I don't remember when I last blogged...it feels like forever ago. These past ten days or so have been incredibly busy but really cool. I think this is how it went down:
- Last Friday we had about 35 women and about 20 men at Thrive. After the message and group time the ladies lined up for our shoe giveaway extravaganza. Nothing sets up a girl for Easter like a new pair of red stilettos.
- Friday night we took the show on the road for Midnight Outreach. We went to strip clubs, bars and the back streets of North Baton Rouge. At one point a police officer joined our search and gave us a guided tour of the prostitute stroll. He drove ahead of us, lights flashing, and used his spotlight to point out some of the people who would rather not be found. It was an incredibly effective tactic. 200 roses and several hours later, we headed back to the HPC
to grab a couple hours of sleep before our next outreach.
- On Saturday we threw a serious block party at Palmer Apartments (Prescott/Mohican Crossover). As we were shooting hoops and grilling hot dogs a crowd of dealers sat across the street and watched us for an hour. They were waiting to see if we had undercover cops at the party before they were willing to cross the street. About thirty minutes before we packed up they were laughing with volunteers and eating burgers. I guess we passed the test.
A nineteen year old girl with her baby showed up, even though she was scared and didn't want to come. She had called our hotline because she and her baby were homeless. We were able to feed her, give her some groceries and get her into a shelter before nightfall. Pretty cool.
Another woman was driving by and turned around when she saw the Healing Place Church tent. She's going through a rough time right now and a friend of hers told her that HPC could help her. She's in the middle of a nasty divorce; with a drug-dealing ex-husband that threatening to burn down her house. She works as a counselor, but stood in tears as she told us her story. When the counselor needs counselling, it's cool that people think of HPC. We got to pray with her and gave her some direction to get some more help. She stayed for lunch and hung out with us for a while. She looked better by the time she left.
Palmer Apartments is a rough hood; in fact the whole area is rough. The kids are hungry; for food, for attention and for direction. The parents are desperate; many of them lacking both employment and the skills to gain employment. Drugs, violence and hopelessness...those are the prevailing traits of the area. Nobody plans for the future...they just try to survive from one day to the next. That's why HPC is there; we want to offer them the hope and future that's found in Jesus Christ. So, we show up. We play games with the kids, we feed anyone who will eat and we invite them to get involved at the Dream Center. We pray for people, laugh with them and cry with them. Our goal is to do life with them; a life centered around God.
- Saturday night our first visiting mission team arrived to stay at the Dream Center
. We had 55 high school students from Guts Church in Tulsa spend a week with us. They were great: dedicated, enthusiastic and eager to serve. We did lots of work, lots of outreach and had the opportunity to touch a lot of lives.
- Sunday afternoon Blue Sushi joined us downtown for Adopt-a-block. They picked up trash, cleaned yards and served with willing hearts. That's pretty impressive for a group of fifth graders.
- Monday we spent the day at Winbourne with our Guts mission team. We painted, scrubbed, hauled and bleached. By 4pm I was ready for a nap (one of those Rip Van Winkle naps). I went home to bed while another team headed to New Orleans for a special St. Patrick's Day edition of Midnight on Bourbon Street. Once again we partnered with Church of the King and the New Orleans Dream Center
. How cool is that?
- Tuesday night we had our second Family Night at Winbourne. Great fellowship, exciting entertainment and another opportunity to present the Gospel. Adam did a great job bringing the word and our volunteers, as always, were top-notch.
- Friday morning our Guts team left and in the afternoon we bussed some of our Winbourne people in for Easter service at Highland. The really cool part is that we had to call in a second bus because we had so many people who wanted to attend. I think we ended up with 70+ at church. Pastor Dino preached a great message and about 25 or 30 of our people responded to the alter call. What a humbling experience to be a part of that. Jesus came for the lame, the blind, the oppressed and the broken. He came for everyone on the bus. I watched Mr. Clyde, an old homeless man with one eye make his way to the front of the church. I watched our Thrive attendees, men and women, tears streaming down their faces, find hope at the alter. Teenagers from Prescott apartments walked the aisle; many for the first time. Like I said, humbling.
- Sunday morning I attended the 10am service at Highland...me and everyone else in the Greater Baton Rouge area. It was great. I sat in the back foyer with about 15 other people (on 12 chairs). The way cool part was that the people didn't care that they were crammed into the foyer. They listened, they clapped and they were engaged in the service. They were a part...even if they were the back part.
So, that's been my week (or 10 days or however long it's been). I'm wore out, looking rough and feeling like I slept on the clothesline. But, that's how we roll here at HPC. I wouldn't have it any other way. All glory to God!