Brick by brick, the building went up and life by life, the community was changed. Over those forty-five years those doors have witnessed miracle after miracle. Free lunches were served daily. The showers were open to local homeless people. A world-class boxing program gave the kids in the area something to do. Billy Graham played basketball in the gym.
In fact, it was the Hough facility that served as the inspiration for the Kroc centers, 30 years after it was built. In 1994, Salvation Army author and historian Henry Gariepy wrote a book on the Cleveland Hough Corps, called “Challenge Response”. You can buy it on Amazon.
Many lives have been forever altered by the work of the faithful who unlocked those doors each morning. And even though the doors closed, Cleveland Hough still makes an impact. I spent this past weekend with Cleveland native Cornell Jordan at a Young Adult event in Massachussets. He spoke a powerful word on Saturday night. That prompted me to write the following letter to this amazing preacher of the Lord that came through those doors. He graciously gave me his permission to share it with you.]
You said, “The Cleveland Hough corps doesn’t even exist anymore.”
Brother, I beg to differ. Not only does it exist, I’ve been there.
I went there on Friday morning when I shook your hand. I went there on Friday afternoon when we talked and laughed. I went there on Friday at dinner when you prayed from the depths of a soul that’s a lot taller than 5’4”. I went there on Friday night when you and the incomparable Jon were at the Interest Session sign-up table and we had the briefest of brief conversations about Moses and calling.
It exists, brother. It’s just not where it used to be.
You left a piece of it with us in your interest sessions. You left a piece of it with us in your conversations. You left a piece of it every time you said, “Come on, somebody!” You left a really big piece of it with us when you preached on Saturday night. A REALLY BIG PIECE. And we’re not giving it back.
Not only does it still exist, it’s mobile.
Cleveland Hough goes wherever you go. Where you preach, there it is. Where you teach, it’s there, too. Wherever you stand, that’s where the Cleveland Hough Corps is. Where you bless others, there it is. Where you pray, there it is. Where you step back and let the Holy Spirit take control, that’s where Cleveland Hough is.
You know this, more than anybody does. You know that the church where you came up isn’t a building. It’s not a street address. It can’t possibly be contained in those. You know that the church is not a building, it’s a body. And a body moves, brother. It has to. A body can’t be still. (To which you most capably testify!)
The Cleveland Hough Corps still exists because this body never dies. It may move from place to place. It may get a makeover every once in a while. We may put the body under this roof over here and then later under that roof over there, but the roof isn’t the body. The walls aren’t the body. The floors, the windows, the chairs and the tables are not the body.
Cleveland Hough still exists and I’m thankful for it. You are Cleveland Hough. So is everyone that grew up in those walls. So is everyone that was led to that place. Everyone that found comfort, fellowship, warmth, love, acceptance, a brother or a sister, a father or a mother in that place is Cleveland Hough. Everyone that found Jesus in that place is Cleveland Hough. Everyone that served a fellow human being in any way. Everyone that worshipped. Everyone that laughed and that wept is Cleveland Hough. Cleveland Hough is everywhere.
So I beg to differ with you, good sir. The Cleveland Hough Corps does still exist and I’ve been there. And I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart.
His and therefore yours,
(Come on, somebody!)