The Hope Candle

Judy and I were blessed this year to be asked to light the Hope Candle during the first week of Advent.
How perfect this was for me because Bringing Hope And Happiness is my life’s mission.
I recently began a new book which will help people find a path from hope to happiness, because trust me, you will never find happiness, without first having hope.
So what is Hope?
Hope is that invisible rope dropped to you when you are drowning in the sea of despair. When it’s Christmas time, and you have to make the choice between buying presents for your children, or pay the electric bill. Then you receive a check in the mail from a relative or friend whom you haven’t heard from in a year with a simple note “thought you could use this.” Each year at this time, Judy and I buy gift cards, and when we come across what looks like a needy mother, we give her a card. On the card is written, “Jesus loves you.”
Hope are the open arms, offering you wrap around you, to embrace you, at a time when your heart is breaking with grief and sorrow. At a time that you feel you can’t go on, Hope is there to help carry your burden.
Hope is what sustains the young couple when they’re told their unborn is at risk. It is that soft voice that whispers in their ear “everything will be ok.”
The 2007 VA Tech shootings hit me very hard. Having graduated from Tech in Civil Engineering, most of my classes were in Norris Hall. When the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention was opened there a few years after the shootings, it was only natural that I would go to the opening. While I was in the hall, I saw a man about my age, that I was sure I had in my engineering classes. We finally ended up side by side looking at pictures. I said, “Didn’t you graduate around ’77?” He looked at me briefly and said, “ Yes, I did. But not from Tech.” I said “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought I recognized you from my Civil Engineering classes.” He hesitated and then said, “My daughter was one of the victims.” Well, after I was able to swallow my heart back down out of my throat, I placed my hand on his shoulder and said. “I am so sorry. That had to be one of the most horrific events a parent could ever live through, but I hope you felt the millions of prayers that were being lifted for you at that time.” He looked at me in a way that almost made me uncomfortable, and I wasn’t sure of what his reaction was going to be. But then he said, “Yes it was. But then, our friends couldn’t believe it, but after the second day, all of a sudden, such a feeling of peace swept over my wife and me. We knew it had to be all the prayers coming our way.”
Hope is not the hand-out, but the hand down to the homeless person when he/she is told there’s a warm bed and food awaiting them. Judy and I have a great passion for our local homeless shelter which is run by one of the most selfless men of God I’ve ever met. The food feels their stomach, the blankets warm their body, but I think more important is that the fact that someone cares for them warms their spirit is more important.
But to me personally, Hope is the riser in each of your steps as you climb to happiness. But after you reach a certain level in that climb, it is YOU that must begin giving the hope, rather than receiving it.
I hope each and every one of you, when you look at the Hope Candle at your Church, or any candle you see burning during the Christmas season, you will pledge yourself to bring hope to others during this time.

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About Jerry Haynes

OK, where do I start. I was born…., no that line has already been taken.Call me…, oops so has that one. Well, I won’t attempt to spout musical prose, and just be myself. I grew up in the small cotton mill town of Fries, VA. My parents were hardworking members of the middle class. They never earned more than a little over minimum wage, but I can never remember lacking for anything. After graduating from Fries High School in 1969, I started to VA Tech. After two years of partying (1st), going to movies (2nd), and studying, well, much further down the list, VA Tech decided I need a two year break to get my priorities straight. With a number 8 in the draft lottery, I knew that even if the Hokies didn’t want me, Uncle Sam did. I joined the US Navy. I got my priorities straight. I’m proud to be a Viet Nam veteran, but feel guilty I never got deployed. I graduated from Tech in 1977 with a BS in Civil Engineering. For the next 35 years I would work in both the private and public sectors. My first job took me to Tazewell County, Virginia where I soon joined the Jaycees. This ignited my passion for individual development. This passion still burns today.

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