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I’m a volunteer at HopeSprings. I love to help out anywhere that’s needed. I also help at the JACQUES café, it’s a wonderful experience and God paced it on my heart to reach out to oters and do His work. I’m also a HIV tester and I test sometimes at American Works. I volunteer at JACQUES at least four times a day. I’m HIV affected but God has work for me to do and that is to advocate.
During Lent and the worship services up to and including Easter, I became increasing convicted of John 13:34, "A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." After our family Easter dinner, my calendar reminded me of a commitment to help the "Why Women Cry"(women impacted by HIV) conference with child care. I didn't know what to expect except that I would be there most of the day and willing to help where and however was needed. When I entered a hotel room that was quickly filling with very young, very sad children, I realized that had stepped out of my "comfort zone". Unlike the back up of pagers we use during Sunday School, there was no (easy) way to get the moms if the children's distress became extended. Of the 37 tots, at least one child was crying, hungry, thirsty, having conflict with another child or needing to be changed continually throughout the day. I can only imagine their fear being in a strange place with unfamiliar people. Ordinarily, I would have felt stressed in this situation, but amazingly, I was filled with an inexplicable feeling of love and compassion for these vulnerable little ones. I recalled a verse from Matthew, "whatever you did for the least of these of my brothers and sisters of mine, you id for me". Truly I was blessed with a supernatural feeling of calmness and love. Yes, I do believe in "love at first sight" – but only because Jesus first loved us. Thank you Hope Springs, for making my Easter joy complete!
Almost 3 years ago, while my husband and I were attending a service at Grace Fellowship Church, a beautiful young lady shared a testimony about living with HIV, even though I worked for many years in the medical field in my country of origin (Colombia), I never took any interest in this disease, I just ignored it and decided it had nothing to do with me. That day at the church, The Lord just touched my heart but I didn't know how to get involved. I always have had in my heart our Latino Community and my dream has been to be a bridge between this community, specifically those that cannot communicate in English, and the American culture. My main goal bring them to Jesus and be all together in English and Spanish under the same roof one day praise the Lord. When I learned about Hope Springs, I did not know if this dream could fit in, almost 3 years later this dream is not any more a dream but instead a reality! Doors opened wide, we’ve been working together and now we have a permanent Spanish site where my husband and I test, counsel and educate about HIV/AIDS once a month. We have a totally bilingual site English/Spanish that has worked for 2 years, it has been one of the busiest sites all three years at City Uprising. This year I was just amazed to see that 3 of our testers were not Spanish native speakers but they did a wonderful job, they speak very good Spanish and it is a delight to see their love for our Latino clients, I do not have enough words to say how thankful I am for them and all the other volunteers that have learned Spanish and signed up specifically to volunteer at La Esperanza Center. Now, I have had the opportunity to help a Latino client to get link to care at Jacques Initiative, and because all of this now I can worship The Lord with other Latino believers in English and Spanish under the same roof. He is Good, to Him be all the Glory.
As one of the pastors of Horizon Church of Towson, it has been really exciting for me to see our church's growing involvement with Hope Springs! As a church, we really value being engaged outside of our walls and Hope Springs has enabled us to do this in really exciting ways. We find ourselves face to face with a demographic of people that we would have a hard time meeting otherwise. It has been such a blessing for us to have the opportunity to help shatter the stereotype that many people have of the church. On the flip side, it is really important for us to see below the surface of statistics and actually engage with real people. Once you know people personally and hear their story no "issue" will ever be the same. I have found that our congregation is being stretched and is growing in depth in their relationship with Jesus because of their engagement with Hope Springs. It is also opening incredible doors to reach Towson students who don't go to church which is something I have been praying for since I came to Horizon in 2006! God has answered many prayers through the ministry of Hope Springs and I am so excited that our church is a part of what God is doing!
3 years ago at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels was interviewing Bono, one of the most popular rock stars in history. Bono, a follower of Jesus Christ, challenged the church, asking where has the church been when it comes to the most significant human crisis issue of all time, the HIV/AIDS worldwide pandemic? Over 25 million people have died worldwide since the virus was discovered.
Instantly, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart and said, you and my church in Baltimore must engage in bringing hope and healing to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. But how Lord, I don't know the first thing about the disease or how to help people who have been impacted by it?
Within months of this call, God connected two churches, Central Presbyterian Church and Grace Fellowship to form a bond and partnership to birth HopeSprings, a ministry and response to the pandemic. We are totally committed to not only engaging our own churches, but to also create on-ramps for any church or person across the Baltimore region, who has also been awakened and wants to get involved and serve.
Our ongoing partnership with HopeSprings is vital to creating a clear, simple pathway for all God's people to be involved in meaningful, life changing ministry so that we can see this pandemic eradicated in our lifetime.
HopeSprings and Moveable Feast have been partnering for three years, HopeSprings members help to deliver meals to our Clients during extreme weather conditions, delivering meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Helping with our “Ride for the Feast” event. On behalf of our clients and staff, a special thanks and our continual partnership with HopeSprings. Please remember we love volunteers!
Laurence-City Steps / Carriage House and HopeSprings have been proud partners since 2008. Carriage House / City Steps provides supportive housing and services to homeless youth ages 14-24 years of age. Hope Springs offers an array of social and educational activities to Carriage House residents.
The monthly on-site activities include an educational, hands-on nutritional cooking class where residents enjoy the meals they prepare during the class. During the Christmas holiday, trees from a local farm are cut down and decorated for everyone at the Carriage House to enjoy. Pizza and snacks are also provided by Hope Springs volunteers and gifts are given to the residents. Recently, HopeSprings has organized an Arts & Crafts class to help young people explore their creativity.
HopeSprings also coordinates a trip to a farm in Woodberry Crossing, MD twice a year. While there, Carriage House residents enjoy swimming, arts & crafts, a petting zoo and lunch. We are grateful for this partnership that provides exposure and instruction to assist residents with making good choices in their lives.
Since 2009, the JACQUES Initiative has collaborated with the civic, social, medical and faith-based communities to address early detection of HIV and connection to medical care and treatment. HopeSprings has been a vital and instrumental partner in achieving HIV testing goals in the Baltimore-Towson area. HopeSprings passionate and skilled volunteers from various professions and walks of life are assigned to the JACQUES Initiative to provide non-medical assistance to JACQUES clients both on and off-site. As no one organization possesses 100% of the resources required to address the complex needs of the community, the partnership between JACQUES and volunteer agencies like HopeSprings proves crucial to getting the “WE” in HIV.
Heather and I made the decision to support HopeSprings after attending the first Journey training class. We were attracted by the simple spirit of service that permeated the group. It was never about what HopeSprings was creating, but about how HopeSprings could serve. Partnering in a deep way with those who had established relationships in the HIV/AIDS community and helping to build their capacity to serve was a novel approach that showed just how deeply HopeSprings cared about the people it intended to assist. For us, the decision to give was easy, and we hope others will join and help continue the life-changing work of HopeSprings.
I have seen HIV devastate community after community. First gay men then IV drug users and then homeless, minorities, heterosexual, youth…no one has been spared. Many well intended people responded to the needs of those infected…. The Church as a body did not. We watched our brothers and sisters die with little sense of responsibility to respond to their suffering cries. This was the leprosy of our time. Hope Springs is the Churches response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. As the epidemic has changed, so have the needs of those infected. HopeSprings has been able to harness the power of hundreds of volunteers and partners, train them, educate them and send them on to serve in however they are gifted. Hope Springs was started because of a desperate need for the Church of Baltimore to wake up and reach out to eradicate HIV while showing the love of Jesus to one another. The leadership is dynamic and well directed. I do not know of another organization doing what HS does. With every pot roast cooked, every meal delivered, with every HIV test taken, every birthday party given, with every house renovated, every story listened to, we respond to the directive given to us….”love one another as I have loved you”. This is an amazing group of unique visionaries and partners that understand Baltimore and the economic, medical, social and spiritual component to this epidemic. I would encourage you to learn more about HopeSprings and where you might be able to join us.
One of the things I love about testing is that you almost immediately get thrown in to the deep parts of relationship. In seconds, you plow right through surface level conversation into stuff that takes real vulnerability to share. There is a trust that just happens. It's a rare opportunity to say the least. Last year at City Uprising, I had many opportunities to test. One gentleman in particular sticks out. He walked in to my testing room and handed me his self risk assessment form. I had already been given probably 10 of these that day, but this one was different for a couple of reasons. First, he had answered almost every question with the riskier answer. Even more surprising was his answer to the question: What is the most important thing in your life? His answer:
Jesus. We proceeded to talk about Jesus and I had the privilege to pray with this guy. We had "church" right there in that little exam room. He told me how he hated the things he did and desperately wanted to change.
He knew it was Jesus that he needed.
It was an incredibly powerful moment that I will not soon forget. I give to HopeSrpings because it helps me to remember that people can get an HIV test many places, but we are different in that we offer Jesus Christ.