Thursday, July 30, 2009

Meeting Our Neighbors

There is so much more we would like to share then time allows in this 'update', but there are some great things happening. Let us give you a little insight as we ask you to pray with us and for us. (We've changed the names.)

Please join us in pray for:

Fabiola’s meeting with Zelma
Zelma is a woman that knows everyone. Fabiola was walking down the street to the store and saw a lady struggling to get down the street with her three children and stuff and asked to help her…this has started what appears to be a key relationship in the community. She has shown interest in studying the Bible and tomorrow potentially could be the start of a Bible study (one on one—with kids, or a ladies group) in the future. Pray for direction and spiritual wisdom and discernment for Fabiola during this time.

Fabiola and Rebecca gathering with a group of ladies at South Park in front of our house with Zelma and other ladies. Zelma has introduced Fabiola to many women already.

Our neighbor Ronaldo.
I was taking the trash out late one afternoon and saw that my neighbor on the other side of the fence was making window screens. I struck up a conversation with him about his work and then asked if he could come over to our house to see about putting in two screens that we were missing. Over the following week he was over every day for one reason or another. Everything was going well, we were getting to know one another and building a foundation for a relationship, when one weekend he came over to our house and asked for money ($10.00). I wasn’t home, but Fabiola explained that we didn’t have much cash on hand and that we didn’t normally loan out money. Before I got home that evening he stopped by again drunk and began flirting with Fabiola. We haven’t seen him since…though our heart still goes out to see him and his family restored to a right relationship and freedom with Jesus.

Pedro and Valerie and family.
From our family room window Fabiola saw a lady sit down at the park across the street with her baby and wipe the tears from her face as she was obviously dealing with something heavy. Fabiola moved to compassion began to cross the street to offer her help or comfort when her boyfriend drove up. They began to yell and argue openly and loudly when Fabiola intervened and asked if they would be willing to come to our house instead of driving off again angry in that state and allow her to see if she could offer them any help. They sat in our living room and confessed their sins and accepted Jesus, but are dealing with drug, alcohol, domestic abuse, relational issues and a slew of other issues right now. We ask that you would pray with us that the seed that has been planted would not be on soil that is too shallow, robbed, scorched or, choked out in any way (Mark 4:1-20) and that they might submit to Christ daily in their beginning stages of this new confession. We’ve seen similar situations bear little fruit, but believe God has a powerful plan of redemption and restoration for Pedro and Valerie and their family.

A group of four homeless men make camp at the pine tree in front of our house as a group of school-aged boys play soccer.

The homeless.
Unfortunately there are too many to name here. We’ve had the privileged to meet many homeless and have a house big enough to house some of them, but we aren’t ready for any steps in that direction. Our park has been a refuge for many. There are two types of homeless really. One group that loosely bands together is mostly adult males that are either mentally ill, alcoholic and/or drug addicts. Working with them is similar to my experiences in the rescue missions. The essence of this ministry is presence and consist love. The other group is families or partial families who come to the park and hang out all day and sleep in their cars or vans on the streets around us at night. Fabiola has a relationship with one of these families and we hope to share more about them as time progresses. The mother’s name is Maribel and she is very open to receive prayer and Fabiola’s heart-felt friendship. Her husband has been less trusting and open. Pray for their situation, their hearts and more opportunities to minister the love and truth of God to them in these coming days and weeks. They have six children and live in a van.

Continued direction and leading.
We continue to be in prayer about the specifics (leadership team, specific design and vision elements) of our church plant as we approach a launch date hopefully towards the first quarter of 2010. Join us in this exciting phase of creating what God’s desire is for His church here in this community of South Central Los Angeles.

Thank you for championing this cause with us in prayer!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Support of the Team

Part of getting situated and familiar in this "foreign land" has been going on walks around our neighborhood and driving around trying to get from point A to point B--exploring slightly different routes each time. It was on one of those drives recently that traffic was halted by the screams of about eight police cars racing across the intersection.
I watched and was overtaken somewhat by the intensity and velocity at which they pursued the call they received. I was especially drawn to one car that pulled over in the middle of an intersection blocking the on-coming traffic to allow the others to scream past them without cause to worry about what might come at them from the other direction.

As I watched this entire scene unfold, I thought about how valuable it is to have others looking out for us. We have responded to the "emergency call" God put out to this part of Los Angeles, and people like you are praying for us and helping keep us safe from danger and distraction, allowing us to focus on and accomplish the things God has called us to do--to reach the lost, train up leaders, and see the nations come to Jesus.

We have three prayer requests. First, pray we would meet strategic people and make contacts at strategic places. We live across from a park that is teeming with activity and have been able to meet some people there, often at the playground as we watch Rebecca and Justice play with their children. We have gotten to know some of our neighbors as well, but we still want to nurture those relationships and expand out further. There is an elementary school about three blocks away and a row of stores that we still have not gotten into yet--maybe key relationships and contacts will come through one of these places. Pray that we would have wisdom and be guided in His timing.

Second, pray for grace in our lives, especially in the area of our strength and energy. As we are confronting so many new things every day, we typically feel exhausted and fatigued--sometimes by mid-day. Pray for each of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy levels and times of rest while we are constantly "on call" to our community.
Last, continue to pray for our protection. Though we have not noticed any blatant crime on our street, that is not to say it is not here. With the Fourth of July last month we felt a bit like we were in a war zone with all the bottle rockets and mortars going off day and night through much of the month. There is a lot of garbage around our house and the park, and as is typical in poorer neighborhoods like ours, there are unwanted visitors from cockroaches to mice and fleas, lice and termites to rats and opossums. We have only experienced a little of that so far, but we ask that you would pray with us that we would be protected from harm’s way in the physical and spiritual realms.

Thank you for going with us – your prayers are important!