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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 Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)