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Amazing Blessings

The first week of teams each summer is one of great anticipation, much planning and even a few sleepless nights as we go over the details of all the work that needs to get done the next day. This year was no different. Our first team of 33 youth and their chaperones from Tennessee arrived on Sunday night and on Monday morning we started work on 5 new homes. That’s 5 sites to gather supplies for, 5 families to fall in love with, and 5 different locations to watch God work.

Having a front row seat to what God is doing in people’s lives is an honor and privilege and with 33 team members, 7 extra staff, 5 families and a new summer intern there were  plenty of opportunities to witness this. Now mind you, it’s only Wednesday, 3 days into the week! Here’s just a few of the blessings we saw this week.

Mark is leading a roofing site and Tuesday afternoon a guy stopped by the house and asked what all the green shirts were all about. The team explained that they were serving this family by putting on a new roof and the guy thought that was pretty awesome. He too was a roofer and just happened to have a couple bundles of shingles in the back of his truck and asked Mark if he could use the shingles, on this house or maybe another. Mark said “Sure, we can always use extra’s and we never know what color and type we will need.” Well…do I have to tell you what happened? Mark was going to have to go buy a couple more bundles of shingles to finish off the house and when he opened up the bundles that we given to him by the guy that stopped he realized that they were EXACTLY the color and type of shingle he was going to have to go purchase. Provision. We see blessings of provision every day!

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On Monday around 5:00 PM after the first day of work, I received a phone call from another homeowner. Her words were “Thank you so much for sending those kids over to my house! They worked so hard and I love each of them already!” Sometimes we forget that the first time teenagers show up at a job site that the homeowner may be a little taken aback by the age of the volunteers. This homeowner thought that a group of guys was coming over to gut out her damaged lower level and do the drywall repairs so when the kids showed up she was blown away. I had stopped by the house about 4 hours into the first day and they already had most of the gutting done and they were prepping the framing for new drywall! You see, this homeowner probably does not know the Lord but she saw the hands and feet of Jesus in her home that day. She asked how much we pay the kids to do this and when I told her they paid US to come and serve on a mission trip she couldn’t believe it. Witness. These “kids” were a witness to this homeowner and we can only hope that as the weeks go on with other teams serving at her home, she will come to know the Lord as her Savior.

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When we are in the field sometimes we get random phone calls from friends and relatives that are passing through the area and want to stop by to see us. That happened this week! Well with this being the first week of teams, I said we were around and would be doing site visits all day. So early Monday afternoon, my cousin, Steve and his wife, Dina and their family stopped to meet one of our homeowners, see what we do and they had the honor of praying for this sweet lady. It’s so awesome to share what we do with family but for them to actually SEE what we do and take the time to pray with one of the homeowners that we have already grown to love was a huge blessing. Support. The support of our family and friends is more important to us than you know. Come on out! you might find yourself on a volunteer team sometime soon!

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Look for the blessings in your day. They are always there we just have to be on the lookout for them.

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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Crisis Isn’t Always a Huge Disaster

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“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35

I’m amazed at how the Body of Christ works. Because of His love for us we are so able to love others and loving others in times of great need is what Jesus called us to do many times in His Word. In fact He tells us in Mark 12:31 that second only to loving “God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”, loving your neighbor is the most important of His commands.

I witnessed this first hand this morning at Bethel Evangelical Free Church in Staten Island, NY. Pastor Paul Robbins told us all of a family on Staten Island in which the husband died unexpectedly this last week. He left behind a wife and two boys, ages 7 and 9, both of which have special needs. Understandably, this family is devastated that their husband and father is no longer with them and is in crisis.

A member of the church found the “MealTrain” Website and noticed that very few people had signed up to bring dinner for this mom and children so she mentioned it to Pastor Paul which lead to him sharing this need with the congregation this morning. He made an appeal for the church to be the Church and show the Love of Jesus by bringing a meal, writing a small note and offering prayer to the family. For a Staten Islander that goes to Bethel EFC bringing a meal is second nature. These people know how to do comfort food and comfort is exactly what this family needs right now. What a great way to live out Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself.

When a family is in crisis even basic needs seem to be laid aside as arrangements are made for their lost loved one and they navigate their feelings of shock, loss and grief. This is an amazing time for the Body of Christ to come alongside a family and share the love of Christ in a holistic way by meeting a physical need. This leads to the question…”Why? Why are you doing this? I am a stranger to you.” And you can share that you are doing it because Jesus loves you and them and that serving you in this small way is my way of serving Him. Or simply say, because of my love for Jesus and His people.

Are you prepared to open your hearts or even home to someone in crisis? Does your church have a plan to help those who find themselves suddenly great need in your community? Anyone can make a meal or write a check or drop off a piece of used clothing. Even someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior can do this. For the church to be the Church we need to do them in the powerful name of Jesus Christ. That is what can make an eternal difference in someone’s life. Don’t get me wrong. We are not to do this to make the recipient our personal “project”. We simply need to do what we are commanded to do…Love our neighbors as ourselves always keeping in mind what comes before that…Love the Lord your God with everything you have!

Take a survey to find out how prepared your church is for a crisis of any kind in your community be clicking here. Email your results to crisisresponsetraining@efca.org

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Workers for the Harvest

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38

It’s been a long time since we posted anything in our blog. I could say it’s because we’ve been busy, which we have, or just didn’t have the time, which we did but suffice it to say we have been negligent in keeping our blog updated.

So you’re wondering…what brought them out of this blog post dry spot? Well, a desperate need for workers for the harvest. Crises keep happening and with these crises come people that want to know that there is hope out there. And Jesus brings that hope. They are the crowds that Jesus had compassion for.

So you’re again wondering…how can I help? I am just one person. But it just takes one person to spark a crowd. So I’m going to tell you about a few tangible ways for you to help.

  • Jesus asked us to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” So the first thing you can do is pray. Set your alarm on your phone for 9:38 either morning or night and pray for workers for the harvest. What kind of workers? Volunteers, Long and Short term staff and Interns. They are all needed to keep this ministry going.

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Volunteers from Michigan in New Orleans!

  • Volunteer! Get your small group or a group of folks from your church together, approach the mission team of your church and tell them you want to serve in this capacity and come to one of our response locations in New Orleans, LA, Staten Island, NY or Columbia, SC. You can always find our current locations and how to send a team on the ReachGlobal Crisis Response website.
  • Join our staff! In order to respond to additional crises we need more staff, both short term (6-23 months) and long term (24-infinity). With new floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and disasters happening all the time we just cannot do a response justice if we don’t have staff ready to go that is already trained to respond. There are several positions that we are looking to fill right now! A few of which are:

Many more positions can be found on the website above.

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2015 Summer Interns

  •  Intern with us for the summer! We have several internships available for this summer in all of our response locations including a new Junior Internship Program exclusively in our New Orleans location for 16-18 year olds. For more information on our internships visit the internship website where you will find a short video.

Jesus asked us to be compassionate to those in need and people in crisis situations are in need. Not only of food, clothing and shelter but of love, a listening ear and the truth of the gospel. Be that love. Be that ear and Bring the truth.

That is what one person can do.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Forcey is in the House!

Our 2015 Season kicked off today with a team from Forcey Bible Church from Silver Spring, MD! We had a great afternoon eating at a local pizzeria that included a calzone as big as a house. Then we took a ride down to see the Sandy ravaged beach area. We stopped and prayed in one neighborhood where house after house had demolition signs. It was difficult for even those of us that have been here a while.

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On Sunday nights we always do orientation but the team, many of which are in a praise band from the area, decided they wanted to do a worship set before orientation! What an awesome time of praising God and refocusing on why we are here. My co-laborer for the Lord and I looked at each other with huge smiles on our faces and I think we both knew that this ministry season was going to be amazing! I’m so looking forward to this week to see how lives are affected by this team and this year to see how many more lives will be touched by volunteers just like these people. Giving up 4-6 days of their vacation time to serve the One and Only God!

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Join us in prayer for an amazing week and year! God is going to do amazing things and we get to be on the front lines! Woooo Hoooo!

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

You’ve been here how many times???

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Volunteers and staff working on Ms. Shirley’s roof.

We rang in the New Year this last week with teams from 4 churches from across the USA; California, Illinois, Michigan and Maryland. A total of 52 volunteers, one of which was our son, Brad, were on 4 different job sites in New Orleans. What a blessing it was to see a couple of homes near completion and 2 properties with the very first volunteers ever! One of those properties was Ms. Shirley’s house.

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Remember now that Hurricane Katrina hit 9 1/2 years ago. Ms. Shirley has been living in alternate housing awaiting the resources to begin work on her home for that long!  The first thing that needed to be done, before the inside could be started, was a new roof. And this week 20 people from Maryland and Michigan worked on that roof.

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Ms. Shirley and Terah

The team leader for the team from Grace Community Church in Fulton, MD was a young woman named Terah. It wasn’t long after we met her that we realized that she knew the “ropes” here and that there was something different about her, so we asked her…”How many times have you been here?” And she answered very humbly, “oh, I think 12.” And our response to that was “You’ve been here how many times?!?”

You see, since 4 months after the storm in December, 2005, Terah has been to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina Recovery almost every Christmas break and a few times in between. When asked why she keeps coming back she said, “Because of ReachGlobal’s heart and vision, the staff and the special people of New Orleans. They’re like no other in the world.” She has met many “Ms. Shirley’s” in those years. To Terah, it’s truly not about the work, it’s about the people and the relationships she forms not only with the homeowners but with her team members, members of other teams that are serving with her, the staff and even local restaurant owners.

When asked what the most impactful  thing God has taught her is she replied that He has taught her that “He is in ultimate control. No matter how much, how long, or how thoroughly she plans these trips, He can and will change the plans to reflect His will and she is only along for the ride and she is to obey Him.” Her humble obedience has also rubbed off on the students she leads. These guys served tirelessly for 5 days roofing a house. 90% of them had never picked up a tool in their lives, but they were willing to learn and do what it took to begin the work on this home.

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Not only does Terah lead teams herself but she is also discipling and developing additional team leaders in her church. Last summer two of those leaders brought teams to Staten Island and New Orleans, both of which we had the privilege of working with. Encouraging students to serve and lead others to serve is a true passion of hers.

And her students have brought it home to Maryland. 2 years ago they began a ministry in their youth group that serves monthly around the community.The focus on unmet needs and like to serve in unique ways. They help at a homeless shelter in Baltimore with made to order sandwiches, games, ice cream socials, birthday bingo and prayer walks. They work with a meal delivery service, do a free carwash and work with an inner city youth ministry. And they follow God’s teaching to take care of the elderly, sick and widowed.

God’s glory shines brightly in Terah’s eyes and she contributes everything to Him. We are so grateful that she has obeyed His call…all 12 times!

Blessings to you and a Happy New Year!

Jackie

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Lives can’t help but change.

Change can be difficult for a lot of us. We try to make changes but we soon go back to what is comfortable and what feels normal even though we hate what we are or our actions. Change requires intentionally working and striving for something you so desperately want that you are willing to go to any length to get it. But change can also come in a slow and easy way that maybe you don’t even realize it is happening. I think about a homeowner that we have been working with in Staten Island for about 6 weeks. His name is Norm. On Thursday night we like to invite the homeowners to the convent we are staying in with the volunteer teams to have dinner with us. After dinner we move to a meeting room and we begin to have a time of sharing. We ask that we answer three different questions. Where have you been working and what have you been doing there? Because we are working on several different sites. Then how have you seen God working this week? And what is God doing in you? Of course no one wants to go first or go at all, so we have a little solution to that, we play spin the bottle. Oh yeah, the bottle lands on you and you share. As the night goes on the bottle gets put away cause everyone wants to share as they begin to hear the stores from their team mates, staff and homeowners. Well, 6 weeks ago I remember hearing Norm share and say how he was amazed that there were still people in this world like us. That people would give a week of their summer and pay for it to come work for a total stranger. He said he really doesn’t give the time of day to God or spiritual things, but he could see something different in us.

Norm

Norm

As the teams share about how hard it is to go back home knowing the work is not complete and their hearts are with the homeowners the tears begin to fall as they have formed such a strong bond with these homeowners. Then the homeowners share that they to have to say goodbye to the volunteers they have met and fallen in love with…people from all over the US and it is so hard to say goodbye every week. They are so grateful for so many “strangers” that give of themselves to help them, when they can’t even get help from there neighbors or family and friends.

Norm shared with the group the last week we were in Staten Island that he had never felt so close to God in his life. Now to come from not giving the time of day to God to never feeling so close to God in his life in 6 weeks means something is changing in this man whether he realizes it or not. This is what it’s all about and God has filled my heart with the fulfillment and success that only can come from Him.

By the way that next day at the close of our day and the last day of the week and for that team, we circled up for our prayer to close out the day as we do everyday. We were praying around the circle when all of a sudden Norm said he wanted to say something and he began to pray and thank God for the team and for sending them to him. This was the first time he had prayed out loud in the circle! Well, I could not believe it but it was so cool how God uses us in little ways to shine a light and bring light into someone’s dark world. All we need to do is give of ourselves just a little, really not that much to ask when you look at what Jesus did for you.

This is what one week of your live can do to help someone else. It’s a building block. You may be with that homeowner in the first week planting seeds or on the 6th week watering that seed. Either way you are a worker for the harvest. Please consider gathering a team from your church to join us for a week!  It will change your life for sure but it may affect someone else for eternity.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Angola Prison meets Brooklyn Tabernacle

One of the blessings of coming to New York City to do ministry is being ministered to at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. And today was definitely one of those days! Our teammate, Katrina, asked if we wanted to go because they were doing simulcast service between Angola Prison, the Louisiana State Penitentiary and the Brooklyn Tabernacle. And I thought, why not?

Angola Prison is the largest maximum security prison in the United states and it houses 6300 prisoners. 74% of them have life sentences. To us it would appear that they have no hope at all but for the 4 men that shared today, Angola is where they found a life saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And these men are not alone. The “chapel”, which is as large as most of our churches, was full of men praising God with hands raised. They listened to each speaker with heads nodding in agreement and a look of contentment on their faces.

There were 3500 people at the Tabernacle and several hundred inmates of the Angola Prison worshiping God together as one body of Christ, one church. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Jesus died on the cross to not only forgive my sins, but to forgive the sins of everyone, including theses inmates who have committed unspeakable crimes.

One of the most moving times was when a man, who had been convicted of 1st degree murder at the age of 16, got up and gave his testimony of how he came to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. When he was done he looked at his mother, who was sitting in the front row (one of 2 family members in attendance) and he asked for her forgiveness. He had been in that prison for 25 years already and would spend the rest of his natural life there but he knows that his life will not end when he leaves Angola. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice he will spend eternity praising Him. Praise God for this amazing gift!

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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