Ann Farabee: Here’s hope
One of my greatest spiritual memories took place a few years ago, while on a mission trip to Jamaica. Our group was visiting a prison for boys – mostly ages 15-17. Approximately 150 boys were seated in a small, very crowded room, where our leader spoke to them about the love of Jesus. After he shared the scriptures, including the plan of salvation, each ‘prisoner’ was asked to close his eyes to reflect on the words he had heard. He then told them that if they felt God was speaking to their hearts to accept Christ into their lives, to open their eyes and make eye contact with him, while the remaining boys kept their eyes closed during the prayer time.
I watched as the power – pure power – of God flooded that room. It was a moment in time I will never forget. It seemed like the eyes opened one person at a time, at a perfectly synchronized rate, and I found myself counting…. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 …. I lost count at 25. Each boy looked up sensing hope- at a place and time in their lives that could have easily seemed to be hopeless. They gave their hearts to Christ that day, and as they filed by to exit, each person proudly walked off with a copy of the New Testament entitled, “Here’s Hope.” The prison guards then stepped over into the line to claim their copies. The warden sent word that she wanted two copies- one for her and one for her son. Many opened it up immediately and began reading as they walked away. Seeing those eyes opened that day – that image has never left me. Hope …. was delivered. I saw it. But, mostly I felt it.
Some definitions of ‘hope’ include: 1) having a feeling that situations or events will turn out for the best, 2) wanting something to happen or be true, and thinking that it could, 3) desire with anticipation, 4) confident trust with the expectation of fulfillment.
Of the 130 times that ‘hope’ is mentioned in the Bible, Hebrews 6:19 is one of my favorites. It states that ‘hope’ is the anchor of our soul. What is the purpose of an anchor? To keep something from drifting. So, having ‘hope’ keeps our souls from drifting.
What must those boys have felt that day? No doubt, they lifted their eyes up in hope. Maybe ‘desiring with anticipation’ and ‘having confident trust with the expectation of fulfillment.’ The Holy Spirit was evidently ministering to their hearts.
I am sure they were counting on ‘love’ to get them through this hard time in their lives. And ‘faith’ is always so important – we only need a little – a mustard seed’s worth. But in that moment, ‘hope’ was right there… seemingly whispering to them, “You may not feel that you have love. Your faith may be weak. But, you still have hope. You still have hope.” And God whispered to their hope-filled hearts, “I’m here.” And they looked up. And they believed.
One hour on a mountainside in Jamaica – in a prison for boys, I experienced hope.
Have hope? If you don’t, it’s not too late to get it.
Here’s how: Romans 15:4 – For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement the scriptures provide, we have hope.
Ann Farabee, writer, teacher, and speaker, has taught in Kannapolis City Schools and Mooresville Schools. Contact her at email@example.com