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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

Truck for Sale

04 April

Every now and again Hosanna has tools, vehicles, materials,equipment, and other items that no longer meet our needs. Rather than simply holding onto these items we prefer to find someone who can use them, sell the items at a reasonable price, and use the proceeds from the sale to advance our mission.

Currently for sale for $8000 we have a a 2002 Chevy 3500 Express tool truck with ~96,000 miles.

Contact us if you’re interested in seeing the truck or making an offer.

Update:  This truck is sold!

 

 

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.

Our First Tiny House

12 January

Our first Tiny House is complete!

The 8’x16′ home is complete with a full bathroom, washer/dryer, refrigerator, kitchen sink, instant hot water heat, glass cooktop, a queen size loft, single bedroom & lots of unique storage.

The home is for sale & would make a great home, cabin, rental, or retreat.

We have dreams of eventually building communities of these to replace trailer parks, or to provide housing for the homeless, or to provide a home for someone who lost theirs in a natural disaster.

But for now, please contact us if you’d like more information on purchasing our first Tiny House!

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! 🎄

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