Tag Archives: Faith

Hammers, Hearts, and Hands: March 2018 Newsletter

10 April

When Hosanna Industries was born 28 years ago, two words were coupled together in an attempt to bring enduring identity to a newly-founded mission. “Hosanna” is the ancient Hebrew word that Jesus heard the crowd crying out as He entered Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday. It is a word of faith that means,“Rescue me; save me, Lord!” “Industries” is a word that refers to the energies of work, production, skill, giving, and effort in bringing help to those who need God’s help in today’s world. It’s a very simple combination of words implying an equally simple formula for compassion-based mission in these days: faith + work = God’s response to the desperation of the human condition.

We’ve tried through the years to bring our faith to the doing of a lot of great work, and in many important ways, through your working, praying, giving, and volunteering, you’ve been an integral part of that effort. Humbly and more gratefully than my words can adequately express, I thank you.

Hundreds of new homes have been built, thousands of existing homes repaired, hundreds of thousands of believing people have rolled up their sleeves through the years to help the needy and to work very hard in the name of the Lord to get the job done, and I applaud that great and gregarious effort, but I do so cautiously.

Our work should never become more important than the wonder of God’s grace, more pressing than the beauty of God’s love.

Sometimes the work itself, the human effort, can become the ultimate aim, and when that happens, terrible things can occur. Work can become an idol, a false-god, and our attentions can be distracted from the divine to the base.

When I think about the mission’s work through the years, the item that first comes to my mind is the swinging of all those hammers and the driving of all those nails! We didn’t keep count, but a little fair estimating and arithmetic tells me that we’ve probably driven somewhere in the neighborhood of about 10 million nails through the years! That’s about 20 tons of nails, or 1428 pounds per year, 120 pounds per month, 30 pounds per week. That’s a lot of driving and a lot of work. I hope it’s been good work.

Today is Good Friday. 2000 years ago, an innocent carpenter turned preacher died on a Roman cross. He didn’t deserve to be executed. He committed no crime. He was only 33 years old, but He made some very powerful people want to eliminate Him, and for a while, they did.

That was bad work. Somebody had to work hard to trump up false charges. Somebody had to work hard to antagonize a crowd. Somebody had to work hard to craft a rugged cross. Somebody had to work hard to forge those spikes. Some unfortunate soldier had to work hard to seize a hammer in one hand and drive three large nails, one through each of the wrists of that young man named Jesus, the third through the metatarsal bones of both of His feet. That’s what crucifixion involved back then.

Bad work. Ugly work. Shameful work.

It would be very easy to despise that work and condemn the workers except for one plain fact. I was there. Maybe you were, too.

Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to conduct good and faithful work, but sometimes our work strives after things that aren’t so good, things that might even be bad, dishonorable, unhelpful, or self-promoting.

Thank God for the three nails that crucified Christ. The gravity of human effort meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. That one nail stands as a reminder of God’s forgiveness for all the wrong I’ve ever done. That second nail stands as a reminder of God’s forgiveness for all the wrong ever done against me. That third nail stands as a reminder of God’s forgiveness for all the sins of the whole human race, the entire weight of all the world’s wrong.

Three nails.

May the eternal meaning and the profound mystery of those three nails and what God accomplished with them break upon your consciousness like the dawning of the first Easter morning, throughout this sacred season, dear Hosanna friend.

~DDE

Read the 2018 March Newsletter here

Hosanna Industries to Help Hurricane Victims

21 February

Local charity to travel to Texas to rebuild

Hosanna Industries is planning to help relieve the horrible suffering that has resulted from the catastrophic hurricane in August, 2017 in Texas.  The group will be working in Rockport County, TX, and staying at the First Presbyterian Church of Corpus Christi from February 25 – March 2.  Hosanna Industries will be working with more than 20 volunteers from Meridian Presbyterian Church near Butler, PA, and other Western Pennsylvania churches in the Rivers of Life Presbytery, to complete comprehensive home repairs for two impoverished households, both of which have not had power since Hurricane Harvey.

Current needs:

    • Please uphold the mission in prayer as Hosanna Industries discerns the directions they believe the Lord is leading, and please remember all of the people in the Houston region who have suffered so gravely.

Background:

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.  In 2005, Hosanna assisted over 500 households with rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Ivan flooded parts of the Pittsburgh region.  In 2017, Hosanna Industries provided over 40 households with essential home repairs in Richwood, WV, after the flooding in 2016.  Hosanna Industries has mobilized volunteers to rebuild after multiple disasters, including Hurricanes Andrew, Floyd and Katrina, among others.

Just Listen & Choose Joy

10 January

Anna Jean needs a handrail on her porch as she is disabled and doesn’t have adequate balance. I asked her for some information as is my interview custom. She laughed and said,”Oh I’m sorry I’m not very prepared today. I am getting ready for my only grandchild’s first birthday party. My mind is scattered. It’s just that she brings out the joy in me!” We chatted about being grandmothers and the deep love it forms in us. She said,”I have had 22 back operations in less than 20 years.”

She matter-of-factly said,”Depression sort of set in when my husband left following the death of two of our children.” She explained that her 26 year old son went to bed one night and never woke up. To their utter surprise, the medical report indicated he died of a heart attack in his sleep from undiagnosed heart disease. Five years and three days later, one of her daughters was having a picnic in the back yard with friends. Anna Jean was inside and heard sirens. She went outside to find her daughter dead on the ground with a gunshot wound to the face. Her husband could not handle another tragedy and left her with her other two children; one now married with a little girl and the other living at home.

I was nearly speechless with sorrow for her. I conveyed my deepest condolences while silently praying for the right words to say. As I listened nothing was coming to my mind. I did ask if she finds comfort in knowing they are together now. She said,”Oh honey it gets me through the days when I wake up and wish I could die! They were VERY close and I am so comforted to know they are together again. I have no regrets. I told my children individually every day that I loved them.

I may never be happy again but I do find joy even in the darkest of moments. Like, I can barely walk today and I’m in pain, BUT I get to put a party together for my angel grand daughter! Then you called me and you said I can get a handrail but you gave me even more! You let me talk about my lost babies. Most people don’t want to hear it because it makes them uncomfortable. Thanks for letting me talk. I choose joy today!”

Lessons I learned from Anna Jean:

  1. Sometimes the right words are no words….just listen.
  2. Happiness is a feeling that comes from outside of you…sadness too…stuff happens. But you can choose joy…from within. When you have those dark days, sad times, lonely times, joy may be hard to find. Look within. It is there.

To all who support this mission, thank you for helping Anna Jean find her joy.

-From an earlier e-blast (Sign up for the e-blasts on the bottom of our website.)

Good Job With Great Compassion

09 January

I just got a call from a gentleman who lives in California. He got a call from his 94 year old mother who is a widow and lives alone. She informed him her hot water tank is leaking badly and she doesn’t know what to do. I explained our process and following a brief conversation informed him we can have a new hot water tank installed at no cost to her as he reported her annual income at below 10,000.

He said,” I didn’t mean for her to get it for free but I didn’t know who to trust. I called a Pittsburgh hotline and they told me if I want to rest easy knowing she is getting what she needs AND is cared for, I should call you folks. They said you are the best at doing a good job with great compassion.”

As always, I pass along the compliment to all of you compassionate people that support this mission, in some cases for 27 years, enabling us to assist sons and daughters to rest easy knowing their loved ones are well cared for with dignity and the love of Christ.

-From an earlier e-blast (Sign up for our e-blasts at the bottom of our website.)

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! 🎄