Written by Greg Miller
A couple of weeks ago I was teaching some seniors who suffer with dementia about God's promise never again to flood the earth. We talked about the rainbow as the sign that that he will remember and be faithful to that promise. We concluded by saying that our hope and salvation is ultimately dependent, not on ourselves, but on God's promises and goodness. He is the one who guarantees our salvation in Jesus, not us.
After the teaching we talked a little about rainbows and when we had seen them. Several of the people could remember particular rainbows that struck them as extraordinary. Sadly, we concluded that since it was March we wouldn't likely see a rainbow for several months - probably June or July.
As I left the facility where we were meeting I began to drive away and what do you think I saw? A rainbow in March! It was captured by the sun refracting its light through a cloud formation way up in the sky. The words of Genesis 9:13, which we had just read, struck me, "I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth." God was revealing his grace to us by reminding us that he can produce rainbows whenever he wants to and that he is always watching over us. What a great day! What a wonderful God!
Written by Herbert Bailey
It has been a solid four years. Four years that we have been here in Aliquippa as missionaries. Four years of seeing God move and getting the opportunity to take advantage God’s grace, first recognized by me, then poured out on the staff, the community, and my family. Four years of speaking to various churches, colleges and schools. Four years of walking beside the least of these.
In my wildest imaginations, I could not have guessed that I would be surrounded by people so on fire to see others experience the love that they have received. It is transformational and we are seeing lives changed, people that would not give others the time of day, because of their own addictions, walking with others out of the isolation that comes from being so self-focused to a place of offering “room to get it right” to fellow travelers.
We are inviting people to the table, figuratively, and literally. We saw the women’s rehab facility (a part of Gateway) move from just around the corner to another city on the other side of Pittsburgh, but we got notice enough to begin to pray about where God was leading us next. After we prayed it was obvious, love the people in the community that are in isolation. As if almost on cue, one young lady who had been homeless, on house arrest, with two young boys, pregnant, struggling with addiction, and who had spent the summer and fall months with us at the café came back into our lives.
She came back in, not in the broken state that we last saw her, but in a revived, healthy state, giving God the glory for how we were able to provide a place for her, when she had no other alternative. She is now working with us in the café, and weekly gives out soup outside of the city building to people passing by.
Another young lady that was a part of an interview by the local public television station still struggled with her addiction, but recently has found a place of acceptance staying with others that are recovering from heroin addiction. I asked her if I could share her story, and she was so overwhelmed that she began to cry. I told her I was honored to serve her.
One of the men from our community has gone through a different issue. He and I work closely together, and in doing so, we find that the advantage of our close proximity gives us the ability to hold the other accountable. He has invited me into his life to speak truth, whenever I see it, and not to hold back from “calling him out”. This is humbling as most of us don’t want to engage in anything that would cause conflict or cause us to be ostracized. I gingerly engage, and he knows that I too need that level of relationship. This has been an eye opening relationship and a healing one for both of us.
We are in the final stages of BREAKING GROUND on the park in downtown Aliquippa and about to experience a ribbon cutting on the 21st of April. This is a long time coming and it reflects an intentional collaboration between the city, the county and CAUSA. We are looking forward to tangible opportunities to experience the kingdom of God, on Earth as it is in Heaven. We are excited about the sounds of children playing, outdoor music festivals, and parents and others enjoying an outside space during the spring, summer and fall months. This will be a great opportunity for people to gather as part of the community.
God is providing laborers for the harvest; we are seeing new faces join the team. This fall, Helen Yi, will be joining us as we simultaneously lament the moving of Ali Kirby to support her husband’s call to ministry outside of Baltimore Maryland. Helen has intentionally moved to the area from Georgia and will work in the capacity of assisting me with keeping up with our calendars and advertising.
Lastly, we, as a team, are working through Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. One of the statements that stood out to me was that if we are not seeking the Kingdom of God first, we are not seeking the Kingdom of God at all. I have been convicted that I have not intentionally invited some people to partner practically in seeing God’s Kingdom be first in our community.
With that, I am inviting you to be a part of God’s Kingdom being presented, by making a monthly commitment to financially support me as I go about our Father’s business; as I go about answering the call to love the least of these with grace that has been given to me. I thank you in advance for your commitment to seeing his Kingdom come, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Written by Shianne Aaron
I have currently been a member of the Uncommon Grounds staff for about a year and a half now. In that time, I have learned about spirituality, honesty, faith, identity and many more notions. Most importantly though, I’ve learned to pray and have come to find God. Praying was not an easy concept for me at first and, honestly, still isn’t to an extent. I thought I would never be able to pray right or even learn how to pray the right way. The team at Uncommon Grounds has taught me that there is no right or wrong way to pray, just as long as I do it. I still find myself thinking that I’m not praying right since I can’t focus and that God doesn’t speak to me. The reality of it is that God just doesn't speak to me in the way I want him to, but in the way He wants to.
This concept occurred to me recently when I was in a situation in downtown Pittsburgh. I was eating dinner at a restaurant and had went outside to get some air to get away from everybody in the crowded restaurant. While I was standing outside, I noticed an older looking man approaching the groups of people that were also standing outside. I had overheard him asking them they had anything they could spare. Now, at this moment, I got really nervous because I knew he was going to come up tp me next and ask me the same thing. It wasn’t the fact that he was probably going to ask for something, it was more-so my anxiety kicking in and having this really weird feeling come over me. At the time, I couldn’t explain what was coming over me. But when he did come up to me and asked if I had anything to spare, I hesitated for a second. Then I said “No, I don’t have any cash on me but what I can do is pray for you if you want me to”.
I then proceeded to pray for the man, as he held out his hands and I grabbed them. I can’t remember what all I said but what I do know, was that it was words from God coming out of my mouth. Never before this moment have i prayed for a stranger out loud and for as nervous as I was, I knew right after that it was God speaking through me in that moment. Then a couple minutes later, after the gentleman had left, I also came to find out that it was God who was trying to speak to me before the man even came up to me, hence to why I had such a veil of a weird feelings come over me. That is when I it hit me. God speaks to me the way he wants to; in the ways that I need spoken too.
I’m still not all the way comfortable with praying for other people out loud yet but it will get there in time. I’m accepting of that and won’t let myself give up. I know that just for today, God uses me as a vessel to be able to speak to people and minister for them to the best of my ability. Uncommon Grounds has taught me that and to not sell myself short of any of the abilities God has given me.