I read this book a few years ago from Mark Batterson.
I love the following quote!
"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. Take a flying leap of faith. Chase the lion!"
There was another murder on 8/16/12 in Northside. This time it was only a half a block away from where I prayer walk. I have counted four homicides and one shooting since 2/28/12 along my prayer drive! We need to pray for the Northside! There is a lot of evil going on and a lot of good as well! There is a spiritual battle taking place! When there are good things happening you can be sure there will be some resistance! I am thankful for all the prayers and for the folks who live in the neighborhood who are trying to make it a better place! The battle wages on, but I know who the victor is!
On my prayer drive this morning I turned down North ave headed towards Gilpin Court. I was praying for Charles and there he was sitting on his porch at 6:40am. I stopped the car in the middle of the street. I yelled out to him its a beautiful day! He hollered back "It's a great day!" That's how I like to start my morning!
I started about a week ago on a new part of my prayer drive. The newest section includes Barton Heights. The first day of the drive I went down Norh Ave towads Gilpin Court around 6:30am. I noticed a strange man looking at me as I drove by. He had some personal issues. I turned on Poe St and drove past Marti and Louis' house. No one seemed to be stirring there! When I came back around to go back up North Ave I drove past the stranger again. I then passed by Charles' house as I was looking towards the other side of the street. It wasn't 10 sec later that my phone rang and I heard that dstinct deep voice. "What are you doing, a drive by in the hood?" It was my best friend Charles, who was sitting out on his front porch watching some old white dude driving past him! We joked on the phone and I told him about the guy I saw. Charles knew him and said to stay away! It's a good thing to get local intel from a insider. Today as I drove through Barton Heights, there was Charles sitting on his front porch! He yelled across the traffic to me as I came to a stop. He said he had a new toy to show me. He was very excited about his new phone! He had just gotten an Iphone! The other phone was very archaic with todays standards, a flip phone. The funny thing about Charles he said "I threw out the instructions!" He didn't know how to completely operate the phone. I wasn't much help since I am an Android user. We lauged alot and then I drove off. How cool is it that I now have a great frend to talk with in the hood at 6:30 am on my new prayer annex!
Does a food pantry help or hurt the recipients? Does the food pantry at the church make a difference? Do people abuse the fact that your giving away free food? Are the recipients becoming involved in the life of the church? All these questions are addressed in Bob Lupton's post below, author of the book Toxic Charity! http://fcsministries.org/blog/on-changing-an-institution/
In case you missed it! Sara Pomeroy with Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI) spoke at Church on Sunday 8/12/12. The non profit deals with the issue of human trafficking. Sara did an awesome job of informing the Church of the issues. Now the question is, what are YOU going to do about it?
The past few days have been some what uneventful in many ways and in others it has been one of the best! In today's society we look for the glitz and glamour as well as the big and crazy! I have a tendency to fall into that trap as I look for God in my daily walk. I want him to show up in big ways and do what only God can do! I look for the big things instead of the tiny details! In the past few days there have been small yet awesome miracles that encourage me in my journey. One day last week Tim caught up to me on my prayer walk around Northminster. I was humbled when he asked to carry my bucket and the "grip and grab" (trash picker upper). He wanted the task of picking up the trash as we walked. I couldn't help but feel excited inside of what God was doing. Back in February I started alone on this walk for months and now Tim has joined in on the adventure! Just the other day my wife called to say that God had gotten her attention in a very unique way through a song on the radio! Today I was greeted with a shout out from a passing car while I was walking down the road. It was Matt cheering me on! How cool is it that God would show up in the smallest of ways, yet I am usually too busy to notice. Thank you Lord that I noticed the details these past few days! Thank you Lord that you care enough about the smallest of details! May I stay focused on you and not the wild and crazy or the glitz and the glamour! May I stay focused on you and watch you work in the smallest of details!
I'm not talking about the Olympic basketball team of old! I'm talking about the original group of some 8-10 people that Wendy brought together and met at Twiggy's on Brookland Park Blvd several months ago. She coined the group "The Northside Dream Team". Wendy organized a group of people who were interested in seeing the area around Brookland Park come back to life as a thriving community! Prayers were raised up and people started to get connected. Young adults and other youth came together to share in the dream. This past Thursday at Northminster over 45 people came together to pray and dream some more! That's 4x the original group! God is moving! If you want to be a part of the Dream Team let me know!
The other day it was suggested that I include another neighborhood in my prayer drive. My immediate response to be honest was to brush it off. I didn't think I would have time to make a slight detour. Easy excuse! On Saturday, as I was on my prayer walk I began to pray and consider all that has happened in the last seven months. What would my life been like if I hadn't gotten out of my comfort zone and prayed for the Northside and the neighborhood around Northminster? I can't answer that question because I can't go back in time. I can say that my life has never been better since I started this journey! I currently walk the block around Northminster praying for the church and the neighborhood, usually at 7:00 am most mornings. I then leave there and drive over to Chamberlayne ave head north to Laburnum, then east to Meadowbridge, south to Brookland Park Blvd and west back to Chamberlayne ave. The prayer drive circuit is five miles long. So as I consider expanding my prayer drive I can only reflect on ALL the miracles that have taken place! To some they would say a lot was already happening and I could not argue that point. What I can say is that I have been extremely encouraged by all the great work that is taking place and the God sized dreams that are being lifted up in prayer. I have described so many miracles in this blog that have happened in the last few months! If all that took place in just seven months then why wouldn't I want to expand the circuit to include another neighborhood? I would be an idiot not to! The new route will be added to my existing drive to include a drive down North ave past where Charles lives, a left on Poe st., another left on Barton and a drive past Marti and Louis' home, then a left on Dove and a right back on North ave! If I hadn't started at Northminster I wouldn't have gotten to know Charles, Marti and Louis and my life would not be as rich! I can't wait to see what the next seven months has to offer in Barton Heights! P.S. Feel free to join in and pray at 7:00 am and see what God is doing!
I just finished reading this book. It was a great read concerning a fictional story about two sisters from India who were trafficked and a lawyer from DC. If you have any interest in human trafficking this will open your eyes to the second largest criminal enterprise in all the world! On one website I read that over 60% of the girls that age out of an orphanage will end up in prostitution or sex trafficking. As I consider the homeless situation in Richmond, I am reminded that many people are taken advantage of when they have no where to go. They are desperate for any kind of help! The streets can be very dangerous for a homeless woman as I recently found out myself. I mentioned the story in a previous post about Mary (not her real name). http://homelesshookup.blogspot.com/2012/08/bbq-sandwich.html Some of those who are homeless end up experiencing a horrific life as was portrayed in this book.
The other day I mentioned Sara Pomeroy and Richmond Justice Initiative, RJI. Sara has started a great ministry to help stop human trafficking! I want others to be made aware of the horrific stories and lives that are being destroyed because of this serious problem. https://www.facebook.com/justiceRVA Below is a real story of human trafficking which is tragic! There needs to be more awareness made around us. This is one of the reasons why RJI exists! Don't think for one second that it doesn't happen in some form in Our City! A month ago I was ignorant of the issue of human trafficking! Today I know more, but I have a lot to learn! Be a part of the solution and get involved!
Sara Pomeroy from Richmond Justice Intiative spoke at Church this past Sunday. The fact that she ended up on stage speaking was a God Thing! The story goes like this: On a Monday in the middle of July I saw a post on Logan's wall about RJI (Richmond Justice Initiative). I watched the video and thought it was very interesting. It was a video message from Sara explaining about her ministry, RJI. I knew nothing about the subject matter. The next day on Tuesday I got an email OUT OF THE BLUE from Sara! I thought that was crazy! She was asking if she could have a table at the Global Leadership Summit. Atlee was a host site just this past week. I did my research and asked if Jeff and I could meet with her. We wanted to find out more about her ministry. The meeting was set for that Thursday at Cafe Caturra in Short Pump. My daughter just so happens to work there. Thursday came, Jeff and I were seated in the restaurant waiting for Sara. My daughter Mary Alden approached us and asked if we were interviewing again. The week before we happened to be there interviewing a potential candidate for our student ministry. I said no we weren't interviewing anyone, but we were waiting to meet someone. Mary Alden inquired some more and asked "what about?" I said we were meeting someone about human trafficking! She replied "who Sara?" Now how did my daughter know who Sara was? I said yes with my jaw hanging wide open! She said that Sara hangs out there often and as a matter of fact, Sara was seated in the front of the cafe. We couldn't see her because her chair was facing away from us. I got up and introduced myself and Sara joined our table. As the conversation began we knew more and more of the same folks. Sara had gone through RCLI (Richmond Christian Leadership Institute). Therefor she knew Tim, Fritz, Howard and others! She had also met with my cousin's daughter Rebecca and her husband a few weeks earlier! After a great conversation we knew she needed to come share her story at Church! This past Sunday she hit it out of the park! Thank you Sara for your story! It's fun watching God bring it all together!
What's so special about a BBQ sandwich? Tonight God answered the prayers of many, but more than that he answered the prayers of one lady who just wanted a BBQ sandwich for dinner!
Let me start over by unfolding what an incredible day I have had!
Thursday morning we were hosting the Global Leadership Conference at Church. I was running around in a whirlwind as I often do!
Early on, I received an important phone call from a friend at a restaurant. Randy stated that he had just met a woman at a restaurant in need of some help, she was homeless.
After speaking with her on the phone I found out that she was in the care of Caratas, one of the many shelters in Richmond.
I gave her my number and told her to call me if she needed anything. I assured her that she was in good hands with Caratas and that I would try to help her find work in her field. She is a mechanic.
No sooner did I hang up the phone then I got a text from Sara needing help with another homeless woman.
I couldn't believe all this was happening during the conference. I began to wonder how was all this going to come together. My natural tendency would have been to put it off until I had time to deal with it.
That would mean two days later! There was a conference going on!
I had to try!
The story goes like this.
Rachel was driving down midlothian and saw a woman who looked in distress.
She felt a calling from God to turn her car around and ask her a question!
As Rachel drove up, she rolled down her window and asked this perfect stranger a question.
Are you safe?
The woman lets call her Mary, responded to Rachel by saying that one small word NO!
Rachel immediately responded in action and told her to get in the car.
It turns out that Mary was homeless and struggling with addictions.
She took Mary to central intake and made plans to send her to North Carolina for rehab!
At this point Rachel contacted Sara who contacted me to see if I could help find Mary a safe place to stay over night. The rehab in NC did not have an opening right away.
I made some calls with not much luck!
Then I decided to call my good friend Charles. I spoke to him on the phone and he went into action as Charles does!
Within an hour or less Mary was booked on a bus headed to rehab in Louisville Kentucky!
I then received another text asking for dinner before the trip. I was still at the conference waiting for it to end.
As soon as I could, I left with Mark and we headed to the bus stop. Mark suggested we stop down the street from the terminal and get some Bill's BBQ sandwiches.
When we arrived at the terminal there was Mary and Rachel sitting in her car waiting.
We gave them their dinner and Mary was in shock!
Not a few minutes earlier Mary had shared with Rachel that it would be great to have some Bill's BBQ for dinner!
We all smiled! We knew who was in control of this situation!
We chatted and ate dinner outside in the parking lot.
Then afterwards we said a prayer for Mary.
No sooner had we finished our prayer time then another angel showed up with clothes and personal supplies. She was a friend of Sara's. She said she knew where to go because she had seen this group of people huddled up in the lot.
Sara showed up right before the bus was about to leave. Rachel recounted the past 11 hours with Mary. When she got to the part about Mary wanting BBQ for dinner. Everyone said in unison!
God loves the little things!
We have a personal God who cares about the details!
In the picture below is Rachel, Mary and Sara!
Pray for Mary (not her real name) and her new lease on life!
Thank you Mark for being there!
Thank you Charles! You are a true Street Saint!
Thank you Sara and your friend! (I am sorry I forgot her name).
And I thank the Lord for Rachel and the courage she took to step out and help a perfect stranger!
Nothing better than when the body of Christ can come together and help save a person's life!
23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”[g] He was even called the friend of God.[h] 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.James 2:23-24 NLT
Your belief must travel 18" from your head to your heart and then you will have the passion to do what God has called you to do!
May we choose to follow God and his calling on our lives and not just believe!
When we actually do the work through faith, then we will experience true life!
One of the most effective ways to share the gospel is through stories.
The bible is made up of story after story of God's plan to redeem his people.
I love stories of life change!
When life change happens there is a story to be told.
What's fun to see is when the story spreads to others.
You hear the story and you tell another person that they may be encouraged!
This journey I am on, is my story of how God is working in my life and that I might share it with others.
I hope that you might be encouraged and be willing to share God's story with others so that it might spread!
If you would like to hear another story of life change and what Sara calls a "divine interruption", I would encourage you to come to Atlee Community Church on Sunday August 12th and hear Sara Pomeroy's story!