Photo of Eleanor Josaitis below…
You might say I am a reader. Since 1998 when I finally recognized the true value of loving Jesus, I have read many books on Christianity.
Many of the authors use what I call personal testimonies to make their point.
Bill Hybels is no exception.
Chapter 5 in his book Holy Discontent is entitled “A worthy fight” but most of the chapter is about a woman who had a holy discontent that was a big risk and she went ahead with her plans despite the challenges.
Her name was Eleanor Josaitis and she is the founder of an inner-city organization in Detroit devoted to erasing racism, poverty, and injustice. It is called Focus: HOPE.
Without rewriting Hybel’s whole chapter, I will recount the basic point of his chapter. Eleanor was watching a documentary on the Nuremburg Trials after World War II. As she learned more and more about what Hitler’s Nazi Germany did to so many human beings in concentration camps, she wondered what she would have done if she had lived in Germany during the 1940’s. Then the documentary was interrupted by breaking news of a civil rights march in Birmingham Alabama that had turned into an all-out attack on the peaceful marchers. If you are old enough, you remember the fire hoses, Billy clubs, and cattle prods.
Sometimes a distant problem seems so far away that we just mentally file it away with a wince and say “that’s too bad.”
For Eleanor, Birmingham was much closer than Germany but it was still “down south.”
Then her own city was torn apart with riots.
Instead of moving out of her suburban home to some other city, Eleanor and her husband packed up the family and moved right into the heart of Detroit; she moved toward the problem instead of away from it.
This is the stuff of heroes. When there is gunfire, marines run toward it. When there is a fire, firemen run into the burning building. When a crime is being committed, police intervene to restore law and order.
Eleanor and her family dug into downtown Detroit and were determined to bring hope to the poorest of the poor. First of all, she found ways to provide food for the poor of inner city Detroit. Then she decided that she had to give hope through training and education. Some needed jobs and some needed to go to school. At the writing of Holy Discontent, the Focus HOPE program had helped 8,000 people get jobs with starting salaries that are double the minimum wage. Focus HOPE is not all about Eleanor. It is about volunteers. Ms. Josaitis is masterful at recruiting volunteers. Focus Hope does have paid staff but it also enlists help from 50,000 volunteers. People show up to help because they know there is a need.
Back to the main point.
What caused Ms. Josaitis to act?
She saw a need right in her community; a holy discontent welled up inside her to make a bad situation better. She had one of those Popeye moments: “I can’t stands no more!”
Most of us don’t have to look far to find a situation that needs attention. Go to “volunteermatch.org” and see the places in the Hopkinsville area where you can plug in your talents. Today there are a hundred locations where you can inquire. Look around at what is going on at your church. An active church is a hotbed of activity, where the church is reaching out to help the community in numerous ways.
You have all heard the old cliché about the three most important factors to consider in starting a business: “location, location, location.” Well proximate location is what drives most of us to act. The problems halfway across the world just don’t move us.
It is the problem down the street that gets us motivated.
Whatever it takes, that’s ok. The needs are real. Let’s get to work!