when you talk to them, and how make light of events that would crush other kids.  Over time, these young ones begin to open up and express their feelings to us.  Teen girls share their pain and the need for a father figure in their lives. One night during a Bible class, a 9-year old boy crawled under the table and began crying uncontrollably When we finally got him calmed down, he shared that he was told by his mother that he will not see his father for years because “daddy is in prison.”

The mothers have little education or technical training, and are forced to be the sole providers of financial and parental support. Needless to say, these women feel overwhelmed. They are often preyed upon by loan sharks and disingenuous suiters. They are faced with precious few viable options. Over time, some mothers take out their frustration on their children. The 9-year old mentioned above was recently caught with a stolen smart phone. When I went to his home to speak to his mother, she immediately struck the boy and called him every curse word and racial slur imaginable. Now ten years old, the boy had no more than a hint of a tear in one eye after his mother’s tirade. His young heart was becoming hardened.  Without miraculous intervention, this boy will be behind bars himself in 10 more years. He will be hard-hearted like the prisoners I work with.

Working with the men in prison has helped me see the completion of the cycle.  The prisoners were, just a few years ago, the boys in our neighborhood.  And the children in our neighborhood, without intervention, will be the prisoners or the parents left at home with their children, who will become the next generation of prisoners and single parents left at home with the children…..and on and on the cycle goes.

How can the cycle be broken? The Gospel is God’s way to redeem individuals, families, neighborhoods, and cultures. The Apostle Paul tells us that, in the first century, the Gospel was “constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth” (Colossians 1:6)

The early church was full of redeemed thieves, prostitutes, orphans, and slaves.  The world was “turned upside down” by such people (Acts 17:6).  Jesus was criticized by religious leaders for spending more time with “sinners” than with the religious people (Mark 2:15-17). His half-brother, the Apostle James, tells us that God chose “the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (James 2:5).

One would conclude, based on these the teachings and actions of Jesus and the early church, that the Church of Houston would be investing a large part of her resources in the inner city.

Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.  The prison I work in has 1 or 2 evangelical services a month.  Many of the men are hungry for a mentor to work with them. The part-time chaplain is unable to meet with all of the prisoners who want spiritual guidance. Urban kids are eager to join Scouting programs, but we don’t have the adults to lead them.  They desperately need after-school programs, but there are few adults willing to invest the time to drive down to the inner city and render those services. Men and women early in recovery need a safe place to live and get back on their feet, but the Church of Houston shows little interest in providing sustained, long-term support for such efforts.

Long ago I was told that the Suburban Church of Houston wants to serve the urban world, but doesn’t know how to do it. I believed that for a long time. Now, I am not so sure.

Where are you, Church? The children need you. The prisoners need you. The “target market” that Jesus, James, and the early church were so eager to serve needs you.

 

 

 

5 Pounds of Potatoes

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 @ 09:12 AM
posted by: Dave

What is a bag of potatoes worth? We bought 5-pound bags for Thanksgiving at Kroger for around three dollars each.  To the people we serve, they seem to be much more valuable.

Monday night is youth night at Hope House.   The Monday after Thanksgiving, we had a few  bags of potatoes left over.  One of our young guys, Joshua #3 (we have 3 boys names Joshua) asked if he could bring a bag of potatoes back to his mom.  Shrugging my shoulders, I absentmindedly replied, “sure”.  His face lit up like I had given him a twenty dollar bill.

At the end of the evening, as we were packing up to go,  he  reminded me about the potatoes. The other kids piped up, “can I get some potatoes to take home too?” All the potatoes were claimed and carried out by happy young people.

I threw the potatoes in the back of the car and drove the boys home.  When Joshua #3 climbed out of the car, he lowered his head and looked up to me with a defiant glare, clenching his fists. “I ain’t leaving without my mama’s potatoes, Pastor Dave!”  We both laughed and I handed the bag of potatoes to him and watched as he marched into his front door. He held the bag like a trophy that he would present to his mother.

While driving Jaylen home, he joyfully recounted the ways that his mom could cook the potatoes. “She can make French fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, almost anything!”  He had a smile a mile long as he carried the bag of spuds into his apartment.

A 5-lb bag of potatoes at Kroger runs about three dollars. It’s not unusual for me to forget about potatoes in my refrigerator until they begin to sprout.   But in the lives of our inner-city at-risk families, a 5-lb sack of potatoes is a big deal. Especially so to these young men. Each one of the boys is, essentially, the “man of the house”. For whatever reason, the fathers in these families are absent. The boys feel  the weight of their family’s welfare upon their slender shoulders.   Bringing home a bag of potatoes is, essentially, “bringing home the bacon”.

I don’t think I will ever look at a sack of potatoes the same way.