“What we do not expect and often may not know is that when tragedy strikes God is there. He is there in Spirit and through the hands of people like you and me. He is there now and forevermore. We can have hope in that.”

So reads part of a letter, written by the Rev. Brian Nutt of Grace Fellowship of Kilgore, on the subject of hope. It’s just one of more than two dozen letters on the topic which make up “The Hope Letters,” a collection of inspirational writings from contributors in East Texas and beyond, published earlier this year by Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity.

“During COVID, we were grasping for something to hold onto, some hope,” said LaJuan Gordon, CEO of NETX Habitat for Humanity, who wrote the foreword of the book.

“We sat down to talk about how we wanted to approach our mission in the community. One of the things that Habitat has been doing for over 36 years in our community is partnering with others who are feeling hopeless in their situation and help them to build hope. We recognized that there are some people in our community who are feeling desperate right now. So, as we got to talking about how we get that message out, we wanted to put together something that was not hope in theory, but real stories of real hope. That is what birthed ‘The Hope Letters.’”

“The Hope Letters” is the regional housing ministry's first book. With a cover created and gifted for the project by Longview watercolor artist Carol Manley, it includes life stories, poetry, lyrics and spiritual devotions.

As 2021 began, with some signs of a gradual recovery from the effects of the pandemic, Gordon said she wanted to find a way to get the message of hope into the hands of those in the community who needed it most. After seeing how 2020 left many people in tough economic conditions and getting lost in despair, she saw the importance of an item which carried a positive, inspirational message.

“It is part of the human condition. We have those cycles of ups and downs. Not only as a country or a community but as individuals,” she said.

“We hope that, if you are holding one of these books and you encounter someone who is needing hope, pass it along. You can physically hand them something tangible that is a reminder that there’s always hope.”

“The Hope Letters” is available for purchase from Northeast Texas Habitat by calling (903) 236-0900, extension 204. Books are $9.50 each, with all profits benefiting the ministry that works to provide safe housing in Gregg, Harrison and Upshur counties. Quantity discounts are available.

Contributors include: Shalonda Adams, Mary Ramos Ball, Gai Bennett, Denise Bowens, Laura Buckner, Anthony Coleman, Rev. Evan Dolive, Dr. Joycelyne Fadojutimi, Rev. Avery Finger, Linda Fullman, Annice Germon, Corrie Harlan, Rev. Jay Jackson, Noreen Jackson, Cari D Johnson, Minister Kason Kuykendall, Rev. Brian Nutt, Covenant Olantunde, Amy Parham, Rev. Aubrey Robertson and Dr. Jennifer Wolverton.

In addition to releasing their first-ever book, NETX Habitat for Humanity has been hard at work in 2021 with their various community support programs.

“We are pouring foundations for two homes in the next two weeks, and we’ll be starting on those in the early fall when the weather cools down a little bit. We have already completed 87 health and safety projects in our three counties this year. We’re still going strong with that. Our ‘Beat the Heat’ program is going on right now and that is for anyone who is elderly or person with disabilities or households with children under 6 who do not have a way to cool their homes, they can come speak with us and get a portable air conditioner unit installed,” Gordon said.

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