For our first year we operated out of Ray White Park and our Community Garden, aptly named Hope Grows. We then took a leap of faith and rented a House (904 Short 11th st. Lincoln, IL.) to open a Community Center and named it Hope Grows Neighborhood Center. As we grew we started praying and raising funds to build our own Community Center. During this phase, Jefferson St. Christian Church generously allowed us use of an outbuilding, The Quonset Hut. We bought a vacant lot and formed plans to build. Our Groundbreaking was held in May of 2020 right after The Covid Pandemic started. through many volunteer days and donations our new building opened in June of 2021! Since opening we have added a parking lot, a Bus Barn/Garage, a Playground and new Landscaping. Plans are in effect to develop our back lot into a safe play area for the kids. Since Opening Hope Grows in Neighborhood Center in 2015 we have served over 200 kids and their families.
Its been such a blessing to watch and be part of the children's growth. Seeing firsthand how they handle conflict-peer pressure-bullying is encouraging all by itself, but when they start encouraging/teaching others to make wise choices we see and know that Hope is Growing!. In this community there are plenty of opportunities to flesh out the things we teach and learn. It is a war, for not only for their lives but their friends also. Following is a snippet of life from when we were in the rental house: Randomly, a 12 y.o. informed me of nude pics on Social Media of a 13 y.o. that was being circulated among her pears. After reporting it to the authorities. I made a phone call to the HHO board to pray about it. The previous day, I was led to intervene when one girl was being dragged across the street, against her will, by another so she could beat her up. The day before this a 14 y.o. boy stood in the middle of the street, in front of Hope Grows, Challenging 3 brothers. That ended in police, handcuffs, and a crying Mom. The following week I visited a 12 and 14 y.o in the Psych Ward for attempted Suicide.
At Hope Grows we believe that as Followers of Jesus it is our responsibility to make the most of these opportunities, teaching the children how to process life through a Christian Lens managing our emotions and thinking things through. We are so proud of all the kids, they are in a mental, emotional and spiritual battle everyday. Just Surviving is hard enough. To rise above their circumstances it takes Jesus and His Body to demonstrate a different way of living, as Aliens in a strange land. Only by the power of Christ in us do we stand firm through the storms. When they are ready and receptive we help equip them with new skills that enable them to rise above their circumstances. Many of the older kids have grown tremendously, and are choosing to distance themselves from the Drama, Hate and Rumors, while proactively discovering healthier ways of being who God Created them to be. Several of these Kids and several Moms have trusted Jesus as their Savior and have followed through with Baptism. These are our future leaders.
We are passionate about showing who Jesus is in our neighborhood; especially to children. We love to tangibly express God’s love to all people through our outreach to children.
First and foremost Hope Grows is a safe place. Many kids and families live in unsafe-unhealthy environments. Poverty, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions run rampant. Many of the Children live in survival mode most of the time.
Our Youth Ministry is for K to 12th grade. Our focus is Holistic, applying the empowering Life of Christ to all areas and stages of Kids Lives. Our vision is to raise up and empower the next generation to advance God's Kingdom, create goals, foster Hope and break strongholds so that our students can take their next steps to a life of significance with Christ by their side.
We are centered around relationships to foster a disciplining environment for our students to join us on their journey with Jesus. Our ministry approach is based on a caring community and individualized approaches (mentoring) to each kid where Godly relationships can develop - gathering's-outings for students to encounter God through worship, teaching and other events, such as mission trips and summer camp.
Listed below are the children's structured services at Hope Grows that have been birthed out of the unstructured time we spend out in the Neighborhood and where people live. In this way we progressively discover what is needed and wanted to make our neighborhood better and we prayerfully strive toward those changes. Following are some of our programs designed to meet those needs.
Monday - Thursday 3-5pm
POWERHOUSE (During School Year-age 5 and up)
-Help with Homework
SUNDAY FUNDAY (Something for all ages!)
Church Service 10:45
Fellowship & Fun Activities 1-4
Tacos! Bring the Family