Tag Archives: history

March 2017 Newsletter / Hammers, Hearts, and Hands

05 April

March 2017 Newsletter

A few days ago, I stopped at the mission’s Gibsonia campus to check on a few things, and was delighted to arrive just as Amy and Emily were unloading the kiln from the previous day’s firing. They took a moment to show me the beautiful results, and I was thrilled to see the finished work of a dozen participants, most of them novices, who recently attended the mission’s four week clay construction class. Coffee mugs, trays, bowls, and other interesting and useful articles had been hand-crafted from clay, allowed to thoroughly dry, fired once, then glazed in a variety of colors and styles, and finally fired once again to melt the glaze onto the surface as a permanent glass coating. I was really impressed with the designs, the workmanship, and the final results. I hope you can become involved in one or more of the many programs offered there in the months to come, each of which is intended to further develop your God-given creative instincts in a setting that is focused on the One from Whom all blessings flow.

As I handled and observed these newly-fired ceramic creations, I thought about what they once were. Clay is a truly amazing substance. It comes from the earth. It can be wedged, formed, rolled into a coil or a slab, or thrown on a wheel. It can be shaped, while soft, into a countless number of shapes, forms and structures. When the shaping process is over, the item is left to dry thoroughly, until void of moisture content. At this stage, the item is called Greenware, and although it is hard and breakable, it can actually be reconstituted into pliable clay once again if exposed to enough water.

Once the first firing takes place, however, the Greenware is converted into Bisqueware. This is a physical transformation that turns the Greenware into a hard, brittle, glasslike substance that is no longer capable of absorbing water anymore. The firing process changes the clay into something it never was before, rendering impossible any chance of returning to what it once was. You can take a piece of the Bisqueware and grind it into a fine powder and mix it with water, but even in this state, it will never return to clay. This thermal process, known as vitrification, changes the clay forever.

A few hours ago, I had the privilege of listening to a newly posted podcast of a sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Richard A. Morledge, then pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown, on Palm Sunday, April 8, 1990. This sermon and nearly 30 years’ worth of others are being made available due to the graciousness of Dr. Morledge, the tedious efforts of our friend,Tom Shoup, who copied more than 1000 sermons from cassette tapes to a digital system, and the labors of Amanda Becker and Julie Wettach, both mission workers at Hosanna Industries, who are methodically uploading those sermons onto a newly established “It’s a Great Day in the Kingdom” podcast site which is linked to Hosanna’s website. We hope that these proclamations will be helpful to you in your own journey of faith, and I encourage you to frequently listen to these sermons as preached by a man whom I consider to be one of the greatest communicators of the Gospel in our lifetimes.

In the particular sermon which I listened to, Dr. Morledge described those whom he referred to as “Hosanna people”, those who are in desperate need, people who are crying out for God’s help. He taught that the word “Hosanna”, heard by Jesus on the first Palm Sunday 2000 years ago, was not really a word of praise as is commonly thought, but was instead a prayer. Its true meaning is, “Save us now.” Jesus answered that prayer in seven days. Later He sent His Spirit on the first Pentecost to equip the newly born Church to be His body in the world, continuing His great work of salvation.

Then Dr. Morledge went on to describe to the congregation of that great Church that a new mission was to be launched that day. Its name would be Hosanna Industries.

Following the sermon, additional words were spoken, announcing what this new mission was intended to do: “Whenever – wherever we hear as Christians the Hosanna cries of God’s needy children, our faith demands that we do something, representing a powerful Savior instead of an impotent theological idea. We cannot anymore bear the shamefulness of poverty that is unaddressed, nor can we bear mission mediocrity… this Church today in establishing Hosanna Industries is proclaiming loud and clear that ultimately some day the love of God in Christ will heal all the world’s ills.”

The mission was born as an outward expression of the Kingdom of God. It was born to proclaim the Good News by way of home construction, repair and rehabilitation for the poor; vocational training of the unskilled; small business development for would-be entrepreneurs; job creation for new and future mission workers; and volunteer mobilization, locally and beyond, to locations of impoverishment and calamity.

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!

~DDE

Rev. Dr. Donn Ed, Executive Director & Founder

June 2016 Hammers Hearts and Hands

08 June

2016 June Newsletter

Early yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of mowing the grass at the new Hosanna Gibsonia facility. While operating the lawn tractor, I once again realized what a beautiful example of God’s creation that particular piece of real estate is, and what great potential it has toward inspiring people with new insights and fresh perspectives. There’s not a tree or flower there that doesn’t make God’s glory known! As I neared the completion of the work, I steered the machine away from the main yard and toward a little walking path that travels around the east side of the largest pond. Carefully, I trimmed that woodland path which meanders around plentiful trees, both old and young, and I prayed that God would lead certain people of His choosing to quietly pursue this unique path as a practical exercise in reflecting upon His presence in our lives, His guidance to our lives, and His call upon our lives. Please consider these words as a personal invitation!

Paths. How very important they are! How intimately they are connected to our pasts and futures, our memories and dreams! How ironic it is that, though our lives signify a lifelong career of path walking, our memory functions rarely if ever recall the first experimental steps we took when we first started out on the journey!

Did you know that the average moderately active person takes around 7500 steps per day? If we maintain that daily average until, let’s say the age of 80, we each walk about 216,262,500 steps in a lifetime, or 110,000 miles. That’s five times around the globe. No wonder our joints eventually wear out!

The paths of our lives are as powerful as destiny and as unique as a fingerprint and as ridiculous as it may seem to some people, I consider that the one thing that can be said of all of our paths is that bidden or unbidden, God is always there.

Right now, I’m aware of a friend whose path abruptly changed at the end of last year. A routine medical exam revealed a very serious and life-threatening illness. Everything that has happened since then is of a different hue.

In these early pre-dawn hours as I write this article, I’m aware of another path, this one on the part of a dear friend who is currently struggling with the meaning of God’s call. She is in the wrestling match of a lifetime, much like Jacob of old at Peniel. Where will her path take her?

Soon, a mother will awaken to the prospect of a new day, silently bearing the heartbreak of an adult child who is incarcerated again as a result of poor decision-making, mental imbalance and spiritual alienation. She will outwardly function today, but inwardly her feet are walking a lonesome path.

Not very many miles away, a saintly old person will soon arise to a new dawn, the vigorous past now gone, the quiet struggle of burden-bearing and patient waiting now at hand.

In another place, a young person is walking upon a new leg in the journey, soon to graduate from high school with the prospect of a lifetime future burning brightly ahead!

Yesterday, a little child completed her last day of first grade. Today, she begins her first experiences of an American child’s summer vacation. Where will her path lead?

Not too many years ago, another little child experienced the same moment. Today, she is making final arrangements for her upcoming wedding day, full of hope and with life’s cup overflowing with the joy of human love.

Earlier this week, the mission workers found themselves in another desperately needy home. They drove the green trucks to a new address to help another household in the name of the Lord! The homeowner is aged, widowed, and very poor. She lives within the brokenness of one of Pittsburgh’s former industrial river towns, but those days are now only a memory of a brighter past that led to a despairing future. In the bleakness of her quiet suffering, God’s helpers came to brighten a path with a strange new light that somehow glows from green shirts, smiling faces beneath sweat-streaked brows, and the simple tasks of a carpenter who can build. It seems to me that just a few blinks ago, it was Christmastime, and now we are already nearly halfway through a year that isn’t new anymore. How fast the path goes, and how quickly it changes! More than 26 years ago, a brand new mission took its first steps upon a new path, and we’ve been striving to do our very best ever since, one day at time. Thank you, dear friend, for everything you’ve done and for everything you are doing to support Hosanna’s walk upon that path!

Thousands of years ago, a sensitive soul interpreted the presence of God upon life’s path as one which leads to green pastures and still waters, even through valleys of dark shadows, yet always in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. I believe that hundreds of years later, a Carpenter from Nazareth somehow translated those words into the living presence of His example, His leadership, and His gracious friendship. He is the Word made flesh.

Perhaps one of Christian hymnody’s most beloved songs says it best ~ John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace”, wrote these lyrics while on his own path from slave-trading to Christian ministry in the late 1700’s,“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come, ’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

May God’s grace be with you and upon your path, dear friend. Please continue to uphold us in your prayers.

With love, Donn

 

November 2015 Newsletter

19 November

We’re living in a time when it’s easy for things to fall apart. All across the board of our culture, it seems like disintegration has become the new norm. Whether in the changing values that weave our national fabric or under the rooftop of a home that shelters a family, the evidence is abundantly clear that it’s becoming harder and harder for people to hold it together in these ever-changing times.

I’m not sure that anything is insulated from this trend. Businesses, churches, schools, government agencies, civic organizations, clubs, families, and friendships all seem to be prey to this permissive and unfortunate cultural climate.

Of course, at the end of the day, nobody really wins, and while voices are raised and fingers are pointed, all of us are losing something as precious as life itself: the sense that we really do matter to one another and that, whatever the cost may be, we can always discover new ways to hold it all together.

We learn a lot about holding it together at Hosanna Industries. As we daily build with hammers and saws, we learn in very practical ways that every board needs a nail, every block needs mortar, every part and piece of a structure needs a fastener in order to be properly and meaningfully placed in relationship with all the other pieces so that the whole house can be held together.

More than 20 years ago, when the mission was in its earliest years of learning how to master its craft, I met a man on a new home construction site up in Mercer County. He was an old and experienced builder, and he showed up to offer his assistance to a little young mission that was really trying to do its best. I learned a great deal from this friend, and during the course of my learning, he taught me how to use a transit in establishing the perimeter of a home.

This exercise is absolutely vital prior to construction, establishing the actual dimensions and outer limits of a structure before it is built, and the method involves the use of a 360° calibrated telescope situated on a dead-level platform that is supported by the three legs of a tripod. Beneath the level platform is suspended a plumb-bob on a line, the sharp point of which is lowered until it just touches the head of a physical point which is driven into the ground. As I watched this master builder perform this operation for the first time, I marveled at the proficiency and experience which guided his every move, and as he gently adjusted the plumb- bob line so that the index point could be accurately referenced, I wondered how he would hold the two ends of the lines together so that everything could be fixed.

Expecting him to tie some kind of knot, he surprised me by reaching into his pocket to locate a little device I had never seen before. He called it a line-cinch, and he showed me how to use it to hold the lines together. I was so impressed by its usefulness and simple design, that I inquired where he got it so that I could get one too. He smiled at me and explained that he invented it years earlier when necessity required it, and then quickly began to make me one from a scrap piece of copper wire, a little length of tubing, and a pair of pliers.

I’ve carried that little keepsake in my pocket for more than twenty years now, and it always reminds me of an old friend, now gone for quite a few years, who knew how to hold things together.

2015 has been an astonishing, amazing year for Hosanna Industries. We have been blessed to help 142 households with pressing needs through the course of the year. We have been blessed to labor with more than 1500 volunteers who came from far and near to be a part of the mission’s work. We have been blessed to pursue and raise $881,196.70 against our expenses of $960,188.86, and we are so grateful for all that has been so graciously given. We have been blessed to celebrate our 25th anniversary year, which I never anticipated would or could happen when the mission was first starting out, and as unexpectedly as any of the many miracles Hosanna Industries has witnessed through the years, we have been blessed to acquire a new auxiliary mission campus consisting of 9 beautiful acres of land in Gibsonia, PA, essentially doubling the

physical capacity of a mission that was born to hear Hosanna cries and to help all kinds of needy people learn new ways to hold it together. Through every hour of this past year, I have seen God’s hands hold the mission together, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

According to our now 22 year long tradition, we have included in this newsletter a Christmas tree ornament, handmade by the mission workers of Hosanna Industries. It is a gift for you, from our hands and from our hearts. It is a line-cinch, identical to the one given to me years ago. I hope it will remind you of the significance of holding it together as you place it on your tree. Maybe, after the holiday season, you’ll choose to keep it in your pocket.

Of course, in a very big way, that’s what Christmas is all about. The disharmony and despair that has always plagued the human race, isolating ourselves from one another and alienating us from God, is not only exposed but eradicated because of Christmas. Christ is the solution. Christ is the one who can teach us how to hold it together if we listen to His Word. At Christmastime and always, He teaches us to forgive, to try again, to go another mile, to give, to pray, to suffer sometimes, and to always love.

Jesus is the world’s line-cinch, and He’s yours and mine as well! Merry Christmas, dear Hosanna friend, and thank you for all you’ve done to help God’s hands hold Hosanna Industries together.

~DDE

Read more here: 2015 November Newsletter

What’s Next?

11 June

From the 2015 June Newsletter:

Life is full of questions, and when those questions are asked, we’re often benefitted with answers. For 25 years at Hosanna Industries we’ve been building with dreams, visions, architectural plans, ideas, tools, materials, machines, and human skills, and I’ve learned that one of the most important questions a builder asks is “What’s next?” Until the work is over and the project is completely finished, a good builder is alway asking, “What’s next?” and preparing for what’s to come.

A few months ago, the mission paused along the way of its usually busy activities to express deep gratitude to God for the innumerable blessings of the past 25 years since Hosanna Industries was born. More than 300 people gathered to break bread, reflect upon the past, and scan the distant horizons. I am grateful to everyone who attended and supported the event, and especially appreciative that we all had the opportunity together to thank the One from whom all blessings flow.

In my remarks that evening, I noted that through our first quarter of a century of service, an estimated 100 million pounds of material had been moved and handled by mission workers and volunteers in conducting the thousands of projects across the country that we’ve been privileged to lead, and as dedicated hearts and diligent hands moved those 50,000 tons of material, we were continuously asking the builder’s question, “What’s next?”

How deep should we dig for this footer? How many yards of concrete should we order? What will we do if it rains? When can the volunteers break for lunch? What must be complete by sundown?

What’s next?

Less than a year ago, I met a new friend at a meeting in which he presented a vision to establish a place of beauty, healing, spirituality, and nature upon a tract of land where he was raised by the loving and creative people who once called that place their home. Six months ago, that same individual sat down with me in my home and described the heartbreaking reality that the task was too hard and the burden too heavy for his hands to bear alone. I asked,“What’s next?” He responded,“Do you have any ideas?”

The next evening I shared a quiet, mid-December dinner with the president of our Board of Directors,Todd Rossman. I described the history of the property, the sequence of conversations, the development of relationship, the possibilities for the future. With a great step of faith and leadership,Todd answered my “What’s next?” with “Let me take it from here, I’ll begin to look into it.”

Two weeks ago, I received word from Todd that following four months of investigation, discussion, prayerful consideration, and hard work, our Board of Directors unanimously decided to acquire this new property and to establish a new spectrum of programming there that will seek to help many more people through the avenues of art, healing, spirituality, and nature while promoting and advancing Hosanna’s primary task of alleviating the suffering of those who need our help.

Because of the gracious generosity of people just like you who have supported not only Hosanna’s past but have also given to promote the promise of a stronger future, all that is needed has already been provided, and soon the new beginning, as unexpected as it is remarkable, will come to be.

What’s next?

On April 9, 1990, the Monday morning after the Palm Sunday when Hosanna Industries was born at Bakerstown Church, I met in the early morning hours with Andy Yates, Scott Mahan, Todd Ewers, and Rob Boone. These were our first mission workers on their first day of work in the life of a brand new mission. With the excitement and enthusiasm of strong young people, they had one question on their minds,“What’s next?”

I began then to answer that question to the best of my ability, and I suppose in some important and maybe even mystical ways, we’ve really never stopped hearing that question and doing our best to answer it with the resources of God’s love and grace.

Life’s full of questions. Sometimes, we even get answers.

In the Gospel record of His spoken teachings, Jesus taught of another question that people sometimes ask. “Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee or thirsty and give thee something to drink? When did we see thee a stranger and invite thee in or needing clothes and clothe thee? When did we see thee sick or in prison and go to visit thee?”

Jesus answered that question this way, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Thank you, dear Hosanna friend, for all you do to make this happen.

~Donn Ed, Founder & Executive Director of Hosanna Industries

Seeing Jesus

12 January

Hot off the press (in December, 2014)!

Seeing Jesus

Seeing Jesus, Reflections on the mission of Hosanna Industries upon its 25th Anniversary, Written by our Executive Director & Founder, Dr. Donn D. Ed

To order a copy of the book, call the office at 724-770-0262.

Suggested donation is $15.00, shipping $4.00

“How did you get started here?”

07 July

A very popular question we receive here at Hosanna is “How did you get started here?” Well, the super short answer is God. I usually lend to the slightly less abrupt answer that I started out as a volunteer and fell in love with it. Here is the full story. I was a junior in college at Houghton College, a small Christian liberal arts school is western NY, and February break was fast approaching. I had decided that year that I wanted to do something fun for break rather than just head home for the week. The house of girls I lived in had made some plans to go somewhere together for a fun trip hiking and what not since we all like the outdoors. It didn’t take long for me to realize that one by one they were backing out and I was soon going to be left to figure out my break on my own. A flyer in the stairwell of the student union building caught my eye. The Habitat for Humanity club, which I was NOT a part of, was taking a trip to Pittsburgh area and anyone was welcome to go, with no cost involved. Free February break trip that didn’t involve going home, but involved helping others, sounded good to me. I went to the meeting and knew no one there. Now those of you who know me well, know that normally would make me cringe, but I figured I’d step out of my normal little comfort zone and give it a try anyway. So off we went to Hosanna Industries for the week. I can still remember a lot about that trip. From Hannah Bowman sitting on my lap during orientation in Hartzell Hall, to Dave Firek drinking YooHoo in the back of the van while listening to U2, to learning to fix a patch of carpet when someone sets the carpet iron down without the cover in the middle of the new bedroom carpet! We helped a family in Tionesta that week, Ray and Terry. They were nice folks who just needed a helping hand. It was cold and rainy, and I was working outside in the cold drizzle cleaning out mud pans for the staff as they mudded the newly hung drywall. It was not a glamorous job, and certainly not something you would think would make someone want to come back. I enjoyed the week, a lot! And when I heard they had a summer staff my ears perked up. I could see maybe doing that for a summer.

I had planned on working at SB2W (a summer Christian sports camp) that summer since I was a PE major who loved being active and loved sports. Somewhere in the midst of everything I seemed to have lost the application and wasn’t assertive enough to figure out what I had to do to get a new one, so after much time thinking, praying and after starting to dial the phone what seemed like a million times I finally called Hosanna to pursue the idea of working there for the summer. Fast forward a bit and I did end of working there that summer of 2001 and didn’t want to leave at the end of it. I just knew that was what I was supposed to be doing. Don’t panic, I did go back and finish my last year of school and graduated with a degree in physical education, but not before changing my major to a non-teaching degree and picking up a minor in youth ministry, which by the grace of God I was able to fit all the classes in within my final two semesters. I started full time after graduation in the summer of 2002 and have been here ever since. I know it’s what I’m called to do and wouldn’t trade any of these days for anything.

-Jen Schriefer, Mission Worker