Like many area organizations, New Hope Community Church has felt very blessed, affirmed, and encouraged by hundreds if not thousands of others whose thoughts and well-wishes have been with the church in the wake of 12/14 not only locally, but also globally. Of the many stories he could tell, Reverend Jim Solomon says he has been most touched by a friendship that began with a concerned citizen of Canada living 3,000 miles away from Newtown, but feeling very emotionally and spiritually close to our community.
When tragedy so unexpectedly changed Newtown forever, Mike and Melissa Hughes and their children were moved to respond with action, according to Rev Solomon.
Although they wished they could jump on an airplane and be in Newtown to support the community in a very personal way, they decided it might be more helpful for them to show that they are with the town in spirit, if not in person, not only through prayers but also through provision for a church they felt was like-minded in sharing God’s comfort and hope to those who had lost theirs. Through prayer and research, they decided that church would be New Hope.
Mr Hughes had been touched, he said, by Pastor Solomon’s prayer during the televised vigil on December 16. He was further moved to connect with Rev Solomon upon reading online about the church and its beliefs.
Being an artist and photographer by trade, Mr Hughes had a vision he felt came from God: a lit candle that would represent the light of each life that was lost on 12/14 “that would forever shine brightly in the hearts of those who loved each soul that is now with The Savior,” said Mr Hughes.
Mr Hughes began selling his photo locally in Slave Lake, Alberta, as well as the province of British Columbia, contributing the proceeds to New Hope Church, which he and his family felt was ideally poised to bring peace to those who are anxious and hope to those who may feel helpless. He wanted to bring healing through neighbors of his, he said, having an opportunity to truly serve as neighbors in the spirit of the Good Samaritan. People didn’t hesitate to purchase the photos, hoping that they would help the Newtown community not only psychologically but spiritually, Mr Hughes explained.
“I was humbled and honored that he chose me,” said Rev Solomon, who has been intricately involved in providing healing to members of Newtown via not only New Hope’s services but also ongoing grief counseling.
As Mr Hughes said in one of his many e-mail exchanges with Rev Solomon, “The Christian way is to give to those that need, and that’s what we will try and do. I do not and never will go a day without praying for you and Newtown.”
“My goal for the next couple years is to be in a position where I could give my family a nice trip and possibly come out,” Mr Hughes said in one of his e-mails to Rev Solomon. “I have only had the opportunity to visit the United States once. Before he died, my father encouraged me to see the world. I can’t think of another part of the world I’d want to see more than Newtown and there’s nothing I would like more than to meet you.”
Rev Solomon and his family welcome that day.
“I’m looking forward to one day meeting Mike. I can tell he’s a great guy. His gift is going to encourage our church family as we continue to comfort and encourage the families of Newtown,” said the pastor.
New Hope Community Church of Newtown meets Sundays at 10:30 am at Newtown Meeting House, 31 Main Street. Small groups for youth and adults also meet during the week. Visit www.newhope-cc.com or call 203-770-3745 for additional information.