By: Pastor John Leon, Executive Director
Our board and staff have been working diligently in preparing for our annual fundraiser on April 19th, the Bridge of Hope Dinner/ Auction. When I heard of such a theme for a fundraiser during my first year, I thought, “What an intriguing, but most appropriate theme, considering our mission.”
Though we know the fundamental purpose of a bridge, it is good to look at a meaningful definition when used as a verb. Webster’s dictionary offers, “To make a bridge over or across something; a gap.” Yes, that is what we do as our mission. Bridge-building with folks who do not have very much hope. Many are broken and disconnected from their families for various reasons, some without any choice in the matter.
Let me share one story. His name is Quinten. He is twenty-years-old. Mom died at the age of 32, while Quinten, at the age of 12, was her caregiver. He had maternal grandparents, but they didn’t want him. Subsequently, he then stayed with a “distant relative,” until she was recently evicted. Two-and-half months ago Quinten showed up at our shelter, with no family, no money, no future, and no God. His entire family background are atheists as he described.
Now I have many responsibilities that demand my attention, but none are more important than the introductory meeting with a new “guest” at our shelter.
God has taught me the significance of listening to every person’s story—their journey in life—because He is interested in everyone’s life. It is through listening, I discover a great opportunity to build a bridge with someone, estranged from loved ones, a chasm of separation comprised of deep loneliness, discouragement, disillusionment, and distrust. Such heartache produces a jagged and rugged gap in one’s life. Only a “bridge” will do to cover such a gap and reconstitute a life worth living. And, that is what we strive to do at Albany Helping Hands, to create a “bridge of hope” with every individual.
If I’m honest, there are moments I simply shake my head in disbelief when I hear the stories of such shattered brokenness. But, I must also tell you I sit with a stilled confidence knowing “we” have an answer for any hopeless situation. All, because of the “ultimate Bridge of Hope…the Cross! And, what an amazing “bridge” it serves. It was built for every human being since we were separated from our own Creator, bent on going our own way due to our self-pride. Alienated. Alone. Broken. Separated from the only one who will and can love us best.
So, God made the first move. Father-God conceived the plan, constructed through His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, on a Cross, and consummated by His Holy Spirit. He “bridged the gap” between us and Himself, through the powerful demonstration of selfless love. All of which was designed to reconstitute the original life He intended for each of us. God never destined, for each of us, to go it alone, but rather, fully dependent upon Him, to do in us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Therefore, it is from such a spiritual narrative we attempt to build a bridge of hope with every guest we are privileged to encounter. It is such a blessing to be given the opportunity to provide such a bridge. This is why we need your support more than ever. Affordable housing is a desperate need, contributing to the increase in homelessness. Will you consider enlarging our ability to provide more hope to those in need? We hope you will accept our invitation to be a part of our eighth annual Bridge of Hope Dinner/Auction on April 19th.
By the way, we just saw Quinten off to the Job Corp where he will learn some new job skills and complete his high school diploma. He only needs five credits. Oh, and I almost forgot. Before he left, he asked if I could obtain a cross attached with a chain, so he could wear it around his neck. I said, “Absolutely, Quinten!” My friend, I will never forget Quinten, wearing, yes, that “Bridge of Hope!”
Have a Blessed Resurrection Day Celebration!
Pastor John Leon, Executive Director