As recently brought to mind, sometimes life hands you a debt which cannot be repaid to he through whom that gift had come; all you can hope to do is pay it forward. Then there are those intangible debts one is called upon to repay long after the fact, but can never be repaid in exactly the same coinage. It is not clear which kind of debt I owe Pete Latrenta.
It was Pete who taught me how to live with a very long-standing addiction to codeine based pain relievers. Being one who has had his share of physical pain, simply understanding it is okay to take pain relievers if needed helps a lot.
Pete is Director of the House of Hope here in Brazil, is someone I am proud to call friend. He, like the House and all its servants, depends for support on the hand of God touching His people.
Now the House of Hope for which Pete is responsible is facing barriers to carrying out its mandate to bind up wounds of men and women whose dilemmas far out-distance my own.
As reported in various media, the state Fire Marshal and other agencies have ordered extensive and expensive modifications to the House of Hope facilities. Pending completion of this work the House will be limited to 10 staff residents and unable to continue ministering to many others.
God's hand is already touching His people, and they are responding. Publicity generated has aroused they who owe it some debt, as well as some who otherwise had not known this rehabilitation facility.
Their current newsletter states in part:
"When the residents first heard the news that they would have to leave, they were scared and confused. But several of our other Mission Teens centers [the parent organization] have opened their doors to receive them with open arms. Now they will be able to continue to abide in the program and receive the miraculous healing of God's love in their once broken lives. So, even before doors are closed, God is opening them! Praise the Lord! The House of Hope will continue to assist our local community in any way we can after February 4 through community outreach. We will also continue to help desperate men and women seeking God's help to find placement in one of our other centers. We will not waver in our mission to provide hope to the hopeless."
Never pretending to discern the mind of the Almighty, observation suggests some beneficent grand design at work here. Once when Kay and I were involved in a large church constructing new facilities another Fire Marshall demanded extensive and unexpected revisions. Believing there is no authority except which God gives (I Peter 2.13), the church spent the money and did the work. What they ended up with was a better facility than first envisioned; and dangers unveiled which would have gone concealed. When completed the church served many thousands never contemplated by that Fire Marshal. As the patriarch Joseph said, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50.20).
The House of Hope does good work, brings hope to many much in need thereof, and is an asset to a community from which it asks nothing. If your life has ever been troubled by drug or alcohol, hope you will take a closer look at "HOPE House." Who knows but that there is a debt to pay?
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.