It started under a mango tree...
Keith and Susan Spurgin sat in Thailand with friends and mentors, Doug and Charlene Fike. As they talked, Keith shared a dream of starting a church where anyone was welcome... where people far from God would be loved right where they were at and find new hope.
In the late 90's, the Spurgins left the mission field of Hong Kong, China and came back to the States to pastor at their home church in Lucas, TX. Not forgetting the dream God had put in their heart, they pulled together a team of three families, committed to praying for and reaching the community of Wylie. Over the next year, this small team grew to 50 people, all devoted to sharing the transforming love of God with the spiritually disconnected.
On January 3rd, 1999, New Hope celebrated it's first Sunday in The Wylie Opry on downtown Ballard St. It was a humble beginning of blue velour curtains, a confederate flag decorating the back wall, and the smell of Saturday night's popcorn still lingering in the air. There was nothing flashy or showy. But despite it's rough exterior, real lives were being changed. People showed up from all walks of life, and they were met by a family who loved them and cared about their story. Hope was offered to despairing hearts. Community was found for the loneliest soul. Connection with a loving God was available to anyone, regardless of their past, their clothing, their lifestyle.
The church grew and moved into Birmingham Elementary on Brown Street. Instead of flags, a mural of children's book characters decorated a school cafeteria... and still, real people with real problems continued to come and experience love and acceptance. Eventually, New Hope bought land down the street from the school and began to build it's own place. The building has become yet another avenue for the church to engage the world around us, not only internationally, but right here in the community of Wylie. The building not only serves as a home for New Hope, but also houses Hope Rising Preschool and has often been a meeting place for The Bridge Cafe, local scout troops, jiu-jitsu lessons, running groups, etc. More now than ever, we fight to be who God originally called us to be... a church for the church-less. A place where you can be known and loved, regardless.
While the stories of transformation and freedom and hope are very real, so has been the struggle to stay true to our values. New Hope has developed a reputation for welcoming those others might not welcome, and often catches flack for it's varied crew. But we were never called to reach the perfect. We were called to reach people, however they may come. Broken. Hurting. Messed-up. Just like us. People who no longer have to feel far from God.