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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My First Priority

Every now and then I like to think things aren't as bad as they seem in my community. But then, something happens and I realize things are bad and the reality is that I just want to escape and pretend the problems doesn't exist. Which really doesn't make sense at all if I know things will be hard, and my city is in need of redemption. Over the course of a three day weekend we have had to endure through some very tough situations. Parents leaving their children abandon in a home alone with no food, no clean clothing, missing days of school. The youngest out of the bunch being 5 months old. We begin to look for the nearest relative only to find her under the influence of alcohol, which is almost the same. Yet, its obvious she loves these kids and wants whats best for them. (That's a reason to give thanks.)

Easter day, shots at a park right up the street from me left a 13 yr old girl shot in the leg and a 35 yr old shot in the hand, both are doing well now.

A father who faithfully takes care of his kids goes to prevent his wife from doing something foolish, ends up in jail because the wife wants him out of her life. Which leaves the kids without a dad for God only knows how long.

19 yr old, 9 months prego found dead behind  a local church. This young girl was not apart of our specific target community, but her death has affected many of our kids, teachers and parents.

So many burdens, so much to be concerned about.

If you are anything like me your probably overwhelming with the thought of all of this. I have been and I am. Yet, its in times like this that God humbles me and reminds me that I'm not in control. I think times of chaos are used to remind you who is a HEALER, who is the great PHYSICIAN, who's all KNOWING, who's the only WISE God, Who is it that SEES, having nothing hidden from His sight. I believe within the heart of TRUE Christianity is the understanding that we are weak, and not strong. We don't have it all together, we don't know what to do in many of these situations, BUT we know ONE who does.

My goal for the past couple of month have been to really, I mean really, KNOW who MY GOD is. So many times, I have not handled the news of the streets or difficult circumstances/trials because I have not rested in the NAME of my LORD. That doesn't mean things wont be hard; but, I do believe it will mean I will have SHALOM in the midst of such challenging, hard situations.

A close friend and I  learned last  night that this really is our FIRST priority in life, not marriage, not parenting, not urban ministry..but to KNOW WHO MY GOD is. TO be intimate with Him, to grow in TRUSTING Him. It is here where everything else will be so much more easier to rest in.

Oh friends, may this be our FIRST pursuit in life.. To LOVE and KNOW WHO OUR GOD IS!

".....but the people who know their God will display strength and take action."
 - Daniel 11:32

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus Is Alive-Shai Linne

"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying." -Matthew 28:6

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CGM Annex Ribbon Cutting

I'm still in awe of what the Lord accomplished in getting our Annex completed. Here is a press release about the opening. Please continue to pray for our kids and our community!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How To Handle Panhandlers

Timely video as I just finished a blog post about this. Thanks Arloa!

Nail Salon Stranger

Panhandling I would say is my most difficult thing to handle in urban ministry. My husband and I have had multiple nights of being awaken from out of sleep to be asked for money. While this blog post has nothing to do with you "knowing" what we do, it has everything to do with the everyday struggle of wanting to know, "God should I give?" "How much?" "What if this person will not do what they said they would with what I give?" In ministry God continues to answer all those questions for me as I look to the Holy Spirit for wisdom, grace and discernment. 
Today as I sat in the nail salon getting all cute for my foreva boo (lol), a man walks in stands over me as I am serviced and says, "Hey big sis, uh, I have cancer, will you please feed me"? ( at the time I was thinking: first of all..who you calling BIG?! You dont know me bruh! --have to keep real and let you know what was happening in my heart in that moment)

Moving On....

My heart drops as I continue to listen to his story of being sick, and having no food. The owners of the salon begin to ask him to leave me, (their costumer) alone. I proceeded to explain to him that I didn't have any cash on me, which I didn't, I also explained to him that I could not take him anywhere and that I would meet him at the restaurant next door and buy him whatever he wanted to eat. He waited, and while he did, he begins to preach scripture in a way I had never heard before. I mean, he was everywhere with his words, some of which were not words of Christ but of M. L. King. and in the middle of every 4th sentence he would look at my daughter and say,"God is good..." and she would respond and say,"all the time!" I was so confused. 
Anyway, I walked over to the restaurant to purchase him a meal and when I get there the owners and workers were blocking him from entering their establishment. It seems my friend had insulted many of the workers and would not leave as he was asked to. He was known as a constant beggar/trouble maker in their place of work. The owner begins to warn me not to spend my money on such people, they begin to explain to me that this guy was a con artist and the very food I had purchased him was about to be taken to the dope man who has been sitting on his tail all day selling drugs. The dope man receives free food in return for the drug addict to receive free crack and everyone is happy. The owner begins to tell me that I needed to be smart and not be naive and to remember what the bible says..which is, 

"if a man DONT work, HE DONT EAT"..

I immediately got frustrated and all sorts of questions pop up in my head...
" God what about the example you give us in Matthew 25:35-40?" What do I do with that?

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I shared that verse with the owner and she just didn't get it. She believed I was taking that verse out of context and that I just needed to be smarter. Though I didn't agree with her, I knew her talk was coming from a lady who was tired of being hustled and who knew what these streets were all about. I humbled sat and listened to all she had to say.

As a friend and I talked about this later, she reminded me that many times we encounter situations of pan handling it really is about God wanting to do something in our hearts as much as it is about whether or not this person will really eat the food I buy them.  God always wants to show me where my "treasure" in this world is. Do I trust HIM with my finances? DO I not know that all that I have belong to him and that he calls me to give these things away as he see fit? 

Today, God used what others thought was foolish giving to teach me again what it means to live sacrificially. I may not ever know what he really did with his food, but what I do know is God prompted me to do something and all i wanted to do was obey. What happens after that is in Gods hands and its not for me to control. I think that's the way I need to think in all my giving. 

Its lessons like these that makes my heart glad about where I am. I had an encounter with God today and I am so thankful!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Annex

After much hard work from many volunteers and staff, our Annex is finally complete! This building will house ministry offices, bunk space for future interns, conference rooms but MOST importantly it will be the home of the new entrepreneur program for our middle school students . I promise to post pics tomorrow of the ribbon cutting ceremony. The pic below is just a teaser of this renovated building. We are thrilled and in AWE of what God has done! To Him be the glory!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 16, 2011

And A Child Shall Lead Them

My husband and I have the joy of being apart of another wedding joining two of our neighbors. Last December, a parent came up to me and begin to explain the impact that our ministry was having on her daughter. She begin to explain to me how the purity studies and other bible lessons her 3rd grade daughter were exposed to began to change the way her child lived at home. When she asked her daughter what was it she wanted for Christmas, this is what she said,

" mama, why wont you and daddy get married? Why don't we live the way God would want us to? That's all I want for Christmas is for you and daddy to get married and for us to live like a REAL family, the way God wants??"

Wow, indeed!!  Today, those parents are giving their daughter exactly what she asked for. Today they will stand before many and get married. As my husband and I invest in this relationship with her parents we are praying God would continue to reveal himself to them and that love would ultimately lead them into God's kingdom. As I thought about how this little girl  was living and preaching the gospel message in her own home, I begin to think about the prophet Isaiah words in chapter 11:6. I begin to think about how the Lord is using this small little girl to lead her family into the Kingdom, right  to the presence of God himself.  This small young girl is at home speaking words of hope, truth and and redemption to her family. Her mom continued to go on that day of how her daughter has changed, how she too wants to see that same change in her heart. She says her daughter inspires her, she encourages her to want to do better. Her mothers exact words were, " I know that there is a God because I see the difference in my baby and it just amazes me". 

Our prayers as a ministry to see kids grow up in a two parent house hold is becoming more of a reality as the days go by. I rejoice over answered prayer!

Words of hope I tell you! Please keep this new marriage and precious family in your prayers.

"He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 18:2-4 

Life On Life 2

Student: "Mrs. Nicole, like why would you want to mentor me?  I mean, like, do you love me that much?"

Me: "Little girl, God has given me a heart for you. I love you and  I want to show you Jesus and I want you to know Jesus through my love and the through my family. Girl, it is with joy to walk with you the next 6 years. I mean, I cant wait to see all God has in store for your life. You're stuck with me child!"

As apart of out new mentor program, I have the  (as long as the Lord allows) privilege to mentor Chakira (also known as Cha Cha). You may remember her from my FIRST ever video update here. Cha has been involved with my family for 3 yrs now. I am amazed at how well she understands the gospel and scriptures at an young age. She is very smart. She is such a silly girl, loves sports, and though she may try to act very "hard" at times, she is really VERY sensitive at heart.
 My prayer , by Gods grace,  is that I will mentor her well...pointing her to our Savior, loving on her, and really showing up in those times of her life when she  really needs to see Jesus the most. The goal in our new mentor program is to walk with each child all the way through high school. My relationship with Cha is NEVER meant to replace her parents, but to support them and walk along side of them as they raise her. Please pray for my family as we love on this young girl. Pray as well for Chakira future as well as her relationship with Jesus. God has just given me, my husband and my daughter a heart for this girl. I pray she grows into a wise, Christ honoring, pure young lady.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Hate You

I feel this brothers pain...
As I look around my hood, and watch many of the people walking past my home or dudes standing on corners, my hatred for drugs continue to grow. I long for the day that non of this exists.
New music video by our brother Thi'sl. You can learn about what the Lord has called him to in the city of St Louis here and more on his life as an holy hip hop artist here. This is real life music ya'll.