He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Monday, July 11, 2016

Business For The Glory Of God- The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business

Growing up and  watching my mom in the salon business I was exposed early on how cut throat the industry was  I currently work in. So much negative competition, (at least what I thought was negative), back bitting, people trying to "steal"each other clients, slandering of stylist,etc..  I mean it was a mess.

As a believer, I know ultimately everything I do is for the glory of God, but growing and learning what that means on the job was a totally different thing for me. Which leads me to share with you something I've been readying.

Business For The Glory Of God by Wayne Grudem.

 Mr. Grudem breaks down 9 areas (and uses scripture) strongly to show his readers what it would look like practically to honor God in Business.

Headings/Topics he hit up in his book are: Ownership, Productivity, Employment, Commercial Transaction, Profit, Money, Inequality of Posseessions, Competition, Borrowing and Lending, Attitudes of Heart and lastly Effect on World Poverty.

This book played such a paramount role in where I am today as a helper to my husband, missionary and business woman. I'm so thankful for the friend that invited me to read this with her. It has literally changed how I look at business. I highly recommend all business owners read this.
I would like to leave you with a lesson from one area in his book that struck a cord with me because it's the heart behind why I'm doing what I'm doing as a stylist .

In chapter 11- The Effects on World Poverty Grudem begins to challenge his readers to think about the poor, those who own almost nothing, who cannot buy, sell, make a profit, or have no opportunity to compete. Just what good is all this to them?
We all know short term solution would be give food, give clothing and we know this is right. However, as I've learned through my years of urban ministry this is NOT a  long term solution because the food will eventually be eaten and the clothing will wear out! (I'm just saying)

Grudem makes the powerful point that the long term solution to world poverty is BUSINESS. Business as we know produce goods, and JOBS. Hello!
I can agree when he says it's these businesses that will help us to see long term solutions to the poverty in many of our communities. We know there are many obstacles to this happening in impoverished areas. It's not as easy as one would think as I'm learning. The government plays a role in this and that's something we as a church must figure out how to fight for those who are trying to break free of many generational curses. My prayer is that our government would favor and encourage  good, ethical, fair business practices for all.  Because we know this ultimately is  what glorifies God.

While I love what I do and enjoy it to the fullest, my hearts desire is to see my community changed through the gospel,  economic development and education. Owning a salon business in my community, reminding people of their value/worth  and providing jobs is how I want to fight poverty in my city.

This book has inspired me to continue the fight for justice in these areas. I look forward with HOPE that comes from the simple truth that my God is able to do above and beyond what we could ever think it imagine.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 5 Reflections

"You are not here to assimilate us to the American culture. Nor are you here to demonstrate your power or expand your Christian empire. You are here to contexualize the Gospel for the Navajo (or in my case Haitian people) people. You are here to experience the vastness of Gods character and the discomfort that comes from the diversity of his body. You are here to learn what it means that God allows his disciples to speak the languages of the nations. "
- Mark Charles ( Fort Defiance, Arizona - Navajo Nation)

My time in Haiti has been one the MOST life changing things I've ever experienced. I'm really sad come Friday morning our team will be heading back to the U.S. . I know I said I would blog daily on my experience, but it's been so much to take in and process that I just haven't had time.

I just have to give thanks to the Lord for allowing my husband and I to be engaged in urban missions for the past 8/9 years . That experienced alone has helped this American woman not come in with such a haughty ,controlling, assimilate to my comfort and culture spirit. (Lord knows I love comfort)

I have seen the hand and heard the voice of God in remarkable ways while here in this country. We miss out on so much of Jesus with all that we have in America. The women I've been able to share the gospel with could care less about the weighty things I've learned through my systematic studies of Gods word. They're hungry for JESUS and practical truth!!

Truth that will set the captives free, give sight to the blind and help them through a culture that oppresses them in so many ways. It's been scary having to share truth with these women not knowing if their application will lead them to be abused more , killed or ostracized from their communities. But it's the risk that is taken here everyday when Jesus words are proclaimed and lived out .

In Isaiah 61:1-4 we see the pattern God uses to transform broken people and broken communities. He moves into the lives of people (I.e. Him sending Jesus) and He uses those broken people who have been transformed themselves to now become the transformers (Oaks Of Righteousness) .

What a joyous, yet difficult task it's been to participate in this great work God is doing amongst the Haitian people! What a privilege it is to be able to envision people God can transform into future leaders for their country, community, homes and places of work.

Any volunteer / missions team that goes into broken communities must always remember it's Gods power, His job- not our efforts that will bring about the renewal in people's hearts. What freedom this has been for me as I serve in Haiti as well as when I return to Washington Park. This freedom is also available to you in whatever work the Lord has called you to as well.

GO my friends and watch the spirit work!!!

pou m' bay moun mòn Siyon ki nan lafliksyon yo kè kontan nan plas lapenn yo, kontantman nan plas kè sere yo a. M'ap mete nan bouch yo chante remèsiman nan plas chante plenyen. Yo pral grandi tankou gwo pyebwa nan jaden Seyè a te plante ak men l'. Yo tout pral fè sa ki dwat devan Bondye, pou tout moun ka fè lwanj bèl pouvwa li.
Yo gen pou yo rebati sou anplasman vye lavil yo. Y'a repare kay moun yo te bandonnen depi lontan. Y'a rebati lavil ki te fin kraze yo, kay ki te fin tounen mazi depi lontan yo. - Ezayi 61:3-4 (Isaiah 61:3-4)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Arrival

So, after a layover in Miami and waking up at 3am to catch our international flight to Jacmel, Haiti, we're FINALLY HERE!!

I can't believe I got out of  the United States!!! This is a HUGE thing for me. I don't travel much and when I do it's not far. When I think over my life and all the things I've been through, I would have never thought the Lord would have this girl from the Chi overseas somewhere.  He's such a good Father ! 

We made it to the orphanage, received our room assignments, got settled and immediately we all fell in love with the city! I  met a young woman by the name of Lunda, who's one of the ground cooks. She's amazing and cooks everything from scratch!!! (Like literally) She speaks very little English and I speak zero Haitian Creole, but the little I knew I used to ask her for permission to help in the kitchen and she let me. This young woman worked so hard preparing a meal for us, and it was delicious!! 

I had so much fun learning  from her I didn't realize it was 150 degrees in the kitchen!! (It's hot in Haiti people) As I helped, I begin to think about all the many volunteers groups that come in and out so many ministries, including my own. I'm very sensitive to making sure I don't come into someone else's culture and try to take over, but come in with a mindset of learning and serving. Respecting  all cultural do's and don'ts and making sure my helping doesn't hurt them in the long run. Americans have a huge problem with that and we need to do better. 

I'm amazed and encouraged at all the work that goes on here at Children's Hope. One of the biggest and important messages I noticed about this ministry is not only their love for Jesus but their mission in making sure the people in Haiti know their value, dignity and worth. 

jouk pwochen fwa, (until next time)
~ Nicole 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Mission

I can't believe that in  almost a  week, our team will be heading to Haiti. I'm both nervous and excited. I've been wondering; what part of God's character will I  get to experience first hand while I serve over in Haiti? I really want to see the Lord and I want my experience to impact the work I do here in Washington Park, my marriage, parenting and the way I love others.

Our team is heading to Jacmel, Haiti to serve Children's Hope.  Children’s Hope is the orphan ministry of First Baptist Church here in Montgomery, Alabama. Based on James 1:27, it encompasses Foster Care, Adoption and Orphan Care. The mission of Children’s Hope is to engage the Church in carrying out God’s command to care for orphans.

We have two missions, one is to see the Lord at work and join Him. Secondly, to help meet some of the needs of the Children at the orphanage and local community. Some of our duties will be assisting local churches with evangelism,  helping teach  Bible studies and conducting Vacation Bible School.

I pray we're a blessing to this ministry and our helping don't hurt them in any way. Please pray for our trip and the little ones of Children's Hope. I plan to document my trip and write often. What a privilege it is to go and see the Lord at work and join Him. I'm so thankful.

To God be the glory!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Soil Project & Heart of Man

A few months ago, our family had one of the most impactful weekends I think we've ever had in our life.  We had the privilege of participating in The Equal Justice Initiative Soil Collection Project. EJI has documented more than 4,000 racial terror lynching in twelve Southern states between 1877 and 1950. In Alabama alone we've learned, more then 360 lynching victims were shot, hung, burned or mutilated, often without the allegations of a criminal offense and get this,  always without trail or process. 

To create more understanding and awareness about the racial terrors, Eji gave assignments to many volunteers  to collect soil from every location where a person was lynched. Talk about heaviness. I can't describe to you the emotions that rushed over me. First, let me tell you a little about the woman who we were assigned.  My family and I were given the story of Elizabeth Lawrence.

Elizabeth Lawrence was killed and her home was burned down by a white mob in Jefferson County on July 5, 1933. She was walking down a road when a group of white children threw rocks and dirt at her. She verbally reprimanded the children, but didn't touch them. She returned to her home and later that night the mob heard about the scolding of the children. The mob then went to her home and committed that dreadful act of terrorism. Ms Lawrence's son Alexander filed a police report after discovering what had happened while he was out of town. Alexander ended up fleeing to Boston to avoid being lynched after the mob learned of his plans. Elizabeth Lawrence was one of the 29 African Americans lynched in Jefferson County between 1833-1940.

My heart began to pound immensely in my chest when we exited our vehicle on that old county road. I looked around at my surroundings and begin to try to envision what it must've  been like to be Ms Elizabeth traveling home after what may have been a long day of work. Feelings of fear, hopelessness, and even paranoia begin to overwhelm me. 

In my heart, I begin to just wonder why would the Lord allow such cruel acts of injustice go on? For a moment I got angry with him as I thought of His Omnipresence in the situation. It was then I had to think of His goodness and how He isn't the author of sin. Lord Jesus, the battle was so real for me that day.

As we scooped up the hard soil and broke it down with our  hands to fit it into the jar,  the hardness of the soil made me think about the heart of man (back then and today) who had no  concern or love for the lives of others. 

Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way
........ (Hosea 10:12-13)

Follow Ground....Hearts which were overrun with weeds,needing desperately to be ploughed and broken up by conviction, humility and strong godly sorrow over sin. Why? So that some good seeds may be sown in them. I can't help to think if this was the case we wouldn't be standing on this dirt road in Jefferson County collecting soil for a life lost.

You have plowed wickedness... instead of love or repentance or a life of goodness, many who were involved in lynching lived a life of wickedness and propagated it. They abused and perverted the fruits of God's goodness. This caused all sorts of confusion I'm sure when you had many waving the Christian flag yet standing behind such injustices. How sad.

Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end - Proverb 22:8

I'm so thankful that in spite of all this, the story isn't over. As hard as it to continue to watch injustice unfold today God still sits on the throne and will administer justice for all. I walked away from this experience wanting to continue the conversation and fight for injustice. I believe a conversation is important because it will help us all walk towards reconciliation as the bible so adamantly talks about. I believe a healthy, biblical, honest, raw and loving conversation will help not only us but the future generations confront the many challenges we see today as a result of the past. Challenges that racial inequality continues to create even today. Being silent, refusing to talk does nothing but add insult to injury and creates more and more disunity. (especially in communities of color)

If you're ever in the Montgomery area, stop by and visit EJI and be prepared to join the conversation. We need you on the battle field.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Looking Back

It's funny how you can read an old journal entry and see how the Lord was doing some pretty amazing things back then to notice He's still doing them today. The blog post I'm reposting below is a clear indication that when one enters into the roughness of inner city ministry you must remember a couple of things:

1.God is in control . My "ministry" here is so much more about my development and heart change then it is the people I do life with. God is Sovereign over all things, including the actions of people.

2. PAIN in relationships  cannot be avoided. Unless of course you're  one of those non confrontational folks who keep up with the fake grin, fake laugh, fake happiness all for the sake of not wanting to loose your relationships with your neighbors  and don't confront offenses  head on when necessary . (Breathe Nicole .. I just said a lot in one breath) This is so not me, and I'm sure it's one of the very reasons why I stay in conflict with others. (In addition to the fact I'm sinful and constantly jacking up something) . Help me Lord!

3. My labor .. Your labor.. Our labor is NEVER IN VAIN. God is going to use every conflict, every frustration, every rumor about you and your family in the community, all the stuff your kids are exposed to which results in you having to have long family discussions , etc..  All this and more  will be used to glorify God and draw you closer to Him.

Being close to Jesus was all I ever wanted in this calling, that's it . Nothing deep . Just closeness with the Father.  He knew exactly what to do to bring it about .

Here is a blog post from 2011 that is VERY  MUCH still relevant today in my life . I'm so thankful for this reminder . God is far too kind to me.

Keep laboring and loving saints . God sees you.