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
"In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."Luke 15:10 We are back from Camp Blue Lake and it was amazingly fun, challenging and oh so encouraging! I just want to stop and give honor to a GOD who answers prayers! Do you remember me being so discouraged about the ups and downs of ministry with girls?! Watching someone waste their life is never fun, watching them reject the Gospel day after day is never easy. The CGM fam have labored in prayer for a least a year in a half over the lives of the SLAM! teens and teen boys in our hood. Of course we are praying for others, but I specifically want to call them out because they played a huge part in the beginning of our ministry here.
Waiting on the LORD to change the hearts of the these girls( and guys) have been ONE of the most sanctifying thing I have had to deal with. The LORD has ultimately taught me and reminded me that SALVATION comes from HIM, I am not in control of what happens to a person. His kingdom will consist of all those that HE has ordained to be a part. I have learned sooo much patience. I cant say that I have not sinned in having to wait, because I have. Oh, boy have I. God was and still is gracious. I am humbled that HE would want to hear from little sinful me. I am really, truly, amazed at how a person can be sooo lost one day then within hours their vision of the Gospel becomes 20/20 and they begin to see the LORD so clearly, as HE wants them to see HIM...as SAVIOR.
Kevin spent about 40 minutes sharing the gospel, (yet again) with a young lady I am sure you remember me talking a great deal about. In that 40 minutes, he reminded her again how she was wasting her life and how she may not have another chance to come to know the LORD. He explained to her again how TODAY was the day for salvation. He reminded her of how the LORD brought her into our lives and explained to her HIS sovereignty in her life up till this point. They spent the next couple of minutes just talking about her being a enemy of God and how the LORD wanted to redeem her from HIS wrath to come.( how I wish I could have you all over for some lemonade and share the story in detail..goose bumps) The story ended with her balling in tears basically telling Kevin she was ready to give her life to LORD, she told him she wanted me to come and pray with her. I begin to encourage her more and we then sat and prayed and cried, and prayed and cried some more. I cannot even.... I mean... I, cannot express how I was feeling at that moment. I just sat there on my knees in the rain and dirt and praised the LORD for her new life. I mean, this girls heart was sooo harden..Delta and I use to sit after bible study in tears about how hostile she was towards the Gospel, yet, she was always the one asking the most questions, being real and oh so honest about how she felt about the LORD commandments.
God is so inexhaustible!!! I cant fathom him, His power, or His ways, yet, I know Him as SAVIOR...I have a relationship with HIM, and so does this once hard hearted teen!!! Oh, God I rejoice over the works of your hands! Your WISDOM is amazing, your timing is EVER SO PERFECT!! May I never forget what you have done today!! I pray I always remember!! Please keep this new sister in your prayers. Pray that she hunger and thirst for righteousness more than her daily bread.
Wow! This blows my mind......statistics came from Fasten
Facts at a Glance:
100% of cities with population greater than or equal to 250,000 reported gang activity in 2001 85% of cities with population between 100,000 and 229,999 reported gang activity in 2001 65% of cities with population between 50,000 and 99,999 reported gang activity in 2001 44% of cities with population between 25,000 and 49,999 reported gang activity in 2001 20% of cities with population between 2,500 and 24,999 reported gang activity in 2001 35% of suburban counties reported gang activity in 2001 11% of rural counties reported gang activity in 2001 95% of the jurisdictions reporting gang activity in 2001 had also reported gang activity in previous survey years 3,000 jurisdictions across the US are estimated to have had gang activity in 2001 56% of cities with population greater than or equal to 100,000 reported an increase or no significant change in the number of gang members in 2001 42% of cities with a population of at least 25,000 reported an increase in the number of gang members 45% of cities with a population of at least 25,000 reported an increase in the number of gangs from the previous two years 69% of cities with population at least 100,000 reported having gang related homicides in 2001 37% of cities with population between 50,000 and 99,999 reported having gang related homicides in 2001 59% of all homicides in 2001 in Los Angeles and 53% in Chicago were gang related, there was a total of 698 gang related homicides in there two cities combined where as 130 other cities with population of at least 100,000 with gang problems reported having a total of 637 homicides between them Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Highlights of the 2001 National Youth Gang Survey, by Arlen Egley, Jr. and Aline K. Major.
Facts at a Glance:
Trends in Gangs in the US:
In 1996, 53% of the respondents to the National Youth Gang Survey reported active gangs in their jurisdictions, but by 2000, the percent reporting active gangs dropped to 40%. It is estimated that more than 24,500 gangs were active in the U.S. in 2000, which is a drop of 5% from the number estimated to be active in 1999. Despite this overall decrease in the number of gangs, cities with population over 25,000 reported a very slight increase in the number of active gangs from 1999. It is estimated that 772,500 people in the U.S. were members of gangs in 2000, a drop of 8% from the number of active members in 1999, but again, cities with population over 25,000 experienced an increase in the number of active gang members despite the overall drop. 91% of cities with population over 250,000, 64% of cities with population between 100,000 and 250,000, 55% of cities with population between 50,000 and 100,000, and 32% of cities with population between 25,000 and 50,000 reported at least one homicide from 1999 to 2000 that was attributed to gang violence. In these cities, 47% said that the number of gang- related homicides had increased in their jurisdiction from 1999 to 2000. It is estimated that 94% of gang members were male and 6% were female in 2000. It is estimated that 39% of gangs active in 2000 had at least one female member; 2% of gangs were identified as being composed of predominantly female members. In 1996, 50% of gang members were under the age of 18, but in 1999 only 37% of gang members were estimated to be under the age of 18. In 1999 it is estimated that 47% of gang members were Hispanic, 31% were African American, 13% were white, and 7% were Asian. These percentages seem to remain fairly steady over the years. Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, National Youth Gang Survey Trends from 1996 to 2000, by Arlen Egley, Jr.
Job lamented, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” What do you do when disaster comes to your house? Where is Jesus when your family is wounded in the midst of your call? This workshop encourages veterans and newcomers with practical ways to find God’s shalom in the midst of suffering. -Garriot
Here is a link from the CCDA 2008 conference class on suffering in the hood. Speaker is Maria Garriott, author of 'A Thousands Resurrections' If you have not read this book, you have to..like NOW!!!!!! GO!!!
I hope this sermon encourages you as much as it has me and my husband. Maria will share with you her life while involved in incarnational ministry as well as the some of the suffering that came along with that, as well as how the LORD is healing them and help them to cope. Would love to hear your thoughts when you are done.
Be Encouraged fam! :) Philippians 3:9-11 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
"But good can sometimes become the enemy of best. When our one-way giving becomes comfortable and our spirits are no longer stirred to find the deeper, more costly solutions, good has become the enemy of best. When feeding programs value order and efficiency over the messiness of personal involvement, good has become the enemy of best. When recipients remain recipients and givers are content to remain givers, good has become the enemy of best. Perhaps the best giving is the kind that enables the poor to know the blessedness of being givers."
Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking the Ministry to the Poor ~Robert D. Lupton
Camp is officially over!! Well, almost. CGM camp has ended this week,but this Monday we( yes, we, I am going as well) will leave at Noon to attend Camp Blue Lake in Andalusia,Al. This will be our final time with the kids before school begins. We will return this Friday and then its FAMILY VACATION TIME!!! I wish you could see my excitement!!! It has been one looooong crazy, challenging, yet encouraging summer. This girls ended camp Friday with a performance for the neighborhood. I think Delta and I laughed and cried through half of the play. It was great to watch the girls share with the neighborhood all they had learned about Jesus throughout the summer. Please keep us in your prayer as we travel over the next couple of weeks. May I ask also that you continue to keep the family of the two young girls that were murdered last week in your prayers as well.
**PLEASE remember to read the prayer request on the right side of my blog :) Thanks friends
For the past couple of nights my husband and I have been discussing the songs on D.A. T.R.U.T.H. new album, 'The Big Picture'. It has ministered to our souls GREATLY!!! Ya'll, I really dont know where to begin.On his album, Da Truth shares the story of Creation, the Fall, & man's Redemption. I believe the goal is to get you to see The Big Picture— which is Jesus Christ. The Lord has shown me through many christian hip hop artist( such as Da Truth) that the music can be redeemed. It really does brings tears to my eyes every-time I think about how I can show the kids in my neighborhood something CHRIST EXALTING, new, better and relevant to where they are. If you dont have this cd I HIGHLY recommend you go out and purchase it. I find myself at the gym and in the car shouting out to the LORD in worship when I am listening to the tracks on the album. The song/video below is from his album. Due to the cd being a new release, there are no lyrics available. Please listen closely, and worship the GOD who created you in HIS IMAGE as well as all things. ** For a more in-dept review of this album, please visit here.
Song title: Legend
Chorus of song: “I am Legend, I am Grand/ I am Heaven, I AM/ Present in a time before time began/ I am Boss, I am King/ My private thoughts, out of them came/ Orion, the stars, a mountain of waves/ The universe for you to search, without any pain/ I am Strong, I exist/ The curtain's drawn, I am It/ The Opening Scene, My intent/ Enjoy Me and My world, minus sin.”
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” 1 Cor 3:6 Deliverance from the power of sin and a life of prostitution….
I came home one day and she was sitting on my porch. She was high, struggling to put sentences together, and hungry. She told me that another prostitute told her that we would give her something to eat. I noticed her walking the streets all day and night ‘working’ over the previous weeks. I had taken some food out to her friend one night while she was working the corner down the block from our house. We talked for a while, I told her who I was, and why I thought God would have me bring her the food. We had talked a few more times and she said ‘hi’ while passing the house on the way to ‘work’ a few times. That was the extent of our interactions, so it caught me off guard when her friend showed up on our porch. She came in a nd we fed her. This began a few weeks of her showing up, eating, and talking. She refused our efforts and trying to get her to a shelter and rehab, and most of our attempts at help. But, she kept coming by. Delta and I tried to treat her with dignity and respect. She was honest about the prostitution, the rapes and beatings she endured regularly, and the drug addiction. We talked with her about who God has designed her to be and about his love for her. Most of the time, she was too high, I suspected, to comprehend what we were saying. One day she just disappeared. I honestly wondered if she had been murdered. The other day she showed up on our doorstep again. It had been six months since we saw her last. She was in jail for that period. She was an entirely different person. She told Delta that she had gotten out of jail that day and made her mom drive her straight over to our house. Being out from under the power of drugs has changed her whole personality. She said she had received Christ while in jail, and that she felt like her life was in His hands now. She just had to come by and tell us what God had done for her and wanted to say ‘thank you’. She wanted us to pray for her and know that what we did for her mattered. Delta said that she had a deep confidence that “the Lord will provide a job” so she could take care of herself and her son. She has a hard road ahead of her now for sure, but it is a powerful thing to see that Kingdom of God show up in and through her. Redemption is a beautiful thing. Tragedy strikes again...
One of the boys attending our camp last week lost his mother and aunt in the city’s latest double murder. He is 11 years old. His uncle was in the car when the women were ambushed on the edge of our neighborhood. His uncle was shot multiple times, but lived. The uncle is also the stepfather of a 5th grader that has been faithfully involved with our tutoring and bible studies over the last year. Please pray for this family and for us as we seek to minister to them. After the man was released from the hospital, he and some of the kids came over to Kevin and Nicole’s house for prayer. They have a long road ahead. Eight children have lost their mother between the two murders. They really don’t know what to do with the children who have lost their mother. Please pray with us as we seek the Lord’s face as to how He would have us to love them.
We have just begun week 7 of our summer camp. This week the 70-80 kids are participating in a backyard bible club at Washington Park in the mornings till lunch, and then will be bowling, skating, swimming, and fine tuning the drama presentation (girls) for this Friday. If you would like to come out and see the young girls ‘creation fall and redemption’ drama presentation this Friday evening, please contact Keisha Reid at Keisha@cgmal.org to check on seat availability. We would love to have some folks come support our girls along with our local neighbors. ￼ Camp Blue Lake…
Next week we will be taking most of those kids away on a camping adventure! Last year Kevin and I did this with 19 boys and it was a tiring but powerful experience for us, and the boys. This year we are headed to Andalusia with 70 kids for 5 days and 4 nights. Please prayer for us concerning this trip. We anticipate it will be powerful for the kids and it will give us a concentrated opportunity to meet with most, if not all, of the kids in a one on one setting to follow up on all the evangelistic opportunities we have had with them throughout the summer. They will be staying with us (5 staff and 7 summer interns) in camp cabins at a fun retreat center. Please pray for all of the above. We are heartbroken for the losses in our community but we have the God-given ability to walk in peace and joy in the midst of such pain and we know that the hope of the transforming ability of the Gospel can and WILL make a difference.
Thank you so much for your needed partnership. Psalm 34:3, Bryan Kelly
Please be in prayer as the Pastor of my church, his wife and 13 others are off on a missions trip to Uganda. Check out their blog as they journal all that the LORD is doing in another country! I just love it!!! Thanks friends!!
Hey Friends! I miss writing and informing you about all that is happening. There is so much to tell and I promise to sit down after the summer and give you a few of the nuggets the LORD has given me. However, for now, I would love for you to check out the fundraiser we have going on. PLEEEASE SPREAD THE WORD! We anticipate the LORD performing a miracle for our neighborhood through this! Visit it Here!
I know its been a while...we are sorry...here is our most recent update. Thank you all soo much for your prayers over us, they are greatly needed! How great is our GOD?! HE takes such unskillful men and women and give them great skill to reach the LOST for HIM! Only HE CAN DO THAT!
THE IMPACT OF MURDER IN OUR COMMUNITY:
Greetings from Common Ground Montgomery!
The funeral of a young man….
A few weeks ago a young man was gunned down in our neighborhood. He was 37 years old, and the story from many was that he had recently begun to make some major life changes. A handful of the kids involved in our camp were related to this man and one of our summer interns had grown up next door to him. I do not know if this man became a Christian, but I do know that many had taken note of the decisions he was making. He was trying to make something of himself in some very respectable ways. He was gunned down after trying to calm some tension between others. What is different about this death and funeral than others I have attended over the last two years was that there was a real somberness… a deep heaviness over many in the neighborhood after his senseless death. One of the things that scare me in the neighborhood is that after a murder many people talk about it with no emotion. It’s almost as if the discussion is about whether it may rain or not that day. Kids roll off the details of the shootings as if it doesn’t affect them at all. The numbness and disconnectedness to such tragedy is terrifying to me. When life, anyone’s life, is struck down and the pain, suffering, and hopelessness is suppressed or the ability to feel is completely absent from others in the community (or in the city for that matter) we are in a desperate place. This was different though. A friend of mine told me he was going to the funeral and hoping that God might speak to him there. Just maybe God might grant him some hope towards change. He looked me in the eyes and said that he woke up that morning with no desire to keep ‘doing the things he had been doing for so long’. Another godly friend looked at him and said, “you have the desire, but you don’t have the power. The good news is that God gives both the desire and the power. You can’t change this on your own…you can’t change yourself… you can’t change this neighborhood… you can’t become who you want to become without God’s power. Forgiveness for our sins and power to change can only come from Him though Christ.” That discussion has led to many more with this man and others since the death. I believe God is working out even the death of the young man for his glory. Please pray for us in this window of opportunity. May we be wise with the 70 kids as we share our faith with them during our 8-week camp this summer. We have them all day, every weekday with us. They are off of the streets, they are hearing God’s word and are being loved on by our staff, interns, and volunteers, and they are being confronted with the Gospel. Also, God has moved powerfully in front of us with others we have been building relationships with. A major door has opened with a group of men between the ages of 19 and 35. They are watching and listening. God is at work.
Current needs: Financial : 1. Would you consider ‘adopting a camper’ for the summer? We have 70 kids in our 8-week camp this summer. They skate, bowl, swim, go to movies, do theatre and drama training (girls) and so many other fun and recreational activities weekly along with the bible study. The last week of our camp we are taking most, if not all, of those kids away for a 5-day camping experience at Blue Lake Retreat. We are trying to raise $400.00 per kid to cover our summer cost. Would you, your business, or your Sunday school class consider supporting one of these kids?
2. Would you consider making a one-time donation towards the completion of our building? We are very close! We are anticipating the building being complete by August 10th, the first day of school! Grunt work and Labor needs: -We need help with some brickwork around some windows. -Heavy equipment and dump truck(s) to move some dirt from one end of our property to the other to complete some site work. -Need workers (skilled and almost skilled!) (See below) ￼
*****Work day this Saturday (July 18th)*****
Painting, vinyl floor installation, installing ceramic tile, scraping some old tiles up, clean-up, weed eating, building a retaining wall, hanging a ceiling grid for a drop ceiling, Take trash from the warehouse to the dumpster, frame up and enclose a couple openings, and anything else we can think of! If you are up for the challenge, please email Mike Bunce (Mike@cgmal.org) and tell him you are coming so he can plan the various jobs and get materials ready.
Your prayers are greatly needed as one of our summer interns had to rush home earlier this week due his mom being struck by lightening. Please be in prayer for this family. It was said to us today that they do not think she will leave long. We are comforted be knowing she is a believer. Thanks again
“A frightening proportion of our churches are trapped by what Frank Tillapaugh calls the “fortress church” mentality. That mentality is made up of attitudes that may be conscious or unconscious: “Let them come to us! Our doors are open.” “We come to church to have our needs met, to escape the cold, cruel world.” But there are biblical truths that knock flat the walls of our fortress. Every member is a minister. Every member has kingdom power to destroy strongholds. Through us Jesus continues to immerses himself in the needs of the world."-Tim Keller
It's MY BIRTHDAY TODAY!! Can I just tell you how thankful I am to the LORD for keeping me even in my foolishness for 31 years!!! I am sure you remember my story.Sometimes, I think back on what I use to be and I get so overwhelmed that the LORD would be mindful of me to change me into the image of HIS son! I am rejoicing today! Our staff and interns are invited to a cook out specially for us at a neighbors house down the street. She and her sweet hubbie wanted to cook for us all and wanted us to take a break from summer camp and rest! I love our hood. Its amazing and sooo encouraging to look at all the fam we have here! Have a happy 4th friends!!!