Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Not Here...Why Not Now...

I was talking to a really great friend of mine tonight at outreach and she kind of helped me connect a few ideas that I had been struggling with. It's so easy to see all these needs, but isn't always easy to realized that I can't solve every problem or situation I encounter. If you look back through my posts you will see one about a friend of mine named Kevin. To make a long story short, he was beat up, hospitalized, and in pretty crappy shape. Kevin lives under a bridge and was not going to heal up very well if he ended up right were all this began. After tons of prayers from tons of friends and a whole lot of searching, God opened doors and Kevin was able to stay at a hotel for two whole weeks! After the two weeks was up, he really had no where to go. Since I met Kevin, months and months ago, I've always had this strong inclination to want to give him an extra hand up. Anyways, I told him he could sleep on my couch for a week (Without too many people knowing...Yes, a homeless guy sleeping on my couch -- wait until my Momma finds out! Haha!). The week was up today and I had to take him back to the bridge. It brakes my heart to see all those people living under there, espicallily when I've come to call so many of them friends...but I have to remember there is only so much you can do to help a person, sometimes you have to let them help themselves for a change. And this is where the conversation with Kim comes in. After visiting the same people in the same places around the city week after week and seeing nothing change, it can get really frustrating. We just have to do what Jesus calls us to do...and that is LOVE PEOPLE, period. So we will do that with every bit of our hearts and souls. I trust that if all I am capable of ever doing is handing out some food, clothes, and making friends with the people living on the streets that God will use that for His glory. People will come to know Him. It's a God thing and it's a heart thing. I pray that I would just remember to use every opportuinty, no matter how small it seems, to be the Lord's hand and feet.
Oh, and this song speaks to my heart EVERY single time I hear it. I remember the first day it was played on the radio -- all day on K-Love they had been talking about the new TobyMac song, and I couldn't wait! I love TobyMac! Anyways...Here it is. It just reminds me to not waste any opportuinity. Let me always serve my God right here and right now!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Partnerships & Next Steps...

Some really exciting news came late last week about a new partnership between Tear Down The Walls Ministries and Watkins Family Center! Here is the e-mail from the director of TDWM explaining what is going to be happening:

"TDWM signed a partnership with Watkins Family Center and Indy Parks and Recreation yesterday. We plan to start these programs next week. Our part of the partnership is to provide staff and youth programming as follows.
TDWM and our volunteers plan to provide two hours of mentoring and tutoring for area youth two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday 6pm-8pm at the Watkins Family Center and Watkins Park and 3-4 hours youth service programs two additional days a week on Wednesday and Saturday 6:30pm-9:30pm at Watkins park and family center and at other areas in the community. At the Watkins Park and Family Center we plan to provide nutrition, lessons and activities. We would include lessons and activities on leadership, community development, core values, service projects, anger management, anti-violence, anti-drug, interdependence, empowerment, accountability, faith, hope and love. Our volunteer/mentor group is made of diverse selection of men and women young and old of a variety ethnic and religious backgrounds. Though we are a Christ centered, faith based organization we always include our services in a kind and caring manner to anyone and everyone regardless of their ethnic and/or religious backgrounds and beliefs.
We plan to bring two part time staff on to develop, implement, and supervise these programs Jena Osbon and Kyle Schlenz. Both are young Christians who have experience with mentoring youth and have been worked as volunteers with TDWM. Their job description includes working with our high school and college interns and our student advisory board to develop, implement, raise funds and write grants for these programs.
Gearing up for this new programming we plan to send a few of our staff and student leaders to leadership training next month in Cincinnati at the Christian Community Development Conference.
We need to obtain funding for these programs to pay for the staff, food, training, materials, and transportation (obtain a bus and/or 15 passenger van)
Thank you and may God bless you.”

So, if you caught that up there – I am going to be coming onboard with TDWM as a part-time staff member! We are shooting for this to be full-time in the near future! I feel so blessed that God is using me and allowing me to be part of what TDWM is doing here in the city! Please be praying for TDWM’s new partnership, as well as my next steps as the Lord leads into this new position in ministry!

First Timer...

A while back I wrote a little bit about my neighbor, Tessa. She is a 10-year-old with so much beautiful energy -- she gets excited about ANYTHING. The other day she came over to play with Maci, my new doggie, and I hated to tell her I was getting ready to leave. I told her I was on my way to go to outreach and like any kid, she began asking questions. I explained to her that me and some of my friends go out a couple times a week to hang out with our friends who live on the streets. I told her how we take food, clothes, soap, blankets, or whatever we happen to have had donated. After telling me how sad she felt when she saw homeless people, she told me she thinks about how hungry their stomachs must be. We asked her mom if it would be okay if she came with me -- her and her brother R.J. both tagged along. Tessa was bouncing off the walls with energy as usual and was ready to talk to EVERYONE under the bridge. We walked around as she introduced herself to almost everyone; she was in charge of passing out sandwiches and as soon as she finished that she ran to help hand out some sweatshirts that we had with us. One of our friends, Scott, who stays at Davidson Street Bridge jokingly asked her if she was going to stay all night -- she said, she couldn't because it was a school night...but she could sometime on the weekend. R.J. is 13 and I think understood what he was seeing a little better, he was awfully quiet. I love the innocence and open-mindedness of children. Tessa couldn't wait to go to the next stop and meet more people.
Soon enough it was time to run Tessa and R.J. back home. In the car there were a couple questions and I can't tell you what exactly was said, but Kim and I were explaining to them that God loves it when we love people and help people. Tessa asked us what God does when we do things like that. We told her He smiles, REALLY BIG! At one point we asked the kids if they go to church, the answer was no. Tessa asked right away if she could go with me sometime. So, I talked to Michelle, her mom, and Sunday Tessa came with me to church!
On the way she told me she had NEVER been to church, or Sunday school, or VBS, or ANYTHING at a church -- which may or may not be the entire truth, but it kind of broke my heart, but also scared me to death! Yes, seriously. She doesn't know about God or Jesus or any of this "Christian stuff". So, where do I even start! I was praying quickly for words! I was worried because I didn't want to mess up, as silly as that sounds. She is seriously like a blank canvas! But, then again that makes it so much easier -- there are not built up bitter feelings about God or religion or past experiences.
Church went well; we even had lunch afterwards and got to eat with a couple of my homeless friends who also go to Indy Metro. One of which was baptized this past week -- PRAISE THE LORD! (Please, keep Rob and his being obedient to the Lord in your prayers!)
Anyways, Tessa said she really liked church and wants to go back next week! Please, pray for her as well -- she is so easily influenced and has recently been in trouble at home and school -- I know that as soon as she lets Jesus get a hold of her she will be such a light. I know that only He can use all that energy she has!

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Simple...

So, this morning I was praying for some guidance and wisdom about a couple situations and decisions to be made...I love the though-provoking ideas of Oswald Chambers. I was reading today's devotional from My Utmost For His Highest and felt like God kind of did the whole "could have had a V-8" thing! Haha! Really! Here is what I read:

"The simplicity that is in Christ."
-2 Corinthians 11:3

Imagination Vs. Inspiration - Oswald Chambers
Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight. The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing

(Matthew 11:25).
The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern. This is humiliating, because when we are muddled we know the reason is in the temper of our mind. When the natural power of vision is devoted to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the power of perceiving God's will and the whole life is kept in simplicity.

I love this...You can't think it clear, you have to OBEY it clear! So I had better stop asking so many questions and trying to handle these situations on my own and just start obeying! Praise God for humility and being able to open eyes, even we were plainly refuse to see things His way. He never gives up on us!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Update From The Streets...

So, most of you know where I spend my Wednesday and Saturday nights...if you don't,'s usually under a bridge, on the banks of the White River, or in some random patches of woods. You can find me and some of my good friends hanging out with our buddies who live on the streets here in Indianapolis. I want to keep you updated on some of the people we are serving, so this is where it starts... :)

Eric - Okay, let me tell you about Eric. God's certainly working in Eric's life and He's done some pretty cool things lately. Eric lives under the Davidson Street bridge and is probably in his late 40's. This summer he came practically running up to Kim and myself holding a piece of paper -- this paper was his acceptance letter to college. He had always wanted to go back to school, and he finally has his chance. Classes start in a couple weeks, so keep him in your prayers -- it would be really cool to see him stick with this! He's been battling with some depression issues and drinking habits, he is positive that getting out from underneath that bridge will help dramatically with both of those situations. It's heartbreaking to see someone drunk or sad and just not acting themselves -- especially when they are a good friend. Anyways, some awesome, Eric came practically running up to Kim and I again. He tells us he was walking down a street downtown when a lady stopped and asked him if he wanted a cigarette. Eric said yes, took it, and then she handed him a photo album. He had to do a double take and look up at this woman again -- it was his DAUGHTER! His daughter that he hadn't seen in almost 7 years. Apparently she has been tracking him on the internet and found out where he was staying. I got goose bumps as he told us this story. I am so happy for him! They have plans to have a picnic on Saturday, and hopefully he will get to meet his grandkids! We all love Eric so much and can't wait to see what God will do with his life!
Please pray that he is able to get housing, to make it through school, and to connect and repair relationships with his family.

Kay - We met Kay this summer at Pine Street bridge. She's a sweet lady, who I unfortunately don't know a whole lot about. I do know that recently she has found housing and is supposed to be off the streets on the 15th of this month -- this also means she will be able to get her 4 year old son back. Today, Kay found out that she has cancer. Kay was having a really hard time processing it all, she told us that she's had a few family member pass away after having surgery to try and remove cancer from their bodies. Because of this, she refuses to have treatment and is convinced that if God intended her to live with cancer that she would do just that.
Please pray for healing for Kay, for insight and wisdom from the Lord, and also strength and good friends to help her through this rough time.

Stephen - Oh, where do I start? Stephen is also known as...the guy we kidnapped. Haha. He doesn't remember much of that night, however. We met Stephen at a bus stop. He was completely inebriated and crying almost hysterically. Kim didn’t want to leave him there, so we took him with us, having no idea what to do with him, for lack of better words. We took him around with us all night while we did outreach, and finally we realized we needed to find him somewhere to go. It was pretty cold out that night and he had on a t-shirt and that was it. We went back to the DAT House and Curly gave Stephen his own winter coat and the blanket off of his bed – GOD BLESS HIS HEART! After taking him a couple places he suggested, we told him we could take him somewhere that a lot of our homeless friends sleep – Davidson Street bridge. He’s been there ever since. Stephen is looking for a job, but is really doing more talking about it than actually looking. He says he’d like to possibly be a cook or waiter. I think he is a little discouraged right now, but hopefully he will start to get motivated. Last weekend I stopped by the bridge before church and offered a ride to whoever wanted to come along, Stephen is one of the guys who came. It was really cool to be able to spend some extra time with him.
Please pray that God would give Stephen motivation. Motivation to stop drinking, to start looking for a job, and to wholeheartedly seek His will.

And hey, if anyone would ever like to come along with me sometime and meet some of my sweet friends, just let me know! :)

Many Are Called...

So, God is crazy...and I mean that in a good way, seriously. He just does crazy things to get our attention sometimes -- but there is nothing wrong with that, especially for people like me who tend to not listen the first or second or third time he tells us something. At outreach tonight, I got to have an interesting conversation with a woman named Smicky, who may or may not have been pretty intoxicated, but nontheless. I haven't talked to her much before, but I've seen her quite a few times at one of the bridges we visit. She shared with me a lot of things about her life, some pretty scary things, like the fact that one more than one occasion she has tried to kill herself and also that she has lost two children, not to mention the fact that she lives under a bridge and from what I've been told sells her body. Smicky is only 32 and has been through a whole lot of junk in her life.Anyways, she told me how God has clearly spoken to her more than once. She was determined to share this with me and felt like she needed to warn me for some reason. Again, a lot of this is probably alcohol talking, but I'm used to listening in similar situations, so what the heck. She tossed some scripture around, but the one that stuck with me was this:

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
-Matthew 22:14

This is so true. And I've heard this verse, but rarely take the time to think about how this was meant. This verse comes from the Parable about the Great Feast. Which in the NLT version reads:

Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!
“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.
“The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
-Matthew 22:1-14

I guess my point is, this is something I see day in and day out. People are invited, by God, to be part of something wonderful, but they are too wrapped up in their lives and things and friends and stuff to bother with the Creator of the universe. I'll admit I have days and moments where I get a little too focused on me and my plans, but thankfully God reminds me what is waiting for me at the end of the life He has chosen for me. For some people things will click, and they will realize what is really important, but for others they hear what is being said to them, but never listen. God has invited EVERY person to this gathering, He's calling out to the ends of the earth. So if you hear him calling you...LISTEN! Show up to that great feast wearing what He has offered you -- SALVATION!

Please pray that I would remember to LISTEN to God as he speaks to me, that my own plans and desires would be surrendered to what His will is for my life, and that no matter what, I would TRUST God with everything I am. And I'll pray the same for you, friends! :)

Brandon & Guatemala...

So, my friend Brandon is leaving for Guatemala today! He'll be there for 6 months doing tons of cool stuff to serve the Lord and lots of people! Keep him and those traveling with him in your prayers, please!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Indy Soliciting Ordinance Approved...

A controversial panhandling ordinance outlawing soliciting near intersections was approved by the City-County Council Monday night after weeks of debate.

The amendment was passed by a vote of 15-13, 6News' Tanya Spencer reported.

The new ordinance makes it illegal for anyone, from beggars to charity groups, to solicit within 50 feet of a traffic light or stop sign.

The current ordinance was passed in 2005, and state law prohibits "aggressive panhandling."

Indianapolis' new ordinance doesn't even have the word "panhandler" in it. The ordinance restricts anyone holding a sign.

Detractors said the ordinance unfairly targets the poor, promotes class warfare and violates First Amendment rights.

"Youth groups should not be fined for holding car wash signs on the sidewalks," said City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield.

Those in favor of the ordinance said it addresses an ongoing safety issue, keeping motorists eyes on the road and solicitors off the street.

It was already against the law for panhandlers to enter traffic to take donations, a police officer had to witness it before making an arrest.

Police will now have the power to keep solicitors 50 feet away from traffic stopped at any intersection in the county.

Wheeler Mission, an organization that has fed, clothed and sheltered the homeless for 116 years, said the stricter ordinance will help those they serve.

They hope it will encourage more kind-hearted residents to drop money into one of five downtown donations boxes, instead of handing it to a panhandler, who may be a scam artist.

So far, the $7,000 from the drop boxes has gone directly to 47 Indianapolis agencies that directly help men, women and children living on the street.

"It's going to discourage people from giving to panhandlers and, hopefully, encourage them to give to organizations like Horizon House, Wheeler Mission, Good News and others who are really on the front lines serving the homeless," said Steve Kerr, of Wheeler Mission.

Police made 140 arrests under the current ordinance last year. This year, they have already made more than 140 arrests, with four months left in the year.

The new 50-foot rule will go into effect as soon as Mayor Greg Ballard, who supported it publicly, signs it.