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Ten days ago, I was standing in the courtyard just before the Fall Graduation ceremony was about to begin. I felt a tug on my graduation robes and looked down to see the daughter of one of our graduates. She asked me, “Are you graduating?” When I told her I was not one of the graduates, she asked me how long I have been here.
“25 years!” I responded.
Her eyes widened, thinking the nearly three years she and her mother had spent at the Village of Hope had been a long time. “Maybe next time!” She encouraged me before skipping off to rejoin her mom.
Her innocence and wit made me laugh, but also caused me to reflect on the past 25 years of ministry and all of the graduations I have attended throughout that time. One might think that after 25 years of graduations, it all might become a blur. But that is not the case.
Every graduation, I walk away completely awed by the power of our God to transform and restore lives. Men, women and children that entered our gates hopeless and desperate now walk across the stage to receive their diploma, joyful and triumphant.
It is always my privilege and my joy to share with you these videos that contain a glimpse into the stories of a few of our graduates, and the work that God has done in their lives. Many of these faces will be familiar: Kenny, who used to play his guitar on Skid Row, for example. Or Leticia, who came to us after bouncing from motel to motel with her son.
Some faces will be new, like single mom Julie, whose daughter was removed from her care due to her heroin addiction. The two were reunited at Village of Hope, and Julie is employed full-time and providing for their family. Or Rajan who recalls, “I couldn’t hold a job, I couldn’t keep a needle out of my arm…my priorities were all messed up.” After two years living and working out at the Double R Ranch, he too is now gainfully employed and ready for the next step in his journey. “It all goes to Jesus. All I had to do was submit and surrender the steering wheel of my life to Him,” he now says.
Please take a look at the Fall Graduation video here to hear the incredible stories of our most recent graduates and rejoice alongside them. Thank you for your support which makes this second chance possible for the Least, the Last, and the Lost of our community.
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