This past Saturday, the House of Hope of Brazil held one of its all-you-can-eat breakfast events. As usual, they offered pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausages. You can usually count on the pancakes; they have a way of somehow coming through for you. The eggs and sausages, on the other hand, can be something of (you should excuse the expression House of Hope residents) a gamble. I recall one year when I noticed a lot of people leaving the eggs for later disposal. This year both eggs and sausages were pretty good.
A part of the reason for the wide variance in quality of meals at "the House" is that the residents are constantly changing. I doubt there were many, if any, of the same people here in Brazil who were part of the program this time last year. That is a good thing. The men and women who arrive for what is planned as a nine-month stay come from all over the country and from an infinite number of backgrounds. All have one thing in common: A past which includes addiction and trauma. Some have obvious marks and tattoos from the past, all have scars of some type. Moving on from Brazil hopefully means some of those scars are left behind.
The thing that always stands out at these events is how clean-cut and polite are the residents you meet. You watch them as they tirelessly attempt to help, and wonder: "Could this person really have come from what I know they came from?" The House of Hope has changed them that much. And, whatever is thought of it, the message of the House of Hope is the message of Jesus called the Christ.
Many, many years ago, I took a course called Apologetics. This is a study of the evidences and proofs of the Bible and the Christian message. Included in this study are various "proofs" -- technical, philosophical and theological -- used over the centuries. I'm going on memory, so not sure if my pancake apologetics was included. But, certainly one of the most potent apologetics must be what the message of Christ does to change the lives of individuals --- change brought without force, fanaticism, or false hope. That is the kind of change you observe having pancakes served to you at the House of Hope.
Some of those who come to the Brazil House of Hope with great expectations and greater limitations will not finish the course. Most will complete their task here and go back to "real life." A few will even continue on in the work of helping others through their "limitations." And, some will eventually fail and fall back into a life they had hoped to leave behind. All will have been changed irrevocably by coming into contact with House of Hope's message of Jesus Christ. In my mind, and maybe only in mine, all those who's life was made better by such contact will be a demonstration of my self-titled "pancake apologetic."
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.