Friday, February 27, 2009

Give to give away

Thrive is back!!! Over the holiday season we put the brakes on Thrive so we could focus on outreach and church service. Now that we're through crunch time we're back in full swing. We switched it up a little; focusing on the men at Roselawn on Thursdays and the women on Fridays at Winbourne. On the 4th Friday we bus everybody in to share a meal and hang out; kind of like a family dinner. Today was the 4th Friday.
We had almost 80 people there and I had the privilege of sharing for a few minutes before we ate. I talked about Paul being bitten by a snake after the shipwreck, and how we have to shake off the things that try to defeat us. When the viper latched onto his hand, Paul just shook it off into the fire and moved on. We talked about the storms in life and the things that can get us off course; things like addictions, anger and unforgiveness...things we have to learn to shake off.
After lunch I was talking to a volunteer when JD walked over and shook my hand. He leaned in close and whispered "You really blessed my heart today. I'm just gonna shake it off." He looked me square in the eyes and said again, "I'm just gonna shake it off". I thanked him and smiled before he darted off.
The first time I met JD I was prowling around down at the levee on a homeless outreach. JD was living in a tent about 30 feet away from the railway tracks with a couple of other guys. He was upset about his girlfriend being away at detox and, he was mostly drunk.
I believe that God is big enough to enable JD to shake off the drinking, the rejection and the things that keep him on the fringe of society. I don't know what he came in with today, but he left with hope. That's what the Dream Center is about...seeking that which is lost, bringing hope to the hopeless and healing to the hurting.
I love that we get to do this. I love that Pastor Dino and Delynn's heart is to serve the poor. I love that HPC'ers give...for the specific purpose of giving away.
I love my church. I love my God. I love that I get to serve Him at HPC. All glory to God!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Poster Children

Cool thing happened on Saturday at Cyrus International. For those of you who don't know, Cyrus is an organization based in Baton Rouge that helps orphans, those living in poverty and victims of human trafficking. Their mission is HOPE (Helping Oppressed People Everywhere) and they're a great bunch of people.
We did our first outreach on Saturday; a public awareness campaign about human trafficking. About a dozen people got together and put up posters at Starbucks locations and truck stops around Baton Rouge. The posters were provided by the National Task Force Against Human Trafficking and they provide a number that victims can call for help. Pretty cool, eh?
Most people think that Human Trafficking is a problem in India. It is, but its also a problem in Baton Rouge. You don't have to cross the ocean to meet victims; you just have to cross the city. I work at the Dream Center downtown and we come across people every week who have been sold by the people who are supposed to love and protect them. Horrifying stories...young girls, beaten with fan belts, for refusing to have sex with strange men, multiple times a day.
Right here, right now, in our city, this is going on.
I don't know what the answer is, but I know what the answer isn't. The answer is not to look the other way. The answer is not to hope somebody does something about this atrocity. Get involved, give money, volunteer your something.
There's a movie in theaters now called 'Taken'. See the movie. After that, if you want a more realistic version of human trafficking, rent the movie 'Trade'. After that, pray that God would show you how to make a difference. He will answer your prayer and through you, the prayers of the estimated 2 million people who are sold every year. Yep, 2 million. Two million of our sisters, daughters, brothers, wives and friends. That's a lot of people.
Best guesses think that $9.5 billion dollars will be made this year selling human beings...not even selling so much as renting them out in 15 minute increments. They need help...they need us. Pray, give and get involved. Make a difference in somebody's life today.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

At the well

Happy Valentine's Day (or President's Day if you're reading this a couple days from now)...either way, Happy Day!
We've had a great week. Some way cool people from Cross Point Church came to hang out with us for a couple of days. They helped out with Homeless Breakfast and Thrive but had to catch a plane Friday afternoon.
Today we did outreach downtown; getting ready for our block party next Saturday, handing out chocolate at the intersection and going door-to-door with flowers for the ladies in the community. Good times all around.
Yesterday we had Midnight Outreach; a very cool deal where we take roses to ladies who work at adult entertainment establishments. The Gold Club is a high-end strip club in Baton Rouge. Every month for the last 2 years we've been sending flowers in for the girls with the bouncers. They never let us in, but they send in the roses.
At other clubs, on special occasions we not only take the girls roses, we decorate the dressing rooms and take them gifts. Yesterday afternoon, the Gold Club let us in. The club was closed and the girls weren't there yet, but they allowed us to decorate the room and leave them Valentine presents. The thin edge of the wedge :)
We filled their room with chocolate covered strawberries, Live the Dream water bottles, balloons and heart-shaped candy. The roses were left in a champagne cooler and 'Healing Place Church loves you' was written in lipstick on the mirror. I would have loved to seen the girls' faces when they came in.
Sometimes I feel like we get to be Jesus sitting by the well...building relationship with the women other people don't make time for. The girls dancing at these clubs would have gone to draw their water at noon. I love that we get to remind them that they are valuable, loved and not forgotten.
I love that Healing Place is all about making room for the outsiders...sending people to well, at noon, with the mission of reminding people of God's love. I am so grateful that Jesus came for me when I was at the well. When I was lost, hurting and in desperate need of truth, He came and met me there.
Thank You God for setting me free. Thank you Pastor Dino for your heart for the lost. And thank you Healing Place Church for sending us to the well. All glory to God!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Saturday Morning

It's been a long time since I've been on a Saturday morning outreach. I used to go all the time, but recently it seems like there are 100 other things that are eating up my Saturdays and keeping me from where I really want to be.
I've been sick all week but I decided that I was going on Saturday no matter what. I am so glad that I did. The outreach team is great; huge hearts, lots of fun and sold out to God, so just being around them makes me a better person. This week we went to a new area, kind of kitty-corner to the Dream Center. We knocked on doors, prayed with people and let everyone know that we've having a block party in 2 weeks. They were so receptive; genuinely glad that we were there.
The prayer requests are so simple that it sometimes hurts my heart. Joy needs a breakthrough in transportation. She goes to school full-time, works full-time and has trouble getting back and forth. Miss Emily needs strength; surrounded by five kids who are gathered around the tv watching cartoons, she looks weary. Tre works at the auto body shop across from the open lot where the block party will be. He's excited that we're going to be there and offers his electricity, water and anything else we need. Great connection...thank You God. A woman sitting in a lawn chair in an empty parking lot eyes us suspiciously and thanks us for the drink. She tells us to be careful; that we're in a bad neighborhood. We smile and tell that's why we're here.
I love that we get to spend our Saturdays in bad neighborhoods, handing out snacks and telling people about Jesus. I'm so excited that we're going to have a block party right in the middle of all of the drugs, violence and chaos...we are throwing a party for Jesus in the center of the enemy's camp.
How cool is our God? All glory to Him!


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Volunteers = souls

Today we had a huge day at the Baton Rouge Dream Center. It wasn't a block party or a massive outreach; it was moving furniture. Yep, movin, haulin, sweatin and draggin. That's how we roll. Here's the coolest part...I didn't move a thing. The whole deal was carried out by volunteers and interns. I pointed a couple of times and gave a few directions, but other than that, they did it all.
We started with rooms full of excess furniture; some broken, some moldy, some circa 1950. All of it needed to be sorted and moved. We relocated some, gave some to a local charity and dragged some of it out to the dumpster. And when I say we, I mean the volunteers.
Here's the coolest thing about HPCer's...we send out an email, ask them for help, and they show up. A guy named Jeff showed up today with a pick up truck and a pair of gloves. He worked like a Hebrew slave for hours. I've never met him before today. Jillian, one of our regulars, headed up the whole thing...I didn't even ask her to, she just saw a problem and volunteered to resolve it.
I love that the DNA of Healing Place is servanthood. I love that we have the opportunity to make every day a servolution. You might not think that moving furniture will change the world, but I beg to differ. The rooms we set up will house mission teams that come in from around the nation to learn how to do inner city outreach. The furniture we donated will become affordable furnishings for a family that can't buy new items. Even some of the stuff we hauled to the curb will be picked through and taken into people's homes. Trash vs treasure; all in the eye of the beholder.
I believe that everything God entrusts us with can be converted to souls...bottled water, used couches, hygiene items, all of it. But, the only way we can make that conversion is by having the manpower to do it. Hence, volunteers = souls.
I love that Pastor Dino's heart is to reach the world by serving one. I love that we get to be the hands and feet that serve that one. I love my God! I love my church! I love my life! All glory to God!