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Hope.  Faith.   Belief.

Ministering to prisoners and former gang members requires us to exist in a state of Hope, to walk by Faith, and to Believe that with God, all things are possible.

When I was a child I would hide under my blanket and imagine escaping the pains and violence of my home.  I closed my eyes tight and plugged my ears, and pictured myself on a big boat full of captives chained up - but I would always find a way to escape and save everyone as we sailed into the sunset. It’s funny for two reasons:  1) I am scared of being on boats, and 2) I had never seen a sunset.  But those things didn't seem to matter.  Even as a child who spoke little English, was constantly beat down, and lived in an environment full of hate, gangs and hostility; I Hoped for a better future for all of us.

Yesterday was busy.  I rushed to the farm at 7:00 am for devotion and to get some work done.  We planted seedlings, cleaned up some weeds, and put the first of the walls up in my office.  In the midst of those tasks, I was on the phone what seemed like every 20 minutes guiding the homie Steven through trails of confusion to get his driver's license and car insurance, and finalize the purchase of a suitable car.  These are all challenging yet time consuming necessities so he can navigate to work, to the farm, and into a responsible adult life.  Once that was done, I jumped out of these normal activities to attend an interview for a side job at a funeral home, and then headed out to hang with Mary B who I adore so much.

Mary B and I usually share a cup of coffee before I help her with whatever she needs.  As I was drinking my coffee the inside of my mug revealed a graphic that read, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Only after I saw the mug's inside verse did I notice another verse on the outside of the mug:  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I chuckled a little.

 
Even while we work towards better lives, chaos still creeps in.  We have to continue to walk by Faith and not by sight.  We Hope that the homie Steven does good.  We have Faith that we will find suitable housing for the homie Jason, whose release is coming up.  We Believe that the homies who are embracing these men from behind prison walls can find positive remedies to love them as they transition.  We don’t carry a magic wand that will guarantee success for our clients; I don't think anyone does.  Because success is rightfully measured through the pains they have experienced and overcome - their internal healing that leads to external triumphs.  So success looks different for each man.  But Hope and Faith and Belief are the underlying foundations to success.  With those elements God can work miracles.

I pray that you keep Hope, Faith and Belief alive in your lives so that God can work miracles in you too.  Thank you so much for your love and support.  We couldn't do this healing work without you.

With Love,
Neaners
 
Hope for Homies Project Update
 
Now that we are into summer and our small crops are producing, it's clear why I chose a farm for our home base.  The farm is a healing and centering part of our work.  The peace that it gives us as we plow dirt sustains us on days when we're upset at a homie's relapse.  The alarm at the amount of weeds we have to pull tempers any pride we might otherwise have when a homie finds a job or gets his license.  The laughter of the homie on house arrest who has dialed in for our morning devotion reminds us how important our daily routine really is.  And when a huge bald headed eagle decides to sit in a tree 25 feet from Ms. Jodie and I jump up and tell her to take a picture before running inside, our energy is renewed for being part of God's plan.  (sorry, it flew away before she could snap a picture!)

The companionship we try to offer opens a glimpse of Hope to those who have no hope in themselves.

During the years I spent in prison isolation, I read a lot of books and jotted down quotes on the back of my infraction papers.  One of the quotes I wrote was from Robert Louis Stevenson: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”  

I know not everyone wants to farm nor do they all have the desire to do ministry work as I do.  Believe me, I’ve tried several times to make everyone become farmers!  For example, years ago I was doing community gardens with our 14 year old friend Lil Alex and a local youth group.  Lil Alex spent more time trying to hook up with girls than watching what he planted, so we ended up with carrots planted in between corn.  But the delight one experiences from being part of something and feeling seen by those who have never saw you before is a seed of Hope - and planting those seeds is our purpose. 

When I got released from prison in 2014 my first stop was a monastery where I just stared in silence at the icons they had.  I spent the next several weeks trying to avoid long interactions and groups of people because silence gave me peace to work on me.

Most homies and volunteers who come to the farm find themselves slowing down and seeing the beauty in stillness and soils.  It is a bonus joy to be able to send them home with part of the harvest.  They keep the farm going more than they will ever know.  And that gives us the peace, humility and enthusiasm to keep planting seeds.

Praying for Our Homie

Please keep our homie Jason in prayer as he prepares for release.  Pray for a safe transition and that God works to grow him into his best life, as we plant seeds of Hope within him. 
We know that, while we can plant seeds of Hope and Faith and Belief, we cannot of our own efforts make them grow.  All we can do is ensure that the seeds get into good soil, and get the water and nutrients they need.  That's what we're doing at Second Chance Outreach.  Then we rely on God, and wait and see what He does with those seeds. 

Some might grow, and others might just stay seeds.  The seedlings may get big and bushy, or they may grow spindly and not have much inner strength.  But we know that if even one seed produces beautiful fruit, then it can go on to plant new seeds of its own.  

Thank you for help us get these seeds planted.  And be with us as we watch them grow.
Visit www.HopeForHomies.org

Upcoming Homie Voice

Next month the homie Spooky will share some of his story.
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