Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
He calls us to treat them with great hospitality and friendliness. The Holy Spirit has been working in them and has gotten them to the point where they are finally willing to take a chance and walk into our church, we, as His people, need to welcome them with love and open arms. God is entrusting us with their care, nurture, and discipling.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
He gives us everything, He asks that we give Him our time, our talents, our presence, and ten percent of all the things He gave to us. One, because it is good for us to know that we are still alright if we have ten percent less than we did a while ago. Two, because it is not good for us to hold tightly to material things. Three, we need to learn to trust Him in all things. Four, it is His way of providing for all of His people.
God's love is like a river flowing through all mankind. He gives to one, who gives back ten percent, which combines with others ten percents and makes it possible to do His work in another, who gives back ten percent to help another. When the system is working correctly there is enough to go around for everyone. Goods and services flow surely and confidently from one to another and goes on forever, a mighty flowing river. That is God's way. We wouldn't need government involvement if we would just do our part.
We need to quit stopping up the river. We build dams to try to keep the blessings all to ourselves which means someone else loses out on a blessing, and they are hurting and unsure if God is able to take care of them, and then they don't think they have enough to give to help someone else. God is spiritual, He shows us how it is supposed to work but He needs our help in the physical world.
This is a spiritual law, when obeyed, you are blessed and the blessing continues. When not obeyed, things start to deteriorate around you. It is not a hard concept, we can help to be the hands and feet of God blessing others so they also can be a blessing. We need to just follow the law and there will be enough for everyone.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I would love to tell you that there are tons of people coming but that isn't exactly true. We do have some regulars though. Freddie is homeless, has two braids like Willy Nelson, and rides a bicycle. Sometimes he can get work and he is here as long as he is not working. He was in the service and spent his time in Alaska and the Arctic. He says he learned a lot about survival while he was stationed there. He is very pleasant and always glad to see you. He often comes early and will help set up tables and chairs. He says he doesn't have a watch so he doesn't know what time it is.
One woman, Helen came, ate breakfast, went to Sunday School and church for several Sundays and now wants to join the church, she has become a regular
We have one couple that come fairly regular and they wrote the nicest letter:
Paster John Carpenter, it was a pleasure and wonderful experience to fellowship with you. My husband and I are very thankful for the blessing to be able to have breakfast and something to eat. It has been very hard for us since my husband was laidoff and with the economy being in such a situation now, he has not been able to find work. In our hearts I know the lord will bless us, as he has provided for us to come to your church and eat, sit and talk with you all. I thank God for the experience to fellowship with his children. Mr. Kevin and Rondalin Washington. See you soon.
Please remember us in your prayers.
We have another couple Chris and Marna who come every week. They are staying in an inexpensive hotel up the street, so they walk. Marna is deaf but Chris wants her to practice reading lips so we will speak slowly and she generally gets what we are saying. Often they volunter to take any left over food with them.
Richard lives in his truck and he comes every week but doesn't say much. Even if you try and talk to him. Generally he comes early and cleans his truck out using our dumpster before he comes in. Then he goes and cleans up in the restroom before he eats.
Mary comes for breakfast and stays for church, she has long white hair that goes down to her waist. We have been helping her with food from the food pantry and we have also met her daughter who lives with her.
Cliff has been coming to our church to get food and magazines for a long time. He has started to come to the breakfasts as well. Although he is generally pleasant, you can tell he is a little mixed up in his mind.
So, these are the people that God sent for us to minister to. We are getting to know them better all the time and taking care of their physical needs.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
When they get to your church you feed them a meal, they may watch TV, and then they sleep on cots, or mattresses on the floor. They get up very early in the morning and are fed breakfast and then they receive a sack lunch for the day. They are supposed to be back at the center by 6:30 am. Some of the men have jobs and many of them are doing classes and such at the center. Many churches, like ours, have pre-school programs and the programs are very strict about not having strangers around the children so that is another reason for taking them back so early.
Our church takes six men every Wednesday night. They come for our Wednesday night meal and join in our study that we are doing afterward. It is pretty informal, just sitting around the tables and most of them seem to enjoy it and participate with us. Then they go upstairs when choir practice is starting. They watch TV, a movie, or many of them just want to go to sleep. We do not have showers at our church but many of the other churches do. We provide clean towels and washcloths, toothbrushes and toothpaste so they can clean up. Two of the men from our church stay with them for the night. This takes a lot of volunteers, van drivers, inn keepers, people to do laundry, people to set up the beds and take them down, cooks for Wednesday night, someone to bring breakfast and someone to bring lunches. We also have "undie Sundays" where we collect new underwear, undershirts, gloves, and socks to give the men and we keep some used clothing, sweatshirts, coats, and jackets in one of the rooms.
Back in November when the men first started coming there was one man named John who came for the first few weeks. Skip knew him from another year when Arlington had done Room in the Inn. Mike and I sat with him one evening and he was talking about his days in the army when he was a helicopter pilot. He said when he was in Korea, he only flew injured men to the hospitals but in Viet Nam he went on missions. He said the highlight of his military career was when he flew President Johnson's wife and girls if they needed to go somewhere in a helicopter. He was disappointed that he never got to fly the president though. He came for a few weeks and then he didn't come for two weeks. When he came back he said he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and had started taking Chemo on Monday. I felt so bad for him but he said that he'd had a good life and when your time was up, it was up. He never came back. I hope he had someone taking care of him when he was so ill.
In order to go out to one of the churches you have to get a ticket from the center. They give them out in the morning. You can not receive a ticket if you are drinking, doing drugs, argumentative, or belligerent. Some nights there are fewer churches taking men in and some nights there are more churches, so sometimes it is hard to get a ticket. One night a man came in and he was so hungry, he said he had a ticket for the night before but a woman had just gotten out of the hospital so he let her have his ticket and slept outside. He said that she needed it more than he did. I guess I had never thought about what happens to someone who is homeless if they have to have surgery or spend time in a hospital. But they are just as weak as you or I would be.
One of the men had been a worship leader at his church and when he talked about passionate worship it sounded like something I would like to participate in. It was so obvious that he loved the Lord and that all of us should let Him know that we loved Him, also.
There was this one guy who was from Montana. He was kind of quiet to begin with until he said he was from Montana. Well, Mike is from Montana so they spent the meal talking about different towns in Montana and hit it off quite well. When he went to leave he reached into his pocket and took out a small petit point cross and gave it to Mike. He said he always carried it in his pocket and asked Mike to keep it in his pocket. Even with so little he still wanted to give. It is so beautiful. This was truly extravagant generosity.
During our Bible studies the men often added insight that was spoken from the heart. Many had been taught in churches wherever they were from. It was obvious that they spent time thinking about God and pondering His plan for their lives. Some of these men are homeless by choice. Some just by bad fortune. Many of them have served their country in the military. It is not easy for them and they are grateful for the food given to them and a safe warm place to sleep at night.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Our goal is to take each of them a sack, the sack will have a sticker on the outside with our church info and microwave popcorn in it that says, "Pop in on us." We hope to take these out, meet them, and pray with them if they need prayer on Sunday afternoons. The sack will also have information on our church in it.
We are not sure how this will work, and since I said in the beginning we don't have money, we have set it up so that we get the fifty closest people to the church. The expense is nominal, a set up fee and a fee for each card. We have done all the initial set-up and are in the proofing stage of it. Our first mailing will be in April.
We have a month to recruit volunteers to do the visiting part.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Our food pantry is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 to 1:00. We have volunteers who come in every day to help with it so I don't have to man it very often. There are times however when they come and ring the bell when it is not open or one of our volunteers is out and then I help out in the pantry. We do not open the door if either Jennifer or I are by ourselves. We are not set up to be a grocery store, emergency food only. However, we are fortunate that God is blessing this ministry and keeping the pantry stocked in these difficult times. We have schools, businesses, and other churches who are having food drives to help us out. We appreciate their efforts so much because we could not do this alone.
He showed up around 9:30 in the morning. He was a black man but his skin was chaulk white, dry, and covered with sores. It was cold outside and he said he needed to come in. He came in and sat in one of the chairs in the Commons, he said he was thirsty so I went back to my office and got him two bottles of water, they were small. I asked him if he had a stove to cook on because often that dictates what kind of food we give. He said he had a stove so I went to the pantry to get the food. Pastor John came out and spoke with him and had a prayer with him while I was getting the food. We are not sure what disease he had but he did not leave thirsty or hungry.
It was nine degrees outside and she came in wearing flip flops, a skirt, and a lightweight sweatshirt. A friend had given her a ride and they were both there to get Christmas food boxes. She was shivering when she came in. Jennifer seeing that she was in flip flops, went to find her some socks to wear with the flip flops to keep her feet warm. I went to put together a box of food for each of them. When I brought the food back she had the socks on and was walking around the Commons to get the socks between her toes so she could walk normally. Jennifer pulled me aside and said they were asking if we had any laundry soap, we only have food but we were able to find a ten dollar gift card to Krogers which I gave her.
Last summer a couple came to the church in the late afternoon, they looked to be really young, maybe late teens. They were traveling from Pennsylvania to Bell Buckle, Tennessee. They were hungry and they said so. The young man asked Jennifer if she would open the cans for them and she brought them some plastic spoons as well. They sat on the ground outside the door and ate four cans of Ravioli (two each) right from the cans without them being heated. It was obvious how hungry they were, we also gave them some water, and single serving size applesauce. They rested for awhile in the shade. The young girl said she was pregnant and the young man was very protective of her. We gave them some food to take with them and the last time I saw them was as I was leaving for the day, they were hitchhiking on the on-ramp.
They all have stories, lost jobs, medical problems, homeless, can't find jobs, or maybe they're here illegally. We try to make sure that we feed all of them.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
A lot of people from the church came out to help but we only had one family turn up. They had just moved into the area from Egypt. They had an interpreter with them and they stayed for the church service and all. We will try and help them find jobs this next week. I am still excited, good things can come from small beginnings.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
We have met together with the goal of deciding on three things that we will concentrate on to begin with. Our criteria is that they be easy enough to do wthout too much help and they can't cost the church anything because it is broke. We made a list of things and then decided on three that we would focus on. They are: a free breakfast to bring the community into our church, bringing welcome bags to new families in our neighborhood, talking to them and praying with them, and we will bring donuts and coffee to local schools during in-service and to the police and fire departments.
That is one of our focuses, the other is to bring the Holy Spirit back into the church to work in the hearts of the people there. There's no need to bring people into the church if they are not becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. To that end we decided that we would write a "Lenten Devotional" which included praying for five people during Lent. We also planned a meaningful Ash Wednesday service where the people would be invited to write on slips of paper things that they wanted to change or repent of, they were tacked to a wooded cross and lit on fire. The fire is quick and doesn't hurt the cross (special paper) and when it is gone, so is all the old junk, (very visual.) We are giving out lunch bags with bottles of grape juice and crackers at the service on Sunday to encourage the people to set aside a time where they can spend a lunch hour consuming communion and spending time in prayer. The Labyrinth, "Prayer Pathway to God," will begin on March 8. There is a CD that guides you through the eleven stations and it lasts one hour. It is a very special, personal, quiet time to be with God in Worship that touches the soul.
We divided the work up so that Mike and Neal would do the breakfasts, Jennifer and I would take the new families in our community, Roger would handle the donuts and coffee and Pastor John would pray and support all of us. The breakfasts start tomorrow morning. Breakfast is from 8:30 - 9:00, then there will be a short lesson and we will invite our guests to stay for the service. People have given just for this, Odom's Tennessee Pride Sausage is supplying the sausage and sausage gravy, and the Manna Sunday School class had a fund raiser. We are all ready and very excited! It is supposed to snow which isn't good but we will wait and see what God does. The fun part of working with God is that we know we can't do it, only He can. We just need to be faithful and put the effort into it. He is such a faithful God and His love is so great for all His people. May we humbly serve Him.