With your help, we exceeded our fundraising goal for the 12th Annual Cooking for Hope and raised $84,000! Thank you to everyone who attended, sponsored, and donated. We are so grateful for the pastors who competed in the Chef Scott Wilson Cooking Competition from Living Hope, Burton Memorial, Transformation Christian Center, Hillvue Heights, Rich Pond Baptist, First Baptist, Eastwood Baptist, Christ Fellowship, Mission Church and Crossland. Congratulations to this year's winning team, Pastor Eric from Mission and Pastor Joel from Crossland!
Thank you to our sponsors, First Southern National Bank, Mac's Restaurant Equipment, ISTT, SSC, Lawn Doctor, ETR, Houchens Industries, Bratcher Financial Group, and Jack Wright for County Judge Executive.
Enjoy this highlight video and photos from the event!
"Before Hope House, my life was miserable. My mom was 12 when I was born. She was young and made mistakes. She didn’t believe me when I told her my step dad abused me because she was usually at work when he did. I did well in school, but he would beat me no matter how good my grades were. I never met my biological dad until I was 9 or 10 years old. He was in and out of prison my whole life. Eventually I moved in with my grandma. Granny was good to me, but she wasn’t strict. I did what I wanted and got suspended from school a lot.
I was so out of control that I moved around constantly between my mom, my grandma, and eventually, my dad. He sold drugs, and that’s how I was introduced to meth. I dropped out of school, and started using and selling drugs at 16. I hated everybody. I had a hole in my heart that I could never fill. I hated my family, I hated myself, and I hated God. I longed to be loved, but I also couldn’t allow anyone in my life to hurt me again. I was a miserable, mean and violent person.
I’ve been in jail most of my adult life. I spent more time in jail than I did at home. On February 26, 2020, I was arrested again. I think that was God’s way of saving my life. I was so depressed, and that was the worst state I’ve ever been in. On November 11, my grandma bonded me out, and I decided I was done with that life. I came to Hope House. It’s been hard to change, but I am motivated to never have to live that way again.
My attitude didn’t change at first in the program, but I was loved here, especially by two volunteers named Phil and Brenda. God used them to save me. They showed me what it was like to be truly loved. After spending time with Phil and Brenda, my heart started to open up, and that allowed Jon, Justin and the other teachers to teach me and lead me to my new life in Christ.
God changed my heart and my life. I don’t regret my past because it brought me here. The void I needed filled has been filled. I’m on a successful path, and I have an amazing job. I’m having the time of my life, and I’m happy. I’ve been able to forgive and mend all my relationships, and I’ve built so many new relationships. I’ve been baptized, and I’m a member at my church. God used Hope House to save me from a life of misery, and hopefully I can be a light for people in the same shoes I was in."
“In 2004, I received a 30 year sentence for methamphetamine and drug addiction, and I did six and half years in prison. For 40 years of my life, there was no hope. It was self-will run riot, drugs, and alcohol. That lifestyle has no hope. There’s no promise in it. There is death or prisons, and that’s about the only way out of that life.
Because of my drug addiction, my wife and I separated and divorced. Shortly after that I was incarcerated. Around four years after I was released, she wished me a happy birthday on Facebook Messenger. Within two weeks we were reconciled, but I still had no direction. She knew I needed to build a foundation on Christ. I know that God put Hope House in my path. I graduated from Jobs for Life in 2014 and Faith & Finances shortly after that. The classes not only gave me direction, but they gave me the foundation to build my life on.
That foundation is Christ-centered, and it’s helped me to set attainable goals. It’s helped me to develop a relationship with Christ, and through Christ, with my wife and strengthen that relationship tremendously. My personal relationships with friends and work associates have grown because they’ve seen something different in me that they respect. My wife and I started attending church on a regular basis. We joined a small group and became involved in church activities and started serving within the church. We started to be a part of the church instead of just attending on Sunday morning. Two years ago, my wife and I along with six other couples were led to plant a church. It has been amazing to see God's work through all of that.
In the seven years since I graduated from the classes at Hope House, I’ve worked about three jobs. I progressed from a construction job, to ironwork, to a maintenance position. I’m now lead maintenance where I work. Initially they didn’t hire felons. Now, some of the top positions in the factory are filled by people with a record, and we hire many from Hope House’s Program Living. I have had a chance to give back to my community and to Hope House. I feel really good about that and appreciate what Hope House has done for me.
If I had never come to Hope House and began my walk with Christ, I know my life would have been just like it had been for the previous 40 years. Nothing would have changed, and I would’ve gotten the same results. I would’ve been back in prison because the charges against me weren’t small things anymore. I had a record, and I had 18 years on the shelf. Now, my sentence is gone. I’ve gotten my rights restored, and I am a productive member of society and my community. My testimony shows God’s power to change people."
Tyler and Justin, current Program Living residents, were baptized this week! We're so excited to celebrate their new lives in Christ and this step of obedience in baptism. Please pray for them as they continue to grow in faith.