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Wed Night Wrap Up #1

To give credit where credit is due: This post was inspired by youth ministry guru, Josh Griffin, and his HSM Weekend in Review posts over at More Than Dodgeball. Each week he posts about the weekend youth ministry service at Saddleback. I have been looking for a way to reflect and review my classes and this seems to be a good way to go. I’ve tweaked the elements of this a bit and hopefully over the next few weeks I can find a way to really utilize this format for my Wednesday and Sunday night teaching times. Thanks Josh! Love the site, love the podcast!

Wednesday Night Teaching Series: 1 Corinthinas (Week 3)
(Our Wednesday night is a combined class with Junior & Senior High students. It is designed to drive conversation from the biblical text and to connect biblical truths to everyday living.)

Big Question: Are you maturing in your walk as a follower of Jesus?

Bible: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Understandable Message: The church in Corinth was struggling to overcome sin and petty behavior that was stunting their growth as disciples of Jesus Christ. In this section, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that, while they think that they are mature, their actions actually show that they are still very immature in their faith. Specifically, they are arguing over who is the better teacher- Paul, Apollos, or Peter? He challenges them to see their leaders as the servants that they really are. Their focus should be on God not human leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Paul says that the Corinthian believers were being immature Christians because they were jealous of and fighting one another (v3). What are other examples of Christians behaving immaturely?
  2. If you could wake up tomorrow and find that you had been magically transformed into “a mature disciple”, what would be the first sign that you would see that would confirm to you that you had become a mature disciple? What would be different? What actions would you be doing? How would you approach your life differently?
  3. Paul writes that he planted the seed of faith there in Corith and that Apollos watered it. Who planted the seed of faith in you? Who is, right now, watering your faith?
  4. Have you planted the seed of faith in someone that you know? Have you introduced someone to Jesus?
  5. Who are you watering? Is there someone that you are helping to understand their faith more fully? Who are you helping become a more mature disciple?

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had brownies!

Music Playlist: (I always play music as my students enter and leave the youth room) In Your Eyes, Times Like These, The Stand, All These Things I’ve Done

Favorite Moment: I loved hearing the teens tell stories about the people who have directly impacted their spiritual journeys. They talked about their parents or siblings, coaches and teachers.

Up Next: 1 Corinthians 3 pt. 2

Mid-Week Thoughts

This is my 890th post! I’m trying to get back into the swing of posting and updating regularly. Here is what I’ve been thinking about and working through this week:

1. Major design update here at the blog. We are about to kick of the 5th year here at Kicking at the Darkness and I am trying to lay the groundwork for some great stuff to come. If you subscribe to the RSS feed, click over to the site proper and let me know what you think.

2. I’ve been listening to Kutless’ latest worship album It Is Well. Kutless puts their unique spin on It Is Well, God of Wonders, and Give Us Clean Hands. Driving guitars, tight vocals, awesome lyrics. Good stuff.

3. Very excited about class with my teens tonight. In our curriculum arc we have begun a New Testament Survey class on Sunday mornings. To supplement that I’m teaching through a handful of the epistles on Wednesday nights. We are typically very laid back on Wednesdays – couches, open bibles, lots of discussion. Tonight we keep digging in to 1Corinthians. Can’t wait!

4. Did you know that I have a Twitter account? I’ve been @michealfelker since 2007. Follow me & I’ll follow you!

5. I was sooooo disappointed with Brian McLaren’s latest book, A New Kind of Christianity. Totally lost me. Felt like I completely wasted my money. There I said it.

6. Why does listening to Led Zeppelin perk me up or make me drive faster? Whole Lotta Love is better than a dozen Coca-Colas.

7. As a leader, everything I am and everything I do needs to be anchored in my identity with Christ. Leadership begins and ends with a clear understanding of the gospel and being rotted in the grace of Jesus Christ as a free gift.” (Dave Kraft, Leaders Who Last)

8. “I must settle once and for all: Am I going to live my life concerned with who is for me or who is against me or Am I going to be consumed with WHO I AM FOR?(Andy Staney) I’m choosing he latter! How about you?

Reading as Soul Tending

More than any other “big name” youth worker, Mike Yaconelli has made a profound difference on me as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a minister. Yac used to say that the Job of Youth Ministry often got in the way of the Call of Youth Ministry. His writings have always helped me see the difference between those two realities. I had the opportunity to eat dinner with Yac the year before he passed away. I can remember reading the report of his death at my computer at home and the sense of loss I felt for a man I had barely met but felt I could call a friend and mentor. I’ve been thinking a lot about Yac lately.

Over Christmas, I downloaded a collection of his articles and talks to my Kindle to read while at the in-law’s cabin in the mountains of Virginia. I remember reading some of them in YouthWorker or other youth ministry resources. I remember how jazzed up they made me feel about youth ministry and I remember how they challenged me to move forward with an open heart and open mind all the while keeping my eyes firmly fixed on Jesus.

Below is an excerpt from Yac about the importance of taking care of your own soul while in ministry. Most of you know I am a ferocious reader. I consider reading to be a spiritual discipline that keeps me grounded and gives me the knowledge/tools/desire/focus to progress. Here is the advice Mike Yaconelli gives to youth ministers about the habit of soul tending through reading:

Most youth workers don’t read nearly enough. Yet reading is absolutely essential to your spiritual growth.

ASK THE PEOPLE WHOM YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT WHAT BOOKS THEY READ.
If you’re drawn to certain people, then chances are they have the same reading interests you do—so trust them to get you on the right track.

NOTE THOSE AUTHORS YOU RESONATE WITH, THEN GET ALL OF THEIR BOOKS.
(I have my own group of authors who, through their books, have become my reading-world friends: Eugene Peterson, Barbara Brown Taylor, Walter Wangerin Jr., John Claypool, Earl Palmer, Henri Nouwen, Calvin Miller, Frederick Buechner, Alan Jones, Will Willimon, Evelyn Underhill, and Philip Yancey. I read everything they write. Somehow they know me; they name my struggles and put into words what I’ve been unable to find words for.)

PLACE THOSE FEW BOOKS THAT HAVE REALLY AFFECTED YOU IN A BOOKCASE CLOSE TO WHERE YOU WORK.
In my study I have all my favorite books—my friends—just to the left of my desk and within arm’s reach. I have lots more books in my study, but my friends are right next to me.

INTERACT WITH YOUR BOOKS. Mark your favorite passages, make notes, mark and then file the quotes that grip you. Books are made to be marked—and stained with tears, too. Reading is more than gathering information—it’s a relationship.

DON’T WORRY IF YOU TAKE A BREAK FROM READING NOW AND THEN.
Sometimes your soul needs space and time to process what’s going on in your life. At such times reading can distract you from the soul work you should be doing.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T LIMIT YOUR READING TO SPIRITUAL BOOKS.
Read recent novels, old classics, biographies, short stories, essays, articles. Christians aren’t the only ones speaking truth. Truth is truth, regardless of who says it.

Thanks for the challenge Yac!

Youth Ministry Tips #1: Hospital Visits

2010 will mark my seventh year in full-time ministry. There is nothing on planet earth that I would rather do then minister to teens and families. Although I have been doing this for a few years I am learning something new every single day. I want to begin a new feature on the blog featuring Youth Ministry Tips. I hope that you find these tips helpful and feel free to add tips in the comment section. Today I want to start with tips on making hospital visits.

Know Where You’re Going
Hospitals are a bit like snowflakes- everyone is different. Take some time and get familiar with the hospitals in your area. Which hospital do most of your families turn to in times of need? In most towns you probably have 2 or 3 choices. Spend an afternoon getting to know the layout of those hospitals. Find out where the parking is. (Do they have clergy parking? Is there free parking for clergy? Do you need a clergy pass?) Find out where the surgery, ICU, and observation rooms are. See if you can pick up a campus map for your files so you’ll know how to get around. Knowing your way around the hospital will give you more time to spend with the people you came there to see.

Bonus: Schedule your visit around lunch time. Many hospital cafeterias have good food at rock bottom prices. Some hospitals around me even have a Starbucks.

Call Ahead
Sometimes being in a hospital is a boring affair. Often family members are waiting around for results, checkups, and for improvement. Sometimes they are just…waiting. If you are planning on visiting, think about calling ahead to see if you can bring anything- magazines, schoolwork, movies, coloring books etc. I would advise against bringing food for a patient but sometimes mom and dad could use a burger or coke.

Don’t Rush
Your class for Wednesday night can wait and you can make those calls for the lock-in later. When you’re visiting a student or parent in the hospital they should be your only focus. Spend as much time as needed to visit, share, and pray with the family. Think about turning off your phone as well. Everything you need to get done will get finished. Don’t rush your hospital visit.

Watch for Cords
I’ll never forget the time I visited my grandmother in the hospital. Her sister came in and sat down on the hospital bed next to her. Next thing you know my grandmother started acting funny and losing color in her face. My grandmother’s sister had puller out the IV when she sat on the bed. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t sit on the hospital bed!!! Be very careful around the patient you’re visiting. Don’t cause more trouble than you have to.

Always Leave With a Prayer
I never leave a hospital room without offering to pray for the family I’m visiting. One of the greatest gifts you can give a family that is worrying and scared about the situation they find themselves in is to pray for them. Praying over the family gives them hope, peace, and comfort in an often chaotic time. At times when the situation isn’t dire praying for the family is a common bond you can share. Walking together into the throne room of God puts everything into perspective. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to pray with those you visit in the hospital.

Conclusion
I count it as a privilege to be able to visit families in the hospital. Ministry happens when you share your time and attention with those who are sick and hurting. Now it is your turn. What tips do you have to share concerning hospital visits?

Halloween Orange

I’ve been working my way through Reggie Joiner’s Think Orange this semester in an effort to help me connect better with the whole family. As a youth minister I work with families but too often I have gotten the feeling that at times I am working exclusively with teens and at other times I’m focused on parents. My desire is to minister to the whole family and so I’ve been seeking out resources to help me do this.

Think Orange has been invaluable because Reggie’s heart families mirrors my own. “Orange” is the idea of “two entities partnering together to make a greater impact or to create a better solution.” To Reggie, the church is ” a bright yellow” light that exists to illuminate Jesus. The family is a bright “red” heart that demonstrates God’s love and character through unconditional relationship. Together these two forces combine to create Orange. What a beautiful picture and a perfect metaphor for authentic family ministry. The book has been great and I am excited to share some of this with those I minister to but, in the Spirit of Orange, I’ve really been thinking about Halloween this week.

Something Reggie wrote about this family-focused holiday (yes, I just called Halloween family-focused) has been on the forefront of my mind all week. Here is what he said:

- An estimated 47 percent of household consumers decorate for Halloween.
- Halloween is second only to Christmas in the volume of decorations sold
- Over 790 million pounds of jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkin pies will be bought
- Candy sales will exceed $2 billion.
- More than 93 percent of children go trick-or-treating every year. (I wonder how many of those families go to your church?)

Most families love Halloween. Right or wrong, there is something about October 31 that stirs the imagination of children and engages the hearts of parents.

Watch your neighborhood closely this fall.
Listen to the laughter.
Take a look at the generosity.
Taste the sugar.
Feel the energy.
See the glow in the children’s eyes.
Notice the parents walking with their kids.
And observe how families connect with other families.
It seems kind of… magical.

Why can’t the church be more like that? Why can’t the church create the kind of atmosphere for the family that captures their imagination and incites a relational revival in the home?

No color commentary from me on this today. It is just a question that I’m pondering right now.

How can the church create the kind of atmosphere for the family that captures their imagination and incites a relational revival in the home?

I believe that somewhere inside the answer to this question lies the secret to a dozen generations boldly proclaiming- in word, in deed, in heart, in mind, in power, and in strength- the Glory of Jesus Christ. So, there’s your challenge. It’s not just for this weekend but for the rest of your lives.

Have a Happy Halloween. Keep your eyes and your hearts open as you look for the answers to impact future generations.

How can the church create the kind of atmosphere for the family that captures their imagination and incites a relational revival in the home?

10 Ways to Use Facebook In Your Youth Ministry

Create a group page or a fan page for your youth group. This will allow you to send out group messages, post group photos, and create group events all in one place. Create a group today, invite your teens and their parents to join, and then begin building your group by adding some photos and creating an event for your Sunday morning class.

Send birthday messages to your teens and their parents. Facebook reminds you which friends have a birthday coming up. Post a quick birthday message on your teens wall and let them know that you are thinking about them on this special day.

Use your status to brag on your teens. In the status bar Facebook asks, “What are you thinking?” Let everyone know that you are thinking about your teens by posting a quick message about how well the retreat went or how proud you are of what they accomplished at the service project.

Encourage your teens with messages on their wall. Maybe one of your teens received an award or maybe they passed their driving test or maybe they are feeling hurt or frustrated. Posting a message that says “Way to go!” or “I’m proud of you!” on their wall let’s your teens know that they aren’t just someone in the youth group- they really matter to you.

Post photos from events and trips. Upload photos of your students on your wall or organize your photos into folders.

Tag your teens in photos. Facebook lets you tag the individuals in pictures. When you tag a person they receive a message that they have been identified in a picture. Tagging your teens in photos helps drive them to the photo and often they will comment about the event with memories from the trip.

Create an event to remind students and parents of things coming up on the calendar. Invite students and their parents to a devotional or a lock-in or your Sunday night worship event. Facebook lets you create an event page and send our invitations. The students can then RSVP giving you an idea of how many to expect.

Comment on the status updates from your teens. Reading your teen’s status updates gives you insight into what’s going on in their lives, what they are thinking, or what they are feeling at any given time. Comment on their status to engage them in conversation.

Use your profile pic to rotate in pictures of you and your teens.

Create an event page for a particular class or study and use that page to continue the conversation, thoughts, and lessons beyond the meeting time. Link to articles, post questions, or upload a summary of that day’s class notes to your Facebook event to help students process your Bible study throughout the week. You could also post thoughts or questions beforehand to stir up dialogue or prepare your teens for what you’ll be covering.

Book Review: If God Is Good

In my ministry career there have been a handful of events that have occurred where I had to completely throw out my lesson plans for the week and deal with the fears and questions brought about each horrible incident.

After 9/11 I can remember sitting with the teens and college students in the class room- all of us seemed shell shocked and confused. “How could this have happened?”

After Katrina ripped into New Orleans and the Gulf Coast I gathered with some students in the gym as we tried to make sense of what we were witnessing on television. “What can we do?”

After the Virginia Tech massacre I struggled to help my students process through why something so senseless could have happened. “Why?”

Asking questions about evil and suffering when world events happen is one thing. But how do you deal with pain and hurt and cancer and evil and suffering and death when they strike closer to home?

Many have wrestled with the question: “If God is good why does evil and suffering happen?” As a minister I wrestle with finding a resource out there that will help me walk alongside someone as they struggle through personal pain, agony, and questions. Unfortunately, finding the right resource has been next to impossible. There are just way too many mixed messages out there.

Typically books concerning the nature of evil and suffering in this world and whether or not an all-powerful God can do anything about it typically fall into three categories: 1) They are written from the perspective of an atheist and therefore write off any discussion about God and faith, 2) They are a sugary sweet devotional book that can be summed up with a pithy “Trust God and it will all work out” finale, or 3) They are deep philosophical treatises that often take readers, who are desperately seeking answers now, months to work through (if they finish).

If God Is Good by Randy Alcon is decidedly much different and, rather than adhering to these categories, charts a brand new course. Alcorn does a tremendous job discussing the problem of suffering and evil in a way that is both personally engaging and full of scriptural integrity. This book is filled with personal stories of those who have been subjected to the worst that evil and death could throw at them. Some of these stories will tear your heart open. Make no mistake, this is no warm and fuzzy devotional book meant to rest on your bed side table. This is an engaging, thoughtful, well-reseached, and challenging book that will give you answers and hope in the middle of whatever storm you are facing.

Alcorn finds his hope within the pages of scripture. He writes in the opening section that, as believers, we can deal openly and honestly with the problem of pain and suffering because God’s Word deals openly and honestly with it. He writes, “The Bible never sugarcoats evil.” Alcorn takes on false arguments, false gospels, and false expectations that all seek to distort, confuse, and destroy the faith of millions who face suffering and true evil. One recurring theme in his book is that it seems that those who have only dealt with suffering in the philosophical realm have walked away from their faith while those who have experienced real suffering draw closer to God and have found meaning and purpose in his loving arms.

As a resource, I love this book. Alcorn has meticulously studied this subject and each chapter includes generous footnotes. There is a helpful Scripture index as well as a topical index that make this a user-friendly book about a most difficult subject. Every minister should read this book and keep it at close reach on their desk. Evil and suffering will strike sooner or later. With If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn you will be prepared to minister to those left in its wake.

From the publisher:
Summary
Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.?

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God–Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist? ??These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.??

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise. ??Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.??

As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Buy If God Is Good at Amazon.com

10 Ways Twitter Helps Me Be A Better Minister

Twitter helps me communicate quickly and effectively. I have 140 characters to say what I need to say. No long messages. No wasted words. I have to find the most concise and specific way to communicate an announcement.

Twitter lets me encourage my students and parents. Often I will send out a quick word of encouragement or a Scripture to let my parents and teens know that I am praying for them, thinking about them, pulling for them.

Twitter helps me tell our parents (in real time) when they can expect us back from an event. If the group is late, I can quickly inform parents on our new arrival time so they aren’t waiting around in the parking lot. If we are going to arrive early, I can quickly inform parents on our new arrival time so I am not waiting around in the parking lot.

Twitter lets me advertise upcoming classes and events. Sometimes the only thing that keeps a teen or parent from attending a class or event is a quick reminder or short preview. Example: Come to REFUGE and celebrate the God who gives you a “do over” in life. 7:15-8:15p. Take some time to honor and to seek God with us 2nite.

Twitter lets me continue classes and events by sending out follow-up questions or challenges. Often I’ll send out a follow-up message after class with a scripture reading or a spiritual challenge for students. Since this message also goes out to parents, thy can get an idea of what their teens are working through and even join them on these challenges.

Twitter lets me send out prayers and prayer requests to those who follow me. I can quickly send out urgent prayer requests to everyone as soon as I get them. I also can send out messages asking my followers how I can pray for them.

Twitter can be used to get teens and parents to sign-up for events through direct messaging or can be used and a reminder for upcoming deadlines. Again, anything that helps me streamline my announcements or administrative work gives me more time to build relationships.

Twitter lets me get to know my students by asking fun questions and seeing the responses. Sometimes I’ll ask a fun question about something we talked about in class or sometimes I’ll ask a question about things going on in the lives of teens. I always enjoy seeing their responses.

Twitter allows me to send out a weekly devotional thought or challenge. During holiday weeks- Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Spring Break- I send out a daily prayer, scripture reading, and challenge to those who follow me. This connects us even as we are scattered across the country.

Twitter can help everyone participate in a trip even if they are at home. I have Twittered our last two mission trips allowing those left at home- parents and teens- the chance to see what we are doing, keep them updated on what’s happening, and ask them for prayers. Last year, we pulled into the parking lot from our trip to Atlanta and a parent bypassed his teen to give me a huge hug saying, “Oh I loved the Twitters you sent. They were awesome!”

The Star Maker

Psalm 147:4
He determines the number of the stars & calls them each by name.

Growing up I always felt pretty average. I wasn’t ever the best at sports or the smartest in class or anything like that. I was smack in the middle. Completely average in every way.

In football, I was the only starter under 6 feet. I played hard but my name never appeared in the paper next day and there was never any chance that I would play beyond my four years in high school.

As for my grades, I graduated 25th in my class… out of 54. It doesn’t get more average than that!

Even today I still feel pretty average. I’m not the best looking or the most talented. This average guy is just pretty plain vanilla. Rather than feeling sorry for myself I feel pretty great about my average status. When I look in scripture, I see a plethora of average or below average individuals. Even a cursory reading of the Bible makes me see that I am part of a very large group of average men and women. Some might even have called these people losers. They started life out as average joes and janes but they didn’t remain average for long. These average people rose above themselves and became great and powerful, amazing and world-known. These individuals went from average so-and-sos to international super stars. Let’s take a quick look at a few nobodies to find out who they were and what they became.

David- When we first meet David he is a mere shepherd boy so average that his own family essentially forgets about him. When Samuel comes calling looking to annoint a new king they “conveniently” forget he’s even a part of the family. However, this shepherd boy showed his mettle when he killed Goliath, became a feared warrior, and became a great and mighty king. Don’t forget that he also came to be known as a man after God’s own heart. Average no more.

Gideon- In Judges 6, Gideon is told (by the angel of the Lord no less) that he is a mighty warrior. Gideon’s reply shows just how average Gideon saw himself. “How can I save Isreal?” he asks. “I am the least in my family.” The least in his family ended up leading the army of Israel into a great battle where they triumphed over an army that greatly outnumbered his own.

Moses- He left Egypt as a disgraced prince and lived for 40 years in utter obscurity as a shepherd. He returned to Egypt in order to lead the Israelites out of slavery and triumphed by standing toe to toe against the most powerful man in the world.

Joseph- Joseph was seen by his brothers as some punk with a loud mouth and a big head (full of crazy dreams). To silence him they sold him into slavery. After toiling away as a slave and then in prison, Joe rose to the ranks of a great leader and literally saved the world from famine and starvation.

The Woman at the Well (John 4)- She was an outcast so outside of her community that she had to fetch water at a time when no one else would be at the well. But after a chance encounter with The Living Water she went back into town and became a powerful witness for the Gospel. “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did.”

The Apostles- They were simply a rag-tag group of no names and nobodies. They were simply average men living in the middle of Palestine, a obscure Roman outpost. It is hard to believe that these nobodies took the message of Jesus to the masses and turned the world upside down.

But let’s be clear. In fact, I want to be crystal clear that these people became stars because of one reason and one reason alone.

They didn’t become stars because they were the smartest, the best looking, or the most talented. It wasn’t because of their titles or their deep pockets. They didn’t become stars because they were born that way.

The only reason these average people became stars is because they had the faith and the courage to obey when they heard the voice of God.

One more time: The only reason these average people became stars is because they had the faith and the courage to obey when they heard the voice of God.

The world around you will encourage you to be average. The world wants you to look and be just like everyone else. They will tell you to just go along. Don’t stand up for your beliefs or stand out in the crowd. Don’t cause a scene. Do as your told. Blend in.

That is no way to live your life. Nobody should shoot for average.

The only way for us to shine out like stars is to give our lives over to the Star Maker. No one in the kingdom of God is average. Jesus Christ came to this earth to invite us into the family. The Father takes us in and through the power of the Spirit average lives are transformed in to the extra-ordinary.

In order to shine like a star you must have the faith and the courage to obey when you hear the voice of God.

So here’s the question.

What is the voice of God calling you to today?

Do you need to make that apology? Do you need to confess that sin? Patch up that friendship? End that relationship that is dragging you down?

If you want to rise above mediocrity- to be more than average- you have to step out in faith and into obedience.

Mission Trip 09 Part 2

So I had just found out that the homeless shelter that we had planned to serve while on our mission trip was broke and on the brink of closing. We would no longer have a place to serve. That’s it. End of story. This was creating a giant black hole right in the middle of our mission trip.

When I was scheduling places for us to serve, a food bank in Atlanta had given me a list of non-profits that could host our group. I called the first one on the list: Project Open Hand.

Within 20 minutes we had scheduled time to deliver meals on Friday and Saturday and to pack meals on Monday for the clients of Open Hand.

Remember when I had prayed to God to step in a save our trip? He was about to deliver… big time.

On Friday & Saturday we delivered meals all over the city of Atlanta. We were welcomed into apartments and homes and we were able to pray with many of the families. It was an eye opening experience for all of us. We saw men and women of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and classes. We met disabled people and we met the terminally ill. It seemed that no matter what the circumstance, these people were thankful for the little bit that they had. Some even offered to pray for us! It was such a blessing. Of course, we met difficult people and some simply reached a hand out the door, snatched the bags of food, and were gone. These were few and far between though.

We overwhelmingly had an incredible few days at Open Hand. On that Monday, I think we pack closed to 3000 meals. That is not a typo – Three thousand meals for people in Atlanta. Only by the grace of God!

The whole focus of our trip had started out to be aimed directly at ministering and serving the homeless of Atlanta. We were still scheduled to do this on Saturday night and Sunday morning. However by Saturday afternoon I had begun to wonder whether or not we would still be able to do this in a meaningful way. Again, I guess I underestimated how God would answer our prayers.

To Be Concluded in part 3

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