“Faces of Hope” Gallery Show

This is a personal project.  I created these photos because this is a place – these are people – that I care about… and I’m sharing because I want you to care about them too.

God’s Resort is a haven in downtown Joplin – an area that was previously known as “The Last Resort”- meaning if you can’t make it here, you’re destined for prison or homelessness. It was an area rife with drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and an place familiar to law enforcement, until the half block area was adopted by a group of caring people and a nonprofit was created. After spending time volunteering with the weekly meal and devotional offered in the Community Center at God’s Resort, I was shocked to discover not people who were beaten down or discouraged, but a group of courageous individuals who dreamed of a better life. A gathering of survivors who were bonding as neighbors and friends – who were helping one another. I found a community of hope… and my inspiration.

Chris&Sha copy

Chris & Shea and family were living in a park in Kansas City in a tent when a Christian woman cared enough to make a difference in their life.

In Shea’s words… “Living in the park was so rough. The thing that hurt the most was not being able to put my children in school because we didn’t have an address to use. At that time I just knew things was not getting any better and we didn’t have anyone to turn to. I got so depressed. I didn’t have faith anymore. I wanted to kill myself because I knew my family deserved more in life and I couldn’t give it to them.”

“One day this lady named Juliet came to the park praying for people and said that they were having a barbecue at this church and I said ‘I will show up’ and she said she loves me and I said ‘I love you too’. The next day we went there and she was happy to see us and we ate. There was gospel music and everyone was singing and dancing.”

After staying two days, Chris and Shea made the decision to have the pastor marry them. They were surrounded by many loving Christians. Juliet tried in vain to find a shelter that could take them all in, and ultimately gave them a temporary home with her. “I felt so blessed that we met her. We went to church and bible study. Then one day she said ‘I found you guys a place’ and I started crying and I hugged and kissed her and said ‘thank you’. We moved into God’s Resort and it’s been great ever since.

God’s Resort has given us so much hope and faith. They are so good to us and have been the best people in our life. I want to say ‘thank you’ to them for trusting us and giving us a chance to turn our life around.” IMG_6793b

Chris & Shea are just one of the stories of hope at God’s Resort.  These faces are just a few of the images from the upcoming gallery show we’ll be putting on at Spiva Center for the Arts in April.  Every face has a story.

Stories of creativity.IMG_7360bStories of achievement.IMG_7297bStories of transformation.IMG_6785b Stories of letting go…IMG_6659b and of holding on. IMG_6729bStories of surprising talentIMG_6711b

Stories of finding love…IMG_7341band finding home. IMG_6688b

The theme  – the anthem of this group is the Chris Tomlin song “Amazing Grace / My Chains are Gone”.  If you’ve heard the song you’ll understand why.

It’s about being set free.

It’s about letting go.

They sing it every Sunday night before praying for one another and sharing in a meal together.   IMG_7378b2IMG_7313b

“Faces Of Hope – The Inspiring People of God’s Resort” will be on display in the upstairs gallery at Spiva Center for the Arts April 5-29th.  Our Opening Night reception will be Saturday, April 5th from 3-6pm.  We’ll be joined during this time by the people who started and support this ministry, as well as many of the faces you see in these photos.  I hope you’ll come.  I know you’ll be inspired too.

5 thoughts on ““Faces of Hope” Gallery Show

  1. Whitney, this is awesome. I am really sad that I won’t be able to make it to the opening, but I’ll definitely be by to view the exhibit the following week. Proud of you!

  2. Whitney, this is great. I don’t know how “these things” work but Belton has an amazing museum with exhibits that are great. The next time you’re home, if interested, you may want to check into it.

  3. This is beautiful! Praise God for His hand in our lives!! Thank you for using your talent to bless others…my prayer is to do the same in many ways. You’ve challenged me!!

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