Thursday, October 28, 2010

Justice Small Group: 10/27/2010

"The kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” He will quickly reply.

Stop oppressing the helpless and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day.

The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities."
~Isaiah 58:6-12


I'm all wrapped up in that scripture today.  I found it this morning, and may have read it before, but never actually READ it if you know what I mean.  I think it's fascinating that God's leading us on a journey that he has led our forefathers on.

Foreigners seemed to be the topic of the night, mostly in reference to the refugee population that inhabits Ridgecroft...Birchcroft...Birchtree...Elizabeth help me out! (Inside joke).  I think that's unique considering the diverse population in our Justice Small Group.  I want to fight the temptation to jump the gun, but I will say that the addition of 7 new people (who for now shall remain nameless) bring an exceptional level of giftedness partnered with humility.  Some of us have been together for a long time, and we know and are known by each other.  I'm eager to get to know and be known by a new fleet of Kingdom Laborers.  You honor our household ( you know who you are :P ).

Foreigners can branch out into a lot of areas.  Underpaid immigrants.  The abused.  ESL.  Single mothers.  Divorced families.  The trafficked.  Providing groceries.  Tutoring.  You name it, we could do it.  I think it's a God sized vision to be certain.

The request has been made.  Fasting one day a week, however that looks for you, with the intent of emptying yourself, seeking His Face, and meditating on the following scriptures: Leviticus 19:18,1 Samuel 2:8, Psalms 82:3, Proverbs 14:31; 19:17; 21:13; 22:9; 28:27, Isaiah 58:6-11, Matthew 5:43-45; 19:19; 22:39; 25:34-46, Mark 12:31, 2 Corinthians 9:7-15, Ephesians 2:8-10, James 1:27; 2:8; 2:14-24, 1 John 3:17-19, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

I have no inclination to micromanage your spiritual life.  I trust that you will spend time with him and seek the truth.  I wish it were January.  I know I shouldn't, but I do!  I promise, I'll do my best to be right here and right now.
In the meantime, we've got our work cut out for us.  I already can't wait until our next meeting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Upside Down Kingdom

I'm going to do my best not to sound preachy or overly philosophical as I put my thoughts into words.  Sometimes blogs can sound pretentious in an effort to make someone seem pious or super spiritual.  The longer I've been on this journey with the Lord, the more I have become aware of my lack of piety in fact.  When we scale this hill, towards the House of the Lord, we inch closer and closer to Light that shows us who we are.  The things we're afraid of.  The secret places in our heart where we try to hide our indiscretions.  I guess I'm trying to say, I submit my thoughts in humility, to the aim of making this journey of Justice we are taking transparent to my brothers and sisters.

If you're reading, I'm blessed and humbled.  I offer to you my young experience in the Trenches of Kingdom Work, and hope to reveal to you the journey I've been on, as it's being revealed to me.

I'm spending my days thinking about the Kingdom.  If I'm honest, I have no clue what the Lord is up to.  I can say though, that when He opens a window into his Kingdom from time to time, Spirit and Scripture and Flesh all line up and make sense.  Wrongs are righted, no matter how small.  Seas are parted and mountains are moved.  Transgressions are forgiven.  There's food enough to share.  Smiles widen and tensions ease.  These are what it must be like to be in the King's proximity.  He once said, "Taste and see that the Lord is good..."  If the Kingdom had a taste, it would be like cold clean water to a dry mouth.  If you could see it, it would look like the marvel of my son as he attempts to make sense of a bubble landing on his finger.

So the Lord is getting ready to move the whole of Renovatus in a particular direction.  In a unified, mass effort, we are going to build the Kingdom of God, right here and right now.  We have fed the homeless for 5 years on "The Wall" in the heart of downtown.  The stories I could tell you of the Kingdom we saw there would make the hairs on  your neck stand straight up.  Then we saturated a neighborhood of the working poor in Reid Park for a year.  Tutoring kids for school, painting, yard work, garden planting, long conversations, home repair, kisses on the cheek, sweat, rides to work and church, and dirty hands.  We watch crime and prostitution statistics decline as the Lord expanded the borders of his Kingdom in that tiny neighborhood on West Blvd.

Now, the largest task yet looms in the distance, who's goal is still a little ambiguous.  Sex Trafficking.  Refugee communities.  Widows.  Orphans.  Homeless children.  Mental health patients.  Hospice patients.  The Aids Consortium.  Tendering the Elderly.  All noble causes, but we can only choose one.  I'm not nervous though.  We've asked for a vision and direction for Renovatus, and I know we'll get one. 

Here's how I know it will happen; the distinct ways that the Lord speaks to everyone on our team will slowly creep up on us unbeknownst.   For example, He lights me on fire fast.  I get excited and passionate right away, and could run a marathon.  Katie on the other hand, takes time.  The Lord gives her what she needs patiently.  We both arrive at the same conclusion at the same time.  It's like he ties up our narratives at their conclusion, though we took different paths to get there.  That's what He will do with Justice Small Group.  Tracey, Christine, Katie and myself, Dennis, Lisa, Elizabeth, and Erica...we will all arrive at the same vision at the same time in our own distinct ways.  That's how good He is.

So far, the thing that fills us with the most fear and passion seems to be Human Trafficking.  What does it look like to rebuild what the enemy has stolen there?  How will the Kingdom grow in the midst of modern day slavery?


"Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work."
~Mother Teresa

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Justice Small Group: 10/13/10

Ideas for Serving Him
*  Orphans, organizing and implementing a strategy to reduce the cost of domestic adoption.
*  Reworking a plan to feed the masses/ clothe the masses/ help the masses.
*  Rework a strategy to invade neighborhood of the working poor.
*  New Women's and Children's Shelter.
*  Home for aftercare of human trafficking.
*  Helping people in hospice.
*  Dealing with mental health.
*  Working in a Refugee Community in Bridgecroft on Central Ave.
*  Working with the Aids Consortium.
Available Resources:
Triad Ladder of Hope ~ Sex Trafficking
National Trafficking Information and Referral 
Hotline: 1.888.373.888
P:  336.883.2233 Ext. 223
E:  triadladderofhope@north
Triad Ladder of Hope is a grassroots, faith base, non profit, non governmental organization dedicated to eradicating the exploitation, sale, and enslavement of victims.  
Our Mission:  
Triad Ladder of HOPE works to liberate women and children trapped in modern day slavery and give them Hope, safety, security, and freedom.
Partner with the Dept. of Health and Human Services Rescue and Restore Campaign.  A National Christian Women's Job Corps site and part of the NC Ripple Collation.
Education:  Educating the citizens of America is a key to eradicating modern day slavery.  We offer presentations and enforcement, first responders, faith based community and organizations, health departments, NGO's, community, service and civic organizations.  
As a service provider:  
We provide a Christian context, wherein women are provided a safe environment, equipped for life, employment, and self-sufficiency, within a context wherein women help women.
Safety Net:  
Working to rescue victims by working with law enforcement and other organizations.  Offer assistance to victims.
There are 27 or more million people enslaved today.  More than ever before in the history According to the Department of State.  Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide.  According to the Department of State an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 of those victims are trafficked into the US.  This number does not include US Citizens who become victims of exploitation of sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
A Childs Place ~ Homeless Children
P.  704.343.3790
With no permanent residence, homeless children often stop going to school -- the one place that should provide structure in a life of transition.  Without the influence and stability of a classroom environment, these children lose more than a chance to learn.  They also lose the crucial sense of belonging gained from interacting with friends and other students.  But there is hope for these children -- and help -- through A Child's Place.  Founded in 1989, A Childs Place is a collaborative effort between Charlotte, NC community and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.
The goals for A Child's Place are to:
*  Provide stable, appropriate education to homeless students
*  Provide support services to enhance their opportunities for academic success
*  Provide services to families to ensure long term stability and self sufficiency.
Strategic Plan 2010 - 2012 manager/ACP_Strategic_plan_chart.pdf
Project Rescue ~ Sex Trafficking
P.  417.833.5564
Project Rescue is a ministry to women and children in sexual slavery focused on providing physical, emotional and spiritual rescue and holistic restoration.  our multifaceted programs aim to provide a save environment for transformation and growth. 
Rescuing today's young sexual slavery victims is nothing short of a miracle.  Our efforts to remove women and girls who have been forced into prostitution begin with providing long-term shelter in a safe place in which trust and healing can develop.  This often includes:
*  Negotiating the terms of release of enslaved women and girls.
*  Accepting trafficking victims who have been rescued during police raids and tacking them to one of our Homes of Hope.
*  Intervening to get sex workers' children out of the brothels during their mothers' work hours and into safe and nurturing Project Rescue Night-Care Centers.
During the first year of our efforts, Project Rescue utilized our financial resources to dismiss many young girls' "debts" to brothel owners, so that her freedom could be obtained.  As we began to better understand the sexual slavery trade and comprehend the horrors in trafficking system, however, we realized that this strategy only put money back into the hands of the organized crime; money that then used to enslave other young girls.
Today, Project Rescue takes a different approach.  We've established strong relationships with local police, city government officials, and even brothel owners who have come to trust our organization.  Project Rescue workers are now recognized and trusted in the cities' red-light districts and have become known for showing genuine kindness and demonstrating Christ's example of love in tangible ways.
My thoughts on organizations presented:
Well, it looks so far like the idea of stepping in behalf on those that are caught up in sex trafficking is what excites us the most.  Triad Ladder of Hope looks like it's struggling in comparison to Project Rescue.  I could see God using us with either; starting from scratch with a new Project Rescue or coming underneath Triad Ladder of Hope.  We would have to be very creative with how to get everyone active in a mission like this.  There would be many layers as to how to help; the front line, working with local police, building relationships, child care, fund raising, etc.  It's a little overwhelming to think about, but it sounds God-sized to me, which fills me with energy.
I have no inclination yet as to what direction we might head in, but I'm excited about our new prospects.  
Additionally, what does it look like to defend the widows and orphans in our area?
I love our small group already.
Meditation Scriptures:
Leviticus 19:18
1 Samuel 2:8
Psalms 82:3
Proverbs 14:31; 19:17; 21:13; 22:9; 28:27
Isaiah 58:6-11
Matthew 5:43-45; 19:19; 22:39; 25:34-46
Mark 12:31
2 Corinthians 9:7-15
Ephesians 2:8-10
James 1:27; 2:8; 2:14-24
1 John 3:17-19
Romans 13:9
Galatians 5:14
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Thoughts We Kicked Around
*  Fasting one day a week while we seek the Lord for guidance and direction.
*  Being open to either one of two solutions; allowing God to show us how to start from scratch, or provide energy for an organization that is already up and running.

Re-imagining Charlotte

What follows are the thoughtful notes, prayers, passions, and studies of a band of flawed and low servants in a Kingdom that is unseen, and is rising from the ground beneath us.  Currently, we are using the months of November and December to fast, pray, and seek after the Heart of God as it pertains to Justice in Charlotte, NC.  We've been charged by Jonathan Martin, whom we humbly follow, to steward a vision that we expect the Lord to give us.  Once He does, we will settle our sights into the fog, and run it down with all the faith we can afford.

In 2011, we will launch and execute a move of God using the hands and feet of Renovatus, and I've got to say, the thought of seeing God's presence break barriers and open doors and conquer rulers and free captives makes my head light with expectation.  I think I've become a junky.

I expect a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.  That's fine by me.  I've learned that the things in life worth working for are hard and hurt the most.

I am humbled to venture this journey with; my wife Katie, Tracey & Christine Keitt, Dennis & Lisa Boydstun, Elizabeth Marx, and Erica Johnson.  The story behind this team is as remarkable as they are, but for another time because I'm late for dinner and hungry.

I can not wait to see and hear and smell and taste what the Lord is up to.  I want my kid to grow up in the Land flowing with milk and honey, where all streams flow toward the Mountain of God.

We are inadequate, and underprepared, which is just how He likes it I'm pretty sure.

I like to call us...Justice Small Group!
...or...Renovatus Justice League.  I haven't decided.

Throw us a prayer every now and then, will ya?