February 22nd 2013
“Be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you, but with respect and gentleness.” 1st Peter 3:15
I’m watching two Ugandan college graduates, wearing blue jeans and sneakers, move fluidly between tin shacks and dirt paths. The poverty is staggering—no running water. Open fires for cooking. Single mothers trying to raise a handful of children on a few pennies a day. Kids not in school—it’s not a hopeful situation. But when Matsiko and Sara stop to talk, stop to hug, stop to invite children to their afterschool programs, I see eyes light up. I see smiles. I feel possibility. Even in blue jeans and sneakers, these two young leaders embody something…I think its hope.
So how do people “get hope?” Where does it come from? How do I find it? Can I manufacture it? Pray for it? Catch it? Learn it? To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how this whole hope thing works. Some of my friends might say, “Just invite Jesus into your heart. That’s where your hope comes from.” And that’s true on one level. But I think hope is more than just making a statement with words. Here’s what I have observed with children. When kids lose hope their world-view begins to shift from one of promise and potential, to one of despair and even destruction. Hopeful kids don’t join gangs. Hopeful kids don’t sell drugs. Hopeful kids respect their bodies. Hopeful kids don’t drop out of school. Hope, it seems to me, is the deal breaker between a life of productivity and meaning and a life that dies on the vine, never blossoming to bear the fruit it was intended to bear.
Matsiko and Sara have not had easy lives. Parents died at early ages, food was scarce, school fees always a struggle, but they kept going. I believe they embody what the writer of Roman’s talks of when he claims, “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope….” Hope forged on the anvil of suffering allows our leaders to look at the children and the circumstances in which they live and say, “With God we can paint a new picture of your destiny. With God you can live a fruitful life of purpose. I know because I have made the journey.”
So I watch our young, relevant, hip, faith-filled, forward- looking leaders dodge mud puddles and garbage piles so they can brag to parents about the academic progress of their children. I watch them “ready to give a reason for the hope” that is in them. I realize that hope is a mystery and something deeply unique to the human condition. Although a mystery, I do know one thing for certain—hope is passed from person to person…..even if you’re wearing blue jeans and sneakers.
Founder & President, UrbanPromise