Ephesians 3:16-20 “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude as we think of all the Lord has done in 2015. He has put His love in our hearts, and accomplished far more than we could ever imagine. Many thanks to all of you who have prayed with us, supported us, and walked along side us this past year.
As we reflect on what God has been doing, we are inspired to pursue Him with renewed faith and love in 2016. Below are some of the highlights from the past year and thoughts on what God might be up to in our lives and neighborhood in the year ahead.
This past month, God put it on the hearts of our friends to provide Christmas gifts for some of the families in our community. We invited a couple families for a Sunday feast, our friend baked a turkey and ham, and her and Miah purchased gifts for all the children. Our home was full of His love and fellowship as we shared the story of God’s loving gift to us: the Holy Spirit. Many thanks to the Yanok family (and other donors) who pulled off a great display of God’s love for our neighbors!
One of the families that came has been coming regularly to our kids group (partnered with Antioch ministries) on a regular basis. This past month the mom came over for an hour after the Thursday kids group was done. This is unusual for her, and I could tell she had something on her heart.
This evening was particularly difficult as the kids ministry ended with the volunteers rebuking demonic spirits and trying to calm families who were threatening violence against each other. I wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk about what happened that evening, but it was obvious that she was disturbed about something. After a little chit chat, she confessed that she wanted to get right with God. She wanted to pray with someone about it, but didn’t know any church well enough to go there. The only place she could think of was us because her kids come weekly for Bible study.I could feel the love of God for her as her kids and my kids all held hands around our kitchen and prayed together.
Miah, Nadia and I have been checking back in with her since, and it was a joy to have her whole family at our house. Other donors helped get her families water turned back on in time for the Holidays, and while she was at our house she wanted to know if we could take her to the dollar store to get some cleaning supplies (imagine having 5 kids in a house with no running water for a month). It ‘just so happened’ that another donor had previously provided cleaning supplies for the 810project, all of which met her needs PERFECTLY! Everything she needed and wanted was in that box. Imagine that! How perfect is God’s love for her, that he would bring 3 different families together to provide: food, presents, water, and all the supplies she needed. No human could plan a story like this. God is awesome.
If you’ve been watching the news, you may have noticed Minneapolis reports of protest stemming from the police shooting of Jamar Clark. Community members stationed themselves around the precinct for 19 days before finally being cleared out by police. I was able to spend many days on sight, listening to stories and praying with my neighbors. Despite what may have appeared on the news, I was very impressed with the leadership for these protests and my experience was one of non-violence.
Sam was just 1 of many by-standers at the precinct. I met him several feet from the barricade between the people and the police. When I met him, he stated he was there to ‘mess’ with and ‘have fun’ with the police. Many people I met took this moment as an opportunity to voice their frustrations to the police face to face. In Samuel’s case, he had a few beers in him and a couple more in his pocket and was just looking for entertainment.
As we talked, he confessed that he’s been on hard times: just released from jail, no job, living with an old girlfriend whom he doesn’t necessarily like but he has no other options. “I want to be right with God, but I know I’m not ready to give up my life,” were his words. “When it comes down to it, I’m just lonely.”
I couldn’t believe his honesty. Isn’t this all of us? We know the good we should be doing, but feel powerless to do it? We do so many things for love and acceptance, even though we know they are not right. The alternative seems unattainable. But the reality is that Christ love IS REAL. It is tangible. His Word says so (Romans 3, 5, 2 Cor 1 & 5, Eph 1…His spirit is a deposit inside of us, He has adopted us as His own, and His Spirit within us creates an intense longing by which we call out “ABBA! FATHER!!”) What I’m finding is that my neighborhood is full of Samuels…people who KNOW the word of God and WANT to follow HIM, they just need someone to walk with them. Keep praying for Samuel!
My heart is grieved for the wide chasm between the ideals of justice and mercy and the reality of community-police relations in my neighborhood. I’ve posted other thoughts related and wont say any more here, but to ask you to continue to pray for peace and justice to rule in North Minneapolis. [Amos 5, Nehemiah 1 have been my meditations lately.] I want the voice of my neighbors to be heard, and I will continue to stand beside them, support them and pray for them in 2016.
Throughout the year, we’ve held weekly outreaches in various places throughout our community. We’ve prayed with hundreds of our neighbors and will continue to do so in the coming years. Some of the highlights include:
*Halloween outreach: hosting a popcorn/movie/game night in our front yard. Talked with dozen of kids and parents, prayed with many.
*Love Mpls: 24/7 worship and evangelism partnership with Trinity Works. Reached hundreds of neighbors with the Gospel.
*Valentines outreach: distributed hundreds of roses and love letters from Jesus to our neighbors. We are still in contact with some of the commitments from this outreach and continue to see fruit from all that the Lord is doing both on this outreach and the others.
*Weekly backyard BBQ’s: developing deeper relationships with neighbors and their children.
*Weekly backyard Bible Studies w/ Miah: meals both physically and spiritually
*Garden building with the neighborhood kids
*Twins games and other outings
*Weekly worship partnerships w/ TCJHOP
We’re almost done!!! Water should be turned on this month, with electric to follow. Then it’s just a matter of finished touches like trim, ect. This means more consistent times of ministry as we expand our programming from 1 house to 2!
*Continued partnership with Antioch ministries.
We look to expand our once a week programming with kids to 2-3 days per week by Summer. This is where partnership is great, as more volunteers means more love distributed to our neighborhood kids without us having to be directly involved every day. If you would be interested in taking kids on an outing 1/week or 1/month, let us know! Or if you have other creative ideas you would like to pursue or life skills you could pass on, we’ll find a way to make it work:) (job skills, life skills, or just fun).
*Teen ALPHA night:
I’ve noticed a TON of teenagers in our neighborhood and spoken with several who have a genuine interest in the things of God, but are not necessarily interested in going to a church. God has put it on our hearts to try a Teen Night at the 810 house this Winter. Please pray for the volunteers and resources to arise (and the house to be completed on time) to make this happen! I expect great relationships to be established through these weekly meetings.
*Week of prayer and fasting:
We’ll be starting off the year right, fasting Jan 1-7th. the 810 house will be open pretty much every day during this time for anyone who would like to worship/pray with us. Focused times of prayer will occur at 10am and 5:30 pm daily. I may not be available for every meeting, but if you know a particular time you could come (anytime is the right time), message me and I’ll give you the door code.
**Note: there is still currently no running water. Bathrooms are a few blocks away. sorry:(
We will continue our weekly Thursday outreaches throughout our community. We don’t always see fruit right away, but over the past month I’ve gotten calls from 3 different people we’ve met over the past year looking for Christmas help. It’s a joy to reconnect with them and offer service in Christ’s Name. Meeting tangible needs always leads to opportunities to talk more about spiritual needs as well.
We are focusing on a large scale Summer event through the 810:project. Stay tuned as we release more details in the coming months: but be advised; IT WILL BE FREAKING AWESOME!!!!
We’ll continue our partnerships for this years Love Twin Cities in June, and other outreaches for events like Valentines Day, Easter, ect.
Our goal is to be conformed into Christ’s image, to live a life that is hidden in Christ; bearing fruit in fellowship with Him that would remain forever. Christ’s model for bearing fruit involves staying connected to the Vine, and making disciples of all men.
We continue to meet regularly with several of the men and women in our neighborhood (young and old) and trust that God will bear fruit in these relationships. I’m astounded at how quickly He is able to do this.
*Side note: Please pray for A. This is just 1 example of what I’m talking about. This father of 5 is so connected to friends and family, that on the weeks he brings me to his house I have the opportunity to minister to 2-3 extra people every week in our Bible study. Now imagine what will happen when A is fully formed into Christ’s image and is burning with passion for Jesus! This is a mustard seed that will grow and permeate the entire ground where he lives. Cousins, friends, neighbors will come to the knowledge of Christ through this man. He needs our intercession though. Please remember him and fight for him in your prayers.
The greatest gift we have is Christ. A close second is the relationship He’s given us with you. We love and appreciate you all so much. If there’s any way we can pray for you or help you in this coming year, please don’t hesitate to ask!