Pastor

The Ultimate “Bridge of Hope!”

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.”

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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

 

  
 

The Heart of Helping Hands!

Albany, Oregon  by: Pastor John Leon, Executive Director, 6/13/2017

God has always had a special place in his heart for the poor and destitute.  Listen to his instruction as he formed Israel into a young nation at the time... “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be...You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake (Deut. 15:7-8, 10).”

Pastor Les Bailey, founder and Former Executive Director (2005)

Pastor Les Bailey, founder and Former Executive Director (2005)

We should be able to understand from this passage, God not only loves all people, but he is particularly close to the most vulnerable of our society.  It has always been this way for God.  God loves the poor.  So much so, he promises to bless that person in all they do, if that individual will take the time to meet the needs of the poor.

Albany Helping Hands has always been God’s ministry and mission.  Yes, it was born in the heart of one man, Pastor Les Bailey, who only wanted to do what God wanted, and that was to help the poor, thus, the name, “Helping Hands.”  Because of his love for God, Pastor Bailey began fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of his garage and distributing the “meal” to the needy in various neighborhoods of our community.  He would be the first to tell you, he did not envision the mission AHH would become to our community.  But, Pastor Bailey is certainly grateful to witness and experience firsthand, from the beginning to the current status, God’s many blessings on this ministry to the poor.  On occasion, you can always hear Pastor Bailey say, this is the “mission, love built.”

Today, we provide over 7000 meals a month, as well as shelter, and clothing.  We also provide other resources that help people with future housing, job placements, and mentoring vocational skills that will lend toward the rebuilding of a broken life.  But most important, we give people hope.  We want people to know they have worth, and they can have a life worth living, because they are invaluable as a living soul, made in the image of God. 

Personally, it is a marvelous opportunity and privilege to be entrusted as God’s steward for such an awesome endeavor, one that is close to the very heart of God.  Therefore, we are available through our various resources to give those who are hurting, a helping hand, with hope and love for anyone in need!

Warm Regards,

Pastor John Leon

Executive Director 

The Ultimate Giver!

  • Blog post: 3/31/2017, Albany Oregon   |   By Pastor John Leon, Executive Director

After the harsh winter months, spring is always a welcome sight.  The cherry blossom trees and flowers blooming remind us of the new life the season brings.  Such new life is conceived by the principle of seed-sowing.  As we know, until a seed is sown, there is nothing to harvest or produce.  But, when a seed is planted in the ground, it provides growth for what it is designed to produce.  And, though many would say this is a “law of science,” the reality is there is a greater law that transcends this agricultural process.  It is the eternal truth of “Giving and Receiving.”

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This truth is encased in the “ethos” (character) of the Triune Godhead.  We know God is love, which is the expression of selfless giving.  God loves, based on who he is and can give himself, even without receiving.  It is his very nature to give.  Therefore, it is not coincidence Jesus spoke metaphorically to describe this same truth when he said, “Unless a grain a wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).”

The central message of our Easter celebration is this eternal law of giving and receiving.  Father God, so loved the world, he gave up his beloved Son, Jesus.  Because of Jesus’ love for the Father, he willingly gives up his life to him (John 14:31).  Jesus does this, knowing he is the Eternal Seed, who will produce the new family God desired and destined “before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-6).”  This means The Plan was conceived by the Father before the world was even created.  Jesus agreed to the New Covenant, and willingly accepted its construction on his body (Isa. 42:6).  And, the Holy Spirit consummated it on the “Day of the First Fruits Harvest” (Pentecost). 

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We must remember, there can be no fruit-bearing, without a death of the Eternal Seed.  This explains how the Cross was a “natural fit” for the Godhead.  It is their nature to give, selflessly, even sacrificially.  Their love is incomparable to anything the world knows.  Is it any wonder, such love only produces the new eternal family God desired long before creation?  “In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons (non-gender) through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (the Father), to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Jesus) (Eph. 1:5-6).”

All because of God’s grace, he gave us Jesus.  And, he continues to give us himself through his Holy Spirit.  What shall be our response?  What can we give to God?  The only thing we can give...a surrendered heart!  Isn’t he worth it?  He  does not disappoint, my friend, for Jesus has promised, “Because I live, you also will live (John 14:19).”  This is the marvelous message of Easter, all because of the nature of God’s endless and unfathomable giving.  What a plan, what a Savior, what a love of selfless giving!

Now, speaking of giving, our board has asked me to make a special appeal for an important need for our farm.  We have some land that requires cultivation every spring, for the planting of various crops.  We are in need of a new tractor, but since they are rather expensive, we are seeking to buy a used one in good condition.  It will also need a front-loader which will be utilized for our woodlot. A conservative cost estimate for the tractor is about $20,000.  

Volunteers at Work at AHH Farm which is run with the cooperation of Linn-Benton Food Share

Volunteers at Work at AHH Farm which is run with the cooperation of Linn-Benton Food Share

It will be called, “Jason’s Tractor,” in honor of Jason Gould, who passed away tragically at 23 years of age. 

Jason primarily loved six things in life: His family and friends, the outdoors, farming, animals, the homeless and Jesus.  He had a special place in his heart for the homeless, and enjoyed spending time on our farm. 

It is our hope you will give generously, in Jason’s memory, for the purchase of this important farm tool that will prove to be invaluable to our mission.  On behalf of our board, we thank you in advance.  And please know, we are very grateful for every dollar invested in Albany Helping Hands.  

May You Have a Blessed Easter Celebration,

Pastor John E. Leon, Executive Director