Hope for the Future Ministries Founder
Pastor Diane Dunne 1954 – 2020
- Founder of Hope for the Future Ministries
- Trained at World Challenge Ministries under David Wilkerson
- Ordained by a committee of 17 male ministers from many denominations
- Preached internationally including Israel, Europe, Russia, Africa, South America and China
In 1980 Diane came to a personal relationship with the Lord. At that time she was working as a Regional Sales Manager for a cosmetic company where she found the job unfulfilling and she believed there was a greater purpose for her life. Because of her sales and marketing background she aspired to own a Christian book store, in order to fulfil that vision she became employed by New Life Christian Book Store. While working at the store, the drug addicts would come in to steal, Diane would go after them and take back the stolen items, and as a result was able to minister to them. One day in particular a young boy Billy, and his gang came into the store to steal. While Diane was confronting him about stealing, Billy broke down crying as he had not eaten that day, which was typical of street kids. Soon after, she invited Billy and the gang to go to a Christian roller skating event and to church. She found herself clothing and feeding them on a regular basis.
After working with them for six months period of time, she realized that she needed to be trained in street ministry to be more effective in her work with the people on the street. While working with them she allowed God to break her heart and she began to feel their pain and need. She also came to the belief that effective ministry begins with a broken heart.
In 1982 Diane enrolled at World Challenge Ministries under David Wilkerson. During the next five years she was working for World Challenge, and to financially support herself she got a job working for Chanel Cosmetics using her sales skills from the cosmetics industry while learning new ministry skills.
In 1987 she moved to Long Island and when she heard about a street meeting in Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, she went to the meeting where she met a woman named Alaska, and at first Alaska wanted to beat her up. Diane stood up to Alaska and found out she was homeless and living in the park. As the street meeting progressed and the minister was preaching Alaska started to scream out “WHAT DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE HOMELESS?”. Diane was led to go over and talk to her and calm her down. That’s how their friendship began. For the next few weeks, Diane and a friend named Amy started bringing clothing and food to Alaska and the homeless living in the park. One day Alaska told them with pride she had gotten an apartment. She took them to an abandoned building, as they entered the building it was dark and cold, as they walked up the stairs it felt like the stairs were about to collapse. The entrance to the apartment was a steel door which Alaska picked up and moved to the side, whereupon they were greeted by a 5 gallon drum full of human waste, “this is my bathroom” proclaimed Alaska. There was water falling on their heads as the rain came through the missing roof. Before them they saw animals and people living in squalor.
While she was there God spoke to her heart “If you can see these conditions and do nothing, it’s sin”. In response to this challenge from God she went and got a job cleaning construction sites, and used the money from this to buy food to distribute to the homeless. As word got out, there was an increased demand for food, so Diane went and solicited donations for food from corporations and physical and financial support from churches.
As the work evolved Diane realized she needed to incorporate and God gave her the name Hope for the Future Ministries. Within 2 years over 1000 people were being fed a hot nutritious meal and getting pantry items every Saturday by Hope for the Future Ministries. As of 1991 the ministry expanded to supply hot meals and pantry in Hempstead Long Island, and then in 2008 expanded again to offer a pantry service to the people of Farmingdale.
From the start Diane was preaching the gospel, but realizing that homeless people generally have a hard time fitting in in churches, she started to lead a bible study so they could learn more than the basic gospel. Over time this grew into the Church Without Walls we see today that meets all year round in the park, with often over 200 people from many walks of life, including homeless, seniors, disenfranchised and everyday people attending service on a Wednesday afternoon, because this is their church. Pastor Diane is very clear that you don’t have to come to church to be fed, they are coming because they want to grow with God.
Diane was trained to be a woman of faith and one particular Saturday, after feeding at the park, a couple of people ran over to her and in an urgent tone were saying “Tony’s OD’d, Tony’s OD’d” (overdosed).Diane ran over to the table where a paramedic was holding Tony. Diane asked if he had any vitals and the paramedic said “No, he’s gone”. They had spent a while trying to revive him with no success. Diane and her team looked at each other and said to themselves “what if it doesn’t work?”. In spite of this they commanded Tony to come to life and Tony suddenly drew a deap breath, and the paramedic jumped. Tony realised that the Lord had raised him fom the dead, he immediately gave his heart to Christ and after that went on to serve the Lord.
In recognition of her ministry achievements and many years of Biblical study, Diane was ordained Pastor Diane Dunne on December 3rd 1995 at Full Gospel Christian Centre by 17 men from various denominations.
In 2009 the ministry was devastated by fire when an arson attack destroyed the warehouse and kitchen as well as thousands of pounds of food. Many teams from churches, civic associations and even political leaders came to help rebuild and raise funds. Even though this was just before thanksgiving, and the building was closed down, with the help of the New Yok City Food Bank and other donors Pastor Diane was able to orchestrate an abundance of supplies to bring home for the thanksgiving meals of over 1000 families. A local restaurant in the area partnered with Pastor Diane to prepare and heat up the food at their place to take to the street on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. This lasted for approximately 1 year until the warehouse and kitchens were rebuilt to board of health standards and operational.
Over the years, ministries and people wanting to start soup kitchens and pantries have come to Pastor Diane for help and she has gladly helped them with advice and planning to get started. Also thousands of people, from Bible college interns, stay at home mothers to children and youth groups have come along to help out at the ministry and gained training and experience in street evangelism that helps them develop their own ministry. Even though some volunteers worry about getting hurt while helping the ministry on the streets, there have been no attacks as the people on the street have the utmost respect for Pastor Diane and her team.
Over the years with her reputation growing Pastor Diane has won numerous awards for her service to the needy including:
- Woman of the year for Excellence in service from Women of Substance Ministries
- Proclamation for service at Ground Zero from New York City Council
- Recognition of her tireless work on behalf of the poor and homeless from Jesus Alive Ministries
With the reputation and awards, invitations to speak all over the world have come and Pastor Diane has spoken at many locations including:
- Communist male prison in Russia
- The underground church in China
- Churches across America
One of the burdens of Pastor Diane’s heart is that Christians should realise that they are the only Jesus that people will ever see and should live as such. With that in mind Pastor Diane wanted people to know about how people took notice of what happened to Jose. Jose suffers from schizophrenia and stutters. He just about managed to stammer out the word shoes to Pastor Diane, she looked down and saw that the souls were separated from the shoe and he was unable to walk properly in them. On that she went to a store and purchased new socks and shoes, and was excited to give them to him. When she gave them to him, he was too embarrassed to put them on because his feet smelled badly, it was a terrible odour. She went to the van and got baby wipes and paper towels and the proceeded to wash his feet and part of his legs. It broke her heart to see the sores all over his legs and feet. She put the shoes on him and he stood up extremely happy. As he did this Pastor Diane heard the still small voice of the Lord say “You have just washed my feet”. Two guys from the park happened to be watching and said “We saw what you did, and yeah, you really are a Christian.”