The Hope of HopeFest

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This is Danielle. She was the first person in line for dental assistance at Hope Fest this past weekend. Hope Fest opened it’s doors at 9am on Saturday morning, and Danielle came at 3pm Friday afternoon. She was so excited to have made it on time to be able to get help; it was advertised as “first come, first serve”. I had a chance to sit with her for a while and she began to share with me about her pains and anxieties of life that make her feel that there isn’t much hope. I was able to share with her some of my pains and anxieties of life as well. She shed some tears of pain and joy, joy of being heard and understood, feelings of solidarity. When I took this picture, she told me she hated her smile, but I said, “Non-sense, you have a beautiful smile. I’m glad you’re here Danielle. It’s not a coincidence that you’re feeling hopeless and you’re in line at Hope Fest.” She smiled, cried, and said, “I guess you’re right. I didn’t think about that.”

The next day, I was walking around the plaza area in front of Chase Field and she tapped me on my shoulder and said, “Hey, thanks for everything”, then she gave me a big hug. I didn’t do anything other than share with her that there’s hope and that she’s valuable. It was very cool to see her physical countenance be so drastically different than the day before. She got the dental help she needed, pain has subsided, she got a haircut, and some pretty cool face painting. Here’s Danielle after experiencing hope in the midst of hopelessness.

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This is what Hope Fest is all about. Thousands of Danielle’s experienced a glimpse of hope, and for at least a day, they felt that life wasn’t too heavy to keep moving forward. Today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next… we will all continue to have opportunities that Hope Fest afforded us to offer friendship, resources, affirmation, loving words that battle shameful thoughts, etc… Hope Fest inspires us to live a life that offers hope in the midst of hopelessness, and not wait for once a year events to offer what Christ offers us every day.

 

Hope Fest… this Saturday!

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Hope Fest is among us. I wanted to take the time in this post to let you know about this city wide event if you don’t already. Now, if you know me, you know that I’m not a fan of “big Christian events”, but let me tell you why I love this event.

Hope Fest Phoenix (brought to us by CityServeAZ) connects our city, in my opinion, more than any other event out there. The passion and commitment of Hope Fest is this:

“To meet the immediate needs of our uninsured, underinsured and underserved neighbors, and then connect them to resources that facilitate long-term solutions, independence and stability. Through a collaboration of helping agencies, organizations and individuals thousands of people receive FREE medical, dental, vision, food, housing, haircuts, clothing, personal care products, employment services, child safety needs and so much more.”

This happens on one day, but impacts lives forever. The personal testimonies I’ve seen and heard first hand from those who have had life changes and opportunities from this event is one big reason why I love this event. I also love this event because it brings together major institutions, businesses, civic leaders, non-profits, and churches who work together, collaborate, and share resources for the sake of the poor… have you ever seen such city-wide collaboration for the poor?

This smells like good news. The poor are served and given opportunities for advancement, they get connected to local churches and other resources to help them on their journey, and fresh new look at the body of Christ in Phoenix is seen and experienced… and the good part of it is this; it’s not done in the traditional American Christianese kind-of-way. They don’t have to sit and listen to sermon before they are fed or receive services. The sermon is experienced. Christ becomes tangible, and believe Christ is overjoyed because of it.

I want to put in the spotlight two people who have committed and sacrificed time and resources to make this happen year after year so we can be sure to pray for them this week as they carry the weight of this event (and to be sure, there are many others to be honored as well who carry a huge load for this event):

Meet Terrilyn Miller and Billy Thrall:

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To help support them and their ministry at City Serve, click here!

Thanks Terrilyn and Billy for all you do and thanks to the over 2400 volunteers, 150 service providers, the Department of Economic Security in AZ for your huge partnership and commitment to this event, and to all those who financially and relationally help make this happen.