I am unabashedly in love. This love is something I never realized was out there for me. Do I love my kids? Absolutely! They are loving and caring adults now and have a compassion for others that amazes me. Grandchildren? Oh Yeah! Watching them grow in their relationships with God has been one of the biggest highlights of my life. Husband, Rob? Oh my…let me count the ways I am in love with him and know he loves me. BUT there is another that has me wondering why…why does He love me? How can He love me after all I have done to offend Him throughout my life?
The one I love so much is Jesus. Yep, Jesus. Some who knew me before my life with Jesus are probably rolling their eyes right now saying…so she found religion, she went off the deep end, or even “yeah right”. I want to tell you all about it though.
First of all, what you need to know is I didn’t have to jump through any hoops, serve a million funeral lunches or try to work my way to Jesus. I am a sinner as we all are, I know that. No amount of work I do here on earth is going to get me into heaven. Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior has paid the price for my sin. By dying on the cross for my sins (and yours), He paved the way to heaven for me (and you!). Nothing, I repeat nothing I do short of asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and asking Jesus to forgive my my trespasses will pave that way.
But Jackie was just nasty. She was a drunk, she did some pretty stupid things, she was not who God would pursue. These are things I told myself and things many people thought of me. How could Jesus, the Sinless, Savior of the world love her? I’ll tell you how I found out through the Bible that Jesus loves even me.
First the Bible tells me, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.
This tells me everyone sins.
But how cool is it that God provides a covering for our sin through Jesus’ death on the cross -“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:8-10
And it’s super easy to receive this free gift from God – “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Anyone can do this! If I can, anyone can!
That’s it. No amount of works is enough to pay the price for my sin. But you may say…she does good works, she helps people after crisis, she is out there doing “things”. Here’s the deal, I don’t do these things to be saved and spend eternity with Christ, I do them BECAUSE I am saved and will spend an eternity with Christ. He asks us to serve others and be His hands and feet, to share the love of Christ with those in need. Obedience is what He asks of me. Listen folks, I’m NOT perfect. That is saved for One and One Only, God. Bu the Bible is clear; “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3.
This is me today. The old has gone, the new has come. My prayer for each and every one of my friends and family that you too can love Jesus unabashedly, with complete abandon. He is worthy of our love and through His death, He and He alone makes us worthy of Our Father in heaven.
If you have any questions on this or how someone with the past I had can be loved by our gracious, Heavenly Father, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll call you or meet up with you to talk more.
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!
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.
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!
Look for the blessings in your day. They are always there we just have to be on the lookout for them.
“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!
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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?
1300 miles, 2 days and 11 states later… and we are in Staten Island, New York! It hardly seems possible that last week we were at Miss Dorothy’s working to get her back into her bedroom in New Orleans and today we are on Staten Island working with a team of 26 high school freshmen from Grand Rapids, Michigan! My how time flies when you’re having fun.
And today was FUN! Now I know most of you are saying…”you had fun with 15 year olds?” and I would answer you betcha! Ok, so that’s a Minnesota thing but I did have a blast! The team was divided up today to go to separate job sites and I had the privilege of working with what I soon called “The Dream Team”. There were 6 girls and their fearless small group leader, Jessica. We were tasked with moving the rocks from a huge pile onto a trailer to be hauled over to a different site to be used as backfill and to provide some drainage rerouting due to persistent flooding in the home. The first thing I asked the girls was “Do we have an girlie girls here?” To which one reluctantly raised her hand. I said “ok girls, NO girlie girls here today ok?” And they all lifted a rock and said OK!
Let me tell ya, tell a 15 year old girl that they can do something and boy do they do it! They were lifting huge boulders and throwing them into the truck. It got to the point that they were looking for the bigger rocks because they wanted to get that trailer filled! We had no injuries, no whining, no crying and most of all…no girlie girls! In essence I was given “The Dream Team” to work with! God gave these girls super human strength (well it did take 3 to lift some of the larger rocks), super human attitudes and super human spirit. The were so much fun to work with. We finished our job in a little more than 1 1/2 hours and we had time to walk the 2 blocks to the ocean and put our feet in the sand before our ride came back to get us!
But I gotta tell you the coolest thing. They found out that one of their friend’s on the trip has a birthday this Saturday. They wanted to do something for her so Wednesday night we are baking her a birthday cake. They made special point of slyly finding out what her favorite cake was and have asked me to pick up the ingredients. On Thursday night when we have the homeowners over for dinner we will have an surprise for Jo. We’ll sing happy birthday and have her blow out her 15 candles. The same girls that can move rocks like a 250 lb wrestler can bake a cake and show so much love for their friend.
So the next time someone asks you if you think a 15 year old girl can help you with a tough job, say yes! Then ask her to not be a girlie girl, encourage her, pray for her and just enjoy her company. God made us all 15 years old once upon a time. Remember that.
I praise Him today and give Him all the glory for “The Dream Team”! What an awesome group of girls!