“What if there was a huge hole in the floor on this side of the dining room?” Sue asked the folks who had just finished their hot soup. Their eyes followed her finger to one side of the room. “And what if you could throw all your bad stuff in there: Things you regret; things you did or didn’t do that hurt you; things that were done to you. All that stuff. What if you could throw it in that hole and cover it with a cloth and it would never be seen again? What if it could all be covered like it never existed? What if you could be free of all the shame and burden, grief and guilt that go with that stuff? Would you do it?” “Yes!” some hollered, “yes!” A few even motioned toward the hole, tossing their old stuff in without hesitation or invitation. Their interest was piqued.
Jesus told stories, the most amazing yet simple stories in the world, to teach us what his Father in heaven was like. He made picture bridges from his world to ours so that we would want to go there and would know how! Sue builds bridges to this group of travelers who have been abandoned or marginalized with hopes that a heart’s door will open to that old familiar story of the cross of Jesus. That story has the power to transform hearts and lives!
Stories are only a part of what happens regularly at the soup kitchen and free store that Sue helps run in Hope, BC. Love is demonstrated through the care and hard work of many volunteers who serve meals, help sort and distribute donated clothing, sing songs and play instruments. Our clients find not only a hot meal but friendly faces and people who call them by name and listen to them.
In fact, we had so many great volunteers that we started to send them out to a low-barrier housing project that was desperately under-staffed! Now we are learning how to deliver light, laughter, and peace in practical ways to some of the substance-addicted and mentally challenged individuals we serve there. Just being there to talk and to encourage people that they are worth knowing can assist in addressing their recurrent homelessness, unemployment, and isolation. God is up to good things locally!
On a global scale, the Bloom computer software project for literacy materials that I help write and maintain for SIL (Wycliffe’s field organization) is gaining international attention through a contest by USAID to find the best, most accessible programs for putting reading materials out in the mother tongue. Wycliffe is particularly qualified to do this!
My work is being tested in locales worldwide, with feedback coming in that keeps the developers current and aware of the real needs of the field. Many national workers with minimal computer or literacy training are able to quickly produce booklets and reading material in their own language, reducing months of work to only hours!
Both Sue and I feel particularly blessed to be called to live and minister in Hope, BC, and to still be able to touch the wider world through my computer software work! It is awesome to love your work as much as we do. God is good!
Gordon and Sue Martin—missionaries to Hope, BC, Canada—write lingustic and literacy software for Wycliffe Bible Translators.