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.