Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Baton Rouge homeless outreach

This past weekend was a great time of ministry and meeting new friends. We traveled to Baton Rouge, La., to minister to the homeless with the Healing Place Church and Baton Rouge Dream Center. It was our first trip to Baton Rouge, and we plan on making many more trips there.

We loaded our cargo trailer Friday morning with about 400 pairs of new boots, then drove nearly seven hours to Baton Rouge. Our new friends, two brothers -Vincent and Franko - allowed us to stay in their beautiful home and treated us with great southern hospitality. Everyone we met there was great. They all have wonderful hearts for the homeless, and they have the love and respect of the homeless.

We handed out about 150-175 pairs of boots as we drove throughout the city - under bridges, the levee of the Mississippi River, and parking lots. It was great watching the homeless put on their new boots and smile. Some even threw away their old shoes. We made sure everyone's boots fit. New socks were also given out, and chili was served for lunch.

One homeless man told me he had just landed a job working in a warehouse and he needed new boots for his new job. "These are exactly what I need," he said with a big smile. He saw God's provision, and he was very thankful.

We prayed with a lot of the homeless about a number of needs. It's always a great blessing when they pray for us too.

I want to say a special "thank you" to Justin Swasey for organizing this outreach. Justin in on our Love In Action board of directors, and he does a lot for us. He is a great man of God with a tremendous heart for the homeless.

Also, a big "thank you" to Craig at the Baton Rouge Dream Center for giving us large pallets of water and Gatorade. The Dream Center loaded our cargo trailer after we unloaded all of the boots. Wow! What a great blessing. Thanks!

I also want to thank Emily and Charolette from Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Taylor, Ala., for driving to Baton Rouge to take part in this great outreach.

And, a big "thank you" to my precious wife. She is an amazing woman of God. To see her ministering the love of Jesus to the homeless is awesome.

And, thanks to all of you who pray for us and give financially. We couldn't do what we do without you. Thanks and God bless.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

60 attend Celebrate Recovery

Brian Turner preaches during Celebrate Recovery at the Love In Action warehouse on Oct. 13.

God continues to amaze me by the way He touches lives. Last night was another great example. We now have Celebrate Recovery every Tuesday night.

Last night 60 men and women attended Celebrate Recovery. Diane, our wonderful cook, prepared delicious chicken fajitas and cupcakes for dessert. The food got cleaned out quickly.

Brian Turner was our special guest speaker. Brian is on the Love In Action board of directors and assistant to the pastors at Harvest Church in Dothan, Ala. Brian has a great heart for the lost and hurting, and he preached an awesome message. I wish I had videotaped it, because Brian presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a powerful way. Brian is a wonderful teacher of the word. He had the attention of everyone in the room. I could feel the Holy Spirit moving, and I know every heart was touched.

After Brian's message our band, Root of Jesse, sang Amazing Grace. It was great as everyone stood up to sing.

Our small groups were real good. The more we have small group sessions the more people are opening up. There were 12 new people in attendance last night. God continues to bring the people in, and time after time we hear the same comment, "I really feel loved here." That brings tears to my eyes. It's all God, and He has certainly filled that warehouse with His presence. We do indeed serve an awesome God!

I can't wait until tonight as we gather at the Love In Action warehouse again for Bible study and continue our Discipleship Phase One class. Those attending are understanding that they have work to do for the Lord as well. We all need to share Jesus with others and help each other grow in God's word. It's been a great study.

Thanks again to Tabernacle United Methodist Church for Celebrate Recover, and to Harvest Church for the Discipleship Phase One material. And, thanks to all of you who pray for us and support us financially. Together, we are all making a huge difference for the kingdom of God. Lives are being radically transformed right in front of our eyes. We all have a part to play. Thank you for doing your part.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

'I need a hand to hold'

If we stopped after the first night of Celebrate Recovery we could say it was successful. Of course we're not stopping, but listen to what happened because of Celebrate Recovery Saturday night at the Love In Action warehouse.

One of the men we took off the streets back in February called me Saturday afternoon and told me about a woman who had been abandoned at a local hotel. He asked if he could bring her to the Celebrate Recovery BBQ Kickoff, because she needed help. I said of course, and he did.

When she walked through the door I knew she was pretty messed up on drugs, but I was glad she came. No better place for a drug addict to be than in a place where the love of God is being poured out big time.

She responded to the altar call. She wanted prayer for her addiction. Afterward, she picked out some clothes and went back to the hotel. When Richard came to church this morning he told me that when he checked on her she was going through some bad withdrawals. After church we took her to the hospital to get her in detox. I told her if she wanted help we would help her. I also told her she needed a one-year rehab, not a 30 days rehab. She agreed and said she wanted to do it.

So, we spent the day at the hospital with her. She got admitted and will go through detox. She was scared, but also excited to be starting on the road to recovery.

She's only 30 years old. She's been addicted to crack cocaine for four years. She's also an alcoholic. Just two months ago she threatened to attempt suicide. She stood on the edge of a bridge 125 feet above a bay in Florida. Thankfully, the police was able to pull her back over the railing to safety.

I looked it up online and her story was true. It was heartbreaking watching that video and looking at the photos. How many of us would have drove past her on that bridge thinking, "what a nut case!" God didn't see that. He saw a hurting young woman in need of His love. He kept her alive and brought her to Dothan, Ala., where she met a good Christian man who invited her to Celebrate Recovery. There's no doubt that God wanted us to start Celebrate Recovery on Oct. 4. He knew where Colleen would be on that date. He had it all planned. It was no coincidence. It was God's divine plan.

We talked with her all day and she shared one story after another. She shared how she prayed to God so many times. A recent prayer of hers was, "God, I need a hand to hold. Please give me a hand to hold."

She was alone. Despite being addicted to crack, she knew she had God's hand to hold onto, but she wanted someone to physically hold her hand and help her. Martha and my mom held her hand all day. We assured her she wasn't alone any longer. She knows she now has a mom and a brother and sister. My good friend Doug was with us all afternoon too and was a huge help in getting everything going today. She knows she has another brother in Doug. She knows she has a great brother in Richard, and a brother and sister in the teenagers we recently took off the streets. In other words, she knows she now has a family who will support her and help her all the way.

The plan is following detox to get her into a month-long rehab locally. That will give us time to find a good Christian year-long program. I told her that in one year from now she will be a totally different person. She said, "Yes I will be."

Please keep Colleen in your prayers. Detox is extremely tough and painful. She knows that, but she knows what's on the other side. She wants this, and that's a huge step in the right direction.

Thanks again to everyone who volunteered Saturday night at Celebrate Recovery. Because you gave of your time, all of you have changed a life. There's no doubt she was not long for this world on the path she was on. But now, she has a bright future, and an eternity to look forward to.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wow! What a night!

If the kickoff for Celebrate Recovery is any indication, this is going to be awesome!

Tonight, we held a BBQ Kickoff for Celebrate Recovery at the Love In Action warehouse in Dothan, Ala. We had no idea how many people would come, but we prepared for a good crowd. We weren't disappointed. There were 67 people at the warehouse tonight. Praise God! Most importantly, at least two people accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! That's what it's all about.

The altar call was awesome. A number of people came forward for prayer for a number of different issues. It was just an amazing night, and I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for it all.

Celebrate Recovery is a wonderful program written by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California. It's for people who have habits, hurts and hangups. That pretty much covers everyone. For those with addictions, it's like a 12-step program, but with Jesus in it. It's an awesome program, and we're so thankful to have it as part of Love In Action.

We have Tabernacle United Methodist Church to thank for Celebrate Recovery. God placed this on the heart of one of their members, Emily Hinderliter. Then God brought our paths together. Tabernacle got behind Emily's vision for Celebrate Recovery and they are funding it, including the food. Now that's a great commitment to reaching the lost and hurting. Thank you Tabernacle! They have been friends of Love In Action for two years now. They are a wonderful church with a huge heart for reaching the lost.

One of the things I love about Love In Action is we always see the Body of Christ working together, and the results are always people getting saved and lives changed. People from at least five different churches, from Dothan, Taylor, Enterprise and Ozark, volunteered tonight. No church banner was raised, only the banner of Jesus Christ was raised and that's how it should be.

God's presence in the warehouse tonight was incredible. Our musical group tonight was the "Chosen Heirs." They were fantastic. They have servant hearts, and they really ushered in the Holy Spirit with their praise and worship. One of their members, Jerry Mills, gave his testimony. Wow, he is a walking example of how God can radically change people's lives.

Then Robert Risner preached God's Word. That brother is anointed and he preached from his heart. Everyone was glued to what he was saying. I have only known Robert for seven weeks, but I have quickly grown to love him. He has a great heart for reaching the lost and he likes to have fun. He fits in perfectly with Love In Action.

The food was excellent. Ms. Diane is one great cook. Her red beans and rice were "swinging!" The hamburgers and smoked sausage were delicious as well. About a half dozen of us men enjoyed grilling the burgers and sausage. Thanks Mom for the new grill!

It all added up to one awesome night. It was an answer to a prayer. I had prayed and talked about how cool it would be to have a Saturday night service. Well, we had one tonight. God put it all together. I know this won't be the last Saturday night service at the warehouse.

Our first regular Celebrate Recovery meeting will be next Thursday. Then we will change it to every Tuesday night. We had to change it so the men from Houston County work release can be there. Next week our regular Celebrate Recovery band, Root of Jesse, will be playing and I will preach. And, for the food .... Ms. Diane said it's Italian night! It's all going to be great.

Thank you to everyone who came out and volunteered tonight. And thank you to everyone who prayed for the event. Together, we all were God's hands and feet tonight, and we saw God bring a harvest. Wow! What a night!

Thank you Jesus!