“Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, and then watching the evidence change.”
– Jim Wallis
This quote, printed on the side of my favorite travel mug, is the mantra I (quite literally) carry with me as I organize congregations to end homelessness. For those of us who dare to believe that we can end homelessness, we are tied together by our shared hope that things to be different than they are right now, even when the odds don’t seem quite in our favor.
Hope isn’t a just a wish and a prayer for the world to be a better place or for things to turn around while we sit and wait. Active hope, like what I see in the work of our congregational partnerships, is a lot harder. Having hope can feel silly or impractical in the face of criticism or political pressure. But choosing to hold onto hope, in service to a greater mission, can be an incredibly powerful act of faith.
Here’s an example of how we at Beacon believed in spite of the evidence and over time, saw the evidence change:
Last week, we celebrated the grand opening of Butter, a café and bakery which completes the development of Nicollet Square. When the building was constructed, Beacon and members of Plymouth Church and Westminster Church envisioned a coffee shop or café as an anchor tenant in the building that could provide subsidized internships to youth coming out of homelessness and living at Nicollet Square. We were in the middle of an economic recession and couldn’t seem to nail down the right partner. Also, the cost of a brand new space in a depressed commercial real estate market was concerning to many. After waiting for almost two years, we found the ideal tenant in Butter, owned by Dan Swenson-Klatt. Not only is Dan a successful local entrepreneur, but he’s a former high school teacher and passionate about continuing that work through mentoring young people in all aspects of his restaurant business. Our dream of employing youth right below their first apartment has now come true, and we couldn’t be more hopeful for the futures of the 42 youth upstairs.
- Allison Johnson, Congregational Partnership Organizer