Saturday, November 24, 2007

Playing catch-up

Do you ever get so far behind you feel like you'll never catch up? That's what has happened to me lately in the blogging world...there have been so many stories to tell I haven't had time to write them. In an effort to let you know what I've been doing I'm going to recap. This might be a long read so feel free to get a drink and use the facilities before starting. You ready?

Parking Lot Miracles Nov 9/07
Baptisms are always a cool event; the whole idea of letting go of the old and rising up into a brand new life in Christ. We baptized seven people today in the parking lot of our Baton Rouge Dream Center on Roselawn. These are women who have been attending our weekly support group, Ladies Thrive. Over the past year we have had the opportunity to watch God move in their situations, to change their hearts and to bring new hope into their devastated lives.

We baptized Monica today, who less than a year ago was on probation and dangerously close to going back to prison. For the first three months she came to Ladies Thrive she cried the entire time. Today, as she came up out of the water, a smile covered her face as she raised her hands in victory.

Connie suffered a stroke several months ago as a result of smoking crack. She doesn’t do that anymore and she says it’s because she started coming to our Friday meeting. She got baptized today too.

Nicole came up out of the water and started to cry. She stood in the parking lot, soaking wet, and allowed our volunteers to hold her while she wept. She is scheduled to get on a bus on Sunday to go away for six months to learn Braille. Nicole is legally blind.

These are just of few of the precious women that we get to meet every week. They are broken and bruised and beautiful. They are the reason that God sent His Son for us. What a privilege to be able to share their lives. All glory to God.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 28:19

Street Outreach Nov 10th/07
The next day we were doing our usual door-to-door street outreach in North Baton Rouge. We were rolling down in the 46th-48th Street area when one of our volunteers met Paul. We gave him a Yoo-Hoo (cold drink) for him and his girlfriend, along with an invitation to join us for our Thanksgiving meal. He was kind of high, a little messed up; pretty typical of the 47th Street crowd. Here's the cool part: the next day he and his girlfriend show up at HPC Highland for service. They're pulled together, well-dressed and excited to be there. He told Miss Alliece that he took the yoo-hoos home and told his girlfriend that if these people are willing to come into the hood to find him, he wants to check out where we're from. So, I saw him at Sunday service, at Fall Fest that night, and Thursday morning he was volunteering at the homeless breakfast. He gave up his Saturday to help buff the floors at Winbourne and is looking for more chances to serve. How cool is that?

That same day we met a young woman walking the street by herself. We gave her a flyer about Thanksgiving and invited her to Ladies Thrive. I touched the fresh razor cuts on her wrist and told her that if she ever wants to talk she can come find me. She looked at me briefly, then nodded and walked away. As with most cutters, the pain oozes from her very core. I hope she comes to talk to me soon. God wants her, and He sent us to find her.

The following week we went to the streets again; seeking that which was lost. We found the homeless, the poor, the broken and the angry. We invited them all to come and eat with us. I don't know how many people we met, but the need seems endless.

Show Time! Nov 21st/07
Thanksgiving Eve was a great night at our 2nd Baton Rouge Dream Center (Winbourne Avenue). With the help of over 200 volunteers we transformed the old Fellowship Hall into a fine dining experience for several hundred of our favorite people. From personal hostesses to waiters in black tie, the ‘free turkey dinner’ was intended to exceed the expectations of our guests.

Many of our visitors experience rejection, disdain and public humiliation on a daily basis. Living a life of poverty, addiction and homelessness is a tough road, with very few survivors. Last Wednesday they were the guests of honor. From the first glass of tea to the apple crunch dessert they were treated with the dignity and love that everyone deserves.

The blind woman smiled and said everything was wonderful. The single mom said the food was great; her kids were really full. The homeless man with the eye patch didn’t say anything, but he hung around until the last possible moment. That spoke volumes. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me!’
Matthew 25:40

I think that's a rap. In the midst of the excitement and craziness there was lots of other drama, but God was faithful through it all. Thank God we serve the One who is more than enough; no matter how great the need. All glory to Him!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Stepping out of the boat...again

We had our first Baton Rouge Dream Center volunteer meeting tonight that was geared for people who have a heart to work with inner-city youth. I gotta tell ya, I am pumped up! Craig and Charity did a slammin' job delivering the heart of our youth programs. Between our after-school program and our street youth outreach I believe we're going to make a huge impact in the lives of these young people.

I know what you're thinking; "Who are you and what did you do with Donna?"

Okay I admit that, in the past, I have never imagined that I would voluntarily work with kids. I'm still not convinced that I'm called to minister to children, but Charity and Craig made a pretty compelling case. Did you know that 9 out of every 10 teens are sexually active? Or that 10% of kids suffer from depression? Did you know that the average age for girls to enter into pornography and prostitution is 12 years old? Did you know that the sale of child pornography is a $3 billion industry in the U.S.?

It's staggering. And worse yet, it's right here. These aren't kids living in Thailand, they're living in our own back yard. They're the kids we see on Saturday morning outreach. They're the shadows that need food but can't look at you. They are the unlovely.

Jesus said that He didn't come for those who are well, but for those who are sick. These kids are dying. I know Jesus wants us to go after them; to pull them back from the gates of hell; to let them know that they are valued and valuable. He died for them, just like He died for me.

So, I stand convicted, terrified and not knowing what to do next. The only thing I really know to do is to get out of the boat, keep my eyes on Jesus and ignore the crashing waves. Wanna come with?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Weekend Recap

It's Monday morning and I'm really glad I don't have a huge day planned. Even though it was a normal weekend it felt like it made me a little tired. Friday at Ladies Thrive we had a small group; probably twenty or so. We often have closer to forty but the group always dwindles at the first of the month (check time). Still though, 20 is a far cry from where we started; Charity, Miss Alliece, Barbara and I sitting in a circle praying for someone (anyone) to come. God is good.

Saturday we hit the streets with some cold drinks, soup and invitations to our Thanksgiving meal that we'll be serving at BRDC Winbourne. We're hoping about 500 of our neighbors will join us for a turkey dinner. It's being held the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and we're recruiting volunteers so make sure you get hooked up to serve. Last year we had a great time at BRDC Roselawn and we're believing that this year will be even better.

I love that we get to take the doors of the church to the street. This week I was driving the truck so I wasn't knocking on doors. Talk about a cool vantage point. I watched as dozens of red shirts went down the street; praying for people, feeding them and representing our God with bold enthusiasm.

I know that we're not supposed to compare, but I think we have some of the greatest volunteers in the world. Every week they show up, eager to share God's love with people they've never met. They knock on doors in some of the roughest areas of Baton Rouge, simply to remind the residents that God loves them right where they're at. How cool is that?

Kudos to the y'all and see you on the streets. All glory to God!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy November

Okay, it seems like the the last time I knew the date it was mid-July. Does anybody know where the summer went (or even the fall)?

I have this great calendar that my friend Emily gave me as a gift. Every month there's a new picture of a donkey (or sometimes several donkeys). I turned the page this morning to see my new donkey and the page said November. Then I heard on the radio that there's only 53 shopping days before Christmas. Who knew?

Before I found God, or rather was found by Him, my life was pretty much the same: wake up, endure the day, unintentionally hurt somebody, go to bed. I didn't mean for that to be my life, but it was. I had no concept of hope or a brighter future. I endured the pain and waited for the end. I am so very grateful that my life is no longer like that.

I think I've figured out how I lost the entire summer. It was swallowed up in Fridays at Ladies Thrive, weekend services, Servolution, fix-a-house, street outreach and the Women's Conference. It was spent doing what I love, with the people I love, for the God I love. That's pretty cool.

Happy November...enjoy the your call and leave everything on the table. All glory to God!