Sunday, March 16, 2014

91 years old and homeless

Martha and Glenda talk with Ms. Olive at the Dothan Bus
Station Saturday evening during LIA's bus station outreach.
Her long white hair and wrinkled skin shows her age, but her youthful laugh tells you she still has plenty of life in her.

Ms. Olive tells stories of her life with great detail, painting pictures of snow-covered ground in Alaska and hot humid afternoons in Florida. Some stories are sad and filled with pain,which brings tears to her eyes. Others are happy, making her laugh as she holds her hand over her mouth.

She's 91 and homeless. We met her Saturday night at the bus station as she stepped off the Greyhound here in Dothan. She wanted to go to a Seventh Day Adventist church, so we drove her to one, but nobody was there.

We didn't want to take her to a shelter. She's healthy enough and definitely independent enough to take care of herself, but she needed some place quiet. She was tired, worn out from a long bus ride from Milwaukee. We took her to a safe hotel that's quiet and comfortable. She liked it, smiled and cried as she thanked us.

After we got her settled in her room and talked for a while, we prayed. She wanted to pray as well, and she thanked God for having all of us there at the bus station to help her.

This evening Martha read the Bible to her and we discussed scripture, and she shared some more stories. This time of life in Los Angeles.

Ms. Olive has traveled throughout the U.S. on bus, and by air to Alaska, since the mid 1960s when her and her husband had problems and they split. She's had a tough life, but through it all she talks about God's faithfulness.

Through her moving around and her children moving, she's lost contact with them. She doesn't know where they are, and they obviously don't know where she is. Unfortunately, her story isn't unique. However, her stories are much more interesting and detail-oriented than others.

Throughout our 14 years as a ministry, we have heard similar stories of people who become homeless for a wide variety of reasons, and many of them are due to life-changing situations. In the early to mid 1900s, it was not uncommon for wives not to understand finances or have job skills, as the husbands worked and kept track of all the finances. Unfortunately, some men kept women in the dark about many things. It's called control, and it's a horrible thing to do to someone.

If the man suddenly left the woman, she was lost, and if there wasn't any help from family available, life all of a sudden became extremely hard.

When people fall into homelessness for whatever reason, many lose track of their family. Some never find their family again, but we have also witnessed reuniting and restoration of the homeless to their families. It's awesome to see.

Maybe that will happen with Ms. Olive. Maybe we can find her children. Maybe that won't happen. What we do know is God brought this sweet lady into our lives, and we are going to take care of her for however long she's here.

Martha and I asked her if she would consider making Dothan home and settling down. She smiled and said she would like that. We're going to check on housing for her and see what we can find. She loves Jesus, and at 91, we just want to see her live out the rest of her days happy with a feeling of security. No more wandering.

Please keep Ms. Olive in your prayers. If you ever meet her, you will love her, and I guarantee you she will share one of her stories with you. Memories. That's all she has left of her family, and whether they are painful or joyful she shares them. I guess I would to if that's the only family I had.

Ms. Olive now has a family of God here in Dothan who loves her. Maybe she will stay and make new, happy memories.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Reaching new unreached people groups in 2014

We are only in March, but what an incredible year it has been already.

During our mission trip to the countries of Myanmar and Philippines in late January and February, we saw more than 1,500 people make decisions for Jesus. Many were Buddhists and Muslims.

It was amazing watching God move in such powerful ways. These people are being followed up on and discipleship is taking place. Praise God!

Now we need to build churches. In some areas we can build churches for as little as $900. In other areas, it costs around $2,000. Please pray about how you can help us build churches to reach more unreached people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples in the Philippines and Myanmar.

While we have always reached the poorest of the poor with the Gospel over the past 14 years, God showed us another unreached people group while in China during mid January, late February, and early March.

After I stepped down from my job at the Dothan Eagle last year, another job opportunity came up. Martha and I prayed about it, because we wanted to make sure it wasn't a distraction. It was an opportunity to work for the SoZo Group, the company that's connecting Chinese industries with U.S. communities in hopes of creating jobs in the U.S. and industry expansion for the Chinese companies, and visa versa. The job is communications director. We felt led to check out SoZo.

Raymond Cheng, the CEO and president, and I really hit it off from the first time we met. Since Asia is a major area where God is working through LIA, we wanted to see if God wanted us to work in China. So, we prayed that He would open doors, and He did on our first trip there. Incredible doors.

Through the SoZo Group, we met many extremely wealthy industry owners and government officials. And, we were able to minister to some of them. When Ray introduces me, he tells people I'm SoZo's communications director and that I'm also a pastor and that Martha and I have a ministry in Dothan and other parts of the world. They were very interested and we talked to them about Jesus.

There was one person in particular whom we prayed for, and afterward she told us that was the first time anyone had ever prayed for her. She’s in her 50s. We also shared John 3:16 with her and another person that night. Those were wonderful seeds of the Gospel planted.

Near the end of our trip in China, God spoke into my spirit. While preaching in the Philippines and Myanmar I always used John 3:16 in the sermons and talked about "whosoever" to explain that Jesus died for everyone. God reminded me of that while in Hong Kong before coming back to Dothan. He said, ever so gently, that "whosoever" also meant those industry owners and government officials He has opened doors for us to meet.  He said they need Him, too.

We have always focused on the homeless and poor, and we always will. Jesus did, and He tells us to do the same. But, Jesus loves everyone, and He has opened huge doors for us to reach more unreached people groups.

Nobody has ever told these people about Jesus. One reason it's where they live. Buddhism is the dominant religion. That's all they know. And secondly, it’s because of who they are. They are the rich and powerful, so people don't approach them and can't approach them. They have to protect themselves from people who want to kidnap them for money.

But now, God has made it so we can tell them about His glorious Son. From the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich, Jesus died for everyone.

Then, God gave us another amazing opportunity to further validate our decision for me to join SoZo. There is a group in China called the Earthpulse Foundation. They are not a Christian organization, but that makes it all the more exciting to me. They do a lot of great work with orphans and the extremely poor in Inner Mongolia and other parts of Northeast and Central China. They provide education, conserve the people's heritage and help with social issues.

We had dinner with the founder of that foundation, and he wants to bring five students (orphans and others from very poor families) to the U.S., more specially, to Dothan, Ala., for six weeks this summer. I immediately spoke up and said Love In Action would find five homes for the teenagers.

We'll find five safe, loving homes for these children, so they can experience the love of Jesus. He also wants these teenagers to give back to the community through social work. I told him they could work with Love In Action and help us in our outreaches.

This is amazing. God is bringing unreached people groups to us right here in Dothan. Praise God!

So, you see, God is not only providing us with a salary through SoZo, but He is providing more opportunities to reach unreached people groups in China. My prayer is to preach a crusade there. I don't know how God will pull that off, but He's God, so I know He will in His perfect timing.

And, while all of this was going on in Asia, our local ministry continued to thrive. People were being saved at our outreaches at the bus station, and homeless being helped. One family even moved into their own home, and we were able to help.

We will soon be able to provide showers for the homeless at the Love In Action Ministry Center thanks to First Baptist Church in Dothan. They are doing a wonderful job installing the shower, and we can’t thank them enough.

It’s amazing watching our awesome God touch lives all around the world, and we give Him all of the praise, honor and glory.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

LIA needs host families for Chinese orphans this summer

We are very excited to announce that Love In Action will work with the city of Dothan and the SoZo Group to bring 20 students from inner Mongolia, China, to Dothan this summer. The students will be teenagers and most are orphans and the others are from extremely poor families.

Inner Mongolia is in north China near the Russian border.

We will be working with the Earthpulse Foundation in Hong Kong to coordinate these efforts. Earthpulse will bring the students to Dothan and Love In Action will find qualified host families. If you are interested in being a host family for six weeks this summer (July-mid August), please email us at

This is an awesome opportunity to speak into the lives of orphans and show these youth our community. They aren't coming on vacation, however. Earthpulse wants them to do social work, so Love In Action will fill that need as well.

We are extremely excited about our first opportunity to work in China. This is an answer to prayer. Before I accepted a job that would put me in Hong Kong and mainland China a number of times each year, Martha and I prayed about it. We both felt God was providing this opportunity as an open door to minister in China. God validated that tonight as we discussed plans at dinner in Hong Kong with Earthpulse founder and chairman Hing Chao.

Chao said he wants the students to be part of the community during their stay in Dothan.
"I don’t want the students to go and play," he said. "I want them to engage with the community and to do some social service work. We want them to give something back.  That’s something that’s lacking with young people."

Much more information will be forthcoming soon, but the time frame will be from the beginning of July to no later than the third week of August.

Please pray about being part of this awesome opportunity to work with these orphans. We will go through an application process that will include background checks. We want the best homes for these children, so their time in Dothan will be safe and fulfilling.

Please email us at the above address if you would like to apply to be a host family.

Please pray for everyone involved in putting this together, and go ahead and start praying for the students who will be coming to Dothan from China.

Thanks and God bless.