Pastor Nate Rovenstine was quoting an unlikely theologian on a recent Sunday morning at Lawrence Wesleyan Church. As part of a sermon series on the Holy Spirit, titled the “Life Giving Helper,” Pastor Nate cited Garrison Keiller’s summary of the Acts of the Apostles:

The flames lit on their little heads and bravely and dangerously went they onward. 

Can we stencil that somewhere?

The allusion to the Holy Spirit’s surprising power and work among those clay-footed early disciples seemed particularly familiar and wonderful to the LFP board members and Executive Director Dana Ortiz visiting Lawrence Wesleyan that morning. Feelling ill-equipped—or should we just say flat-out clueless—and uncertain of how to go forward has been our modus operandi; the “onward” part hasn’t seemed open for debate.

Dana was there to speak to the congregation at Lawrence Wesleyan about LFP along with Lawrence Wesleyan regular and former LFP guest Josh Hoke. Hoke and his son, Josh, Jr., spent four months with LFP in 2011. Josh, Sr., a two-time salesman-of-the-year at Laird Nollar, now serves on the LFP board.

After Dana explained how LFP operates, Josh told his story. He told of serving a dozen years in the U.S. military as an Army medic. When administrative errors caused his VA benefits to be delayed, he and son Josh lost their house. Josh, Sr., was depressed and understandably distraught and the two spent several weeks in the Lawrence Community Shelter. Josh was worried about his teen-aged son in that crowded and rough environment. He was immensely grateful, he said, to learn about Family Promise.

At Family Promise, Josh, Sr., said, “my son got to be around decent, caring people who had strong morals and served as good examples. We felt safe and cared for and respected. We were able to save money, recover my military benefits and quickly regain housing. To this day, everywhere I go in the community I run into folks we know from the LFP program. They call me by name and ask about my son. We wouldn’t be where we are today—I really don’t know where we’d be—if it weren’t for Family Promise.”

Those of us listening to Josh speak that morning have no doubts that there were flames lit on our little heads several years ago when first, separately, and then together we heard the strong call to “get with it” and work to help house homeless families with children in Lawrence. That same Holy Spirit whom Josh, Sr., credits has been most patient, gracious and faithful as our organization has fumbled and faltered and made our way forward. What a golden moment and incredible blessing to sit and hear a strong, courageous and faithful dad tell his story and to know that these better days Josh, Sr., is providing a good home and beginning for his son, Josh, Jr., and now, as well, an older daughter and newborn granddaughter.

It’s a most humbling and sobering and amazing thing to consider this organization’s beginnings and sometimes fumbling efforts and then have before us the testimony of one such as the one who spoke briefly that morning. Josh Hoke, former LFP guest, current LFP board member and Lawrence Wesleyan Church attender, told the story of God’s work and love and transformation in his life and the life of his son, Josh, Jr.

Katherine Dinsdale