Thursday, January 26, 2012

Welcoming Strangers

Sunday our lives changed drastically! As you know we moved to New Orleans and we moved here so God could open doors for relationships to be built and then as those relationships mature, we would be then able to see needs and meet them. And in so doing, we would have the opportunity to share the gospel with our new friends in a tangible and practical way. In our journey here, we met a friend named Lacey (names have been changed for privacy) and her two-year-old daughter Bethany, and last week we found out that she was being evicted from her apartment. She is going through a divorce and her husband was the main breadwinner, but he has not yet started paying child support. She has a job but it is not enough to cover her rent, so she is being evicted. She had nowhere to go and was days away from living in her car or under the bridge near the Superdome.

Well, we found out about her dilemma and our team of missionaries here got together and decided that we needed to help. We as Christians are called and commanded to show hospitality and so we as a community of believers decided to invite her to live among us here in this community. Both Jen and I are wired for and love showing hospitality and so we immediately offered our home and they moved in on Sunday.

Now you have to remember we share this house already with another family of four. We have one kitchen and one laundry area and two bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms downstairs. We have only two bathrooms and a cute little nook area. Well, we now have one less nook area and one more bedroom area. J This new bedroom area is where Lacey and Bethany are living. We now have ten people living in our house and breakfast time is exciting as everyone dances through the kitchen and dining room getting ready for their days. This new adventure causes us to adjust our laundry schedule, our showering schedule, and limits even more our individual space to unwind and relax.

The cool thing in all this is that this is why we moved here! We followed God’s lead here and gave up our individual idea of having our “own space” so we could invite people into our lives so they could experience God’s love and His values on a daily basis. We are so excited about this new adventure and wanted you to know about what is happening so you can pray for Lacey and Bethany. Pray for us and our missionary team as well. Pray that we will have the patience and love that is needed to love Lacey and Bethany like Jesus would. Pray specifically for Jen as she has taken on the responsibility of not just sharing her home but mentoring Lacey in parenting, eating healthy, making wise choices with her time and finances, and ultimately just believing the truth and not being defeated by her past.

As I close, I want to share with you some words & Scripture that have challenged and motivated us in this mission. May they challenge you to look for ways in which you too can practice hospitality so that more people can experience Christ around the world. Jen and I are reading a book right now by Christine Pohl called Making Room. In the book the author makes a statement that we resonated with and thought it would be encouraging for you to hear. The statement is as follows, “Hospitality is not optional for Christians, nor is it limited to those who are specifically gifted for it. It is instead, a necessary practice in the community of faith.”

Also, as you pray for us we wanted to share some scriptures for you to meditate on with us.

Romans 12:9-13, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Hebrews 12:1-3, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

1 Peter 4:7-10, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

3 John 1:5-8, “Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.”

Friday, January 13, 2012


It’s been a quiet start to the new year in some respects. I (Jen) am writing the blog today because Dave is in silence. He’s not using the silent treatment (haha)…he is practicing an important discipline of listening intentionally to the Lord. Part of our training process here in Communitas involves a weeklong practice of silence. The goal is that we would discipline ourselves to listen to the Lord, to listen to the needs of people around us, to listen to the place in which we are. During that week, we speak as little as possible and we refrain from using our phones, email, TV, and other forms of amusement and “noise.” Sometimes in order to hear better, we have to turn off some of the things blaring in our ears.

So, on January 2 of this new year, I began my week of silence. Just two days after my week had finished, Dave began his. So, as I said, it has been a quiet beginning of sorts. During my week, everyone else around me was still talking, singing, shouting and otherwise making noise. Some people asked if I just couldn’t wait to speak again. Of course, I couldn’t really answer them. The funny thing was that the not-talking part wasn’t that hard for me. I like to talk and I enjoy talking with others, but I have a natural tendency to be quiet…at least compared to the group I’m in. I think what I desire is a greater boldness to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said. I read last week in Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline that “if we are silent when we should speak, we are not living in the Discipline of silence. If we speak when we should be silent, we again miss the mark.”

While there are a number of things and ways the Lord spoke to me last week, I believe the big lesson for me is to seek diligently to listen to His Spirit. And as I listen, to obey His direction. To speak even if I don’t know how it will be received. To wait even when I want to move. To go even when it would be easier to stay. To be quiet when I would rather be entertained. To live out His desires when it doesn’t seem to “fit.” To love when it’s easier to ignore. I pray that all of us would have a greater ability to hear and know the Lord. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in the sight of our Lord.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Saints Go Marching In...

We moved to New Orleans because God was calling us to live a new life on mission with people who just don't care about God or His church. So we moved into the Uptown neighborhood of NOLA and began walking the streets asking God to show us the people and places He wanted us to begin hanging out with and building relationships. On one of those walks we met a man named Robert who was hanging a huge sheet in his tree in his front yard. Silas simply said "hello" and asked him why he was doing that, and a new relationship was formed. We talked to Robert and he told us that every time the Saints had a game at night, they hung up the sheet, projected the game on it, and invited all the neighbors to watch the game in their front yard. He invited us and we immediately said we would be there. So every time there has been a night game, we have gone and participated. Last night was the first game of the NFL playoffs and the Saints and Lions were battling it out and of course there was a party at the neighbors' house. And if there was a party... guess where we were? Yep, at the corner of Nashville Avenue and Clara Street in Robert's front yard. As you can see from the picture at the top, the yard was packed with about 80 people in chairs, on porches, on the grass, or just standing and cheering. It was quite an experience to witness first hand. The people of New Orleans love to party and they love their Saints and they love their alcohol. So here we were with our kids and our chairs in the midst of 80 people who love life and love to party but don't know our Savior. Now I love football and last night was a perfect game for me since I have been a Detroit Lions fan since I was little and since I was routing for the Saints because I live in this town now. Obviously I had that motive of watching the game, but my bigger mission was being present and in proximity with those who don't know the love of Christ. Jen and I could have stayed home and watched the game online and in the safety of our own home, but we decided to go to the neighbors who were drinking and cussing so that we as a family could be on mission with people. Now I didn't pass out any tracts or find someone to walk down the Roman road with me, but I talked to people, learned their names, helped them clean up and shared our food and space with them. We built relationships and made some new friends that hopefully we will see on their porches or at the park and we will continue to share life with them and celebrate with them. Please pray that the relationships we have built will grow into relationships that will lead to conversations where we will have the opportunity to share God's love story with them. To all those who support us.... THANK YOU for making this possible. For all those who know Christ... Look for ways to meet and hang out with your neighbors. Be intentional about inviting them into a space where they feel like friends and listen to the Holy Spirit for opportunities to share Christ with them. All those who know Christ can use proximity to share the Gospel boldly!!! Love you and appreciate your prayers.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thank You for Letting God Use You

Happy New Year!!!!

Welcome to 2012! New Year’s is always an interesting holiday for me. Growing up it was always a time to invite all our friends over to our house for a party. We would stay up late and cheer when it turned midnight. Then we would simply say good-night to people and they would all go home. People often make a big deal about looking back and looking forward. People dissect their last year and how they have grown or failed and then decide that they will be better next year. In reality though, life is no different. People still wake up and go to school or back to work, they still eat the same breakfast, and drink the same cup of coffee. They continue to read the newspaper and download apps to their phone. All of us still eat at the same restaurants and hang out with same people. So what is the big deal about New Year’s?

I think New Year’s is a big deal for different reasons for different people. For me it isn’t really a big deal. I am not one to have some big resolution or anything, but I am one to take a moment to look back. I am a guy who is constantly looking forward to know how to be better, but I am not good at taking a moment to thank God for all the things that He has done this past year to prove to me and my family that He is still on the throne and in control. So on New Year’s I like to take a deep breath and consider those things. I thought it would be fun for me to write them down this year so you too could be encouraged by the things our God has done. So I invite you to take me a moment to drink in God’s goodness.

January 2011

· I started the year healthy

· I began my last semester as a 33 year old college senior

· God took us safely to New Orleans for the first visit to Communitas (Safe but not void of a traffic ticket J) God is still Just!

February 2011

· God began really drawing our hearts to New Orleans

· We enjoyed a real deepness and encouragement from a group of Godly people who came to our house every Tuesday to pray and eat

· We celebrated the 2nd birthday of our wonderful daughter Myah

March 2011

· We celebrated Mardi Gras at our house for the first time with lots of friends

· Our discipleship groups with the youth began to experience real community and authentic discussion of how to follow Jesus

· We were able to bring the whole family to visit NOLA and God answered many prayers we were praying:

o Our kids told us they wanted to live here

o God gave us a clear peace and calmness about moving to NOLA

o God gave us favor as we began telling our pastor and close friends about our new plans

o We received a new desire and passion to live among and love lost people

· I was pulled over again on this trip but saw God’s grace as we did not get a ticket

April 2011

· God gave me the opportunity to teach in the schools and was able to share with them my passion for Christ

· God allowed us to have peace in the ending of the discipleship groups we had started three years before

May 2011


· God gave us peace and boldness as we, as a family, stood in front of our wonderful church family and through tears told them that we would be leaving in July

· I was able to watch many dear youth graduate and begin their transition to college and a new chapter in their lives

· We had a positive affirming visit from Chad, a member of the team we would be joining in the Fall

June 2011

· God began giving us our first supporters and prayer warriors for our new adventure of being missionaries

· God opened many doors to have very intentional conversations with many youth who were struggling through the idea that we would no longer be there to lead them on the journey of faith

July 2011

· God used 55 youth and adults from Campbellsville Baptist Church to minister and learn from Grace Centers of Hope as we together loved and served the homeless in Detroit, MI

· God allowed me to finish well as the youth pastor and allowed us to have some very precious final days in Campbellsville with all the people we love and miss so much

· We were able to move out of our lovely little home with lots of friends helping and making lunch

· God gave us an overwhelmingly awesome final day in C-ville as youth and friends and families spent time sitting on our empty living room floor encouraging us and praying for and with us as we began our new adventure

August 2011

· God gave us the most amazing time with my family in California as we stayed with them for almost 5 weeks

· God answered our begging and pleading for support as we started our first 2 weeks at 2% funded and that changed over night to 14%

· God allowed us to have some God ordered meetings with countless people who we have known in the past. And as they prepared meals for us and listened as we told them about our new adventure, God gave us favor as we saw our support go from 14% to 22% funded

September 2011

· We loaded our U-Haul truck and were able to fit everything in

· We had traveling mercies and were able to land in NOLA safely and easily

· We saw God work in allowing our kids to fit in and transition quickly and easily

· We were able to be a part of a beautiful wedding of two of our new community members - Beth and Taylor

· God quickly opened doors for us to build relationships with the neighbors on our street and neighborhood

· I had the blessing of finding a job right away doing construction

October 2011

· God continued to open doors with people who had decided to support us financially as we found ourselves at 40% funded

· We had the joy of visitors from Kentucky! Yep Jen’s parents and a nephew came to stay for a long weekend and to encourage us

· We continued to meet new people in our neighborhood like Steve at Midway Pizza and Warren and Laurie at Village Coffee and Tea

· We also saw individuals and Sunday School classes from Campbellsville Baptist Church sponsor us every month for the next year to go to Midway and Village Coffee and Tea so we could continue to build relationships and be around those who are lost

November 2011

· We continued to enjoy God’s blessings of His people supporting us as we found ourselves at 43% funded

· We had the opportunity to meet and have some really great spiritual conversations with a guy named Nick and met some new neighbors on our street

· We had the opportunity to dress up once again like pilgrims and share the Thanksgiving meal with close to forty neighbors, friends, and team members

December 2011

· Again we experienced unending joy as we saw new supporters join our team and we found ourselves 48% funded for the year

· We had the opportunity to spend Christmas with my mom and dad who came to visit for 9 days

· We also were blessed and encouraged by a group of friends who came to visit us for three days from Kentucky. Their presence reminded us how much we miss Campbellsville and also how much we are more than friends, we are family.

· We have been reminded of God’s grace and how important the fellowship of believers really is

So here we are… it’s 2012 and time to get back to the rhythms of life of going back to waking up and going to work, but in the midst of all that, I will do it with confidence that the Lord is still good and wants the best for us. If the New Year begins, I know one thing for sure…. If God is as good to us as He was last year, we have a lot to look forward to. We pray God blesses you as you continue to love and follow Him this next year.

Thank you to all who have given of your time and finances to make this past year a true testimony to how great God is. We love and miss all of you greatly. Continue to pray for us and plead with God that we may share Christ’s love with all who we encounter.