Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The homeless have very little choice for healthcare. Most just live with their infirmities, while others end up in the emergency room. Now they have a choice. Dr. Lassiter and Dr. Stokes have volunteered to help, and they will rotate each Tuesday night.
I want to give a special "thank you" to Jack Sewell of Jack's Drugs for donating much-needed medication to the homeless health clinic. Jack has a great heart to help others.
Love In Action's part in all of this is to get the homeless to the clinic and help meet some physical needs other than the medical ones. Tonight we served delicious hot potato soup. It was perfect on this cold December night. Thanks to our Celebrate Recovery Inside Director Emily Hinderliter for making the soup.
We also had gloves, toboggan hats, scarves, blankets and hygiene kits to give to the homeless. They were very thankful for everything.
Six people may not sound like a lot, but we thought it was a great start. And, that's six people who wouldn't have received medical care tonight. There were some important healthcare needs met tonight as well.
We know it will grow more and more as the word gets out in the homeless community. And, we pray that more people will become involved. It is also our hope that the community will see what a great program this is, because it could lighten the load on the emergency room, which would save money. So it's definitely a win-win for everyone.
The clinic will also give us a chance to meet even more of Dothan's homeless population, and through meeting their physical needs, it will open the door to share Jesus Christ with them.
God is so awesome! The way He orchestrated all of this is simply amazing.
Please continue to pray for the clinic and this great outreach to the homeless.
Friday, November 26, 2010
While that's reality for many of us, unfortunately, it's only a dream for many others. That's why on Thanksgiving Day, Martha and I enjoy serving others.
This Thanksgiving Day, Martha and I joined two of our favorite people - Gene and Leslie Oden - and their church to serve the needy in Enterprise, Ala. Gene is the lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Enterprise. He preached at our Love In Action Thanksgiving service on Tuesday night. Crossroads' praise team led worship at our Thanksgiving service as well. Crossroads is a great church with a heart for the homeless and the poor.
This was the second year that Crossroads provided Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and needy of Enterprise. Martha and I arrived in time to help pack to-go plates and load them in the back of pickup trucks. Then we followed a caravan to an impoverished Hispanic neighborhood where we handed out more than 200 plates of food.
To see the smiles on the faces of the children and to hear the gratitude in the voices of the adults made our Thanksgiving.
We talked with many people. I don't know a lot of Spanish, but I downloaded a translator app on my Blackberry to help with basic communication. However, there were plenty of people who spoke English.
The first house Martha and I visited was an old camper trailer where an 85-year-old man named Tony lived. He lived alone with his two cats. As he smoked his Antonio Y Cleopatra cigar, he told us about his cats, and how he liked to watch Catholic Latin Mass on TV. He smiled as he talked and thanked us for his dinner.
There are many people like Tony who are alone. To make a difference, all it takes is for someone to visit them, talk with and listen to them, give them a meal, smile and let them know that God loves them.
Martha and I thank God for Gene and Leslie Oden and Crossroads. It's people like them who are making a difference in their communities. It was an honor and privilege to join Crossroads on Thanksgiving Day.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
There were more than 250 people in attendance, and it was just an incredible night. I like how our Celebrate Recovery Inside Director Emily Hinderliter explained what happened last night. She wrote this in an email late last night.
"More than 10 churches sent volunteers with food, money for expenses, clean up folks, set up folks, serving folks, hugging folks, worship leaders, preachers, families - one fellow drove up from Lakeland, Fla., to have Thanksgiving dinner with his brother, who is in the Work Release program here - children, grandmothers, parents, spouses, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, friends and neighbors, poor people, rich people, homeless people, people living in motels, shelters, jails, cars. Everyone came together to say "Thank You, God, for the blessings You have provided this year." And there was worship music, praise music, and a wonderful sermon/message."
We had an army of volunteers, and I want to thank each one of them for everything they did to make last night so successful. I want to say a special "thank you" to Angel Drennan. She was in charge of the dinner and she did a spectacular job.There was plenty of food for everyone and it was all delicious. It was a blessing to me to see the homeless fill their plates twice and we still had plenty left for them to take a to-go plate of food with them. Thank you Angel. Your name fits you perfectly.
I want to say another special thank you to Tabernacle United Methodist Church. They sponsor our Celebrate Recovery Inside program and they sponsored last night's dinner. Such an incredible church filled with people who love Jesus and shows His love to others.
Also, a special thank you to Gene and Leslie Oden and the Crossroads Community Church praise team. Gene delivered a wonderful message, as he always does, and once again the Crossroads praise team rocked the house for Jesus! Crossroads does tremendous work in Enterprise, Ala., reaching the lost and hurting.
Last night was truly the Body of Christ coming together once again at the Love In Action Ministry Center to show the love of God to those who are hurting.
What was accomplished through all of the hard work? Plenty! In fact, according to Jesus, in Matthew 25: 35-40, here's what happened last night:
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"
To God goes all the glory. Thank you everyone for supporting this ministry in all of the ways that you do.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
A lot of what we do is one-on-one ministry, so you don't see a lot of photos and videos about it on our website. For example, here's a recap of this week at Love In Action:
We helped a family stay off the streets by paying for their hotel room until the husband gets his first pay check next week. We're working with a church and another organization to keep this family off the streets.
We had to work out a situation with a local shelter to keep one of our homeless men housed there. With no housing available for the homeless except for two shelters, it was important that our guy keep his bed. Thankfully things worked out and all is well now.
We helped the homeless and needy with groceries and transportation, and talked with some others to provide advice while also listening to them. Most of the time the homeless just want someone to listen to them. They are ignored by most people.
We received a great food donation from Fort Rucker and it was stocked in our pantry this week and we were able to help more people with food. Volunteers picked it up, unloaded it, and stocked it.
We shipped more than 130 hygiene kits to our friends "Arms Outstretched Ministry" in northern Virginia. That will help them reach the homeless in their community this Thanksgiving.
It was another busy and productive week at Love In Action. We couldn't do it without all of your prayers and financial support or without all of our great volunteers.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Communion ended a day of fasting and prayer for Love In Action as we seek God for a new building. We are praying for God's direction, wisdom and favor.
I want to thank Pastor Dwight Deal and Pastor David Willis for serving communion tonight. As I was partaking in communion tears came to my eyes. Knowing that Jesus gave his life of everyone and knowing that God is so faithful, just overwhelmed me. It was a very moving night.
There were 40 volunteers who attended the service and the meeting that followed. Our volunteers are the greatest in the world. They are faithful and dedicated, and have hearts for reaching out to and serving the homeless, needy and inmates. I thank each of them for all of the great work they do.
Martha and I are so thankful for everyone who has encouraged us and shown support of Love In Action. In person, by email and on Facebook, many people have said they are praying for us and support us. That means more to us than you know.
We're excited. God is moving Love In Action into a new era, and we are looking forward to what He is going to do. We have seen hundreds of people come to know Jesus at the Love In Action Ministry Center. Over the past 11 years we have seen hundreds of thousands of people receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God is putting us in position to lead even more to Jesus. Now that's exciting. I thank God for everything He is doing.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Martha and I are excited about what God is doing with Love In Action. We believe He is starting a new era in the ministry. We have surrounded ourselves with some outstanding godly people, because God tells us there is wisdom in godly counsel and to seek it. We all agree that it's time for Love In Action to purchase its own building. No more renting and wondering if we will be allowed to do this and build this, or getting the raw end of a rental deal. It's time to purchase.
We have found a building in the perfect location that we are excited about. It will give us the opportunity to do more ministry work than what we're able to do now. It even has a kitchen. We are going to pursue it. Please pray that if it's God's will everything will work out. If it's not, then ask God to show us the building He has for us.
There are two important things I would like to ask of you.
First, this Tuesday, Nov. 9, Martha and I are asking that you join us for a day of praying and fasting. If you cannot fast for health reasons, please pray. As always, if you aren't sure, consult your doctor about whether or not you should fast.
Then you are invited to join us at the Love In Action Ministry Center at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9 for prayer and communion. We are not having Celebrate Recovery Inside this week. Pastor Dwight Deal of the New Brockton First United Methodist Church will serve the communion. This was all Dwight's idea, and we thought it was outstanding, so please join us and pray for God's wisdom, guidance and favor.
Secondly, as we purchase a building we will need additional financial assistance. We still have $15,000 in our building fund. Thankfully we didn't spend a lot of our building fund before being forced out of our current building. Our goal is $50,000 for a down payment and to do some upgrades on the building as we move in. Please consider a special financial gift to help us, and please ask your pastor if he would consider asking for a special offering at your church on Nov. 21 and/or Nov. 28. This is a great thing for the Dothan community and will help us reach even more of the homeless and needy, which will take some of the pressure off local churches.
Martha and I appreciate all of the encouragement we have received this weekend in person and via email and Facebook. All of you are wonderful people and it's an honor serving God with each of you.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or by calling Love In Action at 334-494-4995.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
You may have noticed I haven't reported anything about our building project in months. There's a good reason for that. Months ago we heard the building we are renting was being sold. So before we spent too much money on the project we decided to wait and see what happens with the building. It's a good thing we did, because the new owners want us out.
I'm not going to talk bad about anyone, but suffice it to say that one of the previous owners and the real estate company representing them didn't treat us exactly right. What we thought was a contract evidently wasn't. The new owners want to expand their business, and we can't fault them. Our problems are not their fault. We had an excellent attorney represent us, but the bottom line is we are going to have to move out of our current location. However, we negotiated with the new owners to stay at our current location through the remainder of this year. I know this is a surprise to everyone, and it was to us at first. But we've been battling this for a while and are relieved this is over.
We believe God is moving us to a new and better place. We don't know where yet, but we do know that God is in control and that He isn't surprised about this situation. Our goal is to own our own building. That way we don't have to worry about a rental contract and improvements would benefit our own building. We are going to look at a building in Dothan this Saturday. We don't know if it's our future home, but I just wanted you to know that we are looking hard for a new building.
I want to assure everyone this ministry is not going to stop. To the contrary. I honestly believe God is doing something that will make Love In Action even more effective at reaching the homeless and hurting. We were a ministry for eight years without a building, and saw the homeless come off the streets and thousands of people saved. So, this is nothing new to us. We will continue ministering to the homeless and needy with or without a building. We are currently looking for a place to hold our Celebrate Recovery services in case we don't have our own building by the end of the year. We will put our chairs, tables, clothing, etc. in storage until we find our own building.
Everything is fine. We just have this obstacle to overcome, but God is going to get us through this and we can't wait to see what He has planned.
What can you do? Keep doing what you have been doing, Continue praying for us and supporting us like you have been. Please pray for God's guidance, wisdom and favor. I will keep you updated as we move forward. And, I will keep you updated on the great things God is doing through Love In Action.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
All the glory and praise to God for He has indeed answered another prayer. This has been a concern of ours for a long time as the homeless have nowhere to go except to the local emergency room. But many times they don't even go there because they are ashamed or just don't know they can.
They need a place they can go for regular check ups and when they get sick. Most of us enjoy the luxury of having health insurance. When I get sick or have a battle with gout as I did recently, I just call my doctor and go to his office. I pay $25 and insurance covers the rest. It's something I take for granted, but it's something the homeless cannot do. Too often they catch a cold or the flu and just live with it. Some die because of the flu or a sickness turns into pneumonia.
Beginning Dec. 7, that all changes in Dothan, Ala., thanks to Dr. Steve Stokes and the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center's free health clinic.
Here's a little background. The Alfred Saliba Family Services (ASFS) clinic has been providing free health care for people who do not have insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, etc. They serve more than 1,200 patients, around 800 regular patients. They have been funded by grants from the Wiregrass Foundation, which funds certain projects with the hope that the projects can become self-sufficient over a certain period. The grant money for the free clinic came to an end and it was going to close at the end of this year.
A few months ago one our of homeless men, Rickey, was hit by a freight train. He was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital. After visiting Rickey, I called Dr. Stokes and asked if he would check on him because I wanted to make sure he was getting the best care possible. With no insurance and unable to speak for himself, I just wanted to make sure he was receiving the proper treatment. And, he was.
Then Dr. Stokes asked me what kind of health care was available for the homeless. I told him just the emergency room. That began our talks of opening a weekly triage clinic for the homeless to take care of basic health needs. That led to talks with Dr. Searcy and her staff at the ASFS free clinic.
The one problem with the free clinic was it usually took at least two weeks to get an appointment. That just doesn't work for the homeless. With the clinic running out of funding, things didn't look good. That's when Dr. Stokes said he would try to find 20 physicians and nurses who would volunteer their time to keep the free clinic open.
He was successful, and plans are for the clinic to open three days a week to provide free health care for the needy like it has been doing. But one new phase is a free health clinic every Tuesday, 5-8:30 p.m., for the homeless. Praise God! No more waiting two weeks. If they have a cold or a sickness, they will be treated. The clinic has an incredible pharmacy, so basic meds will be no problem. Narcotics are not distributed at the clinic for obvious reasons.
The Wiregrass Foundation came through with more funds to meet the basic needs of the clinic. The rest is all volunteer work. This is what can happen when the community comes together. Dr. Searcy has done an incredible job over the years meeting the health needs of the needy. Now she will have a lot more help from the medical community.
This new plan for the homeless health care was scheduled to go into effect in January 2011. I asked Dr. Stokes if it could start Dec. 7 of this year. He asked ASFS and they agreed to begin one month earlier than planned. Praise God! They have the facilities and the homeless will now have free basic health care. Dr. Stokes will be the physician volunteering his time on Tuesday nights for the homeless.
I will meet with the Homeless Coalition in Dothan next Thursday to share this wonderful news to make sure as many of the homeless as possible in Dothan know about the clinic, and discuss logistics of transportation to and from the clinic.
Praise God for this tremendous opportunity, and praise God for people like Dr. Stokes and people and organizations like the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center for their willingness to help those who cannot help themselves.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Worship was led by the choir from New Life in Jesus Ministry church of Dothan, Ala. They were wonderful. A very anointed group of singers. We will post a complete video of the worship this weekend on our web site: http://loveinactionministries.com/
Until then, there is a short video of them singing, "Our God is an awesome God" on our web site. Look on the left hand side at our TwitVid widget. You will also find a video of children from Victory of the Nations Church in Dothan, Ala., performing a dance at Celebrate Recovery tonight. It is so great seeing children serving God.
Tonight's message was delivered by one of our own. Willie Anderson is an inmate at the Houston County Community Corrections work release, and he's been attending Celebrate Recovery for many months. He preached a tremendous message that resonated with many people who regularly attend Celebrate Recovery. To see Willie preaching was beyond words. To see and know what God is doing in his life is just incredible. We will also post the video of Willie's message this weekend on our web site.
We see so many lives being changed it's just incredible. We praise God and give Him credit for all of it.
Before Celebrate Recovery tonight, a man we helped when he was homeless helped us. He called me this afternoon and said he was given a lot of can food and he wanted to donated it to Love In Action. "Y'all helped me when I was homeless," he said. "I want to give back so you can help others."
Praise God! From the homeless to the work release inmates, we love having church with them and watching God work in all of their lives. And, you know what, God is also doing a great work in all of our lives.
We serve an awesome God, and to be a part of this ministry is very humbling and exciting. Tonight's Celebrate Recovery was another example of the great work our God is doing.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Last week, one of the work release men was facing being sent back to the county jail because he had not found a job. It wasn't because Richard wasn't looking. He was, but nothing had come through for him.
Richard is a regular at Love In Action's Wednesday night Bible study, and he has been soaking up God's Word like a sponge. I've been watching him grow over the past couple of months. Two Wednesdays ago he said he would be sent back to county jail on that Friday if he didn't find a job. That Wednesday night, Emily Hinderliter, who is teaching a 5-part series, taught on faith and focused on Abraham.
Richard told her afterward he really needed that because he was wondering what was going on. We all prayed with him and he was at peace when he left.
This Wednesday night when I picked the men up, there was Richard, and he was all smiles. He said, "God gave me a job. Actually, two! Just look at God. Look at what he did for me!"
We were all thrilled and praised God together. Richard opened the Bible study with prayer that night, and he said his faith had grown so much through God giving him a job.
He's a young Christian, and he just saw what God can do when we are obedient and have faith in Him. He has heard over and over again the past two months that we need to trust God at all times, even when it doesn't make sense. Have faith, trust, obedience ... and now he has experienced the fruit of his labor.
That's why discipleship is so important and why Love In Action has a Bible study every Wednesday night. Richard is just one example of how discipleship works. Everyone who regularly attends our Bible studies appears to be growing in their faith in God. It's exciting to see, and we praise God for what He is doing.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
For example, this past Tuesday night one of our favorite pastors, Gene Oden, came to share God's Word at Celebrate Recovery. Gene pastors a great church in Enterprise, Ala. - Crossroads Community Church. Their praise team led worship for us, and you want to talk about a talented and anointed band. They are incredible.
Gene talked about Jonah and running from God. Everyone soaked up that message like a sponge, and people responded to the message. We have all ran from God, and some are still running. Gene's message was simple, yet profound, and it resonated with everyone there. Gene has an incredible way of communicating. He's just real. There's no pomp and circumstance. There's no show. It's just Gene talking about God and how He can change all of our lives. I could listen to him preach all night long.
A cool thing happened Tuesday night that really pumps me up every time God does it. A man walked past the open front doors several times before entering the LIA Ministry Center. His name was Jerry and he told me his story. He's from Tennessee, but was in Dothan for a construction job. He lost his job and had nothing. He needed to get back to Tennessee.
I told him we would help with gasoline, but sit down with me and listen to the preacher. He did and he was one of the people who came forward for prayer after Gene's message. Praise God! Out of all the places in Dothan he could have driven past, he drove past LIA and then came back and heard a great word from God. He has a wife and six children in Tennessee. Please keep Jerry in your prayers.
Wednesday night was another incredible night of ministry. Emily Hinderliter from Tabernacle UMC in Taylor, Ala., is teaching a five-part series for us about Abraham. Emily is a very gifted teacher, and this series is terrific.
Last night she focused on faith. After Bible study, one of the men from work release told her he needed that lesson badly. He needs to find work by Friday or they will send him back to county jail. He's been putting in applications all over the place, but nothing has worked out. He was becoming upset, angry, and questioning why was this happening to him. The lesson on faith really spoke to him and he felt much better about things. We all prayed with him before we left.
Our volunteers are incredible ministers. Some, like Diana and my mom, cook every Tuesday and Wednesday so the people will have a good meal to eat. Others like Stephanie and JoAnna teach the children on Tuesday nights. People like Jerry, Tom, Robert and Robert teach small groups at Celebrate Recovery. Judy talks to newcomers each week to tell them about CR and what groups we have available.Yet another Robert picks up bread every week at Atlanta Bread Company for us give to people in need, and he does a lot more like electrical work and so much more.
Where would we be without Franklin? Not where we're at today, that's for sure. I can't begin to list everything he does. My mom is the same way. They both do a lot of behind the scenes work that makes the ministry so successful.
There are churches like Harvest, Tabernacle, Crossroads, Covenant, Greystone, Highland Park, Mt. Carmel, and Wiregrass who help us in a variety of ways. There are many other people who help through financial donations and volunteering their time. It's just incredible seeing the Body of Christ work together to reach the lost and hurting.
We serve an awesome God, and it's humbling to serve Him with people like you. Thank you and God bless.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Read this article in the New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2010/08/30/2010-08-30_he_got_divine_intervention.html
Praise God! Our God is so awesome, and He still does miracles!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
We met others throughout the day who saw we were open and were in need of clothing. People are amazed when they find out we give clothes away. It's a blessing to them.
Franklin Moore and I spent most of the afternoon pressure washing kitchen equipment that was donated to Love In Action. We aren't ready to build the kitchen yet, but we have a good start on equipment. We have a convection oven, a vertical toaster, two commercial microwaves, three food warmers with pans, two small refrigerator units, an ice despenser, four tables and a cart, and a sink. It's all stainless steel. We also have a big popcorn popper. We will be able to put that to work now. Praise God for all of that great equipment.
Saturday evening Martha and I took a cargo trailer load of furniture to three women in Hartford who didn't have hardly anything. We met one of the women when she was basically homeless. She found a job, then her and two other women found a trailer in Hartford.
What made our day was after we unloaded all of the furniture, one of the women said, "This is great. I feel like a child at Christmas." She had been sleeping on the floor, but now she has a king size mattress. (we need a king box springs if anybody has one.) She said, "I'm off work tonight, so I'm going to sleep on my mattress."
The elderly woman kept saying, "wow." as we brought more furniture into the house. They were all so thankful.
It's because people donate that we can help those who are in such great need. We still have plenty of clothes thanks to so many people donating this year. In fact, we are not in need of any additional clothing at this time.
However, we are low on furniture. If you have any furniture, beds, etc., that you no longer use, please consider donating it to Love In Action. But please remember our rule. If it's something you wouldn't use, don't donate it. We want to give people good stuff, not junk.
Martha and I thank everyone who prays for Love In Action, gives financially and donates items so we can help the homeless and the needy. Thank you.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
We pick up 15 men from the Houston County Corrections work release program and usually a homeless person or two attends as do some people we helped come off the streets.
My mom always cooks dinner, and that food gets devoured. There's nothing like a home cooked meal, especially if you're homeless or living in jail. It really means a lot to everyone.
This past Wednesday, we studied the "Faith" chapter, Hebrews 11. That was everyone's homework assignment from the week before. We spent 30-40 minutes on the first verse of the chapter: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (NIV)
Throughout the night we talked about how faith is where our relationship with Jesus starts, and how important faith is in day-to-day life. It was really an incredible study and discussion. In addition to reading about great men and women of faith in the Bible, some people shared testimonies of their personal faith in Jesus.
Then at the end we saw the greatest step of faith happen. A homeless man I met a few months ago was there. When we first met, we talked about how putting all of his faith in Jesus Christ was the key to turning his life around and restoring his family.
Wednesday night he started sharing his story about how he became homeless. He told how drug use was destroying his life. He talked about how much he loves his family and wants to be back in their lives. He talked about sleeping in his car.
Richard, a man we helped take off the streets 1.5 years ago, was sitting next to him. Richard is a man of God and I could see tears welling up in his eyes as the man shared his story.
Then, Richard slid over one seat and wrapped his arms around the man and started praying. He cried out to God to save him, to heal him, to deliver him. I don't think there was a dry eye in that room.
Then I walked over and started praying. I didn't lead him in a prayer, I just joined Richard in praying for him, as did most everyone else in the room. As we prayed, the man cried out to God to save him, to deliver him, and to restore his family. It was awesome! God moved mightily in that room, and when we all finished praying, everyone started clapping, praising God, and rejoicing in what God had done.
That same evening, a friend of the man's wife brought her and their children to the Love In Action Ministry Center to pick him up. I explained to him that it will take time to completely regain her trust, but if he kept living for Jesus and being totally truthful with her at all times, it will happen.
I think we will see that family on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from now on. God is in the business of restoration, and I believe we will see that family restored in the name of Jesus. All for God's glory.
Praise God! We serve an awesome God! Nothing is impossible for Him. Please keep that family in your prayers.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Thanks to the generosity of people who support Love In Action, we were able to almost completely furnish their trailer. Praise God!
One person gave us three beds and a recliner. Talk about three men who were excited. Think about it. For months, they have been sleeping on the ground in woods throughout the city of Dothan, Ala. This past week they were sleeping on the floor of their trailer. All of a sudden, they had box springs and mattresses. They were all smiles.
One of them said he laid down on his bed and said "Ah! Yes!" Then he dosed off for an afternoon nap.
A couple then gave us two dressers, two chest of drawers, a TV, a stereo, a bed frame and a dryer. We moved all of that into the men's trailer.
They were very appreciative and excited to no longer be homeless. Please keep them in your prayers.
It's exciting seeing the homeless come off the streets. Thanks to everyone who helps us make a difference in the lives of the homeless. Together, through the power of God, we are making a difference.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Blessings to all of my brothers and sisters in Christ!
Pastor Larry is recovering very well.
* He is walking more often (without the assistance of a walker),
but being held by the hand.
* He is more aware that the nightmares that he had and
sometimes have, are just that nightmares and not reality.
* He is off the trach and prayerfully this week he will be off
the feeding tube and pubic foley.
* He is eating a bit more than he was as well.
* there is the issue of the blood clots in his legs. Both of his
legs (from the thighs to the ankles) are very swollen. But
that doesn't stop him from doing his therapies.
The doctor says that if all continues to go well, Pastor Larry will be coming home within two weeks. His birthday is August 12th and I, along with my children, plan to do something special for him when he gets home. I will let you all know.
Larry went through many stages (and is still going through some) as the swelling of his brain decreases. He went through anger, violence (where he would try to hurt himself), fear, paranoia and emotions.
But through it all I could hear him praying. He would ask the Holy Spirit to give him the grace that he needs to go through this and to fill him with His presence, to anoint his hands and to give him direction for the church, his life and his children's lives!
He would cry out for the church (the church of Christ all over the world), to learn how to be united as one; helping one another without competition. "What are we here for?" he asks. "Aren’t we suppose to work together for one purpose? To win the lost!"
I want to thank those who have come to visit him in the hospital. He still talks about your visits and how grateful he is.
My heart is filled with gratitude and love for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Those in the states and those that I have not gotten the privilege to meet, who are and have been praying for Larry all over the world (literally all over the world). I love you all with the love of Christ!
Please continue to pray!
Love in Christ,
Rev. G. Margie Pitta
Sunday, July 18, 2010
This was such an emotional weekend.
I will never forget receiving that phone call from Rick, the homeless man who was attacked and then hit by a train this weekend. Walking into that hospital room and seeing Rick just broke my heart. Cuts, gashes, bruises and blood all over his head, and a brace to stabilize his neck was a very unsettling sight.
Rick looked at me with tears in his eyes and said the words he often says, "I'm sorry." He said he was sorry for bothering me. He was sorry he got hurt. That broke my heart too. It wasn't his fault someone decided to jump him and leave him on the train tracks. And he knows I don't mind stopping what I'm doing to help a person in need. But that's how people with low self esteem react. They feel like it's always their fault.
I was glad he remembered my phone number, and very humbled that he would call me. He says I'm his pastor. Now that's humbling. I'm glad he remembered his sister's phone number so I could call her and inform her about his condition. I'm thankful she drove more than three hours with another one of their sisters and his nephew to be with him and talk with the doctors.
What really blew Martha, my mom and me away was the response from our Love In Action family. So many of our volunteers visited Rick this weekend. It's rare for a non-homeless person to receive that many visitors. It was amazing, and it showed Rick and his family that there are a lot of people who love and care for him. We can't say "thank you" enough to our Love In Action family.
I told Rick on Saturday that I would start the prayer chain and that people all around the country would be praying for him. He smiled and said "thank you." And, all of our Love In Action family around the nation are praying. From my friend Micah in Hawaii to our friends in Louisiana and points throughout the nation, people are praying.
A number of people on Facebook reposted my first blog about Rick and encouraged people to pray. At church this morning one person after another asked Martha and me about Rick. Love In Action co-founder Mike Shroades and his wife, Laurie, went with us this afternoon to visit Rick.
Martha and I just can't express our gratitude enough to everyone. For any of us to feel that kind of love is incredible. Just imagine how much more it feels to a homeless person to receive that kind of love and support. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think about the great outpouring of God's love for Rick and his family.
Rick has a long ways to go, but he knows God is with him. He told a visitor today that he was going to walk out of the hospital because "Ken prayed for me." Now that's faith. Rick loves God and he is such a precious man. Like I told him today, God has a great plan for him, because not too many people get hit by a train and live to talk about it.
Thank you again for your prayers and for showing your love to Rick and his family. Please continue, and I know you will. The Love In Action family is made up of the greatest people in the world. Thank you again, and may God continue to bless each of you and your families.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Rick is a precious man. The reasons why he's homeless vary, but that really doesn't matter. He's a child of God. He's a human. He loves the Lord, and if you ever want to hear an awesome prayer, just ask Rick to pray.
He called me this afternoon (Saturday) and said he was in the hospital. I went to see him. He's in bad shape, and is in desperate need of all of our prayers. I don't know everything yet, and apparently nobody does at this point.
All Rick remembers is crossing the railroad tracks, then the next thing he remembers he was under a train.
He managed to pull himself out from under the train without the use of his legs. Someone saw him and called 911. Both of Rick's hips were dislocated. They found his wallet, but his money was missing. They couldn't find his cell phone, and the pocket knives he always carries were missing. It appears he was mugged, robbed and hit by a train.
Trains are constantly moving slowly in and out of that rail yard. That's the good thing, the trains are moving slowly. If Rick was lying on the tracks, one could have hit him and dragged him on the tracks. Again, all of the facts are not known at this time.
Rick is in a lot of pain. The good thing is he's not in ICU, he's in a regular hospital room. The bad news is he has no movement below his hips. They have his neck stabilized. His head is covered in gashes and cuts, and his right eye is black and blue. He looks really bad.
I fought back tears as I talked with him and tried to encourage him. We prayed and my prayer was for him to walk out of there.
I talked to one of his sisters, and she and another sister are coming up from Florida. I also talked with a good Christian doctor who will keep an eye on the situation and make sure social services are involved. I thank God for that doctor. He has a heart for the hurting and has helped us before. I couldn't stand the thought of Rick not receiving the proper care because he is homeless and has no insurance. Not that that would happen, and they have been taking good care of him, but like I told that doctor, I just needed to talk with someone to make sure Rick is taken care of. He's at a good hospital, so I'm confident he will continue receiving quality care.
The best thing is Rick is in God's hands. God is in control, and I know He will turn this into good. Pray for Rick, his family, and the doctors and nurses. More updates will follow. Thanks for your prayers.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Remember the family we gave a car to two weeks ago? Well, the car had a couple of problems with it, but not any longer. Richard, a former homeless man we helped get off the streets last year, is an outstanding mechanic, as well as an outstanding Christian man. When he saw the need, he jumped right on it. In a day-and-a-half he was finished and now their car is running good. Talk about giving back. We appreciate Richard.
It's amazing the ministry that goes on at the Love In Action Ministry Center. The homeless come and we give them food, hygiene items and clothes. Recently, one of our volunteers gave a homeless man, Junior, a haircut. I didn't know he was a barber, but he did an outstanding job and Junior looked and felt a lot better after the haircut and beard trim.
I take haircuts for granted. If I need one, I go get one. The homeless can't do that. Some go a year or more without a haircut, and when they receive one like Junior did, it blesses them. It really helps their self esteem.
Tuesday nights continue to be amazing. Despite not having air conditioning, an average of 120-125 people still attend. It's hot, but people still enjoy the service. Yes, we would like to have A/C and we are praying for God to make the way, but until then, we'll keep praising and worshiping Him.
We now have a children's service on Tuesday nights. Martha and I had never thought about a children's service. But we started meeting more homeless families, more needy families, and some families of the Houston County Communication Corrections Work Release inmates are joining their loved ones at Celebrate Recovery. Praise God! Seeing families restored and worshiping together is awesome!
We started the children's program two weeks ago. A few of our younger volunteers said they would lead it. We had 15 children that first night. This past Tuesday we had 21. Wow! Teaching the young and old and all of the family the Word of God. It's amazing. God is totally blowing us away.
Our Wednesday night Bible studies are getting better and better. Like Tuesday nights, we have a good mixture of homeless, needy and work release inmates. Our theme the past few weeks has been "Decisions." Life is full of decisions and we need to make more right ones than wrong ones. We have seen in the Bible and talked about how our decisions affect more than us individually; they affect our family and friends, too.
We have looked at Daniel, Noah and David and the decisions they made. We will keep looking at David for a few more weeks. The discussion has been great. So many of the people are participating through reading and discussion. This past Wednesday we had a lot of new men from work release, and they jumped right in on the study. They really blew Martha and me away by their humbleness and participation. This is going to be a good group of guys to work with.
It was also great hearing one of the older work release guys, who will be getting out in a month, give the new inmates advice. He told them they had a great opportunity to really get to know God by coming to Love In Action. And, if they get serious with God their lives would be totally changed like his. James is a good man, and he is a totally different person than when we first met him. He is going to do great when he's released. God has already provided a good job and home for him. He's going to keep coming to Love In Action and his home church of Harvest.
It's so awesome seeing lives changed by the power of God, and I never get tired of seeing it. We serve an awesome God! And, we thank Him and praise Him for everything He is doing.
We also thank all of our volunteers, those who give financially to LIA, those who give items to us, and those who pray for us. Without all of you, we could never do what we do. Thank you!
Friday, July 9, 2010
That's life for more people than you might think. Thankfully there is one family who is no longer in that category. Bryan, Melissa and little Gregory now have a car thanks to the generosity of someone who donated a car to Love In Action.
We gave them the car on Wednesday. They were so excited and thankful. It's just hard for me to imagine not having a vehicle. That's a need most of us take for granted.
We have known Bryan for nearly two years. When we first met him he was homeless, but working. We helped him come out of the homeless population and later he moved and met Melissa. They got married and ended up moving back to the area.
They have a place to stay thanks to a church in Midland City. However, he has been unable to find work. He has applied for the few jobs that have come open in Midland City, but without a vehicle it's been tough to make it to Dothan and apply at more places. Now, he can.
Please keep them in your prayers and pray for a job to come through soon.
We have another family in need of a car. They have two children. If you know of anyone who could donate a car, please tell them about us. We are a non-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
There really wasn't a panic. Our regular worship leader, Alan Watson, had told me months ago if a band couldn't come, just let him know and he will be there. Alan is a man of his word. I sent him a text message and he quickly responded with the words, "I'll be there."
Martha and I appreciate Alan so much. Not only is he a tremendously talented musician and singer, but he also has a great heart for this ministry. Thank you Alan. You are a great blessing, and God is using you mightily for His glory.
Now I just needed a speaker. One person had already contacted me letting me know he could speak if I needed him. He didn't even know I needed a speaker for that night. But, I felt God leading me in another direction. I felt Him saying we needed to have a testimony night. Simply ask the people to share what God is doing in their lives.
Wow! What a great night Celebrate Recovery turned out to be. Alan shared his testimony on how he started singing for God. It was a very powerful testimony of how God has a plan for each of us. Many times we are hard-headed, but God will keep working in our lives to show us His plan. Then, once we grab a hold of Him, amazing things happen.
Then Timothy, a young man who was homeless, had been addicted to drugs, and spent time in prison, shared how God changed his life around ... a complete 180. It was very powerful and touching. I'm happy to announce the young man is not homeless any more.
Then one of our outstanding volunteers, Robert Risner, shared with the 100 people in attendance. Robert is very passionate about God and God's call on his life.
Then Kelly, an inmate from Houston County Community Corrections work release, came forward. She said she's not comfortable talking in front of people, but she will sing. And, sing she did - "His Eye Is On the Sparrow." Wow! What an incredible voice! Her testimony was that song. And, she dedicated the song to our Celebrate Recovery director, Emily Hinderliter. Think Emily has touched some lives? You better believe it. They all love Emily.
All of these testimonies are on video on our website, www.loveinactionministries.com
God keeps amazing us at Love In Action. We are constantly seeing lives changed by His power. Lives that so many people have given up on. But God doesn't give up on any of us. He tells us in Jeremiah 29: 11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
That is God's promise to everyone - the rich, the poor, the homeless, the incarcerated. Our prayer is for God to work through Love In Action to open the eyes of people, especially those who society has long ignored and given up on , and to show them that God does indeed love them and He has a great plan for them. And to show them that there are people, good Christian people, who love them.
Everyone of you who prays for us, volunteers, and gives financially helps us show them all of that. Thank you. Together, we are making a difference for the glory of God.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
You don't have to travel out of the country to witness that. All you have to do is visit the Love In Action Ministry Center on Tuesday nights. While people don't walk from miles away, they come to experience Jesus at Celebrate Recovery. Our building does not have air conditioning, but an average of 125 people come every week to eat, fellowship, worship and hear God's Word.
It amazes me, because you better believe there's a lot of sweating going on. Our two big fans and two small fans can only move so much air. How many people in the U.S. would go to church knowing there is no a/c in the building and they are going to be hot and sweaty for nearly three hours? But, the people coming on Tuesday nights don't seem to mind. Sure, if they had a choice, they would prefer we have a/c. I sure would. But, they keep coming. Why?
The inmates from work release are not forced to come. The needy from the community don't have to be there. The homeless could find a place with at least a little breeze blowing that would be cooler. The volunteers could all be at home cooling in their a/c houses. But they all keep coming. Why?
First and foremost, there is a genuine hungry and thirst for God. Second, they know they will be loved. Everyone always talks about how good they feel when they are at the Love In Action Ministry Center. Third, needs are met. We have a wonderful dinner that Diana Floyd cooks each week. That's always one of the highlights. We also have clothes and hygiene items they need.
But when you see the people worshipping, it's easy to see why they are really there. They hunger and thirst for God. When you see them sitting in that hot building soaking in every word the speaker says, you know they want more of God. When you see them come forward for prayer and participate in their small groups, you know they want to experience the fullness of God.
It reminds me of the Apostle Paul's prayer for the church in Ephesus: "And I pray that you and all God's holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ's love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ's love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:18-19 (NCV)
I believe one day we will have a/c at the ministry center, but until that day we will keep providing an atmosphere of God's love so the hurting, the lost and those who want to do the will of the Father will continue coming. We serve an awesome God, and the temperature of the house of worship shouldn't keep us from worshiping Him. When you truly hunger for God, nothing can stop you from seeking His fullness.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Auctioneer Jerry Eddings did a terrific job. He is an awesome auctioneer. Jerry and LIA co-founder Mike Shroades worked hard to put this auction together, and Martha and I thank them for everything.
A small crowd turned out, but Jerry really knows how to work the crowd, and the people were more than willing to help out for a good cause.
A number of volunteers came out to help, and everyone did a great job. We thank everyone who came out to help us have a very successful auction.
People donated some very nice items. We had beautiful china and glassware, jewelry, art, appliances, collectibles, gift certificates and more. Thanks to everyone who donated. We couldn't have raised the money without your donations.
The money raised will go to our building fund to expand the LIA Ministry Center.
Thank you again to everyone who had a part in the auction, and again, a special thank you to Jerry. "Chief," you are the man!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My Family And I Would Like To Take This Opportunity To Thank All Of You For Your Prayers. When Pastor Larry Was Hit By The Bus, The Arriving Officers Stated On The Police Report That "Pedestrian Unlikely To Arrive At The Hospital!". At The Scene The Paramedics Had To Administer CPR And When He Arrived At The Hospital, He Had A Mild Heart Attack.
Throughout These Last 15 Days, I Have Been Through Turmoil. Even Though I Know In Whom I Put My Trust In, I Couldn't Believe That This Was Happening.
I Have Seen God's Almighty Favor On My Husband, My Children And I Throughout These 2 Weeks. Everywhere In The Hospital From Nurses, Doctors, Technicians, Maintenance And Security Have All Opened Their Hearts To Larry.
For The First Time In 15 Nights, I Slept For 4 Hours On A Hospital Bed Right By His Bedside.
About 1 Am Pastor Tried To Get Up And Reached Over The Bed Railing. I Put One of His Sermons on "Don't Give Up" And He Listened Intently and Every Now And Then Would Nod His Head.
He Was Asked If He Liked Classical Music And He Nod His Head Yes. He Was Ask If Victor (My Youngest Son) Was Graduating Soon And He Nod His Head Yes. The Other Morning He Got His Leg Stuck Between The Railing And It Was A Miracle That He Didn't Break It. I Said To Him "Larry Pitta, What Do You Think You Are Doing?" He Turned And Looked At Me And Puckered His Lips As If To Kiss Me!!!!!!
Doctors Tend To Discourage Me By Saying That He May Never Speak Again! I Tell Them "I Curst That At its Root." And Then Turn To Larry And Say "Whose Report Will You Believe, Husband!"
Today For The First Time In Weeks, I Felt The Presence Of God Enter Into The Room And All I Could Do Was Thank Him!
I Thank All Of You For Your Kind Words Of Encouragement And Support. I Love You All!
The Daily News Printed An Article Yesterday About Our Church And Pastor Larry.
Keep Praying For Complete Restoration Of His Brain, That The Swelling Would Go Down Quicker Than The Doctors Say And That He Won't Even Need Therapy!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Margie Pitta
Friday, June 4, 2010
So far this year we have helped 19 people move out of the homeless population, and we are currently helping to transition the 20th person out of homelessness. God is so awesome!
We are averaging 122 people every Tuesday night for our Celebrate Recovery. Tuesday is such an awesome night as the homeless, needy from the community, and work release inmates gather with our awesome volunteers at the Love In Action Ministry Center to worship God, listen to His Word, and break into small groups to work on overcoming whatever habit, hangup or hurt they have.
We have seen a lot of people saved and so many lives being changed through Celebrate Recovery. And our volunteers are incredible. I have never been around or served with so many dedicated people. And what's so cool is seeing their lives change as well. Once you step into God's call on your life, you change. Once you start serving and experiencing life with others, you change.
Our Wednesday night Bible study is a smaller, more intimate group of people, which allows for great discussion. We just completed a series on Identity Theft. During those four studies, we looked at who we are in Jesus Christ; what our true identity is. And we looked at how the devil tries to steal our identity through lies and deception. We learned through God's Word how to combat the enemy and keep our identity. It was real powerful. Greg Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv, wrote that series.
We reach out to and provide discipleship training to more than 150 people every week. We provide food and clothing for even more each week. It's just simply amazing what God does through a ministry that is totally operated by volunteers. Nobody receives any salaries or benefits. Well, we all do receive one benefit, and it's the greatest benefit of all. And that's the blessing of God on our lives for doing His work.
We have advanced on our building project, and we're able now to advance further on it. We're getting closer and closer to having another restroom, showers, a laundry room, and a full-service kitchen. And, I hope and pray, air conditioning for our worship area. It gets pretty hot, especially when there are more than 120 people in there.
What's amazing though, is all of those people are willing to come together every Tuesday and Wednesday to worship God and listen to His Word in a building with no A/C in the hot and humid weather of southeast Alabama. How many people would be willing to go to church if their church didn't have A/C? If you are hungry and thirsty for more of God in your life, that won't stop you. That's what excites me so much. People are hungry for God. They are coming, no matter if it's 90 degrees or 40 during the winter to pursue God.
Martha and I praise God for everything He is doing. We praise God for those we are able to serve. We praise God for our awesome team of volunteers. We praise God for everyone who prays for us. We praise God for everyone who supports Love In Action financially. We praise God for everyone who donates items to Love In Action. We couldn't do this ministry without all of you. Together, we are all making an eternal impact on hundreds of lives.
God is awesome! Please continue to pray for us as we continue to seek God's will to do exactly what He wants us to do when He wants us to do it. The first half of the year has been great with so many lives being transformed by the power of God. We can't wait to see what God does throughout the rest of 2010. To God goes all the glory. Praise Him!
Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Larry and his wife Margie have ministered to the homeless and needy of Brooklyn for the past three decades. Love In Action has ministered with them for the past eight years and have a trip planned to work with them this August. Please pray for God's healing, and for comfort for Margie and their family.
Below is an email about this situation from our good friend Rick Camacho of Mission New York City.
Love In Action International Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 85
Dothan, AL 36302
This morning Margie Pitta called to inform me that Pastor Larry Pitta of Sunset Park Community Church was hit by a school bus yesterday. He is in extreme critical condition at Lutheran Hospital in Brooklyn and doctors have told her that the next 48 are essential to his survival from this accident.
I know that over the years so many of you have served at his church through the soup kitchen and shower ministry for the homeless, the annual community block party outreaches to the kids in Brooklyn and in so many other ways.
In addition, those of you who have stayed at the church during your mission trips know that Pastor Larry's heart and hospitality show no limits.
All this weekend I am personally asking that you would please mobilize as many people as you can this holiday weekend to lift up in prayer Pastor Larry, his family and the doctors and nurses treating his injuries.
As I get new news I will send out updates. Please feel free to forward this prayer request. I know that his family will greatly appreciate it.
Mission New York City
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Bill and Rick are two men who are making a change in their lives. They are both homeless, but they don't want to live that way any longer. A year from now when we look back, I believe we will see where this week was a pivotal time in their lives.
As I wrote in my previous blog, Bill called me saying he was tired of living a life of homelessness and hopelessness. Rick came back to a ministry that showed him the love of Christ last year.
They are both good men. They don't ask for anything. They didn't ask for a hotel room, but thanks to the generosity of others, we were able to get them both a room. At times during the winter, people think about the homeless freezing outside. But, most don't think about them during the summer. It's 95 degrees here in Dothan, Ala., today with a heat index of around 100. It's not good living outdoors right now.
Bill and Rick worked hard yesterday at the Love In Action Ministry Center. From sorting food and clothes to helping load and unload appliances for those in need, they were with us all day. We enjoyed them being there. Not only because they are good workers, but mainly because it was great to hear them laugh. The homeless often don't have reasons to laugh, but at Love In Action we always try to have a good time no matter what we're doing.
Both men were in church with us this morning at Harvest, and they heard a message that was exactly for them. Pastor Ralph talked about building a foundation on the solid rock Jesus Christ. These men are building a new foundation. They both realized that message was for them, and they were excited about it.
This week they will look for work, and we will help them. Jobs are hard to come by, but we're believing God to open doors. Once they have work, we will work with them on finding permanent places to live.
Martha and I never get tired of seeing God restore people's lives. There is no power greater than God's. He truly does have the power to save and restore. We're excited what God is doing in Bill's and Rick's lives.
We also can't thank those of you enough who pray, give financially, donate various items and your time to help us help "the least of these." (Matthew 25:40) We are the Body of Christ working together to make a difference for God's kingdom. Thank you. We couldn't do what we do without each of you.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
We have known Bill for the past couple of months. We've helped him with food, hygiene items, camping supplies, and we've just been sharing the love of Jesus Christ with him. He's a nice, gentle man, around 50 years old. He's tall, slender and has a thick beard.
When we first met him, I told Bill that when he was ready to come off the streets, we will be here to help him. Then I shared Martha's favorite verse with him: Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
That's what we tell the homeless. We want them to know that God loves them, and He has great plans for them. And, we want them to know that we love them. You can't force a person to come off the streets. But when you constantly love on them with the love of Jesus Christ, they will eventually realize God has better things for them. And, when they are ready, they will tell you.
Martha and I are excited for Bill. He came to Bible study last night at the Love In Action Ministry Center, and afterward Bill and I talked for a long time. We started mapping out action plans for him to come off the streets.
One of the first things he wants to do is "clean up." He said he wanted to get a shower, a haircut, shave his beard off, and wash his clothes. "I don't need to look like I live in the woods when I'm trying to get a job," he said. That's why we can't wait to get our building project completed. We will have showers and a laundry room where the homeless can get clean and have their clothes washed.
We're looking for a place for Bill to stay until he gets a job and is able to afford his own place. A hotel is too expensive, so far now, our bus is his home. Bill said, "I'm tired of living this way. I'm tired of camping in the woods and being run off or not knowing who is sneaking up on you when you're sleeping. I'd be happy sleeping in someone's shed with my sleeping bag just to be safe."
We take so much for granted. To think that a shed would be a nice home for someone really blows my mind. Most of us really don't realize how much God has blessed us.
Bill has a hope and future. God says so, and we believe it. And now we set out on that road with Bill to help him come out of homelessness and into the real life God has for him.
If you can help us, please do. Again, Bill needs a place to stay until he gets a job. If anyone has a loft apartment or, for now, even a shed he can sleep safely in, please let me know.
As for work, Bill has a variety of skills. He can do warehouse work, run a fork lift, front end loader, any kind of farm tractor, lawn work, chain saw work, some carpentry, and he has worked in tire stores in the past.
If you know of any jobs, please let me know. Call me at 334-494-4995 and/or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow. As I was about to finish this blog, a friend and Love In Action volunteer just called and asked if he could get Bill a hotel room for tonight so he can shower and get a good night's rest. Praise God! See, it takes the Body of Christ working together to change lives. That's why people were added to the church daily in Acts. The Body of Christ was in one mind and one accord working together.
It's a blessing helping others. If you can help us help Bill, please let me know.
Please pray for Bill as he starts this new journey.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Last night's Celebrate Recovery was one of the most incredible nights of worship and ministry I have ever experienced. The presence of God was so strong from the moment I entered the Love In Action Ministry Center. I knew it was going to be a special night, and it was.
People kept pouring into the Ministry Center as we kicked the night off like we always do with prayer. Our cook, Ms. Diana, also knew it was going to be a special night, so she prepared a dinner for at least 140 people. I'm glad she allowed the Spirit of God to lead her in her preparations, because we had a record crowd of 145 people in attendance. Wow! Praise God!
One of our favorite bands, "From the Heart," led worship. Oh my goodness, those folks are so anointed and talented. They led us all into worship as the presence of God grew even stronger.
Then Sean Nix delivered a very powerful and challenging message. Sean is one of the pastors at Harvest Church in Dothan, Ala. Sean has a great heart for the homeless, the needy, the lost and hurting.
Following his message, we had a time of prayer. At least 15 people made decisions for Jesus Christ! Praise God! Others came forward for prayer about different needs. It always blesses me when people come forward asking for prayer for family members. They realize God loves them and that He can do anything.
After everyone left, Martha and I sat down at a table at the Ministry Center and thanked God for His mercy and grace, and for such an awesome night. Then we ate dinner there instead of going home to eat. The volunteers always fix us both a plate of food each Tuesday night. They know we probably won't have time to eat when everyone else does, because we're always busy talking with people and helping them. Our volunteers are the greatest!
Martha and I didn't want to leave. We just wanted to stay and rest in God's presence there at the Ministry Center. But, we knew we had to get up in the morning and go to our jobs. When we got home we couldn't sleep. It is so cool how God pours out His peace on His people. It feels so good.
Remember in John 13, when Jesus is telling His disciples that He will be betrayed. John was leaning back on Jesus. He was actually resting in the arms of God. That's how we felt last night, and still do. The meaning of the worship song "The More I Seek You" is how we feel:
"I wanna sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath, feel your heart beat.
This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it's overwhelming."
God is so awesome! To see people saved, lives being changed by the power of God, and needs being met is incredible. Seeing volunteers' lives being changed as they step out of their comfort zones to serve the "least of these brothers of Mine" (Matthew 25:40), is so wonderful.
To have God continue to pour His love and peace out on us all is more awesome than words can describe.
Martha and I thank all of you who pray, give financially, donate items, and volunteer your time. This is indeed the Body of Christ working together to accomplish the will of our Father.
To God goes all of the praise, honor and glory.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
It's sad to see anyone homeless, but there's just something about seeing kids homeless that really tugs at my heart. I wonder, why are they homeless? Was life at home so bad they chose life on the streets? Were they rebellious and took flight? Or, do they just simply have no hope and don't really care how they live?
I believe the answer lies within all of those questions.
The latest two homeless kids we met were Josh and Stephanie. They said they were from New York City, but have been living in California. They said life was much better out there. They said they were heading back to NYC because one of Josh's family members was in bad health and dying.
We met them because Patrick, a former homeless man in Dothan who we helped off the streets, directed them to us.
They arrived on Monday night, the night we received 4 inches of rain in Dothan, Ala. Patrick told them they could stay in our bus to get out of the rain. He called me to make sure it was OK. Then on Tuesday night, Josh and Stephanie came to our Celebrate Recovery.
It was spaghetti night and they devoured it. Stephanie asked me, "Can we go back for seconds?" I told her they could go back as many times as they wanted to. Then we fixed them a to-go plate.
They picked out some new clothes at the LIA Ministry Center and trashed the clothes they were wearing. We also gave them hygiene items.
Most importantly, they experienced worship and heard the Word of God. And, they received hugs and prayer. That's what we do when we meet transient homeless people. We plant the seeds of God's Word in their hearts and show them the love of Jesus.
Our prayer is for God to send others their way to water those seeds and that one day they will realize the promise God gives all of us in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Since moving into the building at 1140 Montgomery Hwy. in Dothan more than 1.5 years ago, we have seen a dramatic change in how we minister. For the first eight years of Love In Action we saw God do a lot of amazing things throughout the nation. We traveled to Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Nashville, and other places and helped churches reach the homeless in their communities.
We still travel, but not nearly as much as God has given us a home where we can reach out in powerful ways to the homeless and needy in our hometown of Dothan, Ala.
We traveled to Baton Rouge back in January to help our brothers and sisters at No Place Outreach minister the love of Jesus to the homeless there. We will be going to Brooklyn, NY, in August to help our friends at Sunset Park Community Church. We hope to go back to Atlanta and Memphis before the year is over.
God has called us to go to those large cities, and we love to go. God used all of those trips to inner cities throughout the nation to train us for what needs to be done in Dothan. It's awesome when you can look back and see how God's plan has unfolded.
We love to see people from the Dothan area go with us. For many, it's a new experience. It gets you out of your comfort zone, which is a good thing. Then it opens the eyes of many people to see we have the same issues back home in Dothan. It spurs them to get involved when they return home from the trip.
Dothan is our main mission field. There are so many needs, and thanks to those who pray for us, support us financially, donated items and your time, we are making a difference in the name of Jesus.
In 2009, we helped 35 people come off the streets in Dothan. We saw 70 people give their lives to Jesus, and we began new ministries, such as Celebrate Recovery.
In the first four months of this year, we have seen more than 20 people give their lives to Jesus Christ, and many more rededicate their lives to Him. We have helped 15 people come off the streets, and provide discipleship and food for more than 100 people every week. The numbers continue to rise.
People in Dothan, whether they are homeless, needy or an inmate at the Houston County Work Release Program, know they can come to the Love In Action Ministry Center for spiritual and physical help.
We serve an awesome God, and we get to see his awesomeness daily. To see lives change, people receive hope, and to see people grow in their walk with Jesus Christ is beyond words.
It's hard to believe more than a quarter of this year is over. It's been an incredible four months, and we can't wait to see what all God does over the course of the remaining eight months of 2010.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
We had some "light bulb" moments last night.
Many of the people who come on Tuesday nights for Celebrate Recovery go to their churches on Wednesday nights, and that's what we want to happen. We're an outreach ministry, not a church. But others just enjoy being at Love In Action, so they come on Wednesday nights and go to their churches on Sundays.
I started a new series last night called Identity Theft, which was written by Craig Groeschel, who is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. It's not about stealing a person's credit card and stealing their identity. It's about knowing our identity as Christians in Jesus Christ, and how the devil tries to steal our identity.
In this series, we are studying several different lies that the devil wants to use to rob us of our identity in Christ. Last night we looked at the lie, "I have to be strong." In other words, too often, we rely on our own strength. We try to accomplish everything on our own. When we do, we fail. We succeed when we rely on God's strength.
The scriptures we covered were: John 8:44, John 8: 32, Isaiah 40: 30-31, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and Zechariah 4:6. The "light bulbs" really started coming on when we got to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, which reads, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
That's where the Apostle Paul is asking God to take the torn in his flesh away from him. But God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you." As Pastor Groeschel says, after breaking down those verses in the Greek, a very literal translation of this verse could go like this, "God’s divine influence is exactly enough to meet your every need for His explosive miraculous power is made completely perfect in you when you are broken before Him."
One of the men looked at me and said, "So when I'm weak, I'm really strong because of God's strength." I said, "You've got it!" Then more people started sharing and they all understood it. We need to embrace our weaknesses and rely totally on God's strength. For, it's not by our might, or by our power, but it's by God's Spirit. (Zech. 4:6)
That was only the first lesson is the four-part series. It's going to get better and better. And the coolest thing is seeing people really beginning to understand who they are in Jesus Christ. By the end of the series, everyone will have a much better understanding. Praise God!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
They were two young people from the state of Washington. She was 17 and he was 20, and they arrived via a train box car. They are "riding the rail" throughout the country. To be homeless at any age is sad, but to see them so young and homeless is heartbreaking.
We met them through Bill, one of our local homeless men. He met them this week and they are all sharing a camp together until Caleb and Whitney climb back into a box car and leave town. Bill called me this evening and asked if I wanted a couple of extra people at Celebrate Recovery tonight. I said, "Of course, you know I do." So I picked the three of them up and took them to the Love In Action Ministry Center.
They enjoyed a delicious meal and heard some great worship, which was led by Ryan Moore, who is the praise & worship leader at Christ-Life Church in Enterprise, Ala. Then they heard a powerful message from Love In Action Co-founder Mike Shroades, who is pastor of Christ-Life Church.
We were also able to help them with clothes, socks, boots and hygiene items.
Caleb and Whitney received a lot of hugs and loving words tonight. That's one of the things I love about Love In Action. All of our volunteers love on all the people. When do you think was the last time those two kids received a loving hug? It meant a lot to them.
Before we left, I asked if we could pray for them, and they said OK. So eight of us held hands and prayed. They are planning to leave tomorrow. I told them to remember that Jesus Christ really loves them, and that those of us at Love In Action loves them too. They knew it and thanked me again for everything.
I thank God for bringing them to the Love In Action Ministry Center tonight. I thank God for all of our volunteers showing them the love of Jesus Christ.
Please keep Caleb and Whitney in your prayers. God allowed us to plant the seeds of His Word, love and hope into their hearts tonight. Ask God to send others to them to water those seeds. God will bring forth the harvest. (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Friday, April 23, 2010
This month, we are averaging 90-plus people on Tuesday nights for Celebrate Recovery. On Wednesday nights, we just completed Discipleship Phases 1 & 2. And this week we began construction on our building expansion project at the Love In Action Ministry Center.
The first phase of our building project is installing exterior doors. The process wasn't easy as the cement block walls had to be cut and knocked down. Then steel had to be installed to frame out the doors and provide support for the walls. The crew also put steel around the existing garage roll up door to provide much-needed support for it.
The double doors in the front of the Love In Action Ministry Center looks great. It makes the Center much more inviting. Having that natural light shining through is great too. Visit our website (http://www.loveinactionministries.com/) to see a short video and an online photo gallery of the construction being done.
This is a $40,000 project and we're completing it as we have the money to do so. Love In Action is a debt-free ministry, and we're going to keep it that way.
We set a goal of raising $10,000 by Easter so we could begin the project. Thanks to people's generosity, we surpassed that goal with a total of $11,000. As we continue toward the overall goal of $40,000 we will have other goals to reach.
The next goal is $4,000 by June 1. That's the amount we need to have enough money to frame and sheet rock the new restroom, shower room, laundry room, kitchen, and the firewall.
The plumbing should be the next phase of the project, and the plumber doing that work is donating everything - the pipes, all of the fixtures (showers, toilets, etc.), and labor. Is that an awesome blessing or what! Praise God!
Then when we construct the restroom, showers, laundry room, kitchen and firewall, we will be able to provide for many more needs of the homeless. We are so close now. It's exciting and Martha and I praise God for it all.
We thank you for your prayers and financial support. We could not do all of this without you. Together, we are making an eternal difference.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
When you work with the homeless you go through a lot of heartbreaks, but all of those tough times are worth it when you see one of them truly turning his or her life around.
The person who sent me the email is the sister of a former homeless man in our hometown of Dothan, Ala. He was homeless and living in a tent in the woods when we met him a year ago. I remember telling Martha, "We're going to reach that guy." Through the power of God's love, we did.
Through working with him we experienced many heartbreaks with him. We also experienced many joyous times. We helped him come off the streets and move into his own apartment about six months ago. He's at Love In Action every Tuesday night for Celebrate Recovery and every Wednesday night for Bible study. He's about to complete Discipleship Phase 1. When he doesn't have to work on Sundays, he's at church with us.
I told him Wednesday night that it was so good seeing him smile. He was always battling depression, but now he's smiling and thanking Jesus for everything.
This is a testimony to God's wondrous love. Showing the homeless that God loves them and so do we means everything to them, and this is just one example. I want to thank those of you who pray for us, donate financially, donate items, and give of your time. We couldn't have reached this person without each of you. It takes the Body of Christ working together to get this kind of result.
He still has a ways to go, but he's doing so good. You don't have to know his name to pray for him, so please keep him in your prayers. He has incredible potential to do great things.
The email is below. I left out his name and the person who sent the email to protect their privacy. But as you will see, God is doing a great work. When a family member notices a change, that's saying something, because they have seen the absolute worst and most heartbreaking moments. Now, a change is taking place. A change that only Jesus Christ could make in a person's life. And I thank and praise Jesus for this and for everything we see Him do every day.
Here's the email:
I want to thank you and Martha very earnestly for all the thought, love and kindness you have put into the relationship with (my brother). My heart goes out to you and your lovely wife. You are true Christians in which the world needs more of.
(My brother), by God's grace and guiding hand, continues to strive and progress toward a more stable, alcohol free, Christian life, and I thank you and Martha and all others who have reached out to him.
For many years (he) has been a lost sheep and the Lord truly has sent his shepherds to watch over his flock and continues to do so.
With God in our hearts, let this be a better place to live.
Truly, together in the Love of Christ,