Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making a difference

Making a difference in people's lives is something we should all strive to do. Making that difference an eternal one is what we should all be doing. As a child of God, we can make an eternal difference through the power of God working within us.

How do we do that? It's pretty easy. God has given us all a cause. All we have to do is do it. I like how Jesus puts it in Luke 2:49, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” That's it! We must be about our Father's business.

At Love In Action our cause is to reach the homeless and needy with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do that through acts of compassion. Our newest outreach to show the love of Jesus to people is Adopt-A-Block. This is a powerful weekly outreach and my favorite because we are out in the neighborhood taking Jesus to the people, not waiting for them to come to a building. 

In just two weeks, we are already seeing a change in the community. One woman came to our Thanksgiving Day lunch and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. People are accepting our offers of prayers. Today, a young man asked one of our volunteers to tell him more about Jesus. People's needs are being met.

We have raked three yards, worked on two roofs to stop leaks, repaired a screen door and a back door, repaired a toilet and put light bulbs in a single woman's house and a house of an elderly man.

We met an elderly man who is a disabled veteran on Thanksgiving Day. Some of our volunteers knocked on his door and entered when he said to come in. They saw a man in a wheel chair with his left leg propped up. He doesn't have a left foot. What else they quickly discovered was the horrendous conditions he lived in. His house probably hadn't been cleaned in years. Cluttered, sticky ... you pick the adjective and that's what it looked and smelled like.

We went back on Saturday during Adopt-A-Block and a team of volunteers went to work. Bags were filled with trash and taken to the street. Floors, walls, cabinets, tub and toilet were scrubbed. His yard was raked. He was all smiles at the end of the day. He kept saying, "Thank You Jesus." We aren't finished at his house. There is plenty more to do.

Another part of Adopt-A-Block is picking up trash throughout the neighborhood. We were on a street yesterday where there were two vacant lots filled with trash. I told a woman we were going to clean up that lot. She was so thankful. She said the people who live on that street had contacted the city to clean up those lots. I told her we were doing it, and people on that street thanked us as they saw the cleaned lots.

Making a person's house more livable, cleaning neighborhoods and fixing leaky roofs are all acts of compassion that shows the love of Jesus Christ. We are planting and watering seeds of God's love. We will see a bountiful harvest reaped. This is just the beginning. It's exciting watching God transform lives and entire neighborhoods.

Please keep Adopt-A-Block in your prayers, and please continue to financially support Love In Action to help us help those in need

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A very happy Thanksgiving

Today's Love In Action Thanksgiving outreach was as beautiful as the blue skies and bright sunshine overhead. More than 70 volunteers selflessly gave of their time to serve about 300 plates of juicy turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings.

The recipients were the homeless and needy in downtown Dothan, Ala. The love of God was easily seen in each smile and heard in every kind word of the volunteers. The sparkle in the eyes of the needy and their expressions of gratitude let us know those we served were indeed thankful on this Thanksgiving Day.

Our cooking team began the day early at 5:30 at the First United Methodist Church in Dothan. We thank the good people at First UMC for allowing us to use their kitchen to prepare the meal. More volunteers came later in the morning to put all of the plates together, then load them in the back of pick up trucks to be transported to the Love In Action Ministry Center.

More volunteers at the ministry center unloaded the plates and set them up inside ready to be served. Ice was placed in cups and tea was poured. I greeted the crowd and shared some Bible verses about being thankful, then shared about the importance of accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Pastor Dwight Deal then shared some Bible verses, thanked the volunteers and prayed over the meal. Dwight is a Love In Action board member, and he organized and led the cooking efforts. Dwight excels in logistics.

Then lunch was served and everyone enjoyed it, not only the food, but the fellowship as well.

It was during lunch that one of our volunteers introduced me to one of our guests. A thin, frail woman talked about some issues in her life. We talked for a little while, then I asked if she had a relationship with Jesus; was He her Lord and Savior? She couldn't say yes. She said she went to church. I told her a lot of people go to church, but not everyone has a relationship with Jesus.

I told her I was not going to pressure her, but I wanted her to know if she wanted to make sure Jesus was her Lord and Savior, I would be more than happy to pray with her. She said, "Yes, let's pray," but she wanted to go into the sanctuary. I grabbed Dwight and his wife Vickie as we walked into the sanctuary and we prayed with her. She gave her life to Jesus and also asked for prayer for her family. Praise God! That is what it is all about. Another soul whose eternity completely changed today. She has the assurance of everlasting life with God now. She lives in our Adopt-A-Block area, so we will be able to easily follow up with her. She also said she will be coming to the LIA Ministry Center on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

After the crowd thinned out we hit the streets with plates of food. Our first stop was at a group of apartments where mostly Hispanics live. They are thankful, and seemed a bit surprised that we came to serve them.

Then we went into the neighborhood where we started our Adopt-A-Block outreach. To say the people were happy to see us would be an understatement.

Some of our volunteers visited a house where a man was sitting in a chair with his footless leg propped up. He said he had prayed and hoped someone would bring him food today. God answered his prayer. Praise God! One after another said how they had hoped someone would bring them dinner today. See, the people in this neighborhood are extremely poor. Most couldn't afford to buy food for a big meal.

What a blessing it is to be a blessing, and I can't thank God enough for the honor to serve Him.

Many people helped with this incredible outreach. Martha and I thank all of you ... those who prayed, gave financially, and volunteered. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:16, we also, "... have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."

It was indeed a very happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adopt-A-Block underway

 The streets highlighted and those inside that area are the streets where we are conducting Adopt-A-Block.
Love In Action spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of compassion, and yesterday we started a new outreach to further our mission. With 18 volunteers, we started our Adopt-A-Block outreach.

This is an outreach we will do every Saturday in the neighborhood surrounding the Love In Action Ministry Center in downtown Dothan. It is an impoverished neighborhood that has pretty much been written off by most people in Dothan. God hasn't forgotten about the people, and we are going door-to-door serving them. We were well received by the people on Saturday.

We learned this outreach from our friends at the L.A. Dream Center in Los Angeles, Calif. ( While in L.A. a decade ago on two difference occasions, we had the honor to go out with the Dream Center for their Adopt-A-Block, and it was amazing.

The concept is simple. Jesus taught us to serve, so that's what we do through Adopt-A-Block. We are not trying to cram Jesus down people's throats. We are serving and loving them. By doing that, we are showing them the love of Jesus and that opens the doors to share Jesus with them.

The first thing we did yesterday was pick up trash throughout the neighborhood, and man, did we ever pick up trash. We filled our dumpster to overflowing with all of the trash we picked up. Click here to check it out in a photo slide show.

We also handed out fliers door-to-door to invite people to our Thanksgiving Day dinner. A number of people were excited about the opportunity to have a good dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

We also pray with people and if there are any projects we can do for them we will. Yesterday one of our groups came across an elderly man who needed his back yard raked. With his bad back, he just couldn't do it, so three of our guys raked it for him. He was very thankful.

That's serving, and the doors God will open through this outreach will be incredible.

The more volunteers we have the more streets we can adopt. So, if you are interested in joining us, please come out on Saturdays at 9:45 a.m. Just two hours a week can help change lives. Once you get involved and help people you will not want to stop.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thank you volunteers!

I often tell people we have the greatest volunteers in the world at Love In Action, and I mean it. Our folks rock!

Here's a great example and further proof. When Martha and I announced we were going to Ecuador for nearly two weeks, some people asked if we were closing the Love In Action Ministry Center while we were gone. We quickly responded, "No, ministry will continue as usual."

Some people had puzzled looks on their faces after our answer. But we weren't puzzled. See, our team of volunteers are awesome! They are dedicated and responding to the cause God placed in their hearts. They enjoy serving God by serving the homeless, incarcerated and needy.

We have placed leaders in positions to lead the different ministries at Love In Action. Martha and I can't do it all, especially while I work full time as well. If it was just Martha and me, we wouldn't be doing nearly as much ministry out of the LIA Ministry Center. In fact, we wouldn't have the ministry center. We couldn't do it by ourselves.

While in Ecuador, the ministry operated seamlessly, without a hitch in Dothan. Celebrate Recovery Inside had its largest crowd ever at the ministry center. Bible study continued, as did the health clinic for the homeless, Friday night coffee house, Saturday work day and Saturday laundry ministry.

At the same time, LIA volunteers were in Ecuador, by using their own money, ministering at an orphanage, on the streets of Puyo, in the jungle and teaching missionaries about Celebrate Recovery. Wow! Praise God! Ministry on two continents at the same time! To God goes all the praise and glory!

Martha and I can't thank our volunteers enough. Those who lead ministries and those who serve in each ministry are amazing. They take time out of their busy schedules to serve the "least of these" as Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 25:35-40. They are responding to the our Lord's Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

God places a cause in each of our hearts. How we respond to that is the key. If we don't step out and do what God calls us to do there is a huge void in our lives and we are not fulfilled. When we do say "Yes" to God and go after that cause with all that's within us, we live rich, fulfilled lives and experience joy unlike anything we can explain.

Thank you volunteers for everything that each of you do. This ministry is not about Martha and me. It's not about any one person. It's all about God and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of compassion with the "least of these." To reach the lost and hurting and leading them to Jesus so they can experience His amazing love.

Volunteers, you are the best. Thank you and God bless all of you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

'Wherever You lead, I'll go"

Our trip to Ecuador was simply amazing. There are many things I could write about, and probably will as I continue to digest everything that went on during the trip.

One thing for sure is God directed our paths. We traveled to Ecuador with some ideas of what we would be doing, but nothing concrete except for the work we would do at the Casa de Fe orphanage. And, if that was all we would do we would be very happy and fulfilled. The people who run Casa de Fe do an incredible job. They are certainly God's hands and feet in Ecuador. Amazing people.

Martha and I had prayed a lot about Ecuador before going , and we decided if God wanted us to make connections for Love In Action to make a long-term impact there then we would leave that totally up to Him. I learned long ago that God doesn't need my help. I will only mess things up.

From the moment we arrived in Shell, Ecuador, God started opening doors.

We connected with a two precious people - Rick and Sharon LeBouef. They have been missionaries in Ecuador for more than 30 years. Rick preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ daily on the streets of Puyo, Ecuador. We had the honor of ministering with Rick and a new missionary named Andy.

Rick just got his plane back up in the air and now flies to the jungle regularly to help the tribes in the Amazon Rain Forest. His son does the flying. The people in the jungle have many needs, and Love In Action will become more involved in helping them and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

We met a number of missionaries while in Shell. Our Celebrate Recovery directors Emily and Judy did a wonderful job of introducing CR to them, and they were very receptive.This program can be a great source of encouragement and growth for them.

We also met a great married couple who have started a church in their home in Shell with land to expand. Keith and Loly are precious and they have tremendous hearts for reaching the lost in the Shell-Puyo area. We had a wonderful time of prayer with them.

Also, Andy and Priscilla are two young missionaries with a great vision for reaching the lost and hurting with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Shell-Puyo area and in the jungle.

One thing that really stood out to me was the children. They were everywhere playing and running around with little to no adult supervision. When I mentioned the word "futbol," they got excited and we started kicking the soccer ball around. They enjoyed attention from an adult, even if I couldn't speak their language. Just someone to kick the soccer ball with. Kind of like throwing a baseball or football here in the U.S.

And of course there's Casa de Fe. Those children are some of the most precious children I have ever met, and the staff some of the most focused. So loving and caring. Like all kids, they just want to be loved and have a home of their own. There is a great vision and plan for growing the orphanage, and it will be a blessing and an honor to be involved with them.

My mind is churning and ideas keep popping up. I will continue to commit them to prayer and see how God leads. One thing I do know is God has opened the door for Love In Action in Ecuador, and we will continue to pursue His will.

Love In Action is an international ministry. Obviously our strongest focus is on the Dothan area and that will not diminish. In fact, we have plans for tremendous growth, but when God opens doors we will go through them. Just like that old Gospel song says, "Wherever You lead, I'll go."