Friday, November 26, 2010

Serving the needy in Enterprise

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It's a special day set aside to thank God for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon us. It's a day to spend with family and give thanks together. We eat turkey, dressing and/or stuffing, and a number of other sides, then finish off the meal with pumpkin, sweet potato or pecan pie, or a heaping helping of bread pudding.

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

Terrific Thanksgiving

To say Tuesday night's Thanksgiving dinner/service was incredible would be an understatement. A lot of prayers and hard work went into the event, and God really blew us away.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another busy and productive week

This has been a busy week at Love In Action. There are needs everywhere and we thank God for the ability to help meet some of them.

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

Great communion service

Tonight we served communion at the Love In Action Ministry Center. It was a very special night, and the presence of God was so strong in the building.

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

Two important things

Hey everyone. I hope you have all enjoyed your weekend. I'm not a big fan of the time change, but I do enjoy the weekend being one hour longer. :-)

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

Love In Action looking for a new home

Hey everyone. I hope your week has been good. I have some important news to share with you about Love In Action.

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.