Each summer I spend a week with two other adults, one college age young adult, 2-3 high school seniors and a mix of 9th, 10th and 11th graders, making up a team of 11. We work in extreme conditions during mid-July in South Carolina. You can count on the temperature and the humidity to be above 90 (as in 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity). We are part of a mission group called United Methodist Salkehatchie Summer Service.
Each summer, at more than 50 locations around the state, adults, young adults and high school age young people come together to work on over 1000 homes. While we are there primarily as roof-rebuilders (or as in our case in 2013, roof builders), floor replacers, or deck builders, our most important job is to be hope providers. Many of the residents have lived for decades with rotted floors, roofs that no longer keep the rain out, and many other home-related ills. Some homes, no longer contain hope.
This past summer we worked for Miss Billie. She told us she no longer had hope before she learned Salkehatchie was coming to her home. While working underneath Miss Billie’s home trying to reconnect sewer pipes that had come apart, it occurred to me that the absence of hope is a paralyzing dark place. When you’re there, an air of permanence exist. Hope comes to us in many forms - a dry room, a working toilet, or the smile of a 14-year- old beaming with the desire to just be of help.
By the end of the week Miss Billie was inviting all of her neighbors to come see her newly painted and repaired home. She didn't have any problem explaining the hope that now existed.
As a leader, for whom do you need to provide hope today?
Written by Tommy Moore