At the end of 2022, once again, I feel overwhelmed by the support so many have given. From a 9-year-old doing a sponsored sleep out, to a church carol service offering, to the most generous Big Give response ever, to investors signing up for more houses, to tenants sending us e-mails of thanks, or the encouragements I’ve received from colleagues. It is such a privilege to experience this network of love which extends from givers, prayers, churches, over 280 tenants, over 100 churches, 102 homes, now in 40 different locations (if you include those with houses in the pipeline).

So, if you are reading this, please recognize how much your support has encouraged and enabled.

Enabled what? Well, I believe that Christian work should stand up to external scrutiny and validation.

To give just one stat:

Last year 90% of our tenants who have been in custody did not re-offend.

National recidivism rate: 25.6% (Hope into Action 10%)

For the past 8 years we’ve recorded at least 86%

We have lots of other measures here but let's stick with this stat: any charity in the country would be proud of that. And we shouldn’t be surprised that a project undergirded by prayer, placing the church at its centre  and promoting love as its #1 value does so unrefutably well.

I started out Hope into Action, hoping and trusting that would be the case. I’d now argue we can evidence it!!!

Our gospel works.

We are a long way from perfect but in recent weeks my heart has been touched by 2 stories:

The first, from Antonio: living in one of our homes, he shared how he was not only holding down a job but was also a year ‘clean’ (from Class A drugs). The longest he has been clean in 25 years!!

But when he described what made the difference, he described three things: he knows he is forgiven, he knows he has innate worth equal to anyone and he knows he is loved by God. In his own London-accented-words he articulated, more eloquently than I’ve managed to repeat, 3 fundamental tenants of the Christian faith.

Pause on the psychological impact those messages carry and you can appreciate why they added such power to his recovery. Couple that with a sense of belonging he felt from his church befrienders, and you have a powerful cocktail.

Then a few days later I was in a funeral service of George who, like so many homeless people, died tragically early. I heard how the church had first met George begging outside Tesco, then welcomed him into an HIA home and continued to befriend and journey with him. Middle class men and women were in tears describing the impact he had had on them. George came to express a Christian faith, would tell his house mate about Jesus and was baptized. This man held no great worth in the eyes of society and was largely estranged from his family. Yet a local church gave him dignity and honour in his life and then his death. As people cried and grieved, this church, upholding the messages of the Christian faith, offered eternal hope.

After both events I was left thinking: ‘objectively speaking: this Christianity is such good news that, even if it weren’t true, it’s worth serving and propagating for the rest of my life.’

All of us at Hope into Action believe this and, for as long as Hope into Action exists, we want the church to be at the centre - bringing power to recovery and rich comfort in pain and mourning.

I absolutely love working with the HIA team, admire their skills and passion tremendously and will continue to support it as an ambassador but still believe in my reasons for a change in role.

I will continue to work for 1-2 days per week, but Jon Kuhrt starts 23rd January as my successor. After a 4-week hand-over, I’ll have no managerial or governance responsibility.

I am excited about the future for HIA. Jon will give Hope into Action fresh voice and guidance. I’m really looking forward to serving and supporting him. 2023 will be a year full of opportunity to serve the Lord through providing shelter for the poor wanderer. I thank you for your continued support and prayers for Jon, myself and everyone else involved! 

Have a great Christmas.

Ed Walker