The first five young mission workers were called forward from the congregation. The first assistance project was to begin the very next day, less than a mile away from the church, at the home of an elderly woman and her disabled daughter. Their income was less than half of what the government defined as poverty level. A newly donated used pick-up truck was parked outside, donated by the late Frank Reese, president of North Pittsburgh Telephone Company, painted Hosanna green by Bart Williams, president and owner of Parks Moving and Storage and serviced by Tom Henry of Tom Henry Chevrolet.
Then, as this unique worship service drew near to its ending, Dr. Morledge asked the mission workers to kneel at the chancel, he asked the more than 500 people in attendance to rise, and he asked all to join hands.
At that moment, a Spirit of quiet holiness descended upon that assembly of believers. Some people shed tears. As I listened to the recording, I sensed a nearly palpable silence in that place 27 years ago. Then, with his voice momentarily breaking, Dr. Morledge offered the following prayer:
“Father, in faith we reach out to try to follow You, and like Abraham of old we’re not quite sure where we’re going but we go now to be your people in this community and clear to the uttermost parts of the world. Father, thank you for these individuals whom we set apart in Your name, please indue them with your Holy Spirit and empower them to be people who reach to the Hosanna people and in ministering may they be ministered unto, and as we join hands as a great church, Father, bind us in this time of faith, not with criticism but with our love, to try to grow and become even greater the people that you want us to be. We thank you for all of the blessings of the past and now we ask a special blessing. So please Father, to these six individuals, whom we now set apart and commission as mission workers of Hosanna Industries, thank you Father, thank you, please place Your Hands upon the heads of these particular missioners. Thank you Father, we feel Your Presence, we go out in faith in Christ’s name, Amen.”I knelt with those five young men that day, and remember the first sounds a new-born mission heard were those of the organ, beautifully phrasing,“Hosanna in the Highest!”
We were clay then. Soft, pliable, malleable. We were ready to be shaped by the Potter’s Hands.
I suppose the years have vitrified us through the hard and often difficult firing of work, striving, learning, succeeding, and sometimes failing. Whatever we may or may not be, I’m certain we could never go back to become what we once were. Though we’ve learned much, and tried hard to refine our efforts into a vessel of grace useful to the hands of God in this world, I still hope that something within the heart of Hosanna is yet soft and pliable, ready to be shaped at the Master’s bidding.
Over the years, Hosanna Industries has been privileged to help more than 3400 needy households. We’ve blitz built almost 200 new homes. We’ve received more than 160 mission workers, each one leaving a mark, some weaving at least a part of their hearts into the mission’s own heart. In the past 27 years, the mission has travelled about 2 1/2 million miles, moving more than 60,000 tons of material, working with about 150,000 volunteers, in spending less than 16 million dollars to get almost 60 million dollars worth of work done. We’ve had a presence in 35 states, provided disaster relief work in nearly a dozen locations, and given assistance to more than 40 charitable organizations who needed help. We’ve provided intensive trade-skill training for hundreds of people, and we’ve witnessed the creation of at least ten small entrepreneurial businesses that were an outgrowth of our influence. On occasion, the Lord has sent us abroad to five different countries, and we have hosted volunteers from a half-dozen nations and all 50 states in the United States of America.
Just a few days ago, I held a newly fired ceramic cup in my hands and admired its beauty. I can estimate the time when, not long ago, it was nothing but a lump of clay, but I could never know for how long it may be of future service to someone who finds it useful.
I believe God inspired the birth of Hosanna Industries. I’m grateful that His hands have molded and shaped this mission into the vessel of His choosing. I’m very grateful that the commissioning prayer of Dick Morledge 27 Palm Sundays ago has been answered innumerable times.
The cries of the Hosanna people have been heard, not ignored. I don’t know how long this vessel called Hosanna will be useful to God’s hands, but I’m so deeply grateful for your part in it, and for all who have gone before. Without you, and all the other wonderful, gracious, generous, believing people like you, I don’t think God could have ever shaped the mission His hands have made.
Happy 27th birthday, Hosanna! And thank you, dear Hosanna friend!
Rev. Dr. Donn Ed, Executive Director & Founder