Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A true hunger for God

We are experiencing a typical south Alabama June here in Dothan. It's hot and humid with the heat index well above 100 degrees. But during these hot weeks God has shown me something. Most of us have heard stories, and some have experienced, being on mission trips in third world countries where people will walk for miles to hear the Word of God. They will sit in the hot weather for hours for a church service because they are hungry for God's Word.

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

Successful charity auction

Our first charity auction fundraiser was a great success on Saturday. It was a hot day, and the Love In Action Ministry Center does not have air conditioning, but everyone still had a great time. And, we raised $2,464. Praise God!

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

Update on Pastor Larry Pitta

Here is a letter from Pastor Larry Pitta's wife, Margie. Keep praying. God is doing miracles!

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

An amazing first half of the year

What an incredibly busy first half of the year at Love In Action. I wish our kind of ministry didn't have to be busy. I wish people weren't homeless and there weren't so many people in such great need. But, there are, and it's so humbling to see God working through Love In Action to touch so many lives.

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!

Psalm 150
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.