Let me begin by saying this is truly humbling to reflect back and remember where I have been and where God has brought me today. To God be the glory.
My name is Susan Jackson and when I was first introduced to New Hope Community Ministries I was in a desperate and a broken place. I am 54 years of age with the task of raising 2 of my 5 grandchildren. Both of my adult children are struggling with some sort of addiction. The two grandchildren that I am raising had very young parents, so I stepped up to the plate to assist and to give their parents an opportunity to work on their future goals and well-being.
At that time I was in an unhappy marriage but put my own needs aside and took them in. Depressed, broken, and imprisoned in my mind, I put all my time and love into them hoping the other situation would work itself out. Until one day I could not take it any longer and clearly heard the voice of God saying, “It’s time to go, now.” Fifteen years of being married to an unfaithful spouse, I had to leave for my own sanity and safety. A spouse who was in the entertainment business and a lifestyle of being on the road for long periods of time, the groupies, affairs, children out of wedlock and drugs took its toll on me. I packed up 2 grandchildren, dog, goldfish and all I could fit in my car and left. Never to return…
Mourning the end of my 15-year marriage, I was a complete mess, but had to keep on for the sake of these children. We slept on the floor at my parent’s house until I had enough money for a place of my own. This led me to Prospect Park. My entire paycheck went to pay rent, PSE&G, and car. I had no money left for food, but we were safe. Thank God my parents at the time paid for the after school program at Unity Church in Prospect Park. Even with the much-needed assistance, it just did not get us through the month
Dinners of oatmeal were our main staple. We never went to bed hungry. Praise be to God. I cried out to God and heard Him saying, “Just trust me.” After seeing the sign for the food pantry, I filled out the application for assistance and was welcomed in the program. I cannot express the feeling of embarrassment I felt the first time I walked through the door. I still struggle with it to this day, but once I walked in with my children we were greeted by Michele, Aly and Amy and felt nothing but love. They took to the children immediately and my personal mentor, Elizabeth, has really become a part of our family. They really cared.
Grace met us at the actual distribution facility and also showed so much concern. Phil Beverly later came on as director and also has done nothing but show hospitality and respect. To all of them I say Thank you.
We were introduced to their yearly backpack give away, which was such a blessing for the children in September with their school supplies. At the annual New Hope Christmas party, as well, my grandchildren received a party and their own gift. Through the food pantry I was invited to attend “Women of Hope.” This is also a part of New Hope Ministries which reaches out to women. They meet once a month and to be honest, being so guarded and broken, I did not want to get close to anyone and take a chance of being hurt again. However, I read where there was free childcare and dinner would be provided. I thought in my mind, “at least this would be one less meal I would have to be concerned about,” and so I went.
God had another plan… I was received once again with such love and open arms that I had no choice but to let the wall come down. I am so happy to say that as a result of building a relationship with these lovely women, I was asked to become a member of the steering committee and have accepted.
This journey has brought us to the place of being blessed to be a blessing to others who have a similar story. Yes with tears in my eyes remembering, but New Hope Community Ministries has been such help, spiritually, physically, mentally financially and socially.
I end with this passage of scripture from Isaiah 61:1-3
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted. He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted, to announce Liberty to the captives and to open the eyes of the blind. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of Gods favor to them has come and the days of his wrath to their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel he will give: Beauty for ashes, Joy instead of mourning, Praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory.”
That is what New Hope Community Ministries has done for me and my home.