Greetings everyone, and Happy New Year! I hope you had a fantastic last month celebrating with family and friends over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I’d like to give a quick update on how our ministry is doing and some of the fruit that we’ve seen over the past month and a half. First off, our Thanksgiving Dinner (otherwise known as “Thanksgiveaway”) on November 22 was a HUGE success! With the partnership of 4 other ministries, we fed over 300 people and gave away about 7 tubs of varied clothing with the help of a combined total of nearly 200 volunteers. We had food donations from all over the county, and even with six turkeys and a wide variety of side dishes, we ran out of food TWICE in the same evening, the first time within an hour and a half! We continued the evening by ordering 10 pizzas only to run through them again in an hour, prompting us to order another five pizzas. Overall, from what I’ve seen and heard, there was an over-flowing response by our visitors who were met with tangible experiences with the love of Christ as hundreds of you poured into the park and into the streets to fellowship with those who many did not have a family or place to go for Thanksgiving. Dozens of stories have risen out of that day where people from both the church and the unchurched were blessed by the event, and we are so excited already for next year! Props to Garret Shelsta and Julie Burleson, ministry leaders of Ekklesia who did the majority of the volunteer recruiting, food preparation, and event coordination, and a huge thanks as well to all the other ministries and volunteers who were involved in making this event possible. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to say THANK YOU for helping expand the Kingdom of God here on earth!
In addition, we have been seeing many first time salvations, particularly in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving as we saw five weeks in a row one person a week making a decision to follow Christ and to be born again! As a 2014 total count of all salvations witnessed through Rising Hope, we have seen over 100 salvations in 2014 alone. This is a staggering number for such a small, grass-roots ministry that’s being led by a handful of people! So we praise God for the work He’s doing and the privilege to be a part of such an amazing movement.
We’ve asked that on Friday, December 26 for all our volunteers to take a rest, as you all have been laboring incredibly hard despite the holiday season. And for your sacrifices, we asked that you would take that week off to enjoy it with friends, family, and of course Jesus. But the other reason why I ask you to rest is because starting tonight we are resuming street ministry and starting off the year with a BANG! We are praying that God would continue His amazing work in downtown Bellingham, and that He would even double the salvations and the lives being touched in 2015. We at Rising Hope firmly believe that God wants to start a movement here in Bellingham that would have lasting impact throughout not only our county, but also throughout the world. We believe that scripturally, Jesus has set in motion a plan to use the “least of these” in the most unexpected ways to glorify Him most and in the most public ways. We believe that there is significant spiritual implications for our presence as the Church of Jesus Christ to be in the dark places of our city, and we believe that as more believers come to join us in this mission to reach the lost in the darkest places of our city, that the effects will echo throughout all spheres of influence in our culture. So please, do everything you can to prioritize your life around knowing and following your Savior Jesus, having a definitive time of prayer and sabbath, and cultivating a heart that would break for the lost, hurting, unbelieving, and the oppressed of our city. God bless, and let’s make 2015 a year of God’s Son being most lifted high in our city!
Photography credit: Zachary Woodyard and Jaydon Ahue