I have been struggling this week on a blog topic. This is a bit strange as I am normally never at a loss for words…just ask my wife. This struggle ended today as I had the opportunity to sit down with two pastors from two different churches. These pastors have a lot on their plate. They are serving very different congregations from all over Knoxville, but they had one thing in common: they both were on fire and longing for God to move in this community. Their faces lit up as we discussed opportunities for the Church to get plugged in here at HOPE and around East Tennessee. Their excitement, in turn, acted as an encouragement to me and our staff.

I talk a great deal about folks getting off the sidelines and getting onto the field of play. For those of you not understanding the sports metaphor, I am simply calling for folks to actually engage their community and seek to make a difference. I will continue to call for this because there is a great need around us. There is a need for God-loving people to stand and care for those placed in their path. There is a need, but the more I meet with pastors and church leaders, I am seeing that more and more people are answering the call and seeking to meet that need. This is such a blessing and encouragement to me.

The past few days I have heard and seen from church staff in this community the longing for community engagement. Many of our leaders are actively seeking to equip and inspire their people to get up and go out to a lost, broken, hurt, and dying world. It would be easy for non-profits like HOPE to shout out its disdain for the Church and their lack of involvement in the work being done in this community. It would be easy because many of us are never satisfied with the efforts of those we “think” should be involved, but it would not be right, nor would it be fair for us to do that. In many cases, this disdain is from a sinful or bitter heart. We, non-profits, believe everyone should be beating down our doors to volunteer, give, or pray. This isn’t healthy and, most of the time, is flat out wrong as we do not truly understand the amount of items/ministries on any given church’s plate.

Christian non-profits tend to forget that it is the Church that is the bride of Christ, not us. The non-profits are doing great work, but we are not the bride. Instead, we are here to come alongside the Church. We are here to help equip, not to sling mud. Once this is understood, we will be able to truly partner for the cause set before us…making disciples. Disciple making cannot happen if those of the Church cannot coexist or work together. It is my heart and desire to celebrate the bride of Christ by assisting as her arm in impacting this community we share.

The past three days have been such a blessing to me. I have had the pleasure of speaking to groups and/or pastors at Cedar Springs Presbyterian, Sevier Heights Baptist, Two Rivers Church, and Central City Church. I had multiple conversations with a varying demographic seeking to stand for life in this community. It is so encouraging to see God’s people eagerly longing to make a difference in the lives of strangers. We do not take these partnerships for granted. We are not going to neglect the significance of the assistance provided to HOPE on a daily basis by God’s people.

I am truly in awe of the work God continues to do through HOPE and our partnerships. He brought us here in 1997 for a purpose: a purpose that watched a neighboring abortion clinic close its doors; a purpose that has seen thousands of women choose life; a purpose that assisted in educating young people on the sexual decisions they are making, a purpose that gave many in the Church a place to stand, engage, and love; a purpose that would have never been possible without the bride, the Church, seeing a need and seeking to meet that need.

HOPE is a place for the physically and spiritually broken to find healing. HOPE is a place where dignity and respect can be regained. HOPE is a place where the voiceless are given a platform to speak. HOPE is a place that wouldn’t exist without the partners of this community. We love you, the Church, and all of our partners for answering the call and standing for life. We are excited to see what the future holds and we are grateful that it includes people like you!

posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center