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Ashley's Story

Before I start, if you have not taken the time to read the stories of my framily (friends who have become like family) - please do yourself a favor and go back and do so. I have been greatly blessed by people’s encounters with Hope Street. Each unique, and yet many with the similar vein of never being the same again. When you invest in the lives of people, this is the natural outpouring - LOVE, and love changes things.

When I walked through Hope Street’s doors for the first time I was void of love. Up until that point I had done everything in my power to try to earn it. When I thought I got a glimpse of it, I would hold on for dear life, and then be fearful of the moment I would stop experiencing it. In reality, it wasn’t love at all. Love is the greatest gift our Father bestows on us, He gives us the status as Beloved. Furthermore, He also gives us the opportunity to join Him in His redemptive work. We can produce fruit (love), that changes the atmosphere - this type of love impacts cultures, communities, and individuals. This type of love resides inside of Hope Street.

I encountered this love the first time I walked through Hope Street’s doors. That love sent a shock of peace through my body. It took my unease, and quietly whispered to my soul, be still, you are safe here. As I look back, the first encounter went a step further - you can be known here AND loved still. My being was craving this.

I have invested countless hours, tears and dollars into Hope Street. Each investment has been met with more grace, more friendship, more laughter, and more opportunities to join God in His work. Each investment has added more names to the list of people that have made my life more full, more fulfilling. My ROI? To love, and be loved, and to always remain rooted in my status as Beloved.

If you know me, you know my favorite biblical story is found in John 4 where Jesus intentionally encounters the women at the well. This story inspired the name Shechem, and what we foresee taking place there. I imagine a bunch of “samaritan women” encountering Jesus, and receiving the cool, refreshing sip of living water - and never being the same. I imagine those same people, going and immediately telling their friends. I then imagine a city that has been broken, messy, and labeled as “less than” being transformed, as it owns it’s new status. Life can look different. Lives will look different as we own the love the Father has for us. That loves enables us, empowers us to love better - first ourselves, and then our neighbor. The good news? We have the choice to make. I am counting on people like you, to make the choice to join us. I trust God will reveal to you in the right time what that will look like. Just know this - whether it is through your finances, service, presence, or prayers - it is your choice to join in on Kingdom work. It is your choice to choose to allow love to go where it has yet been found.

Let love work.

-Ashley Thomas

(Hope Street Staff Member)

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