I love Spring. It is the best time of year because there are so many fresh starts and new beginnings. Hope seems endless. This year, after a year of COVID, Spring seems brighter, fresher and lighter than ever. Our move fits so perfectly in this Spring season with the
extra love and extravagance of Easter. New life is a gift from God, who is in the reconciliation business.
What began five Springs ago in 2016, is almost complete. Over the course of our research, our many conversations with our partners, much prayer, and self-reflection, we are now on the cusp of a whole new way of helping people at the Jesus Center. Many people have been involved in this incredible process of redefining help, and we could not be more excited to welcome in our first participants very soon to begin their journeys! Some will come enthusiastically and ready to do the hard work. Some will limp in with the hope of a cold drink and a night or two of shelter.
Our staff speaks often of the Prodigal Son story found in Luke Chapter 15. After the son has left the family, taken the inheritance and lost it, he came back full of excuses. This did not stop the generous father. “And while he is still far off, the father runs down the path to meet him.” The Father does not ask a bunch of questions. Nor does he ask for some form of repentance, or explanation. Nope. He calls his people to put a ring (of sonship) on his finger, clothe him in fancy robes, kill the fatted calf and have a celebration!!
“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
— LUKE 15: 24
This is what we want people to expect at the Jesus Center’s Sabbath House. Lavish
grace. Joy. Rest. Celebration. This month we will expand Sabbath House to 60 beds and debut our new curriculum, Pathways. With attention to respite, health/
wellness, independence and purpose, participants will receive a full wrap-around, individualized, trauma-informed set of services to set them firmly on a path to
their best life. Homemade quilts will once again speak of the community’s love and support to those who enter. We are embracing the abundance of God that
has taught us that we serve others by offering not just the bare minimum for survival, but a plentiful pathway to new life!
Over the course of this journey, our team has looked at each other and said: This is the miracle project! Now, miracles can be small and surprising, or they can be unexpected and lavish. Over and over, the miracles we have seen have been unmerited and extraordinary signs of God’s exceeding abundance.
When we were looking for enough, we got more than enough.
When we were asking for our daily bread, we received an invitation to a wedding feast. When we just needed a little break, we got a parted sea.
Let me give some examples...
- When we started to plan for our move, we were looking for a one-acre parcel of land or a better situation to renovate. Instead, the city offered 4 acres to us to buy and develop. This was the beginning of thinking big, imagining a collaborative project, and redefining what would most help those struggling and what would help our community.
- When we did our feasibility study back in the Fall of 2018, we identified a lead donor. When he made his commitment in June of 2019, he pledged almost four times that amount! Now that is lavish abundance! We are so grateful!
- The 4 acres on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway proved to put up one challenge after another. The miracle was losing its sparkle, until it led us to our current purchase on Fair Street. Cheaper, bigger, better. The miracle project struck again!
This is so typical of the God we worship.
- We needed reconciliation, so he sent his only son.
- This son not only died but was raised to bring new life.
- We needed a shepherd, and God sent us one that leaves the 99 to save the one.
- We once served with just two crockpots, now we offer a whole new Pathways program to bring people towards their best life. God’s abundant life.
Join us in celebrating new life, second and third chances, and a Spring filled with abundance as we welcome people taking the first steps to finding their best life. If they come, we will welcome them with open arms.
Your gift today of $30, $50, or $100 a month will sustain our work and allow us to walk alongside and offer the lavish welcome of the Father. A gift of $40 per month will double as a celebration of 40 years of serving the poor together.
Laura R. Cootsona