On the day of 9/11 Pastor Claire received a call from God to Straight Ahead Ministries as their Metro Boston Director. Straight Ahead is a national ministry to juvenile offenders ages 14-24. Within 1.5 years the Straight Ahead Metro Boston Site was chosen as a National Demonstration Site for Best Practices by the Public Private Ventures (PPV) funded by the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives, the Department of Justice and the Annie Casey Foundation. At the time repeat offences (arrests) were at an 86% rate nationally among juvenile offenders and state wide in MA. Within 1 year of Straight Ahead's Metro Boston site's demonstrations being in action, repeat offense dropped to 15%.
In 2003 Pastor Claire received another call from the Lord through a dream to pack up and move to Lynn, MA to start a church reaching the poorest of poor in the city. The Lord even gave the name for the church, House of Hope. When Pastor Claire began this adventure with the Lord, she did not know that Lynn is the 3rd largest Cambodian city in the nation. She soon found out the parents of the youth and young adults she was reaching are all survivors of the Killing Fields. House of Hope's plant began in her apartment with some of these youth- 2 Cambodian gang members who were reached through one of her Straight Ahead church services in detention. Today one of those boys is now 29 years old and became a leader, preacher and treasurer of the church center. The plant at the apartment began to burst at the seams and the church moved from an apartment to 57-65 Munroe Street in Lynn. We were able to feed up to 80 homeless every Sunday morning through weekly homeless outreaches on our van on the streets of Lynn.
In 2011 House of Hope Church and Straight Ahead Lynn and moved into a building together at 1 Munroe Street. Pastor Claire was the founding director of both and the site was called the Hope Center. The church was able to provide what Straight Ahead could not and that was supporting formerly incarcerated youth and their families beyond the age of 24. House of Hope also became the base of discipleship for the homeless we were reaching on the streets and formerly incarcerated and system involved children Kid's Kare. House of Hope provided pastoral care, spiritual development and direction, mentoring and coaching those who called into ministry and giving opportunity to live it out through the church and in the community.
In 2018 House of Hope Church moved to a new site at 137 North Common Street in Lynn. House of Hope continues its unchanging mission and is now sharing a international ministry site with 6 other churches; 1st Baptist Church (the owner) along with a Myanmar, Karen (ka-rin), Haitian, Hispanic, Brazilian, and House of Hope Church Ministry Center.
The work we have done through church and secular community partnerships since 2002. Lynn's repeat offences in 2002 was at 86% and over the years fluctuated between 15-18 %. A few years ago Lynn was ranked the third most violent city in our state and it has dropped down to fifth. While gang violence is decreasing we have another rising battle- heroin. Lynn ranks as the 5th largest city of deaths from heroin overdoses- in the entire commonwealth.
By calling Pastor Claire to Lynn God also called her to the nations. Our city has over 100 Bengali refugees, a large Guatemalan community who are survivors of genocide; we are the third largest Cambodian city in the nation where all the parents are survivors of the killing fields. Our call is to the poorest of poor - Those who have never had communion; never owned a Bible; never belonged to a church community; never heard the Gospel in context to their lives; never known the mercy and love of Christ, and never believed they could ever be forgiven.
This is our context. This is our mission field.