Friday, April 30, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
This morning we were to meet with the owner of the first house (the white house) and her former real estate agent. The owner had purchased the formally foreclosed house in October but hadn't moved in. Wilma had purchased the home for $13,000 but didn't have the money to do the necessary renovations to make the house livable. She had also "went in a little bit over her head" with buying such a "large and expensive" house.
I've known all of this for the past couple of weeks and was amazed that God looked to be providing a great house for us to use for ministry and the opportunity to help this woman to be freed from financial bondage. In other words, I thought I had already opened all of my presents, but God had another huge one in store. It turns out that I know the woman who owns the home, well sort of. She lives in a shack on the way to our hunting land in Union Springs, AL.
One of my first trip to the land 6 or 7 years ago, I noticed a lady coming out of the building that looked as if it could fall down at any moment. I was amazed that someone actually lived there. I asked my father-in-law if he knew the lady and he did. He used to stop by her house years ago to give her fish from our pond or squirrels they had shot while hunting. My heart went out to this lady. She looked to be alone. And her home looked to be without heat, AC, water, or electricity. I began praying for the woman often.
Every time I went by her house, I would look to see if she was outside. I asked some of her neighbors about her. They told me, "She won't talk to us and she won't let you help her." I decided to bake her a fudge pie. One day I finally got up the courage to take it to her. Unfortunately, I discovered the neighbors were right. She came out with a short stick and told me that "she didn't need anything" and "wishes that people would leave her alone". I told her, "I owned property close by and I was trying to be a good neighbor." She replied, "You might be a good person, I don't know, but I don't trust anyone, leave me alone." So I did what she asked. I left with my pie. But what she said stuck with me, "I don't trust anyone." I began to wonder what had happened to her? Why is she so reluctant to trust? Had she been abused? Taken advantage of? I was heartbroken for this woman. I began to pray more.
This morning as she showed me her home, I wondered, Lord are we supposed to buy this house or help Wilma move in? After she had finished showing me around, we walked outside when she asked, "Well what are you going to do?" I replied, "Well, first off we're going to come mow this grass. Regardless of who owns this house it needs to be cut. They'll fine the owner. As far as buying it goes, I'm not sure. I would like to come back tomorrow with a builder friend of mine to allow him to inspect the house. Do you mind loaning the key to the real estate lady so we can get in? I realize it's difficult for you to get here." Then she did the most amazing thing. She handed me the key to her house. She trusted me with her most valuable possession. She trusted me. The guy she had chased off her porch with a stick only weeks prior! Then I told her, "I want you to know, if you want to live here, I'll do my best to make this house livable for you and help you move in. But if you want to go somewhere else we'll help you get that house ready for you. Just let me know." She thanked me and left.
About 30 minutes later, the real estate agent called me and said, "Wilma has found a couple of houses a block over that she likes, she wants you guys to look at them to see what you think." WOW! Now she's asking our opinion on what house she should purchase. Amazing!
God, what are you doing? Could this be the first "member" of this church? Could she be a person of peace? I'm amazed at what's going on. Thank you, Lord, for letting me enjoy this.
The new schedule is as follows:
we also need to figure out what, how, and when to share with the church. How do we get them involved?
Put local Mission Vision Team Together
Become a 5013c "The Way"? to be able to handle taxes and donations.
This is going to be fun!
J.R. Briggs: When a Church Hosts a Wedding for the Homeless
“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” - Luke 8:19-21
In October, we met our friends in the woods. We had just formally launched Redemption Church of Bristol and we had heard rumors of a homeless community living in the woods of our older suburban community. So we gathered up a few people to go check it out. At first it was awkward. We didn’t know who they were, nor did they know us. Most of them were older than us, from different backgrounds, and after our encounter, stayed to live in the woods while we returned to our apartments and homes. There were obvious signs of alcoholism and mental illness, but also a community that deeply cared for each other.At Redemption Church, we have always taught that the church is family. We are not just friends or even partners in ministry, but mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. We are called to this level of intimacy with one another in how we share our lives. But what to do with our homeless friends, especially as they started coming to church? Often they told incoherent stories. Sometimes they came a bit drunk. They are different than most of us who started Redemption Church. And families tend to look alike.Kathy and Leo have been with each other for 15 years. While times have not always been good, they have stuck with each other through the rigors of homelessness. The first time I met them, their love was apparent. Leo showed me two toy frogs: a boy and a girl. One was missing a leg. The other, an arm. But they were obviously meant for each other. Leo told me, “That’s us.”On February 27, 2010, Leo and Kathy were married. Lori and Rebekah offered dresses for the bride to wear and Lori and Susan prepared the bride for the big day. Butch, another of our homeless friends, was the best man. Matt played music with Susan who also filled in at the last minute as the Maid of Honor. Forrest read scripture and helped Josh usher. Kristen made the bouquet. Brian was the photographer. The chairs were filled with the various members of Redemption Church, the homeless community, and a group of college students who have also been working in the woods. Dorie prepared the reception, in which we feasted on cookies made by her mother, donuts delivered by Rebekah, and a cake donated by Cheryl. And I had the honor of officiating over the whole affair.When it was all said and done, nearly 2/3 of our congregation participated in the wedding. Of course, this depends on where I draw the boundaries of our congregation. Is it really those who worship with us on Sunday nights? Or is it the homeless folks we meet with and pray with in the woods? Is it the college students who go to other churches, yet who we encounter in the woods in common mission? What about the church that let us use their building for free? Perhaps my congregation, my family, simply consists of those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.The week after the wedding, we visited our friends in the woods. No longer were we outsiders awkwardly inquiring about their lives. No longer were we the givers of charity come to take pity on the poor. Butch saw us coming and casually said, “How’s it going?” We were now family. They are our brothers and sisters who just so happen to live in the woods.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
For more from Neil Cole check out the missional talks I have linked here.
Well guys, I found a resource that's going to be keeping me up for a while. This site is loaded with great stuff from Alan Hirsch, Andy Stanley, Shane Clabourne, David Crowder etc, etc, etc. Check it out!
- Host a National Night Out
- Facilitate a neighborhood yard sale
- Pass out 9 volt batteries for people to replace in their smoke detector
- Host a back yard theater and show a movie
- Prayer Walk your neighborhood at least twice a month
- Drop off a nice bottle of wine to your neighbor with a note "Love to get to know you guys sometime. Call and well enjoy this bottle together." (ripped from Hugh Halter in Tangible Kingdom)
- Pass out fliers offering free gardening or landscaping help
- Organize a play station/X Box/Wii tournament for the kids in the neighborhood. (If someone has the Beatles Rock Band kit you can even get the adults to play on that!)
- Assemble "doggie bags" with items that homeless people need like food and hygiene products and pass out to those in your community as the need arises or you encounter them.
- Shoot a video of your neighbors responding to the questions "What things do you like about this neighborhood?" and "What things would you like to change in the neighborhood?"
- During the Christmas season, facilitate a Christmas carolling event, inviting your neighbors to participate with hot chocolate and cider at the end.
- Host a front yard/backyard concert with a bring your own meat for the grill.
- Bake some chocolate chip cookies and take them next door....still warm and chewy.
- Take your office to the nearest coffee shop you can find.
- Form a Neighborhood Watch group and volunteer to be the block captain.
- Ask your neighbors if they would like you to stop by once a month to pick up items they may want to give to the local food shelf. Used shoes can also be collected and sent to this organization that has many local drop-off sites nationally:http://www.soles4souls.org/
- Create a "spiritual map" "spiritual map" of your city - and invite other missions-minded people in a process of 1- Discover, 2- Inspiration and 3- Incarnation.
- Host a party on your front yard during Halloween and serve "Hallo-weeners" (hot dogs) to all who stop by.
- Host a ground hog day party on your front yard. Fix different kinds of soup for folks to try out.
- Invite Neighbors to play flag football or other recreational sport in neighborhood
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Welcome to Pray4Montgomery. This site is built around the practice of Praying On-Site with In-Sight. We believe that
God is already present and moving in Montgomery. We also believe that he wants us to pray passionately, and with our eyes open, so that we can move with Him and be his presence in the city. To help focus efforts on doing this we have created two maps of the city centered around the and neighborhoods .
We hope this site inspires you to network with other Christians to pray for Montgomery in creative ways. Check out the maps and contact us if you are interested in participating in a scheduled prayer walk or would like to start one in your own neighborhood. We will be organizing prayer walks and prayer rides throughout the year. Our goal is to see a vibrant family of Jesus within the reach of every person in Montgomery.
Please continue to be in prayer about this. Everything is in the planning and praying stage at this point.
“The Brown House”
Seven years ago, a courageous couple and 2 children felt called to sell their home and move into a low-income neighborhood for ministry purposes. During that time God has multiplied their ministry greatly. Over Spring Break, Landmark Campus Ministry joined the Pierces along with students from Alabama and UAB to serve the West Circle Community in Northport.
Last year, UCM decided to move 5 students into a house across the street from the Brown house, also owned by the Pierces, called the Blue House. While we there another couple from Tuscaloosa decided to move next door to the Red House. The community garden is located beside the Blue House in a previously unused lot.
How many? – 20 Landmark students, 70 total
What did we do?
§ Tilled and irrigated Community Garden
§ Cleared brush surrounding garden and “Blue House”
§ Built tin roof, replaced gutter, and fascia boards on “Blue House”
§ Installed French drain to help with standing water and flooding of Blue House crawl space
§ Painted Blue House kitchen cabinets
§ Landscaped Blue House
§ Put down gravel on “Blue House” drive way and also “Red House”
§ Cleared Brush from fence lines of “Red House”
§ Removed carpet and cleaned “Red House”
§ Built picket fence around Community Garden
§ Pressure Washed Red House
§ Built rails on front porch of Blue House
From a student…
I had never been on a mission trip before and I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I had been given the opportunity to go but didn’t know the true impact it would have on others and me. I remember the first day, we worked for 9 hours clearing brush in the hot sun. I remember getting back and thinking I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I was so worn out. But God gave us all the strength to come back the next day. I didn’t know what to would happen that day but I worked on a house that should have been torn down. Just like when people say in our lives to quit or why are you doing that? I wondered why about this house . But we began to work on it. We pulled up carpet, we swept, we mopped, we washed walls, we cleaned, we vacuumed, we washed away the horrible memories and brought light into a house filled with darkness and pain. Just as Jesus as washed away our sins, he has swept our sins up, he vacuumed up our sins. When people gave up on us, Jesus didn’t. We couldn’t’ give up on this house. We gave it another chance just like God gives you and I another chance. I also remember thinking I could never live in a house like this. Then it hit me. I had bought into the American dream, what the world wanted. I had wanted a new car, nice house, nice clothes, etc. I never thought about what God wanted me to do or where he wanted me to be. I realized that all that stuff didn’t matter. What mattered is where God wanted me what his purpose for me was. He will provide for us just like he did with the mission trip by having someone foot the bill for the water for the garden or having someone install ac in the blue house. Its not about us or when we want things, its not about how much we want or what we want, its about God . He wants us to spread seed for his kingdom. He wants us to discover him and live and have purpose for him. God wanted us to clear the brush away from a dark place, he wanted us to clean a house full of dirt grime mold to maybe be a haven for someone someday, he wanted us to install an irrigation system in a garden to provide food for a community, he wanted us to share a smile to someone hurting, he wanted us there in Tuscaloosa to restore. Just as he has restored our lives, he wanted us to spread seed and restore others lives. God has a purpose and plan. We know there’s still much to be done. We need to spread the seed to other places. I am so thankful for the opportunity for this trip because it defiantly turned my world upside down and made me see what God wants me to see. I realized how i let the world influence on my thoughts and views instead of listening to God and what purpose he had for my life. Thanks so much to everyone who had a part of helping us to experience this mission trip because it was truly a blessing to the 20 people from Landmark and the community we helped restore.
Rachel Cunningham, Jr @ AUM
From the Pierce’s about the Brown House….
We don't do a lot at The Brown House. Nothing that really matters on any metric that can be used to show success. We do have a lot of spend-the-night parties. And backyard soccer. And a little air-soft. Maybe some brownies now and again. And some pizza.
Actually, a whole lot of pizza.
And you would be amazed at Christ's presence in these inconsequential things-as long as we can just get out of His way.
In these photo albums and on these pages, you will see our friends and neighbors and those who have been caught up with us in The Brown House since 2003. Every face is a reminder of Christ's love for us, as well as a chance to show Christ's love.
May Christ's presence be shown in each of us, to each of us, and through each of us in all that we do. May we have eyes to see Christ's presence, and the courage to meet that presence with the love of Christ Himself.
What we do…
We are just plain, vanilla, normal Christians who decided a while ago to share our lives, our love, and our home with the neighbors around us.
We live intentionally and deliberately to try to show Christ's love to the world, and we focus on the kids around us that we see each and every day.
By partnering with other interested individual, groups, and churches we have slowly expanded what we do, and our vision for the future expands as well.
Please take a few minutes to see more information on the Brown House and our time there.
Other Christians have decided to engage in this type of ministry as well. For example the Front Porch Ministry It is a movement called New Monasticism (though many of the individual who chose this lifestyle don’t know that). It is an attempt to be “missional”. Intentional salt and light in the community. Messages about Missional Churches