Get yourself a cup of coffee and sit down and relax a while. It’s been a while since we have blogged so this one’s going to be a long one, but God’s been doing some amazing things and I want to tell you about them. We have been in the field for 7 weeks now and the blessings of peace I have received from this time have been unbelievable. I feel I have found the success I have searched for my whole life come to me in the form of peace that I have received from Jesus, knowing I am in His will. I am learning to put my selfish desires aside for the desires of what Christ wants for me and in return I have received the peace that can only come from Him. (John 14:27)
I was talking to a man named Jimmy that had stopped me on the street to ask if we were carpenters. He needed his house painted. We were painting a home for Miss. Coleen in New Orleans and he pulled his car over and we began to talk. I asked him if he had a relationship with Jesus and he looked at me and said of course I do. He continued to tell me about how a few years ago he had gotten cancer and had found Jesus. I asked him why he thought God saved him from death. He began to tell me how he was saved to love people and to do good things for them to draw them to Jesus. I knew he had gotten it and I told him that is why we were here. We were painting this house for Jesus not for Miss Coleen but because Jesus loved me so much that I want to express my love for Him by blessing Miss. Coleen and we pray that through that expression of love she will be drawn to Him. I shared how I have received peace on earth that the world could not give. We all look for peace and happiness in the world by the perfect job, the perfect house, the things we think will make us happy if only we had them. When all we need to do is give it all to Jesus and He will give us the peace we are searching for. True peace is real.
He asked “do you really think there can be real peace on earth?”, and proceeded to tell me about how his niece just got shot along with ten others. She was killed in the French Quarter a couple weeks ago. He said he couldn’t see how peace could exist on earth. I began to explain that peace on earth will not take place on earth till Jesus comes back but we can have peace in our hearts even in bad times. Our ways are not God’s ways. I asked him how God used Hurricane Katrina for his good. He began to tell me about how neighbors never talked before the storm and now there is a closeness between them. They helped each other and neighborhoods were cleaned up. I said the same thing can happen with the death of his niece many people may have a life changing experience through the sacrifice of a few but we must put our trust in Jesus and His plan. It can still be painful but if we trust Him that He has a plan we can have peace on earth. We prayed with Jimmy and got his information for the office to send a relational ministry person out to assess the work that needs to be done on his house and for further communication with him. God blessed our team through this Divine encounter. The conversations that can take place if we are only bold enough to step out in faith with people have blown people away.
The first time I started to think about the peace I have received, was in Staten Island three weeks ago. I was working on the home of Enrique. Let me tell you a little about Enrique and his heart. We were introduced to him through a church that had been working in his area. Pastor Tom told us about Enrique and how he had said he didn’t need help because there was a lot of other people that needed help.
Enrique has two houses on one piece of property and both were flooded in Super Storm Sandy up to the ceiling. He had them partially gutted out, but he desperately needed help. His family had moved back to Mexico and he hasn’t seen his family since he visited them this last winter. His electricity an extension cord run from his neighbors house and he has only cold water as the water heaters were taken out because of water damage. For bathing he heats water on his BBQ grill. He lives in one gutted out house while working on the other. Enrique had traded his ranch in Mexico for the two homes in Staten Island before the storm. I asked him why he traded his ranch and he told me that his heart could not take the raising of the animals and letting them go to the market. His kids had a hard time with it to. That is his heart. Because he is not a US citizen he was not eligible for any FEMA money or any assistance. He is unsure if his family will move back with him because they still fear another storm. But he knows he has to do something with his investment.
ReachGlobal Crisis Response came in with two different teams the two weeks we were there. We tore the floors out because it had two wood floors on top of each other and there was mold between them. This opened a huge can of worms because the floor trusses under the kitchen and bathroom where rotten and needed to be replaced. The 3”x 6” ledger board that sat on top of the foundation was also rotted and the trusses had to sit on that. But that was no problem! We jacked the house up and started replacing the bad wood. Another issue was that all the sewer and water lines ran under the house in the crawl space and would freeze up all the time so we began to run the water in the floor so it could be insulated and kept warm from the house. The sewer was part cast, part galvanized, and part PVC so we decided to tear it all out and start over. What a job you may say, but God had a plan and we took it one day at a time.
The cool thing was that Enrique just lost his job the Friday before we came on Monday. His profession in Mexico is as a chemistry teacher and he has a work visa here and is working as a restaurant waiter. He said it was a blessing because now he could help us! I am thinking, wow, how bad can things get for this guy get and yet he still can be in good spirits. God had a plan and we needed to be patient and watch it unfold. The first day I was there we were having lunch and Enrique looked at me and circled his face with his finger and said I can see peace in your face. That kinda set me back but I had to pull it together and think “how do you respond to that?” I shot a prayer up and God gave me the words to say. I said “I do, would you like some of that?”. He said yes and I said lets talk. The whole team was there and I didn’t know how comfortable he would be but he didn’t mind at all. It was if we were all by ourselves. I began to tell him how I didn’t always have peace and how miserable I had been and shared my testimony with him. When I was done he looked at me and said you “I can’t believe it, me too!” and he began to tell me his story.
As we worked with him, talked and prayed with him before we started and ended each day, we got really close. He went to church that Sunday on his own. That Monday he shared how he had felt something in church he had never felt before and it moved him to tears but he was so embarrassed that he held it back because he never cries. We shared with him that he was feeling God calling him and it’s ok to cry. That when we see ourselves as God sees us it can bring us to tears. We continued to work that day and the team left to go see how the other part of their group was doing down the street. Enrique asked me when it was that I “did this thing with Jesus?” I was amused inside but said “you mean when did I gave my life to Christ?” And he said “yes”. I told him about 16 years ago. He said “really, how did you do that?” and I proceeded to tell him how if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and will forgive us of our sins and if you believe with your whole heart that He is your Lord and Savior and ask Him in to your heart to rule over your life He will come in and you can have that relationship with Him you and He both desire. The team came back right then but I knew he was so ready.
That evening the team asked him if he wanted to go to the Brooklyn Tabernacle with them and he said yes. I really wanted to go but God was holding me back. I was tired and had to be back early in the morning and needed to get some sleep. They all went to Brooklyn Tabernacle and after the service and ferry ride back to Staten Island Enrique and the leader of the team, Billy, were walking to the car and talking and Enrique said he wanted to ask Jesus in my heart. It was so cool I guess. I wish I was there but they ask him if he needed help with that and he said “no, I know how to do it” and all the staff and adult leaders circled around and held hands and he prayed a beautiful life changing prayer. That had to be something. This circle of people in the parking lot of the Staten Island Ferry witnessing Enrique become their brother in Christ. The next day, no one wanted to tell me, they wanted Enrique to tell me. I was so happy to have a new brother in the family of God and he said “why doesn’t everyone do this? I feel so good I can feel Jesus in me.” I said I don’t know but we need to tell people about it. I told him I can see that peace in his face that he saw him mine.
We gave him a English/Spanish bible and I showed him where to start and encouraged him to read a little each day. I said I would stay in touch with him weekly to help hold him accountable and in turn he would keep me accountable and I have, but I miss my friend and can’t wait to get back to Staten Island the first week in August to see him. We did get him some discipling through the church he had attended and I can wait to see how it is going. By the way we did get all the water and sewer lines run and a new floor with insulation done those two weeks. Now he is ready for the walls to be put back in place. All with was accomplished by unskilled teenage kids giving a week of their summer to help those in need. I still keep looking in the mirror to see if I can see the peace Enrique saw and I can’t but I can sure feel it! But I will ask you the same thing I asked Enrique… Do you want some of this?