530.345.2640 2255 Fair Street
Chico, CA 95928

February 2021 — Monthly Update: 40 Years of Serving Chico

Greetings from the Jesus Center! As I write this letter to inaugurate our 40th Year Anniversary, I keep returning to a simple affirmation in the book of Hebrews: “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). What began with two crockpots on the 1500 block of Park Ave back in 1981, what grew into more than a meal on the 1200 block of Park Ave in the nineties and what now is poised to move to Fair Street is and has been always guided by believers trusting Jesus and taking Jesus seriously. Each leadership team over forty years believed that they were carrying out Jesus’ mandate to love the poor. They took their version of loaves and fishes and let God bless them and watch God’s fruit grow.

It all started with Jesus’ love for the broken, the lost, and the poor. It continues this way into the future.

As each iteration of the Jesus Center moved through four decades, the aroma of Jesus has been apparent: it has been relational (or incarnational), welcoming, restorative, and hopeful.

I love St. Teresa of Avila’s simple liturgy:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body on earth but yours.”

The Jesus Center has given a place and a way for people to show up and be God’s hands and feet to those who experience lostness, hopelessness, disdain, failure and rejection.

Each chapter of our history has done this differently. We all know there is a mystery in following God. We remember another verse from Hebrews 13: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (v.2) Amazing miracles happen when you show hospitality; when you welcome the outcast. Whether a simple meal, a women’s shelter, a robust resource center, vocational opportunities like Bloomin’ Hope, or a transitional house like Myrtle or St. Joseph Lily, the Jesus Center has offered a path to restoration, a path to a full life.

Ultimately, for forty years we have been purveyors of hope. But what exactly is Hope and how do we nurture it in others who are in despair? Hope is mostly seen as an emotion that springs from the heart, one that offers structure for your life in anticipation for the future while it also influences how you feel in the present. Emily Dickinson wrote about hope as a bird that perches in our soul. At the Jesus Center, Hope is the belief that one’s circumstances can and will improve; we often describe this as speaking life into people. We work to foster hope for people as they seek wholeness and healing, and it can be a messy process. There is no timeline for restored hope and belief in one’s self, so we just keep showing up. We were reminded of how powerful hope can be for those we serve when a longtime former participant visited us last week at the Jesus Center. She was celebrating her third year clean and sober. While we reflected on what those first days and weeks had been like in our program—and let’s just say it was not an easy start—we were struck by her words as she described her growth and sobriety: “Can you believe I did all this? I have a job, and a car, my own house and I’m in school!!”

While running the Jesus Center is certainly more of a relay than a marathon, it is a high bar to wake up each morning and claim Jesus’ title and do our best to reflect his love, hope, and life to those we serve.

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But, like those who came before us, our team does just that. There isn’t a formula. There is no blue print. We are entering a new stage of building a complex set of programs to help people live their best life. Join us in looking back and looking forward. If you have a photo or a story to share, please send it our way (laura@jesuscenter.org) and we will share it throughout the year.

If you want to make a first-time financial commitment, why not consider a $40 per month donation to celebrate and ensure a source of hope for those struggling to imagine a restored life.

Blessings,

Laura R. Cootsona
Executive Director

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