March 2021

“He has given us new birth, into a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”  (1 Peter 1:3)

Dear Friends,

Easter is upon us.  And more than any Easter before, I believe we are all due an absolutely encouraging story of hope. Are you ready for it?  If you are, read on!

Several years back I had the incredible opportunity to be in Israel on Easter. On Easter Sunday we planned to go to the Easter service at the garden tomb.  But as our big bus started to navigate the traffic, we realized we were stuck.

As we pulled up, it was obvious we were too late.  There were buses and people everywhere. Thinking back, I am not even sure why we unloaded the bus.

And then all of a sudden, this man with a badge approached me.  “How many people do you have?” he asked. I motioned in the direction of about 40 teenagers, to which I expected a serious belly laugh.  He paused for a second, and then he said “get everyone and come with me.”  Lo and behold he walks us hundreds of yards through the crowd, all the way to the front and says you can all sit right here on this wall.

To my shock, he seats us directly behind the preacher, and literally feet away from the entrance of the tomb.  I am sitting a couple of feet from the tomb where Jesus rose, on Easter Sunday, with 40 teenagers!

I just kept staring at the opening of the tomb.  This is where Jesus stepped back into the light.  Out of the grave He arouse.  The most massive miracle of all time, and I was sitting right there!

What must it have felt like for Jesus to step back into the light?  How has it felt for you at points in your life to step back into the light?  Maybe it was a hard time in your life, or maybe a season where everything seemed dark.  But then God performed that miracle, and set you back into the light.  How did it feel to be back in the light?

Several weeks ago, two of our staff helped a young man experience this same miracle of God, and he stepped back into the light.  Eric came to Oahu to build homes.  He loved his job and was enjoying all Hawaii had to offer.  And then the pandemic hit! He lost his job and picked up a graveyard shift making much less.  He lost his housing and decided the best he could do was ride the bus around the island during the day to sleep, and then wake up just in time to be back to work.  Then do it all over again the next day.

He woke up one day and prayed “God, I can’t do this anymore, I am asking you for a miracle today”.  That same day he walked down Pauahi Street.  He had never been on that street before.  But he was walking.  As he approached the mission, David and Jeremy, saw a new face.  Our staff knows every single one of our guests by name, but they didn’t know this man’s name.  David and Jeremy asked him his name.  They struck up a conversation.  They asked him “what’s your story?”  And as the story above was shared, David and Jeremy were moved to find this man a new home.

They called a ministry in Kailua and asked if they had an extra bed for a man they just met named Eric.  The ministry said “Yes”, in fact they said “we can come pick him up right now”.  That night Eric spent his first night in, a bed, in months.  Eric asked for a miracle, and God gave him that miracle.  Can you imagine the feeling of sleeping in a bed after sleeping on a cold, bouncy, sticky, upright bench seat on a bus – for months.  Wow!

Easter is the utter beauty and joy of stepping back into the light.  Jesus experienced the miracle of His Father leading Him to step back into the light, so you and I can step back into the light.  And David and Jeremy helped bring this same miracle to Eric, of stepping back into the light.  The light of hope, the light of joy, the light of gentleness, the light of forgiveness, the light of eternity, the light of a simple bed, the light of………

Happy Easter and may you experience the joy of stepping into the light again this Easter.  And thank you so much for supporting us to help so many, daily, to experience that same miracle – of stepping into the light.

God Bless you and Happy Easter!

Pastor Paul Gates

Executive Director, River of Life Mission