Hard Reality and Glorious Promise

by | Jun 10, 2016 | City Lights

Thirty years ago, Hugh Dwyer grew up in our neighborhood with an alcoholic and then absent father. When he embraced the Gospel at age 13 after getting connected with our Stockade boy’s club several years earlier, God set Hugh on a path that leads to life, including wanting to be “the best dad he can be.” 

Hugh Dwyer

Hugh Dwyer

On May 9, Hugh came back to the Bronx to be the keynote speaker at the Hope Academy support banquet. Hugh shared how he received a Bible from Pastor Bob during the time when he was a part of our church. Inside were the words, “May this book become the guide for your life and may you, through its pages, come to know Jesus Christ about whom this book is written.”  In ways beyond what we could have asked or imagined, those words are being fulfilled as Hugh lives out his Godly roles of father, Sunday School teacher, Assistant Principal in an urban school, and a regular volunteer with a prison sports ministry.

At the banquet, Hugh spoke of the positive influence that men in our church, Bob, Jack, Angel, (and former members, Doug Rutzen,  Richard Bueller and Charlie Osewalt), had on his life as a boy and teenager. These men were planting and watering seeds of Truth in Hugh’s life, not knowing how or when God would bring the growth. Hugh is a testimony that God is able to rescue and redeem in such a way that we are not destined to grow up and become like our fathers, when those fathers are not following hard after Christ. 

Psalm 78:8 says “They would not be like their forefathers…whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.”

This is a hard reality—that sometimes it’s a good thing that children don’t grow up to be like their fathers. But it is also a glorious promise!  The promise is that the power of the Gospel is able to so dramatically transform lives so that they are not destined to walk the road of fathers who have forsaken or ignored the Lord.

This reality and promise is true for some of our Hope Academy scholars.

At Hope Academy this year, 12 of our 16 scholars are growing up without their biological dads involved in their lives in any positive way. This affects every area of their lives. For one of our scholars particularly, this hard reality of dad’s absence forms the background noise of his daily life.

Thirteen year old Daniel longs to see his dad. Over the year and a half that he has been part of Hope Academy, Daniel often makes reference to missing his dad and expresses sadness that his dad shows no interest in building a relationship with him.

Recently in the middle of the night, Daniel helped get medical help for an autistic girl who had fallen from the fire escape of his apartment building. The next day on the local news, Daniel stated that he thought the “hand of God” had kept this little girl from harm. At school he told one of our Hope Academy teachers that there was no other explanation of how that little girl survived the fall except that God’s hand was protecting her.

But Daniel also commented to his teacher that he hopes God will use this event for good in his own life, because he hopes that his dad saw him on the news and would be proud of what he did.  Daniel is praying that somehow God will use his testimony of God’s hand at work to bring his absent dad back into his life.

Our Hope Academy scholars need the ongoing influence of Godly men in their lives. I am grateful for the scholars who do have involved fathers in their lives.  I am also grateful for the 3 men (Jason James, Jacob Roberts, and Jesse Roberts) God has raised up to be teachers/administrators here at Hope Academy and other men from our church body who help fill the void of male mentoring in the lives of our scholars.

Naomi Woodmansee

Naomi Woodmansee

At our recent support banquet, Hugh finished sharing his story of God’s grace by modifying the prayer that was written in his Bible by Pastor Bob years ago, making it specifically a prayer for the Hope Academy scholars.  He prayed, “May this school introduce you to the Lord Jesus Christ who will be your guide, your Father and your Savior.  May your teachers ignite a passion for education and bring you closer to your Creator.  May you as a result of the efforts of Hope Academy be a difference maker for the kingdom.”

Our prayer is that God will not only change the hearts of our scholars, but also the hearts of their families, so that our scholars will live out

the reality of the verse: “Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Psalm 78:7)

Pray with us that, by God’s grace, it will be so!                    

                            –Naomi Woodmansee

Hope Academy Prayer Requests

 

  • Growth in our daily prayer partners
  • Growth in our weekly volunteer partners
  • Growth in our monthly financial partners

Household Words

In our last issue we mentioned the need for camp scholarships.  It turns out that we have more candidates this year than we have had in recent years.  Some are from Hope Academy.  I continue to hear stories of people who came to Christ at Bible camp.  I’m sure you have as well.  A continuation of your generosity from years past would be most appreciated.  Come to think of it, Hugh Dwyer had been a camper at Northern Frontier and later worked on summer staff.

New York City Christian Athletic League (NYCCAL) is in full swing, with its spring basketball program in a nearby park.  Configured into the schedule is a Gospel presentation.  This year they have broken down Ephesians 2:8-9 into six lessons.  Please pray for us on these Saturday mornings through June 18th, as we present the Gospel to over 60 teenage boys.  We understand that it is the Holy Spirit that changes hearts but the means that He uses is the proclamation of the Word and prayer.  The greatest need of this ministry is mature in the Lord men who can mentor them.  Where are the men!

A church in New Jersey, Budd Lake Chapel, has been so kind to us over the years to allow us to use their lake front property for a picnic on Memorial Day and Labor Day.  On many occasions we have had baptisms during that time.  This year we will be baptizing Tim Weal.  He is a graduate of Hope Christian Center and works in the kitchen at Hope.  Please pray for him as he takes his place in BHOF.

Would you believe that there is still a glimmer of hope in our court case?  A friend of the court brief has been submitted by a prestigious law firm in Washington, D.C. in another case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In that brief, it is being argued that the U.S. Court of Appeals, which overturned BHOF vs. NYCBOE, in 2015, was wrong in its decision because they misapplied a previous case used in their decision against us.  The brief is asking SCOTUS to correct this error.  If they agree, then another church will be free to file suit against the City of New York.  We can’t because our case has already been tried but another church can proceed without being hindered by our case.  Please pray.

We continue to be amazed and so thankful to the Lord for you and for His colossal provision.  What a mighty God we serve!

           –Bob Hall