Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our featured Ordinary Hero

I want to introduce you to our new featured OH on our Ordinary Hero site. I have known Wally Bryan my whole life as he is one of my father's life long friends. He served as mayor in Hopkinsville, Ky and is now striving to make a difference in my hometown of Hopkinsville unlike anything I have seen there before. He started a ministry called Challenge House in that city. He started out himself by seeing the need in the inner city and moved there on his own to live amongst them. He started by refurbishing a home in the community and then moved in. He then realized how his house became a safe place for the children and he would find himself mentoring adults and children alike. He was helping them get jobs, ged's, and giving them resources to grow and the hungry children a place to come for food. He has since had others jump on board to help from individuals, and many different churches, as well as schools around the city. He started out with one Challenge House and is about to refurbish his third. He has found others like himself who have stepped up and moved into the challenge houses to be the light in that community. Great things are happening. Yet he can't do it without support.

The best way for me to explain all that is going on in this ministry is to let you read his latest newsletter for yourself. As you read you will find how the simplest acts of kindness can go so far. We all look for ways for God to use us when in all actuality the needs are right in front of us everyday and we miss them because our eyes are not open.

I encourage everyone in the Hopkinsville area and surrounding areas to get involved with Challenge House. All you others that this hits home Wally to start a Challenge House in your community. It is an awesome thing.

Stories, observations, and news bites:
Hammer and large nail: Yep---that’s all it took! We can be so wrong in the little things, and in the big ones too. Was this big or little? I really don’t know. With an affectionate voice I speak out to one of my teenage friends, “Juan, pull those pants up so your butt doesn’t show”! He looked bewildered, and then says, “My belt is too large”. He walks over and shows me his belt. Truly it was way over-sized. I had every emotion from embarrassment for both him and me, to gladness that we were about to “fix” the problem. I retrieved a hammer from the toolbox (one of the donations from the Frances Fairleigh Estate), a large nail, and headed to the back yard with Juan. Together we made a new hole in his belt; he smiled as he walked back to the street, pants at his waist! I hope that was relationship-building. A million times I’ve had that thought: “Pull those pants up”. From now on I’ll think twice~~Have you had thoughts like I did?

His brother is the young man who we helped birth a lawn-mowing business. You may remember reading in the May Report about the business venture where the young man gained a bank loan, went to Sears and purchased a new push-mower, and launched his business! Well, just recently the banker notified me that Jalen had repaid the loan in full, and now “owns” the lawn-mower! A pretty positive business experience for a 14 year-old!

Edgewood Baptist Church holds BackYard Bible Clubs at the two Challenge Houses, and both members and kids smile a million smiles!

MLK Elementary School leaders hold two separate events at Challenge House #II: one was Math Bingo, and the other was a follow up to its “Lunch Bunch” reading program held this summer. Parents attended too. Education back to the neighborhood----ummmmmm----a pretty time-tested idea!

August 14th—time 1:00 PM---notice two boys in the street! School Day! Signals go off in my mind! “Hey guys, come on in for a minute. What’s up”? The story goes that one over-slept, and the other is out early for a doctor’s appointment. So one hops in my car and I take him to Hopkinsville Middle School; hopefully the other went to his doctor. Later that night I come to realize that all 4 students in the family overslept and all missed school. Yes, let’s close the “achievement gap”! How is that going to happen when so many miss school for no good reasons? Sadly, I’ve seen this happen a lot for this young school year, and “yes” I do report it to the respective schools. Eyes in the streets! Yet another time-tested idea which is coming back! I’m very impressed with the cooperation between us and our schools.

“Read and Seed” is a tutoring program spawned by New Work Fellowship. Mondays from 4:15 to 5:30 adult women show up to help kids (5th grade and under)with reading, math, homework, and certainly they “seed” into them the love of Christ! “What if”? What if we had other groups come on other days? Such is the Body of Christ! Something kind of special about programs that lead to sustained relationship-building! Think about that~

The Sara Bell Bassett Sunday School Class at First Baptist takes it upon itself to provide pounds and pounds of drinks and snacks for Challenge House kids. I remember I was always hungry when I got home after school. Even an old brain remembers that! I think I remember reading where Jesus fed and shared. A pretty time-tested idea! Thanks be to God! There is something special about Christian hospitality~

Pastor Brad from Restoration House wants to meet with me. That makes me glad. We walk the streets, and what we see makes us sad. Maybe the “sad” will turn to “mad”, and more and more of us will enter this battle for the hearts and souls and minds of the kids and their parents. “We can’t change what we tolerate”; I’ll never forget the impact that quote made on me. Thanks, Pastor. Remember how we felt as we walked the steps of the nasty interior hallway to the second floor of that apartment house? Sickening~

Matthew Harris invites you to attend “Mrs. Smith’s Inner-city/Inter-racial Bible Study Mondays at 10AM. Guaranteed: Come once and you will never forget it!

William McAllister, Resident Facilitator at Challenge House #II, oversees “work for pay” at the house on Bryan Street owned by the neighborhood association. Solid relationships are built. Time-tested idea: work along side of someone and watch friendship bloom!

Forthcoming in a few weeks-Resident-Facilitators at House #I, Aida Vega and Christina Hand, will send their own report, and it will include pictures!

Challenge House #III will be at 123 South Fowler Avenue. I like the one, two, three address! Perfect for Challenge House #III. This House is behind the Subway on West 7th Street, at the corner of West 2nd and South Fowler. Heath and Paige Wilson will become Resident-Facilitators there. This will be a major renovation. I hope that many partnerships will form to raise the funds and carry out the work to bring this House to even more than “its former glory”! The first day I went there, to meet architect John Mahre for his ideas, two little children were standing on the front porch. Before we knew it, two teens were there too, looking for work, and a young mother strolling her baby, stops and talks, and leaves saying “I need my GED”. We can help make that happen!

A major Christian Community Development Association national conference will be held in October in nearby Cincinnati. Would you consider attending? Go to to read about it.

Thanks for reading this long report, and for your heart for this work here in America, here in Hopkinsville. Maybe someday this concept will travel to other cities. We are in it for the long-haul. We want to become “time-tested”. Thanks be to God!

Wb 270-889-3395

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