Reason For Hope began out of one man’s season of darkness but is now bringing light to the community through a one-of-a-kind Night of Hope. On Saturday, Oct. 17, at 5 p.m., Reason For Hope will partner with Promise Manor in Lynchburg to offer this inaugural event designed to inform, uplift and inspire people to find hope amidst hardships and disappointments in life.
Six years ago, Reason For Hope founder Jacob Haywood, a native of Tullahoma, Tenn., lost his twin sister, Jaimie Haywood Dornon, unexpectedly. Dornon left behind a husband, 2-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son, as well as her parents, twin, and younger brother.
At the time of his sister’s death, Haywood was a youth pastor serving in White House, Tenn., and a seminary student pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. He struggled to find hope amidst the pain and suffering of his loss. But out of his searching, the seeds for Reason For Hope sprang forth.
“The more I studied, the more I found that God is still good and there is still hope even though my circumstances screamed the opposite,” Haywood said. “Hope was the single factor that kept me going. And if that is what helped me in my darkest moments, I knew I had to proclaim that hope to fellow sufferers as well.”
A year ago this October, Haywood moved back to his hometown of Tullahoma to serve as the youth pastor at Grace Baptist Church. He is also now enrolled in the PhD program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary studying Christian Apologetics with a focus on the problem of evil and suffering.
“I love teaching students how to defend their faith and give a reason for their hope in Jesus. But having suffered the loss of my sister, I also have a burning desire to give hope to the hurting,” Haywood said. “Reason For Hope incorporates both avenues.”
Since 2018, Reason For Hope has been primarily an online resource with sermons, blog posts, words of encouragement, and merchandise designed to offer hope amidst a dark world. However, Haywood has been dreaming for a year or so about a live, in-person event that could combine his love for hospitality, food, music and learning into one hope-filled night for the community.
When Haywood approached Kayla White, founder of Promise Manor, with the idea for a Night of Hope at the historic 1858 Green-Evans-Hudgens house in Lynchburg, White was overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. She, Dornon and Haywood grew up on the same street together and had remained close friends since childhood.
“Jaimie’s life and death played a significant role in my journey to Christ and ultimately Promise Manor, and her legacy continues to bring light in darkness and hope in the midst of chaos,” White said. “Night of Hope is about celebrating the fact that although our world around us is crumbling, the loss of loved ones is unbearable at times, and the uncertainty of the unknown haunts us, there is HOPE and His name is Jesus.”
On the Night of Hope, ticket holders will gather under the canopy lights at the beautiful Promise Manor to enjoy a delicious meal of comfort food. Then they will hear a lecture by Haywood on “How to Trust God Amidst Evil and Suffering.” The night will culminate with a concert by Nashville singer/songwriters Channing Gillespie and Arthur Alligood, who will share original songs of hardship and hope and the stories behind them.
“The night is designed to fill your belly, educate your mind, and inspire your heart,” Haywood said. “We hope this is just the start of an uplifting event the community will look forward to every year.”
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at promisemanor.com/events or reasonforhope.site. Sponsorships are also available. For more information about Night of Hope, or to be a sponsor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.