Jesus is the one who calls His workers to share His Good News. We are involved in God’s work when we teach English, Help Other People Excel in life, and build relationships with our students and introduce them to Christ. This ministry is worth our time, talents, prayer and efforts.
Call to Life in Christ
In 1975 I heard the good news that God has made a way to know Him personally. I heard the Gospel that God forgives our sins in Jesus’ Name and Jesus will come into our hearts to be with us. In Revelation 3:19, Jesus said “Behold, I stand at the door and knock and if anyone opens the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with Me.” This is Jesus’ invitation to each one of us. I opened my heart and asked God to forgive my sins in Jesus’ name. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Call to Ministry
Midway through my college years, I switched my major from bio-chemistry to Bible. I had been studying the Bible and realized that its truth is higher and more powerful than any other source. I dedicated my life to serve the Lord in ministry. I chose Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary because of their belief in God’s Word as true and their emphasis on sharing the salvation in Jesus’ Name. While in my first semester registration at Seminary in the fall of 1984, I met a senior who asked me about my desire to share Christ with those who don’t get to hear the Gospel. I wanted to share with an unreached people group. He said, “I have one for you.” He and a Lebanese man were starting a church among Arabs in Fort Worth. I joined in their home Bible study and helped start the church. It is now the Arabic Christian Fellowship, where I am a member.
Call to HOPE Literacy
In 1995, the Lord called me during a time of prayer. I was specifically seeking His will and was starting to read a book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. As I read the sentence, “Right now God is working in you and all around you,” I felt the Holy Spirit impressing me with specific instructions: “Cindy Harrison – ESL.” I did not know that she was a trainer for ESL teachers, but I called her up and said, “This may sound strange, but I believe the Lord gave me your name and ESL.” She said, “It doesn’t sound strange to me. I do ESL training and I have been praying for you.” That conversation kicked off my life in ESL/literacy ministry.
My pastor, Habib Saade, and church hosted an ESL teacher training and we began teaching ESL. What Cindy did not tell me in that first conversation is that she heard the Lord speaking to her, indicating that I would be the director of a new ministry, HOPE Literacy! In 1997 we incorporated HOPE Literacy, Inc., and I got busy teaching and starting HOPE programs.
However, by March of 1999, I had become distracted with a young lady, Cyndi Cloues, and soon had plans to marry her. (Cyndi and I did marry and now share 7 children!) I was also building a house and had a mural painting business with an Iraqi who had accepted Christ through the testimony of his English teacher.
Then something striking happened that called me to a renewed focus on HOPE Literacy. My painting business partner, who had come to Christ from a Muslim background, was having doubts about Christ and his new faith. He was attempting to mix his faith in Christ with the doctrines of Islam.
We were stuccoing an old brick wall to get it ready to paint a mural on. In my morning Bible reading, I felt the Lord gave me specific instructions about my partner’s struggle of faith. Ezekiel 13 warns about mixing false doctrine with the truth. This is like a man stuccoing a wall with untempered mortar, that is, a weak mortar which makes the wall weak. Ezekiel 13:13 says, “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury, to consume it. So will I break down the wall that you have daubed with untempered mortar,” meaning, that if he kept attempting to mix his faith in Christ with Islam, his faith would fall. I also felt God impressed me that it would end our business partnership. Exactly one year after this, in March of 2000, my partner told me he was no longer a believer in Christ. He had gone back to his old religion.
Astoundingly, that very same month, a tornado hit that very same wall that we had been stuccoing when the Lord gave me the Ezekiel 13:13 warning! Our most prized work, a 70’x 17’ mural, the Color Wheel Wall on West 7th in Fort Worth, was hit and our mural was completely destroyed. I knew that our painting partnership was also ended. (He rededicated his life to Christ when Billy Graham preached the gospel in 2003 at Texas Stadium.)
In fact, I had been sensing that the Lord wanted me to rededicate my time and efforts to HOPE Literacy. I had become distracted, so I renewed my commitment to Help Other People Excel in life, and to do the ministry of HOPE. It was then that Ed Tally of Southcliff Baptist Church called and asked HOPE to help the church to start ESL classes. After meeting with Ed, I began directing and teaching classes at the Southcilff Community Center in the fall of 2000, till John Spear took over in 2002.
2019 marks the 22nd anniversary of HOPE Literacy. In addition to Southcliff Baptist Church, HOPE sites are also in 9 other churches in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Our office is hosted by the Arabic Christian Fellowship. Over the years, HOPE has welcomed into our classes thousands of refugees and internationals who are seeking a new and better life. We have a vision to continue to raise up new ESL locations to Help Other People Excel in life.
Harry Wilson, Director of HOPE Literacy
John Spear, Director of Southcliff ESL
HOPE Literacy Board of Directors
Workers at Southcliff have been blessed to work with John Spear as our longest serving HOPE Site Director. Sue Vaughn collected comments describing John from the Southcliff team: Motivated. Personable. Passionate about his love for Jesus and others. Compassionate. Kind. Big-hearted. Hard-working. Tireless. Energetic. Attentive. Always running (especially from 5-6:30 on Tuesday nights) but never too busy to stop and listen to the “one” before him. Diligent. One of the most dedicated and enthusiastic men I have known. Faithful servant. An involved leader who is a joy to follow and serve with. A blessing to everyone he comes in contact with. His deep relationship with the Lord clearly fuels all that he does. The caring and committed driving force behind Southcliff’s ESL program. Humble. Gives our Lord the credit for ESL success. Considers this ministry his calling from the Heavenly Father.
Sue Vaughn wrote me "These were some of the responses I received from ESL volunteers when I asked how they would describe John, our only director since 2002. He is a very humble man, a true 'servant leader.' He would never describe himself with these words, but I wanted our readers to know how our volunteers view our leader." Log on to read his story, the next one to appear on this blog.