Expected Hope

Guest blog post by:

Jennifer Freudenburg, Project Manager

Concordia Center for the Family/Family Life Program at Concordia University Ann Arbor

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. …Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:35-36 ESV)

Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem with Expected Hope that they would find a place to stay, and that no matter what, Mary’s baby would be born.  Hope - with an exclamation point, and not a question mark.  What they discovered was that, indeed, Mary would deliver, but the Expected Hope of a room had quickly shattered.  I wonder if they panicked.  I would have.  But Joseph as the head of the home – persisted and pursued.

Recently, I interviewed  one of our Family Life students, Tyler Cronkright, who is approaching his senior year at Concordia University, Ann Arbor.  He has been working at a Practicum site through the Family Life program, at the Family of God Lutheran Mission led by Pastor Jim Hill, in the inner city of southwest Detroit.  His work has been with the homeless,  whose Expected Hope is a spot to sleep outside under the freeway overpass, and Dream Hope that they may be able to find one meal a day - somewhere.  I listened and watched Tyler’s body language as he sat in my office.  I was mesmerized by the love, concern and passion he has for this ministry with the homeless.  What I witnessed was coming from his deepest heart.  I wondered why people became homeless.  He shared that some have lost jobs and homes, but many are homeless because of lack of skills and knowledge, or they just grew up on the streets and that is what they know.  Some of the people don’t even understand that they could have a hope beyond being homeless.  It is just not even part of their thinking.

Tyler feels that the courses he has taken through the Family Life program have opened his eyes, given him skills and prepared him for this opportunity: how do you share the gospel to homes (those in traditional homes or those who are homeless); how do you teach resource management; how do you lead and listen to the deeper needs of people.

Tyler has experienced an entirely different culture.  This is a group of people who look out for each other, as an extended family.  Their communication is by word of mouth – no digital here!  They know who will help and listen.  They know who cares but cannot be “conned.”   And best of all – Tyler has seen such strong spirituality among those he ministers to – people who are very knowledgeable in the Word, those who understand God’s love and forgiveness.  As Tyler ministers, he learns.  I think he helps turn an Expected Hope into a Dream Hope!

I must say, I learned a great deal from this 30-minute interview with this awesome young man. What he had to say was so compelling that I went home, bought candles to bring to him because it often is the only warmth that the homeless have during the night (as they wrap their hands around the candle).  I went through my closets and found extra blankets and every step I took in the ensuing days, I continued to thank my God that I was warm, slept between flannel sheets and could go to my refrigerator and garner any food that tantalized my taste buds.

But, there was something else profound that came out this interview that sent tears coursing down my cheeks when Tyler left my office – something so unexpected that I could hardly swallow.  Tyler shared with me that when he was given this Practicum sight, his mother was a little concerned because of its location.  If I had been his mother, I would have been concerned, too.  It made me think of Mary, too – the unexpected, and possible panic and fear.  But Tyler continued to tell me what his father said to him, “If God is calling you, then go.”  Tyler left with these words on his lips: “My father is the Spiritual head of our home, and I know that he is praying for me every night.”  Wow – now that’s Expected Hope.

Mary and Joseph – no room.  The people Tyler ministers to – no warmth for their beds.  Earthly fathers who are the spiritual heads of their homes help give hope. Our Heavenly Father - who takes all our needs, our wants, our failures, our lack of knowledge - and sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us and care for us – showers us with solid, eternal hope, for now and our future.

For information on how to become a prayer partner for the Concordia Center for the Family, please contact Jennifer via email jennifer.freudenburg@cuaa.edu   or phone: (734)995-7428.

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