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Heaven-sent vision prompted ministry to deliver hope, healing
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Photo: Paul Colletti
Lynda Sargent is founder of Heart of Hope Ministries in the west end of Rock Island, where she grew up.
ROCK ISLAND -- Lynda Sargent is tenacious, passionate, determined, sincere and full of faith.

Such qualities helped her fulfill her dream of starting a nondenominational ministry to help heal her beloved community.

In 2009, Ms. Sargent founded Heart of Hope Ministries, a not-for-profit outreach ministry dedicated to delivering hope and healing to the community, one person and one prayer at a time. The ministry is a dream come true for Ms. Sargent, who labored for 20 years to bring it to life. It literally all started with a dream -- a vision.

"My dream is to see the restoration of West End neighborhoods of Rock Island where I grew up and played as a child," Ms. Sargent said recently while sitting on a bench in Denkmann Park at 6th Avenue and 5th Street.

That dream came quite vividly to Ms. Sargent about two decades ago in a vision she firmly believes was heaven sent. The vision included Denkmann Park, which is just blocks from where Ms. Sargent was raised.

"I believe the vision took place in this park. This is a park I grew up in. This park is where I believe God showed me over 20 years ago in a vision," she explained. "In that vision, I saw miracles taking place. I saw people that had been blind seeing. I saw people who had been lame walking. Young men, black and Hispanic particularly, who had been in gangs were coming in the hundreds.

"They were coming, and we were praying for them. I believe that means that people who had been blinded and lame in their faith were having it restored, and young men caught up in bad situations in life coming and meeting hope and people who care about them and love them."

Here is where Ms. Sargent's tenacity, determination and unwavering faith served her well. She kept that vision firmly in her heart for many years until she was able to start Heart of Hope Ministries.

"I feel that if it was left up to my comfort level, I would have abandoned the vision of Heart of Hope long ago. I'm not sure I would have even started," she said. "I so believe that the vision, or dream, came directly from the heart of God. It's way too big for me. It has never faded or diminished in any manner over all these years, at least 20 years now.

"It's my personal love for the Lord that keeps me moving forward in pursuing the fulfillment of the vision. If I did not love the Lord so much, I would have definitely given up long ago. I often look up and tell (God), 'I wouldn't do this if I didn't love you.' "

The ministry's goal is to provide healing and help for those who need it most. Heart of Hope does so by going out and interacting with the people in the community and spreading the gospel to whomever will lend a listening ear.

The biggest obstacle for Heart of Hope Ministries has been not having a permanent meeting place. However, their lack of physical walls has not been a deterrent. Armed with their message and a clear mission born from Ms. Sargent's vivid vision, Heart of Hope Ministries meets and goes where the people are -- in parks, like Denkmann, and even on neighborhood street corners.

"I would so love to see restoration in the West End communities with new housing and businesses on the many vacant lots; to see residents prospering through educational pursuits and job training opportunities; to see families whole and healthy with fathers and mothers together raising children; for the whole stigma of fear and failure removed from this section of the city and from Rock Island in general; to see hope and healing; and as the book of Isaiah 61 describes, "to see beauty instead of ashes," Ms. Sargent said.

Despite any and all obstacles, Heart of Hope Ministries -- Ms. Sargent's dream come true -- continues.

Living the dream

Who: Lynda Sargent, founder of Heart of Hope Ministries

Quote: "I so believe that the vision, or dream, came directly from the heart of God. It's way too big for me."

Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)