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 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.'"

Monday, January 10, 2011

In our weakness...He is strong. (Savannah, GA)

Sometimes it seems that God will show just enough of his character to bow us down before Him...and the more He reveals to us, the more we realize how much more there is to learn. We came on this journey expecting to blow into towns and flip it upside down with whatever words that the Lord would give us to say. Instead, we are finding ourselves sitting back, learning, and soaking in the grandness of God while automatically/consequently falling down more and more at the foot of the cross. 
We met a girl named Jill the other day.  She reminded us that when God says His “strength is made perfect” in our weakness, that He means it.  She said it is a dependent relationship between strength and weakness. God needs us to understand our smallness in order to make Himself big through us.  If we think we know it all already or if we think we are strong enough to win every battle already...God has no room to work.  He wants to blow up the United States with His name...but in order for us to be used in this battle, we need to duck and let him fight over us/for us.  God tells us to “Be still, and I will fight for you.” He tells Martha that “only one thing is necessary,” to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He wants from us.  If we continually fight to do big things, just for the sake of saying “Big things happened in Savannah,” nothing eternal will grow. It is only God who makes big things happen, not us....because when we become strong in ourselves and in our own plans, God becomes weak in us. 
So...with that being said...we are learning an armpit load about what God is doing in Savannah, GA. There is a church named Savannah Christian with a guy named Paul on staff. Paul in kinda in charge of the local missions.  We talked with him for awhile about our heart and desire for the city and he sent us to some precious Hispanic pastors named Israel and Jose.  They are both leading up a ministry with the illegal immigrants in Savannah.  Paul told us that a lot people disagree with the ministry.  There are people who think that we need to stop taking care of the illegals, and send them back to where they came from.  Then Paul continued, “It is world wide missions right here in our front yard. They are going to be here no matter what. We might as well show them the love of Christ while we can.” (We put quotations around that like it was  verbatim but it may be a word or two off). If a man finds the Lord while here in the States, he will take his new life back to his country and share it with his people....thats global missions. 

When we pulled up to the small church, we saw about 20 guys playing soccer or sitting under a little canopy thingy.  We tried to talk to a couple of them and learned pretty quick that they do no speak much english. Israel told us that the foreigners use to wait outside of an old gas station for day jobs. They would drink all day, fight, and steal.  Then when somebody would pull up for a couple workers they would all pounce on the vehicle like animals trying to get in for some work.  The cops kicked them out of that area and this church took them in on their property.  At first Israel said it was a mess.  He said that the guys were just as chaotic on the church property as they were outside of that gas station.  Through the Lord’s provision, Israel and Jose fought hard to being order to the craziness. They now have a system for the men. They arrive early in the morning, sign up, and when the employers drive in Israel, assigns the workers according to skills and hours. The church provides muffins and coffee for breakfast and serves them lunch 6 days a week. The Lord has produced fruit in this ministry over the course of a year. By his Spirit, God has made soft the hearts of hard men and put in them an appreciation for those who are serving him faithfully. They now help with work around the church, clean up after meals, and many attend services on the weekends. Some have come to know Jesus as their savior and others are beginning to ask questions. The Holy Spirit no doubt has his hand in the ministry.

We are spending our days cooking lunch for the workers. We’re working along side of Pastor Jose and are learning a great deal about mexican cooking. We share meals and play soccer with the men but we struggle to communicate with them. We are praying that they can see the light that lives in us even though we cannot verbally share it with them.  We have found ourselves in a position that forces our reliance upon God. We are uncomfortable and awkward but confident in God's ability all at the same time. When it  comes to speaking spanish, we are weak...but when it comes to breaking barriers, God is strong.  We are dependent on Him.  So, we dare you to join us in prayer :) 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On the Road Again

Hello all!! Do forgive us for the lack of posts during the holidays. We made an unexpected trip back to Texas because Jenna's grandmother, Memaw, had heart surgery. After carotid artery surgery, quadruple bypass, and a valve replacement, the Lord has brought her through successfully. She is has recovered without complication and will be adding many more years to her 80 years of life.

We are now in Savannah, Georgia. We do not have any contacts here, but we are faithfully praying while we await God's vision for us in Savannah. Keep praying. We love you :)