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

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ministry Weekly Update

Thank you for your prayers! God is indeed at work! We marvel at His faithfulness!
New bible studies….

We have spoken in various ways in past email updates about three teenagers that have come to know our Savior in the past six months. Kevin and I are working towards seeing them grow in the Lord in the context of church worship and family, weekly bible studies in our homes, one-on-one devotionals and bible study, and through sharing our lives with them as we seek to follow our King amidst circumstances we encounter daily. We are committed to this ‘life on life’ example of training. We trust that the Lord will use this as apart His plan to conform them into the image of Christ (as Romans 8:29, and 12:2 allude to). God is blessing in many ways. Lately, other younger boys have taken note.

A few weeks ago a number of 11-13 years olds who have spent a lot of time with us over the last 6 months asked if they could begin coming to the bible study with the older boys. I told them that it wouldn’t be the best idea to jump in after all this time, but that we would start one for them if they were serious about it. Later, while playing a neighborhood street baseball game, they decided to run down to my house for the bible study. We will meet for our third time this upcoming week. There are now 12 boys interested in attending this weekly bible study. This group has the potential to grow significantly throughout the summer. There are boys everywhere around our neighborhood in this age range. The first two bible study times were a lot of fun and very insightful for all of us. As I was dropping everyone off at different homes, I met all the mothers and Grandmothers that I didn’t already know. All gave their blessing concerning the weekly bible study and one asked if she could begin to send snacks and drinks. Even better, the ‘buzz’ on the street about it led 2 younger boys (7 and 8) to ask if they could come to the bible study with the older boys… (you see where this is going don’t you?!?!)

I began the bible study for boys 6-8 years old two nights ago. We had 5 boys attend the first bible study at my house (including Bryce, my own six year old). After our time of food, fun, and an explanation of the ‘creation’ and ‘fall’ account in the bible, they told me that they wanted to get some more of their friends to start coming. None of the four boys had ever heard the creation account. We had a great time. Later that evening after dark, Bryce and I walked the four boys down to the other end of the street to their houses. Two of the boys ran up to their mother who was sitting on the street corner waiting for them. “Momma, Momma…God made the first man and woman, Adam and Eve was they names…. And that snake tricked them, and they disobeyed God… and we disobey God too, and that God’s heart hurts when we disobey him…”. I was stunned. She just looked at them and smiled as they excitedly told her about what they had learned. She looked at me and told me they could come every week.

Loving and Praying for the downcast….

A young woman who is addicted to drugs was chased from the house she was living in last week. The house is three doors down and across the street from ours. Her boyfriend chased her down the street yelling at her not to come back again. Neighbors told me about the incident when we returned from my son’s tee-ball games. Later she came onto my porch and sat with me. She asked me for some money for food saying that she hadn’t eaten in a couple of days. We fed her lunch and I sat on the porch and listened to her evaluation of the conditions of her life.
In her mind, the real issue was that her boyfriend ‘kept bringing in all these other women right in front of her face.’ She told me of the four children she had that lived on another street in the neighborhood that she couldn’t bring around her house because of all the drugs being used daily. The deep pain and destruction that comes with being separated from our Lord: the constant domestic violence, the ravishing drug dependence, the poor physical and emotional health resulting from self abuse and constant crisis, the starvation and the filthy living conditions that come from neglect of working, buying food, basic cleaning, and paying power, gas, and water bills in lieu of buying drugs all seem to be secondary issues to her.
Many days she is a walking ‘Zombie’. It’s common to see her and many others stumbling up and down the street. She looks much older than her actual age – 27 years old. We talked for a long time about her pain, and I asked a lot of questions so that I could hear her story. When I got too close to underlying causes she quickly decided it was time to go home again and end our conversation. I asked if I could pray for her before she left. She allowed me too and I prayed that God would show Himself to her and that he would redeem her life… the very life that she feels like she threw away a long time ago. I prayed that she would clearly see her worth as someone that He created in His own image. As I finished she wept openly and thanked me and walked away.

Interesting comments….

“does Levi have his contacts in?”… An eight year-old girl asked Delta if our 10 month-old son had his blue contacts in. We laughed with her mom about this, and her mom said, “Everyone she knows with eyes that color has contacts!”

“you are light-skinned right?” – One little six year-old girl asked Delta this the other day. She said people on the street have been saying we are ‘white’ but she told them we were ‘light skinned’. She said she didn’t want to offend us and call us ‘white’. Delta told her it didn’t offend us because we are ‘white’. She crinkled up her nose and looked a little confused. Delta asked her what it meant to be ‘white’ to her. She said that ‘all white people hate all black people’….’all white people are rich’…and ‘all white people get everything they want’. Delta asked her if she thought we didn’t like black people. She said no. I am sure that you would interpret her comments based on all kinds of personal experiences and thoughts, but one thing is obvious here. When a six year-old girl has a world-view includes ‘all white people hate all black people’ there are some serious problems in our city. While this may seem merely anecdotal, you would be shocked at the many comments like this one that we get. The fact is that she doesn’t know any white people. Many ‘white’ children in our city don’t know any ‘black’ people. She hoped that we were just ‘light skinned’ because that is the only thing that would make sense of us entering into her world.

We are extremely thankful for your prayer and your love for us and our neighbors. It is deeply encouraging to know that you are genuinely concerned about us and about so many growing up in the tough environment on our city’s west side. May the Lord bless you for the deeply needed support he provides for us through you!

Psalm 34:3,

Bryan Kelly
Common Ground Montgomery