Monday, December 5, 2011

Burr.

In our last post we talked about sitting at the table waiting for God to provide....and He has. As you might know, we are planning on staying in the northwest for 6 more months.  That means we will be way up here in the middle of the winter. Stupid scary considering we are from south-east Texas. Not to mention that its not survivable in a van. So, we needed an apartment...which meant we needed a job...which left us fearful that our purpose in being here (givin the church some needed hands and feet) would be drowned in our necessities to survive.

God changed our survival plans, as he continually does, and replaced them with his perfect plans. He taught us once again that when he asks us to do something, he will always provide the perfect way to make it happen. God gave us jobs that will provide us short-term housing as well as leave us open to serve the church the way God initially asked us to serve. We will be working for the church! Jenna-Kids Ave Director and Stacie-Intentional Community Groups director.  Those are basically fancy titles that mean: love the church(through Jesus), love Tacoma (through Jesus), and bridge any gaps that are separating the two(through Jesus).

Side Note: It is so crazy the different roles and places that we have found ourselves in throughout this whole trip. :) It's so fun and so random but so stinkin perfect! Seriously.

Continuing point: We hope to begin laying the foundations in these positions for the next six months or until God calls out the people who will carry on these roles indefinitely. The jobs are suppose to be part-time jobs but we will give our hearts to them full-time because God has made that possible. He is so good.

He said something like, "If I feed the birds, dontcha know that I'm gonna feed you too?" (Matt 6:26)
He said something like, "If your son asks you for a fish are you gonna give him a snake?" (Luke 11:11)

God gives the best kinda gifts. The End.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sitting at the Dinner Table

This short-term transition from living in a van and traveling to finding housing and staying is exciting but slightly overwhelming. We want to be good stewards of the time and money that God gives us. Just like Paul did in the last chapter of Acts, we want to pay for our living expenses in order for our time here in Tacoma to be an encouragement to the body and not a burden. We've been exhausting online applications and searching for the right living situation for two weeks.

It is a strangely refreshing feeling to be in similar shoes as the the rest of the world. We're having to find jobs that are scarce and cheap enough housing to be able to make ends meet. In a way it makes me feel "normal"...if that exists.

One of the best parts of living in a van is that we have been given into the hands of our God, completely. We are reliant upon Him, and him alone. We don't have the stress of "everyday life" because we know that we literally have no control over it anyways.

Before we moved into the van, we worked jobs and paid our way through life. Therefore, it was our tendency to think we were taking care of ourselves because we were "making" a living. Once we hit the road, we couldn't do anything ourselves or even get the impression that we could. Everything, from what we would be doing to how we would be eating, was/is completely from our Father. We've become like spoiled little kids. I was fortunate enough to spend my youngest years in a home where food just appeared on my plate, a roof was always over my head, and my main concern was to "eat, drink, and be merry." God has brought me back to this stage of life. Sure, this time around the burden of the world's salvation often overrides our happy-go-lucky child mentality but nonetheless, I have lived like a child being completely taken care of by my Father during this last year.

Despite the temptation to question what this new phase is going to look like and how we are going to "make" it work, I am overwhelmed with peace and contentment. The childlike expectation remains...I know my Father is going to provide like He always has. Yes, we are still taking all the steps we can- seeking employment and comparing apartment prices...but my heart is sitting at the table waiting for the food to appear. I am breathing in psalm 131,

 "My heart is not proud O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore."

God has brought us to a place of stability compared to our last year of inconsistency and put before us the opportunity to be independent and "live like the rest of the world." Still, I remain dependent on His provision and guidance. Like a child at ease against its mothers leg, so am I in my Fathers presence.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Super excited/Super nervous faces!

Whether you are a follower of Christ or not, there is no denying that Jesus is a famous man.  He is known across this world for his radical living, his convincing knowledge, his insane beating, his incredible death, and most importantly his incomprehensible rising from the dead.  He is famous, whether we believe the stories to be true or not.  He changed the world and he started it all from a manger.  He didn't start at the top and work his way to the lowly.  He hung out with the poor, the broken, the homeless, the crippled, and the forgotten...and this affected the rich, the elite, and even entire governments. He shook the foundations of the world and he started from the bottom.

The Pathway is fighting the same battle with incredible passion and drive. They are working on The Hilltop of Tacoma (which as we said in our last blog is a pretty rough area).  This is a church who is starting from the bottom of Tacoma, trusting that from there they can reach the entire city. They are trying to disciple, train, and love at all costs....and they are doing it all with hardly any leadership. The pastor is shepherding a church full of people who are ready to grow...and he only has minimum hands and feet to help him. The harvest truly is plentiful and the workers really are few.  The church envisions the love of Christ spreading across this entire city...starting from the Hilltop. They have incredible God-sized dreams and they trust that God will provide the workers.

God has given Bobby a desire to see The Pathway grow in numerous ways within the next few months. We have spent some serious time in prayer and feel like we need to stay for the next 6ish months. Though this is still considered short term for most people, this will be our longest stay so far on the trip.  We are trying to figure out all of the unknowns and are still in a lot of prayer about it all. Please join us.

Prayer thingys:
1) We are in the northwest...where it is stupid cold and rains lots and lots. We are not prepared. So, we are praying for cheap Apartments (Because we might die in the winters of Washington in our van...literally..Plus, it would be a great chance to minister to people who would live around us).

2) Jobs. We are praying that for the next 6 months we can find part-time jobs to provide the dollars to get an apartment and etc.

 3) Our roles within this church while we are here.  Where can we be best used? How can we we be most effective? All of that stuff...

As we flip through scripture, it is like both the disciples and Jesus were always going...but always staying at the same time. They stayed as long as needed...and they left whenever it was time to go even if it hurt people's feelings (like Jesus being "late" for Lazarus). Paul traveled everywhere...all the time...but he was also willing to spend chunks of time in cities if it was necessary for the Kingdom.

Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian." Paul replied, "Short time or long time - I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."

Whether short time or long time...we will follow the spirit, going when needed..and staying when needed...until this country becomes as we are, Christ followers.

   (These are our super excited/super nervous faces)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pathway...Door-to-Door ain't so freaky afterall.

During our time here in Tacoma, we've been partnering with the Pathway. The Pathway is a church plant that has been here for two years and is driven by the desire to "Carry out the Great Commission of God (Matt 28:18-20) by living out the Great Commandment of God (Matt 22:32-40)."

Stacie had worked for the pastor and his wife when they were managing a summer camp in Oklahoma. We were able to easily step in as old friends and offer them our hands and feet. They are a small body of believers that are so intentional about doing life together. Bobby and Kelli (the pastor and his wife) have literally planted themselves in the midst of the most broken part of Tacoma, the Hilltop. They live in a house with their 2 kids and are constantly opening up their home for whoever wants to come in. It is a literal representation of the phrase, "Our door is always open." People eat their food, sleep on their couches, and hug their kids. They offer one another all they have because they know none of it is truly theirs. At the same time, they hold each other accountable in their individual relationships with the Lord. They love the way Christ loves, pushing one another closer and closer towards the cross, even if it hurts.  Bobby and Kelli desire people's lives to be changed, at all costs. They pour out grace and love but never forsake the tough truths of Jesus' callings. The Pathway is a family of all different ethnicities and socio economic backgrounds...they triumph and celebrate, they mess up and get frustrated, they cry and they laugh, they are gentle when necessary and hard when necessary, and they do it all together. Acts 2 style.

         One of their Community Groups...good times!

              Scott got peed on by a kid...awesome.

As a part of the family, we have taken whatever role was needed. We've scrubbed a kitchen from top to bottom, watched kids so the adults could grow together, volunteered at a local festival, assisted a family in a time of mourning, prayer walked the streets of the community, and knocked on doors in hopes of sharing Christ and extending the family. The Pastor does this on his own every week..which encouraged us to join him.

What image comes to mind when you hear the phrase "door-to-door"?

It might be of two young men dressed in slacks, white shirts, and ties...Mormons. Or maybe it is of the less uniformed Jehovah's Witness. Either way, most people have seen these missionaries, been visited by them, or know someone who has been visited by them. These two groups have experienced slammed doors, resistance, persecution, and have blatantly been ignored. Nevertheless, they continue to knock. They are well aware of the fact that they are the source of many jokes but nothing keeps them from fighting to tell every person about what they believe...one family at a time.

We walk up to doors only be asked if we are Mormons or Jehovah's witness. If they are not home we find a Jehovah's Witness magazine (The Watchtower) stuck in their door. They are good at what they do either because they are really convicted about what they believe in or they are simply crazy...

...which is kind of the same thing people say about Jesus. Either he really did believe what he was preaching, or he was crazy.

It got us to thinkin....What if we were as consistent and persistent as they are? When Jesus was asked about the kingdom of God his response was " The kingdom of God is within you." If we hold within us the kingdom of God, the truth to all the lies, the peace for all the chaos, the water that never runs dry....shouldn't we be known for sharing it at all costs?

Are we saying that we are now converted Mormons/Jehovah's Witnesses....No.  We are simply saying, they have something figured out that we need to learn from.  We want to look and live like Jesus...even it means we look insane. We want the passion that they have, even if it means rejection.  We want the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven....even if it means we have to bring it to people.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Random thoughts of VanGo...

We get asked a lot, “Does this ever get hard?” 
Our thoughts are usually something like, “Yes. Better question is, when does it get easy?” 
Driving around the country is not easy. Walking up to strangers is not easy. Loving on people who are satisfied with where they are is so far from easy.  At times we think, “Well, eventually it will get easier. We will come up with a system and everything will fall into place...easy.” 
Its been a year. 
We find ourselves with more questions than answers. The more we learn about the person of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that we are so far from having it all together. So far from knowing it all. So far from encompassing what it means to drop our nets and follow Him. There is still so much wisdom and knowledge to gain...
In our very first blog we talked about our desire to take off in our van and spread the name of Christ.  We said we wanted to flip this world upside down with the love of our savior.  
We have yet to flip anything upside down.  
Everything that has been flipped over or even budged in people’s lives has been done only through God. He has simply invited us to join him...to watch him...to stand in awe of the work that he has been doing for a very very long time...even before our creation. 
In “When Helping Hurts,” the author describes it as a “god-complex.” It’s when we feel like we can just burst into people’s lives with all the right tools to help them.  We think that if we pour enough of our money, our time, and our other resources into people’s lives then eventually they will be saved...and through it all, we get to feel better about how awesome we are for helping. We left as if we were something superior to the poor and needy. We left with the intentions of teaching them a thing or two....
We are in California now. Many states later. And we can honestly say that we have learned more from these “poor and needy” people than we could have ever have taught them.  Its not about walking up to somebody as if we are greater than them...as if we have the ability to fix their problems with our valuable gifts.  It is about walking beside them...knowing that we have just as much a need for God as they do...knowing that we are just as dependent upon Jesus as they are.  As the saying goes, “Christianity is just one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.” 
Some people think that what we are doing is ineffective.  They would say that change is only possible in a person if you stick with them for years.  There are so many layers built up around people’s hearts from years of hurt and disappointment...there is no way that 2 random girls could knock them all down in just a few weeks.  Then again some would say that standing on a corner and proclaiming the name of God with hell-fire and brimstone is the best way too. The argument is so old...yet so hard to wrestle with after devoting our entire lives to this short-term traveling style. 
We met a girl last night who lived in China for 2 years.  She poured and poured and poured into these people and saw very little fruit. She said, “The darkness brings with it a sense of hopelessness.” During her last month in China a group from her American home church came to work alongside of her. 4 people got saved! She said she could not believe it.  She poured 2 years into the Chinese people and saw nothing...after only a few days of being with them, her church friends led them to Christ. 
Maybe there is not a set style of doing this thing. Maybe there is no formula. Maybe if there were, Jesus would have laid it out for us in Scripture. He would have said, “Short-term is better...” or “Long term is better.” Instead he says, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” And maybe one is not better than the other. 
It would have been very easy for this girl to get frustrated with God...knowing that she poured so much into their lives...and never saw any fruit.  Just as sometimes it can get very frustrating for us.  It is our American way of thinking that much work should produce much fruit....for the one who did the work.  But Paul says, “God gives the growth.” Only God saves. We just get to play a role. And our work is not so that we can gain anything but so that Christ can be made famous (as he so deserves). Sometimes that is planting...sometimes that is watering...sometimes that is spending years doing something...sometimes that is spending a moment doing a good deed. But knowing that God uses the entire body and all of its uses for his much bigger purpose.  It is not our place to say what is better.  It is simply our job to be obedient to what God has called us each individually to do...trusting that our individual role will ultimately play a picture in the big scene. “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” We rejoice in what God does through each part of the body...not comparing ourselves to one another...why should the ear say, “Well, Crap, I’m not a foot?” Why should the person that God has called to stay say, “Why can’t I be the one who goes?” Why should the person that is going say, “The one who stays sees more fruit?” We produce the fruit together. No one person does anything...”Lest any man should boast.” 
See, God used both the long term missionary in China and the short term people to accomplish his goal.  He plans it all out perfectly. It is him who does the work....we stand in awe. 
Does it get hard when we see little fruit? Yes. Does it get frustrating to trust that God has people both before and after us? Often. Does it bring us greater joy than anything this world has ever offered us....by far. by far. This is why Paul considered it pure joy to face trials...because he knew that in the end he would know that much more about God’s patient, enduring, loving character. No, it doesn’t get easy...but it remains fulfilling.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Choose Life.

"I had 3 more weeks paid for at the motel, but I had to leave because the temptation to fall back into drugs and alcohol was too strong," our new friend Brian was telling us.

As his story unfolded we learned that he had been involved in a biker gang most of his life called Hell's Angels. He drenched his entire existence into alcohol and drugs...or "booze and pills" as he said. He is older now...and has a long list of people that he has hurt or abandoned. He has a lot of kids from a lot of different women. He said he always left them because he had to "take care of business," quoting it himself with his fingers.

Then God met him in his motel. He found himself broken before a holy God. All by himself in a dark, drug infested room, he asked Jesus to save him. He felt a peace and an assurance that he says he has never before experienced. Consequently, he fled from his temptation, despite the fact that he had nowhere else to go and no money to try and get anywhere even if he did.

That's where we met him. Sitting on the streets with not a friend around but his walker, staring at the traffic as it went by. After talking with him for awhile we learned that he desired to know more about God and we gave him a bible. We asked him to read the book of John first. We saw him a few days later with the biggest, toothless, grin on his face! He walked up to us, in all excitement, saying, "I read John! It is so good! It brought so much clarity to what I experienced in the motel that night!"

We met our friend General at a park. He was sitting by himself. After a short conversation we learned that he had been out on the streets for 5 years. He ended up there after the love of his life divorced him. He like John and Charles from Chattanooga stopped caring about life when the only one that he was living for disappeared. He fell apart. We have learned, and even read recently in "Same Kind of Different as Me," that if you are not doing drugs and drinking when you get to the streets, you will sure start once you get there.

Alcohol helps you sleep at night...keeps your body warm when you are cold. The mixture of that with drugs helps you forget about your lifestlye, your circumstances, and numbs your deep hurts. After talking with General for a couple hours about his life, our lives, and who God is throughout it all, we left and hoped to see him again soon.

The next day we read part of the book of John to him and watched as God showed up to him in a big way. His curiosity level about God rose as the hours went by. He began volunteering at churches and events on his own (with us and on his own). He prays with/ for his friends on the streets. He prays with/for us. He came to church with us for the few weeks that we were there. He wants to know God.

We watched both General and Brian fight to know more about God. But we also watched Satan pull them back down into the lifestyles that they know all too well. One afternoon we came by to pick up Brian only to find him intoxicated. It was the first time in 3 weeks that we had seen him drunk. He said that it is so hard on the streets to avoid it. Without it there is nothing to do but stare and wait to go back to the Mission for sleep. We came back the next day only to see the same thing. We could see his disappointment in himself as he sipped the bottle. He hated it. There was conviction all over his face...and the truth was fighting in his soul. His flesh was winning the battle every time he made the motion to move the bottle towards his mouth. At the same time we could see God all over him screaming, "I will never leave you or forsake you!"

We haven't seen him since that day. He disappeared. His time at the Mission to sleep is up (They get 30 days in and 15 out). So we know he is sleeping somewhere...we just can't seem to find him.

His spirit is so willing...but his flesh is weak.

General says, "I feel like I am on a fence...part of me wants to go be with God and part of me wants to keep drinking." He knows his addiction. He knows his deep need for God. He says, "I feel the different between being with God and being with my friends." He has tasted God and counts his meeting us as a miracle from God. We have told him over and over what it means to be saved and what it means to start a relationship with God. We have poured out our very lives...giving every ounce of our prayers on his behalf.  Numerous times we looked so hard through his hard layers and stared right into his soul as we reminded him that God wants to soften his heart and protect it. We watch him throw the possibility around in his heart and in his thoughts before he says, "Not yet."

The other day he reminded us, "I'm still praying about Jesus and all that." He really does mean it.  People say that General will never find Jesus. That he is too far gone.  He is the king around the streets.  We see otherwise.  Deep inside all of that hurt and disappointment lies a servant's heart.  He truly desires Christ.  But he has an addiction that his body needs to let go of. We have given him gentle love, tough love, and everything in between.  It is his turn to move...he needs to put action to his desire...and we can't do that for him.  He can't live for this world, drinking his life away AND live for Christ...who asks us to pick up our crosses in order to follow only him.

Again, his spirit is so willing but his flesh is so weak.



Both General and Brian can literally see death and life, blessing and curse sitting before them. They can taste and feel the difference. Let's join in prayer that they will choose life, that they and their families may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

We know a lot of the people who live and sleep out on Yosemite Ave. They are not surrounded by people who are fighting as hard as they want to fight.

We will be in continual contact and prayer for General and hopefully Brian. We do not think God is done with either of them. We believe that he has another person to come behind us to push them even closer to what they know is the truth.

Which we have no doubt in...

That is the beauty of the body. We were so loved by both Crosspoint and Hilmar church. They took us in and completed our mission to live out Luke 10 as they were the ones who fed us and housed us and took us in...without an ounce of doubt.

"And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him;but if not it shall return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages." Luke 10:6-7

They were both houses of so so so much peace. So much love. SO much Jesus.

And with these churches, we can trust that God's work will be completed. He uses some to go and some to stay and together big things will happen in the lives of people like General and Brian. No doubt.
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow." 1 Cor 3:6

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Poetry Man

Throughout our stay in Las Vegas we worked with Adventures in Mission and hung out with a youth from Fremont, CA. We did our best to lead them through the streets of the city.  We watched time and time again as each and every one of these youth stepped outside of their own, individual comfort zones and allowed God to use them...speaking light into the surrounding darkness.  We all worked alongside a ministry called Casa de Luz.  This ministry planted itself in the midst of a broken area in Las Vegas called the Naked City.  The Naked City is named after its notorious past...home of Las Vegas' showgirls.  It holds a reputation for drugs, prostitution, and gang fights.  Through the ministries insistent desire to see God fall, Naked City is changing rapidly. People are falling in love with the man of Jesus Christ.  They are exchanging their rags in for God's glory. We were told story after story of the triumphs.  The youth from Fremont were an intricate part of some of the outreach.  They walked up to doors every evening praying for people and pointing them in the direction of hope.  When they were not helping out Casa de Luz they were pouring into the homeless people throughout Las Vegas with the help of the Salvation Army. In the same way, they stepped out in all boldness and loved the people on the streets in a way that is inexpressible.  They not only shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, they shared their very lives. They treated the homeless and consequently overlooked and forgotten individuals of Las Vegas as people with hearts and feelings. They sat down on the curbs with their friends and cried and laughed with them.  They do it all because Jesus was first willing to sit down on our level and cry and laugh with us.  

People like the youth from Fremont, Chris from Casa de Luz, and Captain Jamenson at Salvation Army reminded us that the the work of God is not complete in this city.  We were reminded that nothing is too hard for God.  He will never, ever, ever leave or forsake the brokenness of Las Vegas. He is using these people to shine light throughout communities...and it is, and will continue to spread like wildfire.    

We met a man named Jackie Robinson.  People call him the Poetry Man.  He was a homeless man that is being used everyday by God.  

His story in short: He has struggled his entire life with retaining information.  He is not good and remembering things.  He went to jail for a little while.  While he was sitting in his cell he says God told him to write something down....so he wrote it on his cell wall.  It was his first ever poem.  A poem about God himself.  He realized his love for God and need for God.  Soon he realized that God had immediately given him the gift of memorizing his poetry.  He now has over a hundred poems....all of them are being retained in his memory.  He shared one of them with us.  


video

Did you see that homeless man as you passed him on the street?
 Or were you too busy to notice that he ain’t have no shoes upon his feet? 
And you probably didn’t notice the coat that he had hanging down to the ground. 
Was it a gift from long ago or was it something he had lost that he found? 
And you probably didn’t notice the scars that he had on his hands and face 
from cruel and uncaring people that can never be erased. 
As you kept on walking thinking only of yourself...
...a very brief though of homelessness 
but maybe thats a man that we probably should’ve helped.
 And as you kept on walking pass that church knowing that it was Jesus Christ that you were going to meet, 
did you remember too that he didn’t have no shoes upon his feet? 
He also wore the crown of thorns as he was nailed to the cross of calvary
 Did you hear his hunger as he cried out in pain?
 It was eternal life for you and I. 
Now thats something that we must gain.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Sin City- A Warning from the Rug.

We spent our last night with our group from California on a trail overlooking the city of Las Vegas. I admit it was tempting to stand in awe of the dazzling lights that filled the valley but it is death that we mistake for life. It is deceitful destruction that we mistake for beauty.

God reminded me of Abu, the precious little monkey from Aladdin. Aladdin and his best friend Abu were on a mission for one purpose...to retrieve the lamp. They were to take the lamp and nothing more but Abu marveled at the gold and riches that surrounded him. Once the right jewel caught his eye, his focus changed. He began pursuing what he wanted, "needed", and selfishly desired. As Abu reached for the jewel, Aladdin yelled with all his might, "ABU NOOO!" The rug rushed to restrain him from the destruction but it was too late. Abu turned his back on what he knew and who he loved and sought his own fulfillment. As soon as his hands touched what he was so sure would make him happy and complete, his world felt apart. What looked like precious gold and rubies quickly turned to consuming lava. Everything around him came crashing down. The beauty they walked through to get there became a dark cave with no way out. 

"The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!" -Rev. 18:14

After spending a week here in Las Vegas, this has become its' story and the team from Forerunner Christian spent their time being Aladdin and the rug. With their words, actions, and obedience, they cried out for the people of Las Vegas to turn away from the darkness and find life in Jesus Christ. This city feeds the world lies and tempts all who gaze upon it with its beauty. It lures people in with promises of riches, fulfillment, and satisfaction but only to expose the burning flames of destruction that lies underneath its' captivating lights. 

Las Vegas is indeed sin city. The industry here consists of casinos, bars, night clubs, strip clubs, and prostitution. The city thrives on debauchery and is leaving so many broken lives in its path of destruction. Captain Jameson from the salvation army told us of how so many people in the city came here seeking their "big break" and after pouring all they had into things that never gave back, they are now stuck here with no way out. It is a sad and solemn place here in the dessert. The night life goes on and the lights continue to shine. We watched planes go in circles around the city flying people in just as fast and they were flying them out. From the lookout point, we saw the city for what it really is...a prostitute- promising so much but taking more than it will ever give.

"Come, I will show you the judgement of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immortality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk...I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations. And I saw a woman drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her,  marveled greatly. But the angel said to me, 'Why do you marvel?" -Rev. 17:1-7

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ketchup.

Last week we shadowed an AIM trip in Denver and guided about 43 students from Minnesota around the city. The kids were exposed to a variety of different ministries and outreaches throughout the week. We served at food banks, worked with service projects, put on VBS, and spent time at the local skatepark. During our debriefing time, the students revealed what God was doing in and through them that week.

Some learned what it meant to work whole heartedly for the Lord at the service projects and food banks.

Others found the fruit in praying, listening, and obeying the Holy Spirit while at the skatepark. 

Many found joy in loving children as Jesus did through the VBS.

Once upon a time we drove into the grand canyon at night and missed all the scenery. When we woke up the next morning, it was pouring down rain. It was a good first time experience of the great grand canyon. We did manage to see some incredible views via bus shuttles despite the weather.


Our second day there, we woke up at 4:40 a.m., walked to a lookout point, and watched God start the day with a beautiful sunrise. That morning we took a 3 hour descending hike below the rim and captured pictures of it all. Unfortunately, pictures do not do justice for God's glorious creation.....and it is a good thing because we dropped our camera into the depths of the canyon- oops.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Title We Cant Think Of.

I went to bed a week ago full of questions that led to confusions and doubts that led to slow falling tears.  Our van was broken down and consequently we had to spend the week stranded away from the people that God had recently broken our hearts for. I fought over different ways that we could show them/ tell them the truth about their maker.  I felt all of the weight of their salvation upon my shoulders.  I was physically tired from seeing the distance between God and his children...yet I couldn't fall asleep.  Anxiety filled my soul and God's answer seemed...so far away.

That night I had a dream.  I usually do not remember very many dreams but I remember this dream.  

I was running around Aamco (The transmission shop) asking everybody, "Why does this have to cost so much?" 

Everybody was laughing at me. They were making a mockery of my confusions and my lack of trust in them.  I was so stressed out throughout the whole course of the dream.

Eventually I found a corner and hid.  Jenna was sitting beside me hugging me as I cried out to God from the depths of my soul.  Then I heard a load voice full of authority say to me, 

          "Though the fig tree does not bud 
       and there are no grapes on the vines, 
       though the olive crop fails 
       and the fields produce no food, 
       though there are no sheep in the pen 
       and no cattle in the stalls, 
              yet I will rejoice in the LORD, 
       I will be joyful in God my Savior - Habakkuk 3."

I heard him say every word of that prayer from Habakkuk.  When I woke up the next morning, before my teeth were brushed, I opened my bible and checked to make sure.  God reminded me that there is joy to be had in him, under all circumstances.  Habakkuk saw the hurts in the worlds and wrestled with God for the entire book...yet God reminds him in the end that in the midst of a hurting and sometimes cruel world, we have to have trust.  We have to believe.  We have to know that He is faithful to complete his good works, according to his greater plans.   

        And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. 
        And on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" 
        And they told him,"John the Baptist; and others say,Elijah; and others, one                     
        of the prophets." 
        And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" 
        Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." 

The people in Manitou are diverse.  Some said they hated Jesus.  Some said Jesus was a great prophet.  Some say he was just a great teacher.  Some say Jesus is one of the Christs or one of many gods.  

We say Jesus is THE CHRIST.  

Because he truly is our only Christ our only Messiah, we can rejoice in the midst of barren lands. We can lay our burdens down at his feet in trust.  

And He did.  By the end of the week, our van was fixed.  He provided money through friends, family, and people that we have never even met before.  We were able to go see our friends in Manitou again! Though they have not accepted that Jesus is the only way, God has reminded us so much of his power and his sovereignty that we can now go to bed at night, peacefully.   

(We're now in Denver preparing to shadow an AIM project for the next week)





        

Friday, July 1, 2011

Heavy Load to Bear

Our thoughts are everywhere right now.  But we will try our hardest to put them into sentences because we need you to understand...we need your prayers.

The Lord is so big.  He is so famous.  But there have been so many rumors spread about him that are not true.  People are confused in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

We walked the park earlier this week looking for people who needed to see his love.  God pulled us down towards the creek where we found a lady sitting on the rocks. Her back was facing us but we could see that she was holding a baby in her lap.  As we prayed over her, we could see that she was holding some feathers.  She was wiping the feathers over her baby's body.  Soon after she sat the feathers down, she started lifting her hands up as if she was worshipping.  Eventually, she started acting as though she was pulling something invisible from the air onto her head. God was pulling us towards her.  So Stacie went and sat with her while Jenna walked away and interceded.


Disclaimer: We will now try to explain the beliefs in Manitou Springs.  Please understand that what we write does not even come close to fully explaining who they are and what they live for.  We cannot put in a short blog the beliefs that these people spent years forming.  

The ladies name is Fairlight.  She said that she had just been meditating, trying to replace her negative energies with positive ones.  Fairlight does this through her imagination.  She pictures a light coming from the sky and then tries to pull it down into her head.  Along with the light she pictures and pulls down different colors...she says that all of the different colors mean different things.  She meditates on various quotes, some of which she hears at her church (Religion Science or something...).  The church reads from things like Quran, the bible, and book of Mormon and quotes people like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus.

Soon after we met Fairlight, we began to meet numerous other people who hang around the Manitou area.  Dillion, Josh, Ben, Steven, and Brooke.  They are all fans of this type of lifestyle.  The majority of Manitou is made up of shops that sell all natural foods, medicines, and various meditation accessories like incense.  The majority of the people smoke pot in the open and talk of other drugs that they do on the side.  However, they only choose the naturally made and grown...healthier drugs.  They hate everything conformist and try to live the simplest form of life.  They love each other and help each other at all costs because they say, God is love.  When we say God created the heavens and the earth...they say the "literal translation is..the gods created the heaven and the earth." When we say "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life," they say, "Jesus is a way, a truth, and a good example of life."  When we say, "Jesus is the only one to ever rise from the dead," they say, "We all rise from our own metaphorical form of death when we choose good things..things that will better humanity." They fight to live in peace and harmony with one another, with mother earth, and with the God that we have within ourselves.  After a conversation with Josh he said, "Be warned, the people here hate Jesus."

The only belief in the community that seems to counteract with them all is called the Twelve Tribes.  They run a local shop that sells all natural teas and matas.  The women all wear long, very baggy dresses and the males all have beards and pony tails (that they call tie backs).  They try to imitate the disciples in Acts 2.  They share all of their belongings with one another.."Distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need."  In order to become a part of their community, you have to sign a covenant.  In order to leave the community, you condemn yourself to hell and lose everything that you had....including your job (because it was given to you from the community).  Their beliefs are thick.  They are filled with just enough truth to disguise the lies.  As Josh said, "Every lie is built up with just enough truth...or else people would not believe it."  Some people believe it. The rest call them a cult.  Regardless, this is the closest to thing to Christianity that they see and it is pushing the majority away.

Starting with Fairlight and ending with Josh, we exhausted ourselves listening to them rant and argue about their passionate beliefs while simultaneously trying to share with them the truth of Jesus.

Then our van broke. Transmission.

So we spent a sleepless night on the streets of Manitou. Our blankets and pillows were at Mallory's apartment in Colorado Springs.  We laid in the van, cold, lonely in our beliefs, and discouraged in our ability to spread the Gospel.

"...In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure...And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." 2 Cor. 11: 27-28

We want them to know....we want them to taste and see that the the true Lord is so good.  But it seems that no matter what we say, they do not hear us.  It is a heavy load to bear...physically and spiritually.

Today we woke up and called for a tow truck who carried us to a mechanic.  We learned that it will cost anywhere between 800-2500 dollars to fix.  Depending on what they find.  Our van is barely worth that much these days.

We left the van with the mechanic asking if he would hold it for the weekend while we sought the Lord's guidance.

We are sitting at the McDonald's beside his shop.

Officially homeless.
Longing to break through to the people in Manitou, we can't even get to them now.

"So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but the the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Cor. 4:16

We do not know what the Lord is doing right now...but we are fighting to keep our eyes focused on Him and His plans.  Please pray as we seek to learn what decisions we should make right now.  We could use them now more than ever.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Patience...its a hard fruit to grow.

We are back on the road! It is so exciting to be back.  There is a strange joy that overwhelms us when we know that we are doing what God wants us to do.  It makes no sense...we were once again leaving the comforts of home and stability yet somehow God made us/makes us happy because of it.  Crazy.

Although we are happy to be back on the road, we cannot pretend like the difficulties are not already beginning to seep in.  We have been in Colorado Springs for 3 days now.  We have spent much of it before God, asking him to lead us in the direction that he would have us go.  We asked guidance from the people who live in the area.  When we went to all of the places that they sent us, we did not feel pulled towards any of them.  We have driven throughout the city begging God to show us where the people are that He would have us talk to.  Today we walked along a creek that runs beneath a few small overpasses.  The creek is filled with trash and footprints.  We were told that some people once gathered under there who were followers of witchcraft.  After about an hour of walking and looking, we found 2 sites that single homeless people probably live at...but nobody was home.

Doors have been shut over and over again.  We are still trying to hear his voice.  We are aware of the fact that there are people all around Colorado Springs.  We could walk up and share the love of Christ with any of them.  However, we believe that God has us here for certain people.  We are of no influence to the people that are not ready to hear.  There are people here who God has prepared for us....whose soil is good for the seed that he wants to plant through our lives.  We are trying to be "led by the holy spirit" as Paul was throughout his journey. We are not trying to force any moves....and that is so hard.  Our hearts are ready to serve but our God wants us to be patient.

"Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with complete patience and teaching." 2 Tim. 4:2

So, join us in prayer as we seek to serve. :)
        

Thursday, June 9, 2011

From "I" to "us"

Yesterday, my dog alerted me to a stranger passing by our house. He was an older man in a cut off t-shirt, a black skull cap, and a scruffy white beard covered his face. His appearance wasn’t what caught my eye. It was the huge bag of cans he was carrying on his back. I’ve lived here for years but I have never seen him before. I watched him walk to the end of my road searching the ditches and trashcans as he went. When he reached the end, he made his way back on the other side. He reminded me of the many friends that we have met along our journey...and here he was...my neighbor. I grabbed a cup of ice water and met him on the street. As I approached him, he was defensive...as if he had done something wrong. I interrupted his explanation with a smile and introduction. His demeanor changed and he immediately began conversation with me while he drank his water. We talked about weather, work, life, family, and God. He did most of the talking and was delighted that someone wanted to listen. 

His name his William, he’s 58 years old, and he’s been picking up cans for 20 years...he has the warped back to prove it. Throughout the course of this journey, God has made it apparent that before I lived in a van, I only showed true compassion and love to the neighbors in my inner circle. In marshall, I would quickly pass through the ghettos, avoid the passing man or woman on the street, and overlook the hurt that was so apparent around me. At home, things weren't any different. Many people go on mission trips out of town, out of state, and across boarders all the time but for some reason there is a hesitation when it comes to being the hands and feet in our own communities. Maybe it is because the local outreaches are not as fulfilling to the participants. Maybe it is because we are too busy with our own lives at home. Most of the time I think it is because there is a discomfort in stepping out amongst people we know. What if someone sees me here talking to them? What if I know the person I’m talking to? Who am I to help anyone? What do I do or what do I say? Even Jesus said, “...Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Today God showed me that opportunities to love as Christ did are right in our front yard. The problem is that we are often too concerned with our own lives to notice or invest in the needs of others. 



My encounter with William was only about 15 or 20 minutes but my conviction has lasted all day. We, as believers, often focus on loving the Lord God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind but we fail to love our neighbor as ourself. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to think about others as much as we think about ourselves, to care for others as much as we care for ourselves, to pray for others as much as we pray for ourselves...it is shifting our thoughts from “I” to “us.” 
I am writing this for myself just as much (if not more) for those of you reading. Please join us in fighting to remove the blinders and tunnel vision of our flesh and see the world through spiritual eyes. Through the process, God’s glory will shine.
LoveLove.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kingdom Dreams

Dear friends whom we love!

We are back on the road!  This break has been incredible, beautiful, refreshing, cleansing, renewing....all things that are good.  We have hung out with our families and friends, shared with some churches what God has been up to, and had some amazing intimacy with our Jesus.  He has excited us all over again about what he is going to do with and through us throughout the next six months of this journey.



We are actually not headed to the northwest quite yet.  Through some neat people that we met while we were in Atlanta, we were hooked up with some equally as neat people named Glenn and Teri who are just now beginning a ministry called Kingdom Dreams.  After a skype date with Teri mixed with checking out their website Kingdom Dreams Tour it was apparent that we share similar hearts for this nation. God has called us to different work but given us the same desire to see his kingdom come. We have joined them to share life as the beginning stages of their dream unfolds.


Kingdom Dreams has a heart that beats for the people in America who want to find their God given desires, passions, and ultimate visions.  They are equipped with coaches who are ready and willing to help people fight through the questions and difficulties that come alongside a desire to dream big.  They also put on conferences in each city that they travel to with hopes of making connections.  They want dreamers to meet other dreamers so that passion can be stirred and connections can be made. They have taken these desires to the streets of America on a six week tour. God gave the team a Luke 10 style vision for this journey. They packed their cars as well as their families and hit the road prepared to live in tents for the next six weeks.  They cling to the leading of the holy spirit as they walk through each day knowing that He alone is the one who brings clarity and He alone brings joy when the rest of the world would be anxious (Phil. 4). They are true and pure examples of what it means to love the Lord at all costs...and they are more than happy to do it.

They were  unsure how things would go since it was their first conference but they were faithful in prayer that God would receive glory....and he did. We watched the Holy Spirit stir up the hearts of his people. Seeds were planted, dreams were pushed forward, and connections were made. As the conference came to a close, we rejoiced and gave glory to God for the work he had done that day. The marveling didn't stop at the church. We returned to our campsite with the team.  The founder of AIM (Adventures in Missions), Seth Barnes also joined us. There we sat with a lakeside view in our lawn chairs eating hot dogs and chips. In the midst of all of his beauty, which literally does scream of God's eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20), we bragged on God and encouraged one another in our faith. There is a love that God has given his people that surpasses any type of worldly love.  1 Peter tells us to love one another deeply, from a pure heart.  Because of our common first love, our love for one another seemed to flow pretty naturally.

We talked for hours about what God is doing in VanGo, Kingdom dreams, and AIM.  Though we are heading in different directions across this world, we are leaving with the same purpose....that is, showing off our Jesus in whatever way we can.

We will be working alongside Kingdom Dreams for another week before we prepare to head to the northwest. Holler! :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Home Sweet Home.

Hello all! We are alive and back in Texas. Do forgive us for missing in action for so long. We have been hugging our family and friends as well as sharing  with a few churches what the Lord has been up to these last six months. We will be mapping out our next six months while we're here and it looks like we'll be heading northwest. Thank you all for walking through this journey with us. We will get back to you as soon as we hit the road in a few weeks.

P.S. we got new shirts and will be uploading pics shortly! :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Secret Blog

This blog is not going to be well written. It is not going to flow and it probably will not even make sense.  I do not really know how to start and I have no idea where it will end.

There is an image that I cannot seem to get out of my head.

It goes like this:

Jenna, Thomas, and I were walking away from Charles and John one day kind of disheartened by their refusal to drop their alcohol.  We could all feel the weight of God's broken heart falling on our shoulders.   We know that God has so much in store for them.  We also understand the power that alcohol holds on so many people's lives.  We have been told so many times that beer makes life's problems fade away.  Beer makes reality disappear as they fade into an easier escape.

Anyways, the picture is this.

Jenna could not stand it any more and in all of the boldness of Christ she left Thomas and I in hopes of really breaking through with these guys.  I could see her from the distance as she knelt down on her knees in front of John and Charles.  Unafraid of their homelessness, she became their friend.  She got down on their level and looked at both of them through their eyes and into their souls. I watched her from a distance as she showed them her breaking heart.  As tears flooded down her face she pleaded with them to let go of the lifestyle that has been pulling them down for so long.  With every ounce of heart and energy that she had, she showed these guys the gospel of Christ.  I could see John wiping the tears off her face as the Holy Spirit filled the bridge that they sat on.



This picture shows me what it means to Love Deeply and Fervently.  As I watched Jenna and John and Charles....I felt the weight lift off of my shoulders.  Not because John and Charles came off of the bottle....because to our knowledge they haven't....but because I knew that through Jenna we were doing all that we could do to show them the truth.  I knew that God was using the hands that she laid on them, the feet that carried her there, the knees that she bent in front of them, the mouth that she boldly opened, and every single one of her tears to show these guys that Jesus means it when he says he loves them.

Then there is a second image that is stuck in my head. It looks something like this:

The inside of our van.

It is stuck in my head because for the last few days we have not been able to pull ourselves out of it.  We are tired.  Really tired.  We have both verbally said that we have grown weary in doing good and are ready to have consistent showers and a comfy couch for a few days.

Somehow these two images come together in this verse. "But you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  For I am already being poured out as  a drink offering..." 2 Tim 4:5-6

We know that we are called to rest.  And we are taking that time now.  But we also know the crazy joy that comes from knowing that we are pouring ourselves out as drink offerings unto the Lord and into the lives of the people like John and Charles.  We do not have to do anything but yield to God and He blows our minds up with images like these.

So....I don't know.....this is what the Lord is showing us.  So please, pray for John and Charles.  Pray for us. Pray for God to do what only He can do.  Pray hard.

This is the fancy ending....
:)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Way of Holiness

Soon after arriving in Chattanooga, TN we drove to the top of the highest mountain.  From there we could see the entire city as well as hear the still, small, whispering voice of the Lord more clearly. We could hear the heart of the Lord beating for the needs of His people in Chattanooga. There are people roaming the streets of this city with no home, no shower, no doctor, and consequently no hope. God's heart overflows with a desire to cloth the homeless and feed the forgotten.  As our hearts began beating in sync with His we began reading and proclaiming Isaiah 35 over the area.

"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice...Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.  Say to those who have an anxious heart, 'Be strong; fear not!'...Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame man leap like a deer and the tongue of the mute sing for joy."

As we came down off of the mountain, we began meeting the people that the Lord had in store for us. He immediately began to reveal to us people whose lives were full of dry areas in desperate need of some living water.  We met Tammy, Sammy, John, Charles, and Jerry.  Jerry was our first friend.  Thomas, our new friend and temporary VanGoer, picked him up off of a corner because he was holding a sign that said "Hungry." We met with Jerry a couple times to feed him physically with hopes of feeding him spiritually.  Jerry grew up in foster care.  He moved from family to family and says that "some of them" treated him ok.  He dropped out of high school after deciding that his one and only goal in life was to get out of the government's control.  When he turned 18 he emancipated himself.  As far as we know, freedom from foster care brought Jerry the most happiness that he has ever felt.  What is even sadder, Jerry has no desire to find happiness beyond that.  He is content with living on the streets.  He brags about how much money he can make on the corner some days and admits that he spends most of it on alcohol and marijuana.  

John and Charles have been friends for about 15 years.  They met each other on the bridge and have been roughing it on the streets together ever since.  John was married in 1993.  Together they had a baby girl.  He said, "We were going to church, baptized, and saved...I guess I have just backslidden." After the divorce John says that he just stopped caring.  To John life became seemingly meaningless.  He hit the streets and the alcohol and has been content there for far too long.  Charles has three kids that he raised on his own after his wife left him.  His 2 girls became nurses and his son, a computer technician.  They really want their daddy around but they do not want the drunkenness that comes with it.  Charles says, "I ain't gonna lie to ya, I really like alcohol.  It helps me stop hurting for a little bit." Some nights the beer makes him feel ok about his life and some nights he "still goes to bed crying." Both of them are finally ready to get out of their lifestyles.  They just cannot find the strength and the courage to do so. John said he is finally ready to live his life again and Charles said that God has been calling him to Himself for awhile. He felt the power of God when his knee started feeling better after we prayed for it and is continually feeling that power as God asks him to set down the bottle and pick up the cross. Though they are still so deep in their walks away from the Lord, they are now beginning to see a small light at the end of the tunnel.  


Tammy and Sammy are a married couple from Knoxville. They've lived a life of hard drugs and alcohol until seven months ago. They decided there was more to life than the bondage they were in and it was time to take hold of the life God intended them to live. After throwing out their needles, the dark world they were in got even darker. Sammy lost his job, they couldn't afford housing with heat or electricity, and they found themselves worse off than they ever were while doing and selling drugs. They felt Satan tempting them to return to his world of lies and temporary satisfaction so they packed up and fled to Chattanooga. In their words, "If you wanna change your ways, you have to change your playground." They both brag about the freedom the Lord has brought them and how the joy He has given them is better than any high they've ever gotten (and they've tried it all). Since we've met them, we've watched as God provides for them in such a timely fashion. When they ran out of money for a motel, a church deacon showed up to cover the fees. When they needed clothes for interviews, a man named Greg clothed them. When they were overdue for a hot meal, the Lord allowed us to feed them. After applying at every place they could find, Sammy finally said, "I've done all I can do and now I feel like its time to wait on the Lord." Two days later he gets a roofing job making $12 and hour. They admit that changing their ways was far from easy and they still have a long way to go but because they were willing to live according to the Spirit and set their minds on what the Spirit desires, the Lord has become their rock.

Charles told us how its hard to be looked down on and judge by those who "have it together." They either glance in pity, look past them as if they aren't even there, or change routes to avoid them all together. We forget that these people on the streets, no matter why they are there, are still people with beating hearts and feelings just like ours. They have faces, names and stories to go with their lifestyle. No one dreams of being a drunk or wants to grow up and be homeless.  Nobody wakes up and says to themselves "I hope people look at me in disgust today." Each of the people that we were blessed with in Chattanooga is in a different stage of their life and we are in no position to judge them or to justify our choosing not to help them.  We are called to love at all costs.  For Jerry we may have watered and for John we may have planted but either way we played the part that God called us to play in their lives...and all we had to do was show up. As followers of Christ we are called to invite people to the sweet life in Christ through loving them beyond, and even because of, their choices. 

We are learning that we lead people to salvation through walking alongside them towards the cross.  We  help them as they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.  We just have to be there with love....and they will see the sweet Spirit of Jesus in us.  A random man named Tom told us today, "There is something sweet about your spirit." After showing up over and over for John he said, "Nobody has ever treated us this way." So....we are challenging anybody that made it all the way through this entire blog.  We want you to pick somebody in your town.  Pick one person to be consistent with.  Consistency shows somebody that you care about them, that you are concerned about them, that you respect them, and more importantly that you love them.  Love your neighbor this week by giving them whatever they need and then watch as God gives the growth.  If you decide to commit, let us know who you pick and everything that God does because we want to pray with you.  

Isaiah 35 goes on to say....
"For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water...and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness." 

Let this be true of our country. 

       

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Even Gangstas Have Hearts

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" - Isaiah 58. 

After a few days in Atlanta, doors began to open and we found ourselves standing in the middle of the ghetto.  

The area is called Vine City and it is straight up scary. The streets are covered with black men and women staring down every car that passes by. Their faces are so hard.  No smiles. No laughing. No crying. No emotion.  They just stand there, lifeless.  To the physical eye, their faces scream that they are not scared of anything.  To the spiritual eye, their faces scream that they are scared of everything. They are scared of both life and death and understand the fragility of their time on this earth.  They stand there looking as if nothing and nobody has the power to crack through their tough layers.  So many people are fooled by their looks but we know that Jesus Christ has that kind of power. A lot of them hang out around this pole that we call, "The Pole of Death." It is a telephone pole that has like 6 or 8 stuffed animals nailed to it.  A lot of the animals are decapitated and some have ropes around their necks. Back in the day the gang members would just throw some shoes over the telephone lines to mark their territory.  Now we see that they are into murdering stuffed animals instead. There is a darkness and a heaviness about this area that immediately broke our hearts. We realized really fast that our praying and fasting was done in vain if we did not hold strong to what Isaiah said.  If we fast with the intention of simply avoiding food, we have it all wrong.  Fasting is twofold.  We fast A) to hear from God and B) with the intentions of putting action to His visions.  

So...there we were. 2 white girls driving around the worst ghetto in Atlanta in a creepy white van.  Naturally, we parked and got out. People were literally stopping in the middle of the street to stare at us.  They were so confused as to why we were there and why we were not scared of dying.  A few guys warned us saying things like, "The people here are not right." All we could say in response was, "We know, that is why we are here." One guy named Dred stopped and stuttered for a while to get his question out, "Who are y'all?" We told him that we were there in the name of Jesus.  He pounded his heart and said, "Ya'll really mean it. Ya'll really mean it." We are two talentless, random, white girls who showed up on a door step with little to say and limited plans on what to do and God began moving.  

We spent the week mimicking the Dream Center's idea of "Adopt a block." We went door to door asking whoever opened up if they needed any food, cleaning supplies, household items, etc. One by one they told us what they were in need of.  We wrote down all that they mentioned and then asked if we could pray for them.  We prayed for Anthony's car to start.  We prayed that Crystal would be able to take care of her grandchild.  We prayed that Marvin would find some of his stuff that was stolen.  We prayed life over Paulette, Keith, Flava, Michael, Geraldine, Mel.  We prayed comfort over James and Cheryl who recently lost their dad and brother and whose mom has cancer. God continues to remind us that it has nothing to do with us or what we have to offer but with a willing heart, his glory will fall. Each time we entered the neighborhood, we had to fight through the fear of the possibilities. As we did, the Lord showed up and we walked away rejoicing in his power to move beyond any social, cultural, or 
stereotypical barriers.

At the end of the week, it was time to shop. We went to the store and bought groceries and supplies for nine homes. Everyone who requested groceries received ground beef and hamburger helper, spaghetti and sauce, rice and beans, oatmeal, bread and toilet paper. Those who also needed cleaning supplies got bleach, laundry and dish detergent,  pine-sol, and sponges. The bill came to $130 and it provided four meals for eight families as well as cleaning supplies for five. With a small amount of effort and and a small amount of funds, the Lord can do great things.  It really does not take much. We want to be able to make a deep impact on a few rather than just scratch the surface of many...so we are going to invest in these 11 or 12 houses. 

When we delivered the goods we were greeted in all kinds of ways. Some were surprised that we actually came back and many were rejoicing in the Lord. Anthony told of how his car started as soon as we left and that his sister was reunited with her son that she had given up for adoption...He gave all the glory to God. Paulette could barely get a word out because she was overwhelmed with praise over what the Lord has done. After praying over her earlier in the week, she received a phone call that her son had gotten out of jail. She clapped her hands, raised her arms, and jumped for joy repeating "the Lord works in mysterious ways!" She smothered us with hugs and smiles and we celebrated God's power together. Marvin greeted us with the genuine joy to just be able to share his heart with us, "his sisters in Christ." He shared with us about who he is in Christ. He said that people have always called him things like, "Captain Ugly" or "Mr. Burnt up." He said that to the world he may be poor, ugly, and weak, but he is complete in Christ. Even those passing by were drawn to the Spirit that was falling on that place. People were calling us the "Girls that came to help people." They were coming to us with prayer requests because they believed that for some reason, our God was answering. We promised our return as we parted ways and once again, marveled at the work of God.

Isaiah goes on to say....

"Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'"