A few years ago, Cindy led a team of folks to Sierra Leone on a “vision” trip. We had no work established there at the time. Ron and Sharon Hill (career missionaries in West Africa), and Dr. Alusine Jalloh (Director of the Africa Studies Department, UTA) accompanied her on this trip.
They met with numerous church leaders, community leaders, and governmental officials. In one meeting, the First Lady of Sierra Leone (the President’s wife) actually attended!
Anyway — our team posed the question, “What does Sierra Leone need right now?” An overwhelming response was this: We have lost our hope. We need to have our hope restored.
Now, many years later — we have changed the name of Global Connection Partnership Network to Restore Hope. That title communicates the very heart of the purpose of this mission entity.
But I have thought about that sentiment expressed by Sierra Leonean leaders. That is not just a need in West Africa. It is a need right here in Arlington! There are many people who have lost hope. There are people whose life circumstances have just caved in on them. They have resigned themselves to a situation without hope.
Our theme for 2019 is: HOPE: discover it, experience it, proclaim it. This is an appropriate emphasis for our day. Hope is a valuable commodity. We all need it. We need to know that God is at work in our world and in our lives. We need to be able to stand on something firmer than our own circumstances or our own limited perspective.
Often, hope can be fragile in our lives. When we get knocked off course by the blows life can deliver, we can find ourselves in situations that feel hopeless to us. That is why the Gospel is so powerful. The message of Jesus is a hope-filled message.
I have just returned from a trip to Sierra Leone and Rome. In both of these places, I was reminded of the power of the Gospel and the beauty of its hope-filled message. This message of hope transformed the pagan Roman Empire into a Christianized world. This same message is transforming rural African villages into beacons of hope. Praise God!
I am praying for my own community today. May God use us to share this beautiful message of hope with our family, friends, and neighbors!