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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 Sunday, Aug. 31, the 243rd day of 2014. There are 122 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The Chicago and Rock Island Railroad will carry all who wish to attend the Chicago convention for half fare — that is, full fare to Chicago and return free.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Hardy Hetter, for several years yardmaster in the Burlington Railroad yards in Rock Island and Moline, was transferred to Beardstown. He was succeeded here by J.E. Albrecht.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Corn was estimated at 50 percent of the normal crop in Rock Island County by Crop Correspondent Thomas Campbell.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Robert Carroll, 12-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Farr Carroll, of near Aledo, won the grand championship of the Mercer County baby beef show with "Fat Stuff."
1964 -- 50 years ago: About 250 persons attended the first in a series of horse shows at the Hillandale Stables off Knoxville Road near Milan on Saturday afternoon and evening.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Ground was broken this morning for the $4.5 million Rock Valley Business Park near Rock Valley Plaza, Rock Island. The first building is 17,000 square feet for offices and a warehouse and should be completed by Dec. 1.

(More History)