Jamelle runs a ministry in my community called The Reason4Hope. To say Jamelle is enthusiastic about her calling is an understatement. Like most of us, this woman has had her valleys, and over the past year she’s questioned God’s calling on her life. But she’s moving back up that mountain and she’s on fire.
I joined Jamelle and other volunteers today to serve lunch at The Hope Cafe, an outreach of her ministry. Home-cooked food is donated to the cafe every Thursday to be served to people in our community who need a good meal. They eat for free, but local business people and others stop in to buy lunch and support the ministry.
I’ve been at the cafe on Thursdays in the past, but it’s been awhile. Today, I was there because my friend put it to me straight recently when she asked me “Why aren’t churched people in our community willing to reach out to the unchurched?” My first reaction was to be defensive. I said perhaps they didn’t realize she needed more than food delivery and servers at her weekly mission.
Get that? “Her weekly mission”. What a dumb statement on my part. We’re all called to share the gospel, not just those who name their ministry and put a sign out on the sidewalk.
It’s great that people are willing to bake a pie or make a pot of goulash, or to stand behind the counter to dish up soup and wash dishes. I know. I’ve done both and felt pretty good about it. It’s a lot harder to sit down and talk with someone who doesn’t have a job or can’t see a doctor because they don’t have insurance and offer to pray with them. Harder still to open a Bible and show them that God has a plan for their lives — even when it looks like there’s nothing good coming their way.
Jamelle has a passion to share Jesus and it’s exciting to watch her in action, but she knows that to get to the place where hearts are open to her message, she has to meet them right where they are. So she gets to know the people who come to the cafe and the ones she helps out on the street when she’s handing out coats or school supplies. And she talks to them about the hard things — like depression and how it feels to live in a motel instead of a house or apartment.
Recently, she’s been visiting area high schools to help kids deal with depression. Here’s a portion of a recent blog post about what she learned. (Find the whole post and more about the ministry at www.thereason4hope.com):
“I have spent the last week talking in health classes in high schools throughout LaGrange County. The teenagers have been brutally honest. They do believe that depression is a SERIOUS issue among teenagers. Did you know that? They estimate that over 60% of teens think about suicide (although only 20% seriously consider it, but kids believe it’s WORSE!) So, in any given classroom, 5 kids are seriously thinking about it. More than half admit to bullying or making fun of someone, and about 30-40% admit to being a bully (some are the same kids.) When we talk about the signs of depression and then I tell personal stories, well, the truth is you can’t always tell and sometimes (a lot of times) it’s not the person you expect. It is the person you sit beside in history class. Now…. here to me is the heart breaking statistic: when asked if they feel they have someone they can talk to, the response is usually around 50%. ONLY 50% feel they have anyone to turn to. (In other words, they feel alone!) Hold on, it gets worse. About 70% feel they DO NOT have an adult at their school they can turn to. That is heartbreaking and horrible!!!! Are we aware of that? Does this break your heart as much as mine? These kids feel alone.”
Jamelle and others like her take The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) literally. They put feet to their faith. It’s time more of us got in step.