To prelude my blog for the week, I encourage you to read Isaiah 58. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2058&version=NIV
This last Monday I went with my friends on the "God's Favor Bus" to Detroit again to serve and minister to the homeless. I must admit I commited to serving on this day, but didn't really want to go, because I was anxious to work on my Fund Development for InterVarsity. I have an ambitious goal of raising 90% of $63,000 by June 1. I'm currently at 24%. I thought, O another day "I" cannot work on this. But I know this is a commitment I've made and I do really love doing this ministry.
God always does something different each time we serve in Detroit. Before we circled up to pray I decided to go talk with one of the homeless ladies that I've met several times before. I'm curious and perplexed by her. At times she seems so random and rythmical with her conversation, almost like a beat poet, that I am not exactly sure what she is saying. Other times she seems clear and concise and almost prophetic. This was one of those times. I don't even know why she told me this because I didn't even bring up the conversation. I just asked her if she would like to join us in prayer. Her response, "now you go and don't worry about not saying anything. Respect your elders and know that God knows your heart. Okay, go now, okay..." I was speechless. I only asked her to join us in prayer and this is how she responds? And what is it that God has been telling me to respect my elders lately. Don't I already do that? Hmmm.... Anyway, we circled up for prayer and I had something on my heart to share but an older man in our group started to preach. I felt a little jealousy in my heart and I remembered what the lady had told me. So I submitted and resisted the jealous tendancy and prayed and listened. After the older man had finished speaking (amazing words from the Lord) I was given the opportunity to share my story.
I also talked with a homeless guy who had only been on the streets of Detroit for one week. He came here from Arkansas seeking to find his estranged wife who left him for someone who lives in the Detroit area. He's only 29 and he was definitely out of his element. Me and another friend pleaded with him and encouraged him to yes contact your wife, but if she is not willing to reconcile, please get off the street and go home to your family. He was deeply hurt and moved I could tell, but he just couldn't humble himself enough to take our words to heart. So he continues to hang out on the streets with people who really don't care about him.
Another encounter was with a prostitute. Our bus pulls up beside her and our crazy bus driver lady (Louise - wonderful woman of God) shouts out, you need anything! The lady immediately repeats, "I know I am doing wrong. I know I am doing wrong." After talking with her and praying with her she did say that she believed in Jesus. But she just couldn't get out of this life style. The marks on her eyes showed just how her "boy friend" treated her. We pleaded with her to let us take her to a shelter. She wanted to be free, but again she wanted to go get her things from her boy friends apartment. We explained that we had clothing on the bus and that she should leave the other stuff behind. The price of freedom is leaving the old and moving toward the new. That's what Christ has done for us.
It breaks my heart to see people who want and need the freedom that Christ offers, but the bonds of sin hold them captive. O Lord that you would set the captives free! Indeed you already have, but please open the eyes of the blind and help the deaf to hear! O Lord have mercy on the people of Detroit!
Why did I ask you to read Isaiah 58? What is a day the Lord finds acceptable? What type of worship does he glory in? How are we as followers of Jesus suppose to live? The word is plain and true. If we are to see change and transformed lives in Detroit or anywhere, the gospel must be proclaimed, the captives must be set free and we must be humble before the everlasting Almighty God!
O Lord have mercy, Jesus have mercy, Lord have mercy!
Here are my prayer requests and praises:
1. Praise God for the blessings of family. Also pray for unity in my family and wisdom as they make a kinds of decisions. And may the Love of Christ rule in all of our hearts and minds.
2. Praise God for a wonderful presentation and meeting with my friends at Prince of Peace in Farmington Hills. It was so great to see so many people again. I am excited for the emphasis on prayer at POP. Pray for them to see God's hand working in their community and within their church.
3. Pray for my parents church as Pastor Weiss has taken a call to another church. They too will have many decisions and may the Lord lead them through prayer and the word!
4. Praise God that Laina and I are starting to get settled in our new church at Harvest Bible Chapel in Canton. Pray that God blesses the ministry at Harvest. Also Harvest's radio program has been a blessing to me and many others and is short financially. Please pray for this ministry.
5. Pray that my and Laina's health will be well. We both have struggled with sinus and colds.
6. Pray for my support raising. It is a much slower process than I anticipated. I have raised about 8% of what I need. I am anxious to start getting on campus, but I pray for the Lord's timing above my own.
7. Pray for Washtenaw Community College and the students and staff. May the Lord draw hearts to himself and prepare them for the work that I and the students and staff will do, working for the kingdom of God.
8. Pray for Laina and me, that our marriage will thrive and that we will have wisdom to follow God's leading in all decisions - and that we will be unified and yoked together as we serve the Lord.
9. Pray for Detroit. As I have been serving the homeless for the last 6 months, I have seen so much pain, loneliness, suffering, blight and hopelessness and need. The church is who should be meetin these needs, yet so many people lean on the government to help them. Friends, it's not working that way. The church needs to get out of its comfort zone and serve the hurting, the lost and broken. Isaiah 58 speaks of how will God's people be blessed? It's not through praises to Him that have no heart, or even sacrifices or traditions that have lost their meaning. "...to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. to share food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked to clothe them and to not turn away from your own flesh and blood..." It goes on but I encourage you to read that section of scripture for yourself.
Yes, Detroit is a dark place. But God's light will shine even brighter if the church, Christ's body will follow him into the darkness. When we work together as a body and move when Christ leads us, the darkness will flee!
May Christ receive all glory! Amen
Here are some pictures from my trip to Detroit to serve the homeless. We were surprise to see another group with a bus serving too. We served some at our usual location, but had some extra supplies and went to the Vetrans Center in Detroit. One homeless person even came up to me all excited and asked for prayer. She said, "pray for me! I have an opportunity to get off of the streets!" That is my prayer for all of these who by some misfortune, addiction or by choice live on the streets.
What can we do about it? Is there any hope? For the last 5 or 6 months I have been privileged to go with some other people to serve the homeless in downtown Detroit's Cass corridor. It breaks my heart. The buildings are boarded up, burnt down, empty, abandoned. The people are pretty much the same. Some people just don't have any where to go. You think it is hard to find jobs in the suburbs or in small towns? Downtown Detroit looks even worse. Among the blight you occasionally see a new apartment complex or a new coffee house for the business people to go to. Do they see what's around them? What can we do? Is there any hope for these people? How long can we the Church (Christ's body) ignore the dire needs of people. I know it is tough for churches in the suburbs too, but to what standard of living are we living up to? Maybe it is time for ministry to take on a different face than it has been the last 50+ years. Maybe we just need to look to scripture and to the needs of those around us, to those less fortunate.
Isaiah 58 speaks to many facets of ministry but take note of he says, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
We are looking for a break through in this tough economy. We are looking for hope, a light in the darkness. Jesus is our hope for sure! But he wants us to love in action, not just words. Sure our hearts feel compassion when we see someone in need. But do we take action? My friends in Christ, the church is so busy running its programs and building a "bigger" ministry that we are missing meeting the needs of people. When will the restoration of our cities, churches and towns come? When we humble ourselves and pray; when we love in action even those who are unloved or not seemingly worthy of love. Christ loved us and died for us while "we" were yet sinners. Shouldn't we be willing to do the same for others? While there is still daylight do the work of the Lord by loving people and serving their interests above our own. Night is coming when we can work no more. But hold fast, Jesus will come and make all things new! Keep pressing on in love.
Isaiah 58:12 "Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."
Make somebodies day better today!
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