Last weekend was HopeFest.
Some of you may remember this post, where I told you how I had been given the incredible opportunity to travel to Phoenix to help with this event. It was everything that I imagined it would be, but so much more!
Imagine people gifted in every type of way- doctors, dentists, nurses, accountants, lawyers, pastors, teachers, hairstylists, audiology specialists, singers, painters, balloon art makers, food service professionals, and every other type of gifting you can imagine. Now picture tables and tables full of free clothing and shoes, chair after chair set up for free haircuts, entire rooms devoted to those who needed immunizations, medical care, vision exams, tooth extractions, dentures made, personal care items, and on and on and on.
The 25,000 poor and homeless of Phoenix showed up with a variety of needs, and their needs were met in ways that exceeded any expectations that I had. The thousands of volunteers showed up, thinking they were there to meet needs, but in turn were blessed beyond words. I know I was.
Before I attended this event, someone said to me, “I don’t get it…you’re going there to do fitness??? Why do the poor and homeless need to get in shape?”
This person misunderstood as many probably do.
We weren’t there to give them a fitter, more toned body.
We were there to train hope.
Whether we were taking these precious people through a circuit, or leading in a drumstick routine, or jumping rope, or doing a ping-pong ball toss, or dancing, or praying over them, we were delivering HOPE.
We were talking to them about hurdles they’ve had to overcome. We were praying with them over broken homes, drug and alcohol addictions, mental illness, homelessness, cancer diagnoses, and about the Lord.
It was beautiful and it was holy, and it changed my perspective forever.
Want to know what I saw on those faces when they were moving?
When I watched a young mother jumping rope and her daughter looking at her with eyes full of love and joy chanting “Mama!! Mama!!! Go, Mama!!!” I was moved to tears.
When we were singing and a man walked up to ask where he needed to sleep at in order to get in line for dental services, I was moved to tears.
When I prayed with a dear woman that she would get to be reunited with her children one day and to earn her G.E.D, I was moved to tears.
When I bent down to give a tshirt to a little girl who smiled at me with the most beautiful, sparkling, hope filled eyes and a mouth full of rotten teeth, I was moved to tears.
As I watched another volunteer lead one of these precious souls to Christ, I was moved to tears.
When I saw the way these families took care of each other, I was moved to tears.
When I walked down the line of free haircuts and saw over 50 men and boys getting their hair trimmed for the first time in a long time, I was moved to tears.
When I stopped by the prayer room and saw hands raised and knees bent, I was moved to tears.
When I watched our volunteers serve, and love, and hug, and celebrate over each person who came over to join us, I was moved to tears.
It was beautiful.
It was holy.
And I’m forever grateful.
To any of you who supported us through your prayers or through your tshirt donation, thank you. We weren’t there just to give out free t-shirts and to entertain the amazing people of Phoenix. We were there to remind them that LOVE is always greater than fear and that they have a place at the table. They belong. They matter. They are loved. And there is ALWAYS hope.