Saturday, December 11, 2010

Miami - Church on the Door Step

God has done it again....divine appointment.  We visited a church called Central Bible Sunday night where we were told that we needed to meet a man named Jeff Jennings.   The church was filled with people who approached us with such loving and welcoming spirits.  We left the building that night knowing that we wanted to go back as soon as the doors were opened again because of the abundant life that flooded the place.  
That Wednesday night we went to Starbucks to write up our previous blog post and a friendly smile opened the door for us.  He sat near us.  We blogged and creeped on him at the same time.  There was something Jesus-y about him. He was preparing a sermon for his youth students and after seeing our bibles, he sparked conversation.  Our creepy analysis was right. After finding out he was the man we were planning to meet (Jeff), we shared the story of Jesus calling us out and our mission to spread the Good News. Later that evening, Jeff took us out to eat sushi with his students and then handed us the keys to his office....pretty big step considering it was only our 5th hour of friendship. It has been another beautiful display of the body moving in stride with one another as God leads without hesitation.  Jeff and his wife have an incredible love for God and it is evident in their deep and fervent love for people.  They seek people out, find their needs, and meet them as quickly as they can. When their brothers or sisters are in need, they open both their hearts and their possessions. They love beyond word and talk, they love in deed. They demonstrate what Jesus meant when He said that true love is laying down our lives for the sake of our friends. (1 John 3:16-18).        
We met another family who was staying at the church the same night that we were.  We learned that we had a lot in common with them....both from Texas, living out of our vehicles, and answering the call God has placed on our lives. For the sake of privacy, we will call them the Gogetters. The Gogetters have an 18 year old in college and 2 kids that they homeschool...a  15 year old an a 10 year old. God has called the them to open a Dream Center in Miami (If you don’t know much or anything about Dream Center, check it Their mission, “Find a need and fill it. Find a hurt and heal it” is exactly what the Gogetters have set out to do. After God confirmed Miami was the place they were suppose to be, they packed up, headed to Florida, and have been living by faith ever since. They are currently waiting on the doors to open for a facility for their ministry. They are funded but refuse to use their money on housing because it leaves so little for ministry. In order to continue their outreach, they have been living in their two vehicles for several months. 

They prayer walk the city throughout the week stirring up God’s Spirit for the present and the future. They bag up and disperse donated food throughout some of the struggling areas in Miami. On Saturdays, they do adopt-a-block. They walk door to door asking each family if they have any needs (food, clothing, prayer etc...). If the family allows, the Gogetters pray for the families right there.  When people ask, “Where is the dream center located?” The Gogetters respond, “Right here on your door step.”  The area, Liberty City, is a place that most people do not even consider stepping foot in. It is filled with drugs and violence.  Consequently, so many people, including members of the church, avoid even driving through the area. But not the Gogetters.  They walk straight into the chaos and knock on the doors.  Despite the struggle of not being “fully operational” due to not having a building, the Gogetters don’t compromise their duty as Christians.  It is a true example of being a church who literally and physically meets people where they are at.  Sometimes, the church is called to step outside of our expensive walls and go into the streets where people have needs that only God can meet.  Sometimes, we need to be like the Gogetters and bring the church to the world instead of telling the world to come to church. 

We went out on Friday night to South Beach to try to do some evangelizing (fancy Christian word for telling people about Jesus).  When we arrived we circled up and prayed.  We realized during the prayer that within our circle stood some Assembly of God, some Nondenominational, a Messianic Jew, and a couple of Baptist girls.  It was beautiful.  Though we differ in some details, one truth is the same..that is, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 
Then it began. Walking up the party roads of South Beach.  Doing the most uncomfortable thing for us...passing out tracks.  It is so hard for us sometimes to understand the effectiveness of trying to explain the entire gospel by passing out index sized cards that ask, “Are you going to Heaven or Hell?”  We sat back and watched as Andreas (no idea how to spell his name) went at it.  He was passing out tracks left and right.  He says he is like a fisherman surrounded by so many potential catches.  Eventually, we decided to try it out....why not? So we split up.  We are more relational so we did not talk to 34987098 people like some did. Instead, we just spent a lot of time with a few. (We believe that God has gifted us all be able to reach out to different types of people). Stacie got paired with a guy that we called Big Daddy (because that is what his sweater said). 
They prayed over a homeless lady as she was sleeping and then moved onto a few girls who were hanging out down the road a little.  They were all sipping a little but not quite drunk.  Big Daddy basically jumped right into things, asking them if they were saved. Which was so outside of what we are use to.  Eventually the conversation was just between Stacie and 4 of the girls. (Side note-they were not drunk and fully attentive).  After explaining to them who Jesus is and what salvation looks like (through the words of the holy spirit), two of the girls accepted Jesus as their Savior!!!  We believe these were authentic salvations.  We made sure that they knew what they were getting themselves into and explained to them what new life in Jesus looks like.  Afterwards, we walked some more and hung out with some coast guards.  Who told us about their salvation experiences back in Texas (at Sky Ranch).  They were no longer living the lifestyle that Christ wanted.  So we told them to be like the prodigal son, and go home...where mercy and grace await them.  They knew what they needed to do.        
The Lord has reminded us over and over again that He has his people everywhere.  Devoted Christ followers who are willing to go to the ends of the earth.  True Christians who nail their flesh to the cross daily for His name’s sake. People who love without expectation of anything in return.  Their love is uncontrollable because it is the overflow of Christ in them.  The God inside the Gogetters, Big Daddy, Andreas, Jeff, Angie, and the God inside of Central Bible Church is flooding into every crevice of Miami.  They are individually and corporately shouting through their God-given love that this Jesus thing is true.   

Ps. This is our dream van...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Florida- Confusion to Contentment.

We want yall to stay updated through the good times and the hard...Though we would love to post a story of victory and success...these last couple of weeks have definitely been on the harder side. Arriving in Florida has seemed to bring with it one shut door after another...

We have planned on buying a national park pass since we left Texas. It would be 80 dollars to stay at any national park for a year and through it we could take showers and cook food on our grill.  When we arrived in Naples, we found out that the only camping grounds for the everglades were located in homestead (though the entire tip of florida is practically the everglades).  So, we picked up and moved to Homestead.  When we arrived in Homestead, we tried to buy the national park pass only to learn that the pass only covers the entrance fee, not the 16 dollar a night camping fee.  Since the park nearest to Homestead did not have showers, we could not afford it.  So we continued to sleep in our van, waiting for the Lord to guide us.

We enjoyed a turkey dinner at Denny's and Jenna's mom so beautifully bought us a night's stay in a hotel for Thanksgiving night after 4 days of not showering. It was very much needed and so beautiful of her.  The next morning we woke up to learn Memaw, Jenna's grandmother, had been in turmoil over us through the night. She woke up in the early hours of the morning and was reminded of Luke 10...when your peace does not rest but returns to you, move on from that place.

That afternoon during our Jesus time we stumbled upon Proverbs 15:22. It says "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 3:21-23 says "My son, do not lose sight of these-keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.  Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble." Throughout our lives the Lord uses people to tell us which way He desires us to walk. Scripture reveals over and over people who either followed the advise of the wise (in the Lord) or disobeyed it. Those who disobeyed it failed in their plans, just as the proverb says. The mixture of Memaw's advise, our lack of peace, and the discernment that the Lord has given us we knew it was time to move forward.

Next stop...Miami, Florida. We spent our first day in the city fasting, praying, and seeking God's guidance. Again, we were a bit overwhelmed with the lack of "success" until Monday night the Lord reminded us that He is the calm in the chaos and the peace in the storm. We began to take our eyes off of our circumstances and set our minds on whatever is true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).  Through the fruitful seasons and through the harsh seasons, we are called to "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice..." (Philippians 4:4). We have experienced God move in diverse and great ways since we have began this journey. Now, we are at a place where He is telling us to "Be still, and know that I am God.." Psalm 46:10.

Easier said than done. We are both do-ers, on the go, hands to the plow kind of people with such an urgency to spread the love of Christ. We took that mentality and made ourselves miserable. We walked the streets, drove around, and stretched ourselves to frustration. On top of the spiritual confusion, we were physically exhausted due to continuous sweating and lack of showering. Out of desperation to be clean, we washed our hair in the McDonald's sink (the handicap stalls have their own sink and mirrors). For more efficiency, we took our van to the self service car wash and killed two birds with one stone. Cleaning the van wasn't one of them. We washed our bodies as well as the clothes we were wearing...nothing like a high pressure shower :)

After a week of filthiness and aggravation, we were reminded of the words of Paul, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for i have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" Philippians 4:11-13.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Love Love.

As our time in Mobile came to an end, the Lord continued to do his work. In just a few weeks, all of these homeless friends became more dear to us than we ever expected.  Paul wrote to the Thessalonians,  "Being affectionately desirous of you, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of Christ  but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." That is so true of how we felt everyday that we walked into Bienville square.

Our friends Pat and Dean are dating officially. A sweet lady that we met through Habitat, Milly Sue, gave us a 4 tickets to the Christmas Spectacular that was being held at Dauphin Way Baptist. Naturally, we had to take Pat and Dean on their first date. We took them out to Wendy's and then afterwards went to the show. It was incredible. Filled with Christmas music....and Pat loves music.  They held hands and smiled the entire time.  The women usually do not get to stay out after 3 or 4 pm because the shelters require them to be in early so Dean was having the night of her life.  

Pat's sister passed away two weeks ago and the memorial was on Saturday, the day after his date.  So we brought him to his brother's house to spend the night and await the memorial.  We hung out with his brother and sister in law for awhile sipping sweet tea and laughing at how alike Pat and Daniel (his brother) acted.  They welcomed us into their home and by the end of the night they called us family. They even called us after the memorial to let us know how it went and keep us updated on prayer requests. 

The next day we went to the park and saw our friend JP.  As soon as we saw him, he leaned over and whispered into our ears, "Hey, I got saved last night." All that we could think and say was basically, "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!!!!!" He told us that he had been going to the service that one of the shelters held every week.  He said that he had been wanting to go forward to accept Jesus but he just couldn't do it....for some reason this particular night, he had to stand up.  He said he was the only one to stand up and get saved.  We cannot even begin to express to you how genuine it was.  The Lord was shining through his eyeballs and he was excited to learn more about our God through scripture and prayer and hanging out with fellow believers.  

At one point, our friend Trinity walked up cussing up a storm and cursing God.  JP leaned over and responded with "Our God is not like that actually.  God is who He says he is and does the things that He says that He will do." After Trinity left, he looked at us and said that something felt different inside of him while Trinity was talking.  He said before he wouldn't have cared but that for some reason today something compelled him to speak truth. The Holy Spirit has made JP a new creation..."They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them." (Romans 2:14-15). It's beauty in its finest form :) 

We spent the entire weekend just hanging out in the square with all of our friends. Praying for them and listening to them.  They are full of broken stories and in need of lots of prayer.  That Sunday we brought Pat and Dean and our friend Amber to church with us.  Afterwards, the church had a big thanksgiving lunch and bouncy toys....which was fun. 

Saying goodbye was almost as hard as leaving home. In just one week of getting to know our friends, we formed a mutual love for one another.  Nancy wept as she thanked us for coming at just the right time. Paulie told us, with tears rolling down his cheeks, how much he appreciated the love we spread throughout the park..."I watched people smile every time you guys came into the park that I hadn't seen smile in weeks." Robby insisted on us staying in touch through email and letters. Patrick could not say enough about how timely God had sent us into his life after his sister died and how much he loved us for showing such love to him and his friends. With tears in his eyes, he called us family and meant it with everything inside him. We know and reassured them that it is Christ's love, not our own, that shines through us. We all cried as we gave our final hugs and went our separate ways.

After that hard goodbye, we spent our last night with our Reality Church family. They treated us to a delicious meal, we sat around a campfire sharing life stories, and ended the night dancing in fountains. Just as we fell in love with our friends from downtown, we fell deeply in love with the people of this church. Again, we cannot say enough about how much this church has loved us and taught us. They have truly put hands and feet to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for theses brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God...Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth." (3 John 1:5-8) We walked in their church as strangers and they took us in like family. They poured into us, met our needs, and sent us on our way with such encouragement. They are our fellow workers for the truth. (So if any of you RMCers are reading this you best text us, call us, stalk us, and NEVER lose touch!)

P.S. World...we are no longer headed to Naples, Florida. We are headed to Homestead, Florida. We also added pics to our last post. That is all for now.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Look into the Woods.

Its been a crazy few days.  For sure, some of the craziest so far.

Saturday morning we served with Habitat for Humanity.  The head guys aloud us to give a short devotional before breaking out the hammers and nails.  We shared with them the story of Mary and Martha, reminding them of the necessity to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his stories. We helped deck a roof and installed a couple big deal. 

The rest of our time in Mobile has been spent downtown in Bienville square.  We have met, hung out with, and fallen in love with so many homeless people.  Every afternoon we pull up in our creepy van and hang out with the same crowd that sits there everyday.  One man, Anthony, put it perfectly...he said that he sits out there "waiting for life to happen." We come everyday, bringing life in Jesus Christ.  They know us as the Christians. Some of them think we are crazy, but the rest of them know they can talk to us when they need to be prayed for/with. 

Once again the Lord is revealing to us the variety of stories and consequential hurts in the world.  We met a guy named Patrick.  Patrick has showed us the ropes to living on the streets. Basically....there are 2 types of people living in the streets, according to Pat.  There are the guys who live in the streets because they want to...because its easier than working...and because they don't have to answer to anybody.  Pat calls them "The Element" because they live in a world surrounded with drugs and alcohol. Then there are the ones who are out on the streets unwillingly.  Circumstances literally left them stranded with no other place to go.  Pat is there unwillingly.  He broke his foot three separate times leaving him unable to work (we've seen it its true). Robby is a fellow southeast Texan who is out on the streets for the first time in his life after getting laid off. Nancy is trying to get away from an alcoholic husband.  Dean left her husband and kids after years of being mistreated and overlooked.  Charles is out on the streets after walking in on his 7 year old wife cheating on him.  Robby said "We are good people, we just aint got no place to stay." It is so true.  

We have watched over and over as these guys looked after each other like a family.  They trust each other with everything.  If one of our friends needed to use the bathroom, another one was quick to look after his belongings for him.  Patrick gave his last few dollars to help a woman get a bus ticket.  He offered up his tent for Robby to sleep in.  A man, Marvin, was beat up a robbed.  Patrick took care of him for some time.  A man and woman walked by in need of a bus ticket and Patrick whipped out his and handed it over.  We had mentioned one day that we like Cashews, the next day, Patrick and his girlfriend, Dean, had gotten us some Cashews.  He insists upon buying us groceries when his foodstamps come in the mail.  It is beyond humbling to watch as this man gives what little bit he has for the betterment of others.


Patrick took us out to Tent-City one afternoon where he lives.  It is just outside of downtown (about 2 miles), off of a country road, in the woods. There are a few Tent-Cities located throughout the woods.  Some are full of the Element and some seek to lead quiet lives, like Pat.  When we walked in our hearts dropped.  It was exactly what is pictured when we think of third world countries. Trash covered the ground in piles throughout the trees. The smell was beyond words.  We were standing in a landfill.  Deeper into the woods is where they slept.  Tents covered the area.  Above the tents hung some tarps that they had tied to trees to control some of the rain.  There was a small community area in the middle of all of the tents.  We climbed into Pat's tent as he showed us the treasures of his life...things that we would throw away in a heart-beat.  The trash, that he held so dear to, covered the bottom of tent, only adding to the smell. Pat's sleeping bag was jammed in next to Robbie's old egg crate. The word sad does not even being to describe the condition of their lives when it is compared to so many of us around America.  We look at other countries and see their poverty stricken lifestyles while these people have been living in the woods of America for years. 

We returned to the square so that Patrick could get a meal from one of the shelters. That is when we met Charles. We've never seen so much fear in a grown man's eyes. He had spent the night before on the streets in a horrible storm and was scared of what the night was going to bring. Charles is new to Mobile and is just trying to make it to Florida where his brother is. Patrick began to tell him the dos and don'ts..where to sleep and where not to sleep. He sat with us and waited for the shelter to start serving. He couldn't focus enough to hold long conversation because the worry consumed his thought. As it got dark the "element" was stirring. We figured it would be better to take them to a calmer meal. We brought them to McDonald's and throughout the conversation we watched as Charles' fear began to fade. 

We drove them back to Tent-City and got out to pray with them. As we did, a man stumbled out of the woods and approached us for a ride. He was clearly apart of the "element." Patrick stepped up in our defense and told him we were not heading his way and we couldn't help him. The man had hate in his eyes as he disappeared into the woods calling out to Patrick, "I'm coming for you in the backpack." We prayed over our friends and Charles' hands trembled. After realizing Patrick was scared to stay in the area, we brought them to a safer place to sleep. 

A policeman told us today that he thinks we are crazy for doing what we are doing.  He said "these people do not want your help." As if to say that they all want to stay where they are at.  After watching Nancy break down in tears, holding the trembling hands of Charles, and talking with Pat, it is impossible for us to believe that they do not want the life that Jesus offers.  There are so many people driving up and down the streets right beside Tent-City oblivious to the need in the woods.  Homeless people crowd the streets in America and people will not even look at them in the eyes.  They are brushed off as people who choose to be in the streets...we are not called to pick and choose who we will help out or who we will share the gospel with.  We are called to help the widows and the homeless...regardless of how they got to the streets and regardless of why they are still on the streets.  

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means, I might save someone. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." 1 Cor. 9:22

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One Body.

Yo! This is us, holding to our facebook pinky promise...updating you more often!

The night before we left the Hammond area we got to go back down to Baton Rouge with Rachel and Abe (Our friends that we stayed with in Springfield...we went to see their parents...who are awesome).

So, whilst we were in Baton Rouge, the first time around, we noticed that the football team that we loved on did not have any water to drink.  Jenna immediately texted Paul (ETBU women's soccer coach) and asked him to send us some water bottles.  They did not arrive in Baton Rouge until after we had left for Springfield.  The fact that we got to go down the Baton Rouge again with Abe and Rachel was super exciting because we knew that we would get to deliver the water bottles to the boys finally.  So we did.  We handed it to the football coach, he loved it and was super appreciative.  It was good to see them again :)

After we delivered the bottles we decided to find Tom.  He had told us where he lived and we remembered that it was not far from where the football guys were practicing.  We found his van, pulled into the parking lot, and saw Tom sitting outside with a friend of his.  Tom was obviously in the same mess that he was in before we left.  We approached him with a lot of joy and he introduced us to his friend. We proceeded up the stairs to meet his family. His wife Tina, who we have spoken to on the phone, was excited to "finally meet" us. It was sad to see the condition of the place. Clothes, trash, and stains covered the room while his one year old sat in the middle of it unnoticed. We gave Tom a bible and a letter that we had written him. He took it with a smile and promised he would read it. We headed to Mobile Alabama excited that the Lord reunited us with the football team and Tom.

Our first night in Mobile was our first night in the van and what a good night it was :) We spent Tuesday praying over the city and seeking God's guidance. This was our first stop with zero connections. We sat on the Starbucks patio spending time with Jesus and He opened up doors. We overheard two women having their own bible study. We exchanged a few words about the greatness of the Lord and before they left we found out where they went to church. They gave us their numbers so that we could meet up with them for the Wednesday service. We also listened in on four older women carrying on about their faith and Christian walk. It was encouraging to hear women so on fire for the Lord. As they were leaving, we confessed our eavesdropping and asked them what church they attended. They gave us their information and cheerfully went on their way. During our conversation with the older ladies, we noticed two men sitting at another table. When they got up to leave they confessed listening in on our conversation. They asked us about being from Texas and what brought us here. As we told them, they sat down in curiosity. We exchanged thoughts about our faith and how much the world needs it. In just a few hours, God blessed us with eight fellow believers as well as two contacts.

Wednesday we attended Reality Church, the church the two ladies attend. Reality Church has just recently opened, August 8th, and is being planted by a former director of the Mobile Master's Commission. We attended their youth/college group session and watched as the Lord broke down barriers of insecurity, abuse, neglect, etc...

After the service a few of the girls who are a part of the Reality Master's Commission approached us and told us that we were more than welcome to come stay at their house....(They all live in a house together). We loved living in the van but a shower and a toilet sounded mighty fine.  We accepted, gratefully. So gratefully.  The Lord created the body to work in a way that has been demonstrated so strongly to us since the day we left.  We were able to talk with the people at Starbucks like we had known them for years because we are all a part of the same family.  The people at Reality Church took us in without hesitation because we have the same Father, the same Love, the same Purpose.  These guys are solid.  They love the way Christ told us to love through their willingness to help us out in our time of need. Our foundation is the same and consequently we were able to immediately begin working together towards our common goal. Its good stuff...The way the Lord created the body...Good stuff. "...That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor. 12:25). Love it. Read the whole chapter.

Anywho, Through prayer this afternoon we are learning that our ministry in Mobile will be with the homeless people in the city.  So we ask for your prayers.  That the Lord will open doors. That we will be able to confidently provide a few of their physical necessities as well as share with them the hope of Christ.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Darkness Has Not Overcome It.

Our plan was to be in New Orleans for the past two weeks but God led us to the small towns of Springfield, Hammond, and Albany Louisiana. We stayed at our friend's house in Springfield, who are now our t-shirt models. We spent time with their church and youth group. We couldn't have asked for a better home church during our stay. They took us in and loved us as one of their own. We love 'em.

We are realizing real quick that this journey is for both the lost and for our personal walks as we learn more about who God is in the mist of a broken world. In Albany, we learned more than we served. We worked with Redemption Outreach Center and several other churches in the area. They were all working together to put on a crusade. The focus of the crusade was to knock down the walls of addiction, religion, racism, and bondage. We prayed with them in the evenings and served in small ways as we were needed. 
What we learned: Our hearts in reaching the lost are not denomination specific. We understand that the Lord is going to place us with a variety of churches. We have non-negotionable beliefs (The Trinity, Jesus' death and resurrection,  the path to salvation, etc..). We do not agree with some of the things that the more "charismatic" churches believe and we will not negotiate or sacrifice our beliefs. We will seek to correct them where they are wrong and also be in a position to be corrected where we are hope of being of the same mind...the same biblical, spirit led, effort to reach the lost. Within the past month we have worked with the typical "conservative" churches who have beautiful hearts and are so solid in what they believe biblically.  They teach and disciple the way Jesus told them they ought to. With compassion and knowledge. It is so so beautiful. However, their desire to reach the lost and to step outside of the building is sometimes not a priority.  Though the churches in Albany are lacking some in their discipleship and teachings, they are actively reaching the lost with the same gospel message...Jesus died and rose again, to save the lost because he loves us all.  They have devoted their lives to finding the lost and leading them to the cross. It is so so beautiful.  It has been a long time since we have seen a church so heavy for their community. They are determined to see God's spirit save the lost and free the bound. Surely, somewhere between the more conservative church's knowledge of the bible and the charismatic love for the lost there is a place where we can all find the absolute truth...both in our knowledge of scripture and through our actions. 

Not every church has it right. Paul was constantly correcting churches as they sought to be more like Christ. "Standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel...Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind" Philippians 1:27b-2:2. We are in this fight together and for the sake of the gospel we will go where the Spirit leads regardless of denomination. 

Anyways, we spent the majority of our time in Hammond. We chilled at a little skate park in the area. We brought the kids gatorade and gave them high-fives for doing cool tricks.  We were there everyday right after all the kids got out of school.  We did not hear one happy story. These kids are hurting so deep and are struggling everyday to control the anger that is built up inside of them.  We met a kid who physically fights with his dad often. He said "My dad is missing his teeth and I prolly knocked out 3 or 4 of em." His dad does pills and acts "Stupid." We met a guy who smokes weed and considers himself to be a good kid because he is not doing the same drugs that the rest of his family crack.  

A kid, Jordan, told us that he doesn't believe in God because he had watched a video on youtube that attempted to disprove God.  We gave him Indescribable by Louie Giglio and made him pinky promise us he would watch it.  We watched his video and realized how easy it is for kids to believe anything...but Jesus sometimes.  Jordan avoided us for the rest of the week.  We met a kid named Brooke. She was super sweet and excited to hear about the Gospel.  We gave her a bible and she pinky promised that she would read it.  We met a girl named Angie. That girl be so crazy and energetic. We love with our whole hearts.  After an awkward approach...given by Stacie Hooks naturally...we learned that she shares the same story as Stacie. Our hearts broke. We hung out with her as often as we could.  At the end of our stay we were compelled by love to tell her the greatest story ever told.  Kids were talking about drugs and sex and cussed every other word the entire time we were there.  They seek so hard to find meaning in all of the wrong places.  We sat as a group of kids started lighting up some "legal weed." Though we do not have much to offer, we gave all of these skater kids what we We tried to love them through gatorade, through talking, through listening, and through sharing the story of Jesus.  We prayed for them everyday and will continue to pray for them every night.  We are learning more and more everyday what it means to be broken for the things that break the heart of God.  Though we struggled to find opportunity to share the story of Jesus with Angie, we literally could not help ourselves.  We love her too much. We love them all too much.    

The darkness that we, as a church so often talk about, runs deeper in this world than we ever imagined.  It is more than just a thin layer that covers the planet.  It is a deep hurt that controls the lives of so many individuals.  But :) we serve a God who is bigger and deeper and wider and brighter than all of this pain. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5.   

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's Our Duty.

Once upon a time, a dear friend, Chassidy Rogers, had a facebook status that she stole from some guy named Mark Devers.  It said, "You may conclude that evangelism is not your gift, but it is still your duty."  

But God works regardless of us. We gave Him our hands and feet and He put us to work. 

We started off our week in excitement. Tom came to church and heard Paul's prayer in Ephesians chapter 3. The preacher reminded us that Christ is meant to be deeply rooted in our hearts and that His love knows no boundaries. That was exactly what Tom needed to hear and Satan, knowing that Christ gives life and life abundantly, swept in like a roaring lion seeking to devour. Two days later we waited on Tom at a park, but he didn't show. When we called, he told us that he had taken some pills that he shouldn't have taken...he'd be recovering for a few days. We know it is hard for him to come out of the darkness that surrounds him, but there is power in prayer. We pray for him daily and he knows it. He asked us over the phone if we had been praying for him. He said he feels it...we wont stop. 

Tom has three boys. His oldest one is following in the footsteps of his parents. We are praying that as God rescues Tom, He  will also grab hold of his family. We've been able to get to know Jacob, his five year old. He's full of life and joy as most five year olds are, but he is being exposed to far more than God ever intended. We know that he longs for a father who can love him deeper than he's ever been loved before. He needs a heavenly father as well as an earthly father. 

Well...we figured with the busies, we would meet them where they were at....i.e. we would throw some Jesus through their windows as they were driving by. We passed out 50 CDs mixed with Jesus songs, podcasts, and scripture. We stood at the busy intersection, held signs, and responded to people's curiously cracked windows. So that on their way to wherever, God is flowing through their speakers. 

Once we were out of CDs, we turned our attention to the Walmart shoppers. We walked the parking lot putting up buggies, meeting people at their vehicles, and offering to help with their groceries. Often met with a polite decline or a confused acceptance, we let Jesus shine through our eyes. With God leading our hearts, we asked about their lives...who they are, what they are going through. As Mark Yates always said, "Its crazy what people will tell you when you ask them how they can be prayed for." 

We met Joenette, she needs prayer for a job.  This old precious lady said that she had just lost her husband recently. Josh was a youngish guy.  He needed prayer because His dad would be having a serious heart surgery this weekend.  When we told him about Jesus, and how, through prayer He will do anything we ask of him, he responded with, "You have given me a new perspective on things." We gave them each a bible and committed to pray for them all. 

Our football em.  They had games tonight.  The little bity guys lost and the bigger ones lost. But the middle 8-9ish year olds...they won :)  All of our friends from the park were there...we do not fit in the crowd, but they love us the same. Last practice we brought the older boys some gatorade and the coach let us share a word with em.  Jenna spoke to them about how God wants to be their best friend. She quoted Jesus and told them that there is no greater love than that a man would lay down his life for his friends. Stacie told em that He has been chasing them down since day one....that he wants to tackle them...and tell them that He loves them. We prayed over and gave them each a bible.   

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians that he did not claim to know anything but Christ, and Him crucified. Likewise, we did not come into Baton Rouge claiming to know anything about evangelism...we just know that Christ was crucified...and that the world needs to know. Psalm 51 says "Restore in me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit." Although we spent the majority of the first week in confusion, this week God broke down walls.  He showed us that all that we are in need of is a willing spirit.  Our duty to spread his fame can be accomplished, and upheld, through our willingness to do whatever he asks of us. Evangelism is not our gift, but we are stretching outside of our comfort zones in order to obey the commission of Jesus is our duty and our deepest desire.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week One. Trial and Error.

Its been a crazy week full of learning and growth for the both of us. When we arrived in Baton Rouge we were completely lost as to what to do and where to start. We met with Matt Dearman, the youth minister of The Chapel on Campus.  He gave us an idea of how the city was set up and told us some general ideas of where to go.  For the first few days we drove around the city and prayed for direction and guidance. We were filled with confidence in God's calling for our lives and simultaneously filled with a billion questions.

Where are the lost? Where are the hurting? How do we talk to them? Do they even care to listen?

Then we slowed down and looked up.  There they were.  People everywhere.  Walking up and down the roads looking for money, people busy with studies in Starbucks, and people in and out of the grocery store.  All over the busy intersection of I-10 and College St. was a need that we have the power to meet. We have the power within us to introduce the lost to salvation and the power to encourage those who are already in relationship with Him.

We walked under the overpass and chilled there for a little while.  At the time there were no homeless people hanging out there.  Just us.  We sat for a while and watched and listened.  It was one of the most depressing sounds in the world. The sound of busyness.  People were rushing on the highway above us and the highways around us.  The sound of honking and engines filled our hearts with a sound of pointlessness.  God wants to speak to us in a whisper and the people in Baton Rouge...and all around America...are too busy to listen.

Two business men in Starbucks told us they were too busy to talk.  So we moved to the grocery store. We served.  Did not say much but hoped that they would see the love of Christ in our servanthood.  We sought out people who needed help with their groceries.  They were usually just walking out to their cars which did not give us much time for conversation.  We moved down the street and found a homeless man holding a sign.  We handed him a water and asked him how he got to Baton Rouge. He told us it was a long story.  When we told him that we had time to listen he responded with "I'm a little busy, I have to make a couple dollars."  Business men, shopping moms, and even those with no jobs are too busy.

Eventually we ended up at this area called Gardere...or something...we call it "Guard your ear" cause we  cant pronounce it.  It is a place full of poverty, brokenness, and darkness. We stumbled upon the neighborhood park.  They have a football program for boys up to thirteen. Three times a week they meet for practice but rarely have actual games.  We are there every evening covering the place in prayer and slowly building relationships. We have been sitting in the stands with a couple parents who attend the practice and playing with the children who seem to be overlooked and unwatched by theirs.

Then there is Tom. Tom is a 50 year old man that comes to the park daily with his little boy and the two from next door. He hasn't worked in six weeks and struggles to keep his head above the consuming lifestyle he and his wife live- in and out of jail, drugs, and alcohol. He has shared with us that he is a believer who accepted the Lord at age 26 but now says, "i don't know where my soul is headed." Pray for Tom. Pray that God reminds him of Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither, angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

We met up with a church called the Healing Place.  We helped out with their homeless ministry yesterday morning, passing out free food and giving away some clothes.  Last night we went with the church to do this outreach called Midnight.  We walked into a few of the stripper places around the city passing out roses to every lady that we saw.  We did not say anything.  Just gave them a rose (that had a note reminding them that God loved them), smiled at them with the love of Christ, and left.  There was a stripper at Gold Club who had long hair.  We will never forget her face.  She held her rose so tight and smelled it over and over ...probably in curiosity as to why someone would give her something, expecting nothing in return.  We saw women who were so empty.  We also drove up and down some streets and found prostitutes, transvestites, etc. standing on corners and walking into hotels. It is so hard to look into empty eyes knowing that we are overflowing with life.  Our hearts broke.  Like the heart of Paul when he said "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers" (Romans 9:3)

Anyways, all that to say...God is doing what He wants to do and we are so grateful that we get to be a part.  From being spit in the face by little kids to being rejected by business men to watching the little glimpse of hope come across a stripper's face when we hand them a is all more than worth it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Mission!

The greatest commandment is this, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
The world is hurting and crying out for a savior.  The planet is full of people who are trying to fight daily to find food, water, and most importantly hope.  It is our job, our duty, and our deep desire to meet these people where they are and introduce to them their rescuer, Jesus Christ. We will go to the darkest places around America because we believe with every fiber in our being that His light is strong enough to break through. He has called us to leave the comfort of the American dream and radically live out the life of a true disciple.  We are dropping our nets and following Him, no matter where he takes us, simply because He loves us.
A lawyer asked Jesus, “And, who is my neighbor?”
The answer: The Samaritan who “had compassion” on a random half dead man.
Jesus responds, “GO and DO likewise.”  
12 men flipped the world upside down because they believed Jesus had the power to save. It’s time we do the same.  All for His name’s sake.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this; to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.