Story of Hope
After more than 15 years of youth ministry, I remember a night when this kid came in with his uncle. I was standing by the double doors at the back of the church. As he walked in, he looked at me and said, “You wearin’ a tie, you must have a job!” I smiled and said, “Yeah, I do. What’s your name.” He said, “my name Vern”.
From that moment on, I took a liking to Vern. He was the typical inner city kid, who shouldn’t have to go through such a rough time at such a young age. He was staying with his uncle while he was in transition from his home in New Orleans to wherever the courts decided he’d have to go later. His uncle thought it would be a good experience to bring him to Youth Explosion where he could meet some young people who were trying to live a Godly life.
The next week, when he walked into the meeting, I said, “Hey Vern!” With a surprised look on his face, he blurted out, “You remembered my name!” After that, Vern would tell everyone that’s “my Youth Pastor”. He continued attending Youth Explosion for about a year. Every chance he got, he would corner me and talk. I watched him change from a suspicious, ill tempered youngster, to a delightful but still troubled young man. He received Jesus during that year and then, one day, he was gone. His uncle later told me he had to return to New Orleans and he didn’t know what was going to happen.
A few years later, Vern showed up again. He smiled really big and seemed to be his usual happy go lucky self. But you could tell, there was something on his mind. We sat in my office. He pulled out a large roll of cash and began to explain that he had been dealing drugs, owned two cars, had recently become a daddy, and needed to get his girl away from all of that stuff. He wanted his baby to have a better life and needed to speak to me about what to do. I gave him advice, we prayed, hugged and he left. I don’t know what ever happened to Vern. But I remember being so moved by the fact that his experience at Youth Explosion had planted a seed that produced hope.
Hope, so powerful, so confident, that even after years of hard times, dealing drugs and such, it drew him to the conclusion that his child and girlfriend could have a better life. His hope so was rooted in an experience with Jesus Christ and God’s family, that it was able to draw him out of a hopeless lifestyle and into a hopeful future. It was during those years as a youth pastor that God forged in my heart, this vision of restoring hope to the hopeless. I had many experiences with inner-city youth that mirror my experience with Vern.
These moments, became containers of hope, deposited in the bank of my soul, giving life to a ministry that would dedicate itself to seeing hope restored, minds renewed, setting people free and teaching them how to stay free, so the change in their lives forever changes them to people who no longer live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
That ministry is High Hopes Church, Incorporated.
Pastor Sean A. Daigre, Sr.
High Hopes Church