News from Hosanna Industries

The latest and greatest from the crew at Hosanna Industries!

A Circle Around Joe

13 December

Hosanna Industries has had a Christmas Gift Delivery tradition since we were founded.  It has been a part of our story from the very beginning.  The Women of the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown provide pre-purchased and pre-wrapped gifts to the households that we have helped earlier this year.  The Blair family provides beef from their cattle farm, and other friends provide other grocery items to send with the gifts.  Volunteers sign up to act as Christmas angels, and deliver the gifts and groceries to the households.  Often times these are the only gifts these households will receive, and many times new friendships are formed as the volunteers and gift recipients enjoy some Christmas fellowship.  On Saturday, we sent out over 100 volunteers to deliver to local needy households.  We ask that they let us know how their delivery went, and this is one response that we received on Saturday afternoon:

 

Hi Amanda, and Hosanna Industries,

While it’s fresh on my mind, here is my delivery experience: I called Joe twice and got no answer, left voicemails. I thought maybe he was sleeping in on a Saturday afternoon, maybe working or out running errands. I was close by waiting for a call back and at 10:00 I decided to go knock on his door thinking he might not be answering an unrecognized number. I knocked, he answered with a who are you and what do you what attitude… I let him know my name and mentioned that I was an ambassador of Hosanna Industries and volunteered to delivery some Christmas spirit. I hurried back to my car to grab everything and passed it along to him and we talked at the door. I asked him how are things going, he went on about how life lock deactivated his account and he was mad. He said that he hated life and was thinking of taking a bunch of pills or shooting himself cause there was no reason to live anymore. I mentioned that God puts us all through tests and trails of life and that everyone has a story. In an angry voice he went on to tell me that he no longer believes in God and nothing ever works out. I replied, don’t do that and asked if he had family nearby. He said yes but they can’t help me and said that he thinks he is bipolar and schizophrenic.

That’s when I decided to share a story with him that may give him some hope… I told him that he was lucky to have family and that mine died, my Dad, my Sister, Mom, even my girlfriend. I  told him that I was mad at God years ago and use to whip the middle finger up to the sky and yell at God and that I didn’t believe in him either. The look on his face was now more welcoming and I felt that I had his attention, he calmed down, we continued to talk. He said that he hates the holiday’s, I said so do I. I wasn’t trying to argue or just agree with him but I wanted him to realize that he needs to stop and think of the things that he can honestly say that he is grateful for. I told him that I got a dog which has helped me, then I noticed a turtle crawling across his living room floor, we talked about that for a little bit. I told him to focus on the positive and they will come. To shorten it up, he did ask me 3 times to tell them (Hosanna Industries) thanks for fixing his roof and that it was a job well done. I said I will and mentioned there’s one thing positive…

Side note: I am a little worried about Joe with his comments about taking his life so I ask when all of you are together to say a prayer to have the holy spirit come rock his world a bit like it did mine

Thank you for letting me be a part of the Christmas delivery and Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

-Ken

This is our founder and executive director’s response:

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your willingness to serve as a volunteer for the mission’s annual gift delivery endeavor today. Thank you, at least as much if not more so, for writing your thoughts about your visit with Joe and for sending them to the mission workers, which have been forwarded to me.

There is power in the Word, and your thoughts have delivered a powerful message to me. It may be that the effect of your words may go on and on into the future and into the hearts of others beyond our ability to perceive. It is often so with the Divine Word.

You made yourself available this morning to deliver some Christmas presents to a needy man. Your presence was not received with warmth and graciousness. Another person may have driven away or left the packages at the door. You persisted.

Your visit was as uneasy as it will be forever memorable. Joe is unhappy, broken, perhaps unwell, and alienated. Upon hearing his story, it would have been convenient for you to casually wish him well and take your leave. Something made you linger. Some One made you stay.

Now the story you have told is being heard by others. It is gripping the hearts of people. At this moment, I can think of about a dozen people who are processing the story of Ken’s visit to Joe. Within a few hours, it may be that a hundred people will hear the Word within the story and discover meaning in it. By tomorrow, perhaps a thousand souls will hear the Christmas story told once again in a new a very contemporary setting, and as a result, they may never be quite the same again. This is the power of God’s Word.

You entered a home that is darkened by the influences of dreams broken, relationships severed, hopes torn, and health fractured. Your willingness to gently persist in conveying the quiet and positive message of another way is the essence of Christmas itself, for it signifies the Spirit of the One who comes into the world at the first Christmas and ever since. Your presence with Joe today is a reflection of Christ’s presence in and to this world.

He was sent as a gift from God, but the world was largely unaware of His birth. The shepherds came to the scene of His birth, and left rejoicing, but we know nothing of their witness ever again.

In the unlikeliest of times and places, He was born. Mary and Joseph were there, accompanied by a few disreputable sheep-herders who reported a vision of singing angels. Most analysts of the day would have considered them perhaps drunk or at least delusional. The world itself, 2000 years ago, had many more important things to do than to take note of the birth of an illegitimate baby peasant Jewish boy swaddled in cloths and placed in a manger crib.
Nothing seemed less significant.

With God, it is often so.

A little, vulnerable Light came into the world in Bethlehem when Christmas first happened. Anything could have snuffed out that Light. Jesus could have died of infant mortality as many children did back then, He could have been slaughtered in the military massacre that would happen in Bethlehem two years later. He could have been lost to child-traffickers in Jerusalem at the age of 12, He could have drowned in a river as a playful boy or as a young man of 30 about to be baptized.

Anything could have and indeed has threatened the Light, but even today after 2000 years, the darkness of this world has not overcome it.

Ken, you took that Light to Joe’s home today on behalf of a little mission that was born because many Christmases ago, someone else visited another home darkened by abject poverty, and in the despair of that moment, saw Christ.

We never know what happens to light. It can be rejected and refused, but it can also be received. No matter what we do with it, light can never be destroyed.

So it is with Christ and Christmas. We can reject and refuse the Light that it graciously offers, or we can refuse it, but we can never destroy it.

We don’t know what will happen to Joe because you visited him today, we can’t determine what he will do with the Light you presented, but in a strange way, it really doesn’t matter. You already brought Christ, and Christmas, to one of God’s needy children in this world oppressed with the darkness of unkindness, violence, and greed. You shined Light in the darkness, and the darkness, no matter what may come, cannot destroy that Light, in time or in eternity.

The man who pastored the church where Hosanna Industries was born taught me a poem many years ago which he had learned from his father a generation earlier. Back in 1934, these words began to be used in a Christmas Eve candle lighting service, and to the best of my knowledge, they’ve been repeated, somewhere, every Christmas Eve ever since for the last 83 years:

“Lord, it is dark, and the road is rough to go,

I lift an unlit candle in the night, behold it Lord within my upraised hand,

Touch it to flame with Thine own heavenly Light.

This slender waxen thing that is my faith, fire it, Lord,

until its circle, ever widening at my feet, will light my certain path across the dark.

‘Thou will light my candle’, thus assured, I shall go forward through this unknown land.

The way shall never grow too dark, too long, for I shall bear Thy Light within my hand.”

Ken, on behalf of all who have served and are serving the One who has called us at Hosanna Industries, thank you for shining your Light in the darkness today. Nothing can ever be the same once Light has been given.

May the Light of this Sacred Season continue to guide your path,

-Donn Ed

Hammers Hearts and Hands: November, 2017

07 December

Just a few days ago, as the sun was beginning to fall in the western sky, I found myself racing against the clock to make some progress on an important outdoor project, attempting to complete this work before the onset of winter. With saw and hammer, I set my focus upon the task of completing some simple framing, but in the process I inadvertently nailed several boards in an improper location.

Despite all the years of accumulating knowledge and experience in this field and despite my intention of doing a good job, I had done something that I’m never proud of doing. I had made a mistake.

Believe me, I am more than qualified to make that statement. I’ve made innumerable mistakes over the years of my life, and my dossier of mistake-making is more extensive than I am happy to admit. I’ve made mistakes in judgement, logic, and perception. I’ve made errors in decision-making, listening, speaking, and doing. I seriously doubt that there’s even one aspect of my life into which mistake-making hasn’t insidiously entered.

When I was a young man, I probably would have taken a sledgehammer to the framing mistake, demolishing what I had to work with, and leaving no alternative but to start all over again. That’s a human option, but it’s expensive. I’m not young anymore. My hands didn’t reach for a sledgehammer, but instead they picked up a tool called a “cat’s paw”, designed to discretely retract an embedded nail without causing too much damage to the overall work. Carefully, I applied the physics of this tool to my framing error and in a few well-spent minutes I was able to undo the wrong I had done without being destructive.

2000 years ago, a little baby boy was born to an unmarried and bewildered couple in a town called Bethlehem of Judea, half-way around the world from the region we call home. His newly born body was swaddled in long strips of cloth and placed in a borrowed, crudely built manger as His family had no proper cradletoputintouse. Thirty-three years later His scourged and flesh-torn body,now dead,would be removed from a Roman cross of crucifixion, wrapped in long strips of cloth again, and placed in a borrowed grave.

Without God’s grace, the life of Jesus, from birth to death, would arguably be just another sad portrait of a life riddled with the results of mistakes that have always plagued the human race. With God’s grace, however, His life becomes the miracle of salvation and the emblem for all true human progress. Jesus is the instrument, the tool, of divine grace that God sent into the world to repair all the mistakes we make without making things worse. Jesus is the personification of God’s grace in this world. He is the living incarnation of God’s will, not to condemn but to correct, to build rather than demolish, to be constructive instead of destructive.

Our world is self-destructing under the sledgehammer swing of pride, hostility, hatred, terrorism, violence, senselessness, bigotry, judgmentalism, and meanness. We are hurting one another, hurting the human race, hurting God, and hurting the cause of the Christ whom God sent into the world to save. Our pride and arrogance have grown large and heavy like the head of a 20-pound sledge and we ignore the delicate utility of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s “cat’s-paw” in the Divine Builder’s Toolbox.

Nearly 28 years ago, Hosanna Industries was born to be an instrument of grace in God’s world. The mission has never known a day since its beginning on which destructiveness could not have prevailed. But we were and are called by Christ to be constructive, to build rather than destroy, to help rather than to hurt, to heal rather than injure. We have been invited to share in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and what a year of grace this has been! Since last Christmas, the mission’s service log reports that we have been privileged to help 161 needy households, work with 1675 volunteers, and use all of the gifts generously given to build more than two million dollars worth of equity in this world. We have made blunders, errors, mistakes in various ways, but God’s grace has been sufficient in correcting the way without condemning the work. God’s grace always prevails if we allow it to work.

Very soon, the Holiday Season will be upon us once more. For a little while, the world will be full of the signs of Christmastime. Lights, decorations, trees, presents, parties, carols and candles will ornament our experience, but will we grasp the profound and transforming meaning of it all? Sledgehammers work, if demolition is what you are aiming to do. But must we behave with demolition in mind? Isn’t there a better alternative? Christmas means there is a better alternative and its name is Grace in the person of Jesus.

With this newsletter, you will find enclosed our traditional Christmas present to you, dear friend. It’s another Hosanna hand-made Christmas tree ornament, our 24th in a row, this one made by Amy out of the same kind of canning lid that the mission has used for many years in harvesting God’s produce from the garden and in processing thousands of jars of good food for hungry people. I hope you enjoy it as you include it in your Christmas decorations this year. We give this little gift to you with all the grace we have been given, reminding you as well as ourselves that Christmas is always a choice, because Christ is always the most important choice a person can ever make. This Christmas, choose Christ. Choose His ways of love and forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. Give Christ a chance to correct rather than condemn. You will be amazed at what the Master Carpenter can do if you let Him carefully do His work. Perhaps as you light a candle this Christmas Eve, please know from the bottom of Hosanna’s heart, how very grateful we are for you and for all that you do to help us carry on in our work. Please continue to pray for us, remembering the worth of God’s grace in this world, His grace made known to the world in and through your own precious life, and sing with your voice of faith together with God’s children everywhere:

Silent night, Holy night, Son of God, Love’s Pure Light!
Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face,With the dawn of redeeming Grace, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

Love and grace to you with unending gratitude, dear Hosanna friend, this Season and always,

DDE

Read more in our 2017 November Newsletter.

Festival of Trees 2017 Recap

07 December

We are thrilled to announce that the 2017 Festival of Trees raised over $20,000! We exceeded our goal, and are so thankful for the generous support. Over the three day event, we saw some 700 people come through the doors to see almost 60 creative Christmas trees. Thanks to the 30+ volunteers who helped make it happen, the tree decorators who made gorgeous trees, the sponsors who gave dollars, our media sponsors who promoted the event, the generous people who gave through the Giving Tree, the numerous businesses who donated food and drinks, the many musicians who performed beautifully, and Quality Gardens our gracious hosts. (Photos of the event coming soon.) Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow! 🎄

TOP TEN things you can do TODAY (Giving Tuesday) to give back

24 November

Today is Giving Tuesday, and in the spirit of giving, we came up with a TOP TEN list of ways to give back through Hosanna Industries. These are simple things you can do right now.

 

 

  1. Say a prayer or two! Pray for the people crying out, “Hosanna, rescue me now, Lord!”
  2. Donate online or mail a check.
  3. Like us on Facebook, share our pages with your friends, or rate us on Facebook.
  4. Write a review about your experience with us on Network for Good, which will help us to receive more support.
  5. Register for our metal-working class to make a handmade Christmas gift.
  6. Sign up to deliver Christmas gifts to a household that we’ve helped this year.
  7. Start collecting spare change. Every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar, etc. makes a difference!
  8. Sign up (at the bottom of our website) for our e-blast to stay in the loop about our work.
  9. Shop like you normally would at Amazon.com (or Amazon Prime) but use Smile.Amazon.com instead, & .5% of every purchase will benefit the mission, with no extra charge to you.
  10. While you’re out running errands, grab something extra. Here’s our wish list: 

Thanks for your support & Merry Christmas!

Hammers Hearts and Hands: September, 2017

27 October

As I write these words, Hurricane Irma is churning its ferocious path across the Caribbean waters, bearing down toward a certain Floridian landfall with recorded windspeed of more than 150 miles per hour and the potential of a predicted 20” of catastrophic rainfall. Further out in the Atlantic Ocean Hurricane Jose is gaining energy as it travels westward to destinations as of yet unknown. In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia is threatening the northeast coast of our southern neighbor, where not very far from that location Hurricane Harvey decimated the Houston and surrounding regions just two weeks ago. Just last night, the strongest earthquake in more than 100 years stealthily struck the southwestern side of Central America, causing as of yet unreportable levels of loss of life and property.

Millions of people are variously evacuating, preparing, escaping, “hunkering down”, watching, waiting, remembering, forgetting, and grieving. All of them are hurting, in one way or another, from hardships never fully anticipated but now as real as rain.

Closer to home, I’ve witnessed mission workers and volunteers, laboring hard all through the summer in all kinds of conditions, helping poor households in the Southwestern Pennsylvania area who have been suffering for a very long time from the ugly and disastrous effects of poverty. While helping with these efforts, I’ve also seen hundreds of people travel far from their homes to volunteer with the Hosanna workers in bringing much-needed help to the households who suffered from the catastrophic flooding in Richwood,West Virginia a year ago.

Still closer to my heart, I’m aware of a husband and a wife, both in their 90’s, who after living together for nearly 75 years are no longer under the same roof. The worsening of dementia has made it necessary for one to leave the other in order to receive professional care in a nursing facility, and the quiet, painful calamity of separation, loss, grief, sorrow, and loneliness threatens the coastlines of old souls. Another dear friend, beset with the uninvited changes of age and decreasing physical condition, struggles with the tension between trying to live life independently or surrendering to this painful challenge by transitioning to an assisted-living environment.

Just last week, I spoke to a man whom I have known all my life. He is about my age, has enjoyed physical health through the years, lives in his own home, and works hard to make a living. Three months ago, he found himself not feeling very well on an ordinary, seemingly routine day of his life. The next day, he mysteriously felt worse. The next morning he could not get out of bed because his legs wouldn’t move. Apparently, a very rare neurological condition attacked his system and now he is adjusting to what may very well be living out the rest of his years in a wheelchair.

All of these natural and personal disasters are tribulations that we experience in this world. No one is immune from catastrophe. There is no inoculation against loss and hardship. Hurricane Irma will be utterly impartial toward millionaires and paupers alike as she unleashes her fury upon Florida over the course of the next three days.

My dearest friend once said,“In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, knew that tribulations are not possibilities, they are eventualities. Sooner or later, we all know or will know what it’s like to be lost in the storm of a hurricane, or the storms of the soul where advanced age, decreasing physical health, poverty, hardship, job loss, confusion, anger, or piled-up resentment crash upon the human heart. They all lead to the same place: tears, anguish, despair.

That’s where Hosanna comes in. We were born to help those who are crying out for God’s help, and by the grace and provision of God, we will help! We will rebuild ruined houses, we will construct new homes, we will craft handicap ramps, we will continue to go where He leads us to help those who are hurting, and we will do so, not with the hammer of anger but with the hammer of love, for that is what Jesus Christ used to “overcome” this world.

We can try to prevent catastrophe, but we are in truth powerless against it. But we can, should, and will help when hardship falls for this is the most important work in all the world: to bring hope to the hopeless, faith to the fearful, love to the forgotten.

I send you peace today, dear friend, in this world of dynamic despair. Do not be afraid. Fill your heart with love. Trust God. Forgive your adversaries. Play a beautiful song on the piano. Paint a beautiful picture. Write a beautiful letter. Pray without ceasing. Support worthwhile efforts sacrificially. And always remember these two things: The Lord is at hand, and next year’s lilies will one day bloom. Storm clouds might gather and terrible energies might collide but the power of love goes on forever.

~DDE

Read more in our 2017 September Newsletter

Suzanne’s Tangled Mess No More

19 September

Last week I got a call from Suzanne. She and her two children, all wheelchair bound, needed our assistance with a ramp and other repairs last year so they could get outside for the first time in years.

She said, “I hated calling you! You already did so much for us! I tried other agencies and even my church. I finally called United Way and they told me to call you! I keep trying to maneuver onto my side on the ground to pull weeds but they are getting ahead of me. They are four feet tall in some places and I can’t mow the lawn.”

Becky immediately mobilized a group of willing volunteers to the home and transformed her lawn into a safe and beautiful yard she and her grown children can enjoy. Suzanne was relieved that the neighbors will not have to look at the tangled mess it was before.

THANK YOU to all of the volunteers who labored that day to make a difference!

-From an e-blast earlier this year (Sign up for our e-blasts at the bottom of our site!)

Hurricane Harvey Response

01 September

In response to the inquiries we have received about our involvement in Hurricane Harvey rebuilding:

Yes, we anticipate helping needy households rebuild in the Houston area in response to widespread property damage and loss due to Hurricane Harvey.  We are prayerfully considering future efforts to act, not as “first responders”, but as “primary charitable rebuilders” after the water has receded and initial recovery efforts are underway.

Hosanna Industries travels to areas of disaster to help with the mobilizing of large groups of volunteers to build and repair homes damaged by tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, or other catastrophic events to bring hope and restoration to hurting individuals and communities.   We’ve worked after multiple disasters, including Hurricanes Andrew, Floyd and Katrina, among others.   In 2005, Hosanna assisted over 500 households with rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Ivan flooded parts of the Pittsburgh region.  We are currently in the midst of rebuilding Richwood, WV, after the 2016 “thousand year flood,” and have helped 32 households so far  this year, implementing the labor efforts of our staff of mission worker, skilled subcontractors, and more than 900 volunteers.

Because of our extensive and varied experience with disaster relief and rebuilding, we see disaster recovery  as a multiple phase process.  These phases, can be described  as follows:

  1. Immediate emergency intervention (rescue, emergency relocation and temporary shelter/food/medical care, etc)
  2. Initial cleanup and utility restoration following the cessation of the initial calamity
  3. Evaluation and strategic community-based consensus building
  4. Actual physical rebuilding/reconstruction/repair
  5. Continuing analysis, evaluation, and long-term recovery problem solving

Our current news media culture often depicts disaster and recovery as happening almost simultaneously or suggesting that this be so, and public expectations sometimes project the same views. In the actual field of disaster recovery, this is not the case, should not be expected to be the case, and in many ways simply cannot be the case tactically and logistically.

It will take some time for the first few phases to be complete, and some funds.  In reality, the most expensive phase is #4, and the immediate fundraising that happens after a natural disaster is often meant for  or used toward the first two phases only.  Unfortunately, our culture has a short attention span and when the time for actual  rebuilding begins, the culture and news media will have moved on to new topics, while Houston is left trying to rebuild, at costs initially estimated to be some $40 billion dollars.

 

Hosanna Industries is requesting a few things:

  1. Prayers for people affected by Hurricane Harvey
  2. Let us know if you were personally affected, or have any connections with agencies in the area that may need help with rebuilding efforts.  We are specifically looking to help under-insured or under-resourced homeowners.  (The Washington Post estimates that 80% of those affected do not have flood insurance.)
  3. Keep us in prayer as we explore the possibilities, come up with a plan, and begin fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and organizational  efforts.

About Hosanna Industries: Hosanna Industries was founded in 1990 as a faith-rooted, non-profit mission whose work involves a variety of charitable initiatives aimed at helping our needy neighbors.  By the grace of God and through the mechanical and aesthetic arts, mission workers at Hosanna Industries build and repair homes for needy households; teach and lead classes and workshops in art, nature and spirituality; and train young people in construction skills.  Since our founding in 1990 Hosanna Industries has provided around $52 million worth of charitable work to the community for around $15 million.  We depend on the generosity of others to complete our work.