Susan Hutchison Nop is a past Program Director at BCM who worked with Andrew Hartwell in the original BCM house. Below you can read her short report on her special visit.
Twenty-five years ago, fresh from college graduation, I walked into my new home at 2200 Oakwood Drive with a suitcase and plenty of hopes, fears and dreams. I had joined the community at Bayshore Christian Ministries full of ideas about the work I was so excited to do, yet not quite realizing that God would be teaching me about His kingdom and my place in it.
I saw parents who were barely hanging on to homes and jobs, kids who were hungry and struggling in school, determined mothers raising children to be resourceful, resilient, and kind. I met strong, interconnected families who welcomed me, a stranger, into their homes and lives. I prayed for teens who resisted the daily lure of drugs and violence, and those that did not. At the same time, I was surrounded by volunteers and staff that were committed to living out the good news of the Gospel every day. We don't worship a remote God that looks down from some faraway place – we serve a God that came as a human being to suffer, to laugh, to cry, to heal, to eat and drink, to walk the dusty roads with friends, to struggle in prayer in lonely places. And this “God-with-us” continues to work each day on the dusty roads of East Palo Alto, in a light-filled building on Beech Street.
It was a delight to walk into Bayshore Christian Ministries and see classrooms bursting with artwork and books, places for quiet study and reading, space for dancing, Lego building and creativity! Here is a place where the Gospel of Christ is fleshed out in real time – whether you are a student looking for help with homework, a staff member carrying the weight of program needs and direction, or a visitor from the past looking to reconnect. This is a place where children, volunteers and full time staff take the time for the “kingdom that might seem tiny as a mustard seed, but will prove to be the great branching tree in whose canopy we all find a place.”
Though I was in East Palo Alto for only a few years, it was wonderful to come back after so long and see the changes in the neighborhood, visit with old friends, and marvel in the way that God has sustained and blessed this ministry over so many years. BCM is a place of hope and encouragement, for kids and families, volunteers and staff alike. Thank you all – and may God's blessing continue for the next twenty-five years!