Following Jesus

discipleship • the inner life • prayer
community of goods • faith • repentance

Following Jesus

What Gets You through the Hard Times?

August 29, 2019 by

Over this past winter I was invited to take part in a newly formed group at a church in East Harlem. Whole Life Mentoring tries to help men who have been incarcerated find new lives. I described it in a blog post earlier this year.

Darrell Bennett, who led our gatherings, had the idea recently to invite the winter group members for a reunion. We gladly offered the roof deck at the Bruderhof’s Harlem House, and after a good meal we gathered up there for sharing. Although only thirty-three, Darrell has been through some real highs and lows in life – from achieving valedictorian of his class at Morehouse College and completing a law degree at Harvard, to serving time in federal prison for reasons he wrote about extensively in his new book Come. Back. Swinging. The book tells his story with the hope and inspiration that came out of his struggles with brokenness.

People gathering together at Harlem House, a covenant community in Harlem, NYC

Darrell used this idea of hope springing from difficulties as a sort of theme for the evening. We shared about holding on to hope through hard times so that we can find freedom from our prisons, be they real or metaphorical. I marveled as I heard again these men’s stories of hard times, the like of which I have never had to experience – one served thirty-four years for revenge of a crime on a friend, another spent twenty-seven years for another crime and the mind imprisonment of drug addiction and depression. Yet their open and honest sharing led others to tell what they were working through. One young man declared that the evening was life changing for him.

Near the end, Darrell reflected that our meeting had been a type of service – even though we never opened a Bible. After all, he noted, Jesus simply “went to the people.” The Gospel, at that time not yet written down, was living, and was seen when men and women opened their hearts, shared their hardships and dreams, and found strength through one another.

Much like we did on this evening.


Watch the event on YouTube.



About the author

Tim, a member of the Bruderhof, an intentional Christian community

Tim Maendel

Tim Maendel lives at the Bruderhof house in Harlem, NY where he and his wife are house parents to a number of college...

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  • Your webpage, articles, photos and YouTube channel are so inspiring. May God bless you all and I hope to visit you one day, thank you, Deborah