For the first post of this blog, I want to give everyone access to the content of the email I recently sent out. If you have questions or would like to contribute to our current goal, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you’d like to watch a brief video describing the programming I am looking to implement in Lower Bucks County, click this link: TreeHouse is saving lives!
The following is the email update:
Hello from New Jersey!
y now, most of you have likely heard or read about the attempted arson at Restoration Church back in April. This past week the man responsible for the damage done to the church as well as the acts of vandalism and slashing of dozens of car tires in the neighborhood surrounding the church was caught and arrested. Feel free to get caught up on the situation from local coverage here.
It is bizarre to hear about all the ways in which this man lashing out at the world and then to hear that the only reason he could point to for doing so was that he’s “had a hard life”. As strange as that might seem, it might seem even stranger to some that Ross, the pastor of the church that had been displaced, inconvenienced, and hurt by this man’s violent actions is ready and willing to offer forgiveness and acceptance not just from himself personally, but on behalf of a like-minded congregation. I hope that you will join with me and Restoration Church as we pray for John Serina to come to faith in our Lord through these experiences and through his interactions with Ross.
This whole situation gets me thinking about a number of things as I contemplate moving to the area to start an organization offering hope to hurting young people and their families. The first thing it does for me is affirm the need, literally in the neighborhood of Restoration Church, for youth to have more safe environments to give and receive support and to form positive connections with caring adults.
The second thing I have been wondering is what if there had been hope? How different could things have turned out for this man if Hope for Youth would have been a regular part of his life as a young person? He might still have been able to say he “had a hard life” growing up, but he would have known that he is not alone, that he is loved without strings, and that he is lovable, capable, and worthwhile, no matter what everyone else might say to him. He would have healthy outlets for his emotions and tools to reach out when he found himself in any form of desperate need. He would have had hope.
Help us to offer that hope to teens that are currently experiencing that same “hard life” that Mr.Serina once did. Pray for Hope for Youth as an organization, that we would not lose sight of the mission to which God has called us. Please consider giving financially to help us accomplish our goal of reaching as many hurting youth as possible with the message of hope. I appreciate your time and your willingness to give in any form and pray that you will be blessed in return!
Take time to consider how God is calling you to give to support our mission of bringing living hope to hurting teens.
I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support that has been shown to me and this idea to which God has called me. I thank you for the ways in which you have affirmed this calling up to this point and I am humbled as I go about the next phase of this journey to bring hope to as many hurting youth as God puts in my path.
My desire is for you to see this ministry as a chance to sow generously with whatever resources God has given you. Like it says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. One of my favorite preachers spoke on this topic this past Sunday so if you have some time, listen to his sermon here: “Committed to Giving“
“Josh, I get that you are starting something, and I am pretty sure this ‘Hope for Youth’ thing is about you and your ministry but I am a little confused about all of it! Wasn’t it called TreeHouse? And how did you come up with the idea? And when will you start working with the teens?”
Great questions everyone! And thanks for asking them! I apologize if you have been a little fuzzy on the details in the midst of all the facebook and blog posts, emails, and requests for “likes”, but it is my intent in this post to clarify things for everyone. Please leave me a comment below or send me an email if any questions remain after reading this post, and thanks for your time and support!
Restoration Church in Levittown, PA is a church plant whose pastor is Ross Manders. The church will be celebrating its second anniversary in October and has done an amazing job of engaging the community around it with a number of outreach oriented (often free) events each year. Ross also happens to be my brother-in-law and I know his heart longs to see the real needs of the people of Levittown met by the work of the local church. One of the main reasons I am writing this post is because Restoration will likely be the location at which we will launch our ministry for at-risk youth. Over the past year and a half I have been encouraged by the work that Ross and my sister Emily have put in, alongside a team of amazing, dedicated volunteers. It has been inspiring to see the positive ways in which the community has been responding to the efforts of Restoration Church.
So when all of us that are in some way connected to Restoration woke on Sunday morning to reports of arson at the church, we were stunned and confused. In the early morning hours someone lit fire to a cross in front of the church, a small wooden playhouse next to the church building, and tossed some burning rags into the building through a broken window. Who would do something like this? And why?
Providently, (I was going to use the word “Fortunately” here, but it doesn’t seem to fit) the fire that was thrown into the church building itself was contained to a sink in a bathroom, where there are very few flammable materials, and an alert neighbor across the street called the fire department soon after seeing the flames of the burning cross at 4:30am.