Friday, June 29, 2007

Another glorious day

We had a busy day down at the Baton Rouge Dream Center today. We had about 30 ladies attend our women's support group and about 25 volunteers helping out in all different aspects of ministry. Blue Sushi (young leadership class) from the Spanish campus joined us to help out in the warehouse and help serve the 150 meals that Cooking for Christ prepared. Some of the homeless guys helped out with serving and then joined us in the streets as we drove around signing kids up for summer camp and promoting our men's bar-b-q for tomorrow. It was a great day.

I had the opportunity to share at Ladies Thrive and talked about Ezekiel 37 and the valley of dry bones. We learned about speaking life over seemingly dead situations and expecting God to breathe life into them again. When we broke up into our small groups I heard one of our attendees tell another, "Don't you worry, honey, whatever your problem is that's bringing them tears, God's gonna make it right. Not too long ago I was the one crying, but God has been bringing me through. Just don't give up, baby." Another woman told me that all her life she has been wanting some place to go just to sit and talk with other women; just a safe place to talk. How cool is it that we get to be that safe place?

One of the ladies who has been coming for 2 or 3 weeks gave her life to Christ today. What an awesome and humbling experience to lead her in a salvation prayer. Her 21-year old son is looking at some serious prison time and her house was recently shot up while she and her daughter were hiding inside. Her lights have been cut off for three days and her car has been impounded. She's been losing the battle to her addictions and she simply doesn't know where to turn. Thank God we know Who to point her to.

I am so grateful that God allows me to be part of His glorious Kingdom. I am continually awed by His wonder, His grace and His mercy. He loves us so much; all of us, all the time. I love my God. I'm so glad He loves me too. All glory to Him!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Playing Catch-up

I haven't blogged for a while but it's not been from lack of things to write about. I'll have to back up a few days and I'll spare you the pages of details. Here are the highlights of the past couple of weeks:
Pamper Night-We picked up several of our North-side ladies from our bible study to attend the festivities at Highland campus. Except for the one who was too intoxicated to come inside the building, everyone had a great time. In fact, even the drunk one had a great time, spending time with us at the lake, eating fancy sandwiches and drinking tiny bottles of water. She thanked me loudly and repeatedly for the lovely time on the ride home. I think she forgot entirely about the manicure and facial she was going to get; but she had a great time at the luncheon by the lake. (My deepest apologies to the parking guy that she flashed on the way to the van...she seldom does that sober.)
Ladies Thrive - I had the opportunity to share at the bible study and we talked about choosing this day whom we will serve. We discussed choices, consequences and our power to choose. The ladies were very encouraging and we all had a good time. During group one of the women who had attended Pamper Night told the others that for the first time in her life she felt like royalty. She said that from the time she was picked up until the moment we dropped her off she felt like she was in another world. Another attendee (her sister) said that she went home and went straight to sleep; for the first time in forever. It's amazing how God can transform a pedicure and a chocolate fountain into a peaceful night's sleep.
This week's Ladies Thrive - We served them lunch this week for the first time. Cooking for Christ made a batch of their famous red beans and rice, served with cornbread and home-made brownies. It was a huge hit. We no advertising at all we served 80 meals in under forty minutes. Preaching the Gospel and feeding the hungry... it doesn't get any better than this!
Warehouse Makeover - On Saturday some of the HPC men came down to the Dream Center to give the warehouse a face lift. For hours they were installing pallet-racking, moving stuff and working up a sweat. By the end of the day we had almost doubled our storage space. Thank God for men!!! The ladies weren't slacking off either; sorting clothes, cleaning up and preparing for future outreaches in the community. Can you believe we get to do this?
Hospital Visits - Charity and I have been at the hospital twice in the past couple of weeks. The first visit was to Miss Martha; an elderly woman whom we've been visiting regularly for the past six months or so. She was admitted for chest pain and they put in a pacemaker. Since then she's had another stroke so she's still in need of much prayer. Our second trip was to pick up one of the youth Charity has been ministering to for the past few weeks. Admitted early this morning for suspected alcohol poisoning, this 14 year-old girl is also in need of much prayer.
Summary - This short list really puts it all into perspective for me. Over the past 10-14 days we have had the opportunity to preach the gospel, visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, bring hope to the hopeless and to be a light in a very dark place. Not everybody gets to do this. Not every church puts it's time, energy and resources into reaching out to this lost and dying world. I am so very grateful for Healing Place Church, for the heart of our lead pastors, and for the people who give to make it all possible. I love my God. I love my church. I love my life. All glory to God!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Midnight at Wally World

I'm officially a week late with this post but better late than never. Last Friday we had the opportunity to do Midnight Outreach, which normally consists of going to the streets of North Baton Rouge and the 'gentlemen's clubs'. This time we switched it up a little and swung by Wal-Mart before we hit the clubs.

It was the craziest thing...ten o'clock at night and the place was jumping! We trolled the parking lot and handed out roses to unsuspecting ladies; women rushing in to get groceries and women rushing out with screaming kids. Although there were a few who gave us a curt 'no thanks', the majority of them were excited and grateful for their free rose. We ran into a few people who recognized the HPC truck; one of whom watches Pastor Dino faithfully. It was great.

After Wal-Mart we headed to more familiar territory: the strip clubs on Airline and the Hooters on Seigen and College. Everyone was glad to see us; glad to be remembered.

I wonder how many of the ladies dancing at the clubs ever planned on ending up there. I don't imagine it's a lifetime dream for any of them. I imagine it's a place you find yourself one day; like a bad dream you can't wake up from. I believe God sends people into the lives of others to nudge them out of their slumber, to help them awaken from their nightmare. I believe that is what Midnight Outreach is all about. If only for a moment, we nudge them and remind them that they are loved. Many will drift back to sleep when we walk away, but I believe that all will have a glimmer of hope in the midst of their darkness.

God, let us all bring hope. In Jesus' name.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Through the Tears

Friday mornings at the Dream Center are slammin'. This week we had 23 women attend our Ladies Thrive support group, along with 21 volunteers working in every capacity from bean-counter to daycare worker. Talk about getting it done!

Pastor Alliece did an amazing teaching from the 23rd Psalm, bringing several of the women to tears. She talked about God being our shepherd, and how we didn't have to carry the responsibility for everything in our lives. By the time we got into our small groups my whole circle was in tears. The ladies were broken; weary from carrying their struggles, their families and their disappointments alone. We talked and we laughed and we prayed. We committed to helping each other, through continued prayers and encouragement. By the end of our time, there were smiles all around.

One of the ladies asked me if they were allowed to come again next week for counseling. I smiled and told her they could all come every week. She was so grateful; unable to believe that there was a place she to come to, for free, to get help for her life. I hugged her neck and told her I'd see her next week.

I am so grateful that we all have a place to come to, for free, to get help for our lives. I'm so grateful that the cross is free; completely paid for by the blood of Jesus. I don't know where I would be without it. I know where I was, and I know that I wouldn't have survived there for very much longer. Thank God for His mercy and grace. All glory to Him!

Friday, June 01, 2007

An afternoon visit

We had a block party last Saturday at the corner of 39th and Odell. For 2 or 3 hours we hung out, fed the people and played with their kids. Then we packed up and came back to the lives we live the rest of the time...and so did they.

I was at Baton Rouge General this afternoon with Pastor Alliece and some of the BRDC volunteers. We were there with Joyce and her daughter. Joyce is a woman who attends Ladies Thrive every week. Just a few hours after we left her at the block party last week her son took 1 bullet in the chest, 2 in his stomach and his right leg was shattered by several other shots. They were able to reconstruct his lower leg by inserting a steel rod and they successfully removed all the bullets. He's been moved out of critical care and has started the physical therapy that will hopefully allow him to walk again soon.

Joyce had told her son that she was going to bring some of her church friends over to pray for him. I think he was a little surprised when a sea of red Serve shirts crowded around his hospital bed. Pastor Alliece talked to him about God's plan for him; how God spared his life and now he had a chance to live a different life. It was obvious that God was dealing with him.

I was talking to Joyce's daughter on the way back out to the van. She's twenty-one and expecting her first child in less than two weeks. She's also meeting her father tonight at 6pm; for the first time in her life.

Sometimes I think I have a lot going on in my life. I get tangled up in my own little world and I forget that, just down the block, families are being torn apart by handguns, hatred and apathy. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to meet people like Joyce; to ride with her to the hospital, to pray with her and to be there for her in her time of need. I'm grateful that God has placed the Dream Center right in the middle of the action. I believe we're right where we need to be. All glory to God.