Written by: Herbert Bailey
There are three things that I find God calling me to
The first is handling the basic care of our community, from listening to transporting them to hospitals to introducing our community to a living hope in Christ.
The second is to train and support our current leaders as they work diligently in the field, following up on multiple ministry opportunities as well as supporting their self-care.
The third reason is to explore other areas where God is moving, as well as training new leaders and other ministry partners.
I have found that doing work locally is a never-ending look at the Lord’s grace for my life. The lessons that I am learning about humility, and the lessons that I am learning about trusting God are priceless. What we have seen at the café is God working with not only the least of these, but with the practitioners of faith, the ones who have worked fearlessly in the field for years, coming in for a rest. They are encouraged that there is a safe place to exhale, where the pressure to perform is lifted and the reality of our human experience can be recognized.
Some of the work of training other leaders is simply allowing them, or encouraging them to BE. BE-ing is difficult because we seemed to be hardwired to DO, and our value is measured by our output, our outcome. We push back against that notion with the reality that we are first, which solidifies our value, and from that place of being valued by God, through Jesus, we can then serve. This is not even taught as much as it is caught, simply being present in a place of low judgment, but a pace of high accountability.
The side effect of that is people that visit, see the culture of God’s Kingdom, want to have that experience in their own local communities. We have and will continue to share what the Lord has given us, in way of materials, hands on training, internships, workshops, and most importantly, prayer. God’s Kingdom expands as we offer Him the honor and praise that He is due, get out of His way, and live out of the identity of temporary residents, agents of reconciliation. Team work makes the Kingdom work.
Written by: Andrenna Williams
A young woman whom God has placed in my life to minister to is currently struggling with addiction, mental illness and an unhealthy attachment to a toxic relationship with the father of her children. The amount of abuse that she absorbs from this man is inhumane. Repeated cheating and intentional disregard for her health and well-being is inflicted upon her on a daily basis by him and she willingly, seemingly, “happily” takes it.
As a woman whom has not experienced a relationship like this, it would be easy for me to have several responses and feelings regarding her situation. I could easily judge and condemn her for being “foolish” and “desperate” for accepting that type of treatment. I could make excuses for her for being “naive” and attempting to fill a “void”. Or, I could get so upset at her partner and how he treats her that I absorb the hurt and pain and therefore allow it to become a part of me.
However, I don’t have to! Psalm 55:22 says to “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken”. When I accepted the call on my life, and submitted my will for His will, I inherited freedom from having to carry that weight. I am able to listen, love on and minister to my sister in Christ freely without having to be concerned with trying to fix her, him or their situation. How awesome is that! “I Get To” be an active participant in what God is doing in her life.
Written by: Greg Miller
On a recent short term missions trip our team went door-to-door through a trailer park to talk with people and let them know that bicycles would be repaired for free that coming Thursday. My expectations were that we would find resistance to our efforts and would not get many opportunities to talk with people.
Instead, the opposite was true. People were happy to talk with us and share a little of what was going on in their lives. In addition, one person, instead of wanting bikes repaired, offered to donate about 6 bikes so others could use them! Another resident, we were told, was on a mission trip to Kenya!
If you had asked me where to find people with whom to spend time talking - where to get bike donations - and where to find residents on foreign missions trips, the trailer park was not the place I would have recommended.
Our experience reminded me of several things.
First, it is often those who have the least that give the most. Jesus said that the widow who put two coins into the temple treasury had given more than the wealthy because she gave all that she had. Paul said of the churches in Macedonia that “in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality”, (2 Corinthians 8:2). Poverty can indeed lead to rich liberality! Too often we stay away from the poor. The Lord may want us, instead, to learn about generosity from them.
Secondly, I was convicted by the words of James, “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”, (James 2:2-5). Indeed, the poor of the world are often the richest in faith.
Finally, you are not going to learn much by staying where you are comfortable and playing it safe. The Lord says to “Go” and make disciples. “You are the light of the world.” You won’t shine if you keep your light under a bushel basket. Let your light shine! Go into ghettos and trailer parks. Amazingly, you might find that you will learn something in the process.
Come and join Uncommon Grounds Café in its ministry and find out how much you can learn. You’ll get more than what you give.
Written by Angel Bailey
Getting to share the stories of the women I work with at the café is so amazing. One way I do this is through different vendor events around the area. I meet so many people at these events. When they hear about the single mother who is a recovering addict that made that bracelet set, or the young woman who lost her baby and her own mother within a year of each other who helped make the body butters. It touches their hearts and helps them understand the blessing of giving.
It may seem like a marketing ploy, but these are real lives being touched in more ways than one. The woman who buys the products is not only blessed with something wonderful but she is also blessing the women who made the products. Giving value and hope to women in our community is what I and the other women I work with do through the artisan wares we make with Earth Angel Apothecary. The opportunity to sell these wares and tell the stories is so huge for all of us.
I spoke to a young woman at an event recently and was sharing with her about another young woman that worked with me who was in recovery. This woman I was talking to broke down and cried and shared her own story of recovery. She said she felt so alone in her journey and was thankful to hear about someone else that was going through something similar. One of my favorite quotes I found is, “Your scars are the road map to another woman’s freedom”. Don’t allow shame and guilt to stop you from sharing your story. Your story may touch, inspire and or motivate them to take action and make positive changes in their own lives. Please keep us in prayer and also pray for how God would have you give to help the ministry grow.
Trust is a beautiful and frightening concept. Some people trust people moments after they say hello and some people trust people after years of getting to know them. Trust is tricky. Trust is difficult to earn, but easy to destroy. When you find people who are safe and love the Lord and love you, trust comes easily and naturally.
I have a small group of friends that I trust completely. There are three of them and I would trust them with my whole life. I recently shared with them something I do not share openly. It was a very emotional and painful thing to share. I shared with them my deepest insecurities and fears. I let them see the unhealthy version of me. I showed them my anxious and fearful self. I showed them the version of me that I hide from the rest of the world. I showed them my deepest wounds because I trusted them.
Jesus was wounded and murdered so that my wounds could be made whole. Christ lived and died and resurrected so that I can share my story with others. He placed special people in my life so that I can share with them my weaknesses and ask them to walk with me and pour love, grace, and encouragement into my life. If I can put my trust in people who are fallible, why can’t I put my trust in my Father who is perfect?
Our Father is the most trustworthy being. He will never fail us. He will never let us go. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is faithful. This season has been an eye opener for me to see that I can truly trust God in every situation. The painful ones, the happy ones, the sorrowful ones, the scary ones, the apathetic ones, the lonely ones. In every situation He proves to be faithful and trustworthy. Let me never doubt Him again.
Written by: Helen Yi
Remembering Who is Good
Looking back at the past 10 weeks, my biggest regret was missing out on intimate moments with the people I love. The relationship that I completely tossed aside due to “busyness” and “unavailability” was my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I began to distance myself from Him and I erected a wall in my heart that didn’t let anyone in. I ran from intimacy with God-fearing people because I was afraid they would see through my façade and call me out on it. I avoided deep conversations and letting people see the broken, dark, empty places within me. I avoided God’s nudges and whispers. I shut Him out and let myself fall into an all-consuming numbness.
This past week God unleashed all of the emotions inside my heart that I had stowed far deep within myself. He surfaced my pain, insecurities, wounds, sins, depression and anxieties. He shined a light on the darkest parts of me that I was keeping in the shadows and then He boiled down all of it to one thing I was not accepting. My identity. My inheritance. My purpose. I kept telling myself I was not worthy of His love and acceptance. I told myself I wasn’t worthy to be called His daughter. I ignored who He said I was and believed the lies the enemy placed in my mind.
Today, I choose to remember that I am His daughter and that I am who He says I am. Today, I choose to remember that the things of my past do not have any power over me, but the blood of Christ covers me and who the Son sets free is free indeed. Today, I choose to remember He is good. He is God.
Written by Andrenna Williams
1 Peter 1:2 (NIV)
“Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Life as a child of God whom has answered the call to serve in ministry as an evangelist and minister of the gospel is NEVER void of struggle, yet is ALWAYS filled with hope and promise. It is the dichotomy found within the “perks of the job” that help to keep me both balanced and regularly seated at the foot of the cross. This is a life accepted and journey chosen to follow. As a Candidate of Church Army USA and cafe manager at Uncommon Grounds Cafe, each day is filled with new opportunities to fail, succeed and, most importantly, rejoice in the privilege to “GET TO” do His work.
Between managing the kitchen staff and responding to customer “concerns” to providing spiritual guidance and counseling to those who “choose” the cafe as their place of sanctuary and peace, no two days in my life look the same. And for that I am thankful! However, I would be remiss to say that the burden does not become heavy at times. Balancing family life as a single mother and other ministry responsibilities outside of the cafe is definitely trying, at best. Because of this, I am thankful that because of submission to the call and authority of Jesus Christ in my life, I do not have to carry that burden myself. Psalms 55:22 says to “cast your cares on the Lord and HE will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken”. It’s that truth that fuels and powers me to go on. The fact that sanctification is being set apart for the purpose of being obedient to Christ and it’s done through the work of the Holy Spirit RELEASES me from the stress of “getting it right”. As long as I submit to the spirit doing the work and remain obedient to Jesus in my calling; I’M GOOD!
“I WON’T COMPLAIN”
I’ve had some good days
I’ve had some hills to climb
I’ve had some weary days
And some sleepless nights
But when I look around
And think things over
All of my good days
Out-weigh my bad days
I won’t complain.
Written by Scott Colburn
At the Church In The Margins and at the Jail Bible Study in the past few months we've tried to go back to the beginning and find core principles that will help us and our friends to go forward in personal piety and corporate ministry. At CITM we have shared Paul's letters to the Ephesians and to the Philippians as ways to see how our little dinner get-together can be church to those who need it. We saw that God gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit, calls us to walk in sacrificial love so that we are the Light in a world of Darkness, and prepares us to battle in the spiritual war between God and the enemy. Look ma, we're discipling! We have been the beneficiaries of a lot of good donated food, so we have plenty of food and room at our table. Turk and Scott are ready for a continued ministry to a bunch of teens who were coming to the CITM but have not been in the past months. Pray for them, whether they are part of CITM or not.
At the jail, the men's side just finished a long study of Genesis. We see how long mankind has struggled to be in the light of God's presence, against its own desire to be master. Genesis is a rich book of repeating themes like brotherly conflict, the killing effects of a lack of hospitality, and the underdog winning out over the favored. Pray for the men and the women as we go forward with a study of Luke on the men's side and as the women work to prepare the women inmates for the gospel in their lives. The struggle is really old, and it helps to go back to the beginning sometimes and engage with the basic questions.
It was a warm evening, the food had been cooked, the music had been selected, and the guests had been invited. Like many fundraising banquets you may have gone to, there was food, and guest speakers with presentations based on the theme of the evening. But somehow this banquet was different. This banquet also included a memorial of sorts for the first Church Army USA National Director, George Pierce, who graduated to the heavenly choir, to join the great cloud of witnesses.
We were blessed to hear from several people who knew him and that was the catalyst for the theme of the evening, Be the Change. In the room were people that have been long time partners and others who, for the first time, were hearing about how God is using Church Army USA to bring His Kingdom to the least of these.
The other focus was on a new program that will be released in partnership with Trinity School of Ministry and the bases of Church Army USA where a person can get a certificate of Evangelism. This isn’t an ordinary certificate. It entails fieldwork right along with theory. It gives churches an opportunity to raise up someone in their midst to prepare the church for receiving as well as being a herald for the Good News to the broken and lost world. This is Church Army USA getting back to its roots.
If you missed this banquet, don’t fret! We have included the message of support from Bishop Jim Hobby and you can always join the movement. If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions, shoot them over to me and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you and Blessings!
Written By Maggie D.
It’s Wednesday, May 15. I just finished up my shift at the café. I’m sitting on my porch trying to figure out what to write about and I’m stumped. I started to think back about the last espresso that I wrote. And wow! So much has changed since then! The past few weeks have been crazy! And beautiful! I recently got to witness the breakthrough of robin’s eggs becoming little baby chicks in a nest that I found in the courtyard at the café. Then I experienced the heartache two days later after finding the nest rattled, empty, and abandoned. That’s life... isn’t it? The breakthrough and heartbreak. Finally having the love of a mother for myself, but feeling the constant sting of missing my own daughter. Being reunited with people that I love, but only through the death of someone we all loved dearly. The good comes with the bad. The happy and the sad. Life always shows up, but His mercies are new every morning. What is important is staying in a position to be encouraged to keep going. Encouraged not only by the ones around you, but by the Lord as well. And most importantly receiving it.