I love words. I enjoy doing word studies when reading the Bible and find it hard to believe that not everyone does. I remember doing a Beth Moore Bible study one time and a friend asked which one I was doing. When I told her, she said she didn't like it very much because there were too many word studies in it! I just stared at her with a does-not-compute look in my eye...! Of course, I'm only kidding. I realize we are all wired differently and have different learning styles, personalities, etc. and that's what makes life so interesting. But I am one of the ones who loves reading words...in poetry, in song lyrics, in a good novel, in a biography... I love writing words as my thoughts pour out in my journal and occasionally on a keyboard as I update my blogs.
However, this afternoon as I attempted to write my thoughts about all God has done today, words failed me. I'm not sure I can find words to describe it here either, but I have yielded my hands to God, so we shall see what pours forth...
As a reminder, we are in Jackson, MS on a mission trip with our church, The Nest. We are serving at We Will Go Ministries, which is run by our friends from long ago, David & Amy Lancaster. We were blessed today to meet other missionaries who live on base there.
I know words will not do this justice, but I will attempt to walk you through our wonderful day with the Lord today.
We arrived at We Will Go at 9 a.m. where we met with David & Amy, and a few other folks who serve here. Amy L. (I'll refer to her as this, since we at The Nest have Amy S.) shared with us the story of We Will Go...Oh my! That story alone would take up the rest of this space, but the short version is that God called them into the mission field, which they assumed would take them to another country to live, but God had other plans and called them to love the drug addicts, prostitutes, homeless, and other "untouchables" in downtown Jackson, one of the most poverty- stricken places you could ever imagine. God miraculously provided them with several small former crack houses, which now house them and the missionaries who serve with them, as well as teams coming for short-term service. Oh, how I wish I could share all the details of their story here! OK, moving on...
From there, Amy took us on a tour of base 1, which consists of Love House, Faith House, Peace House, and Hope House. Love, Faith, Peace, Hope...now THERE are some good words! Now you need to understand that when I say "tour", I mean sooo much more than just showing us around. I mean story after story of God's goodness, provision, faithfulness, and miracles.
Then we walked to the next block, where base 2 is located. On the way, we ran into Miss Wanda. When Amy L. asked her how she was doing, she shook her head dejectedly and started walking away, but Amy persisted and asked how her job was working out. She said she'd lost her job, so we prayed for her right there in the street...we prayed for God to be the Lifter of her head and for her to see her true value in Him. We prayed for Him to provide her with a job. But mostly, we loved on her. The further we walked, the more run-down the neighborhood seemed to get. Amy L. took out some old photos of what base 1 used to look like and those photos looked much like what we were seeing as we got closer to base 2. Run-down shacks that looked like they hadn't been lived in for years...broken out windows...beer cans and broken bottles littering the yards...and then Amy L. pointed out that people actually lived in them. People. People who once were sweet little babies and innocent children. People God Most High created in His image. People who for whatever reason - many because it's all they've ever known - have turned to drugs, alcohol, prostitution, living in filth, depressed, hardened, with physical, emotional, and mental challenges. People. Heart-breaking to say the very least.
We stopped and chatted with a man named (I believe his name was Joseph), then moved past a house Amy L. pointed out as a drug house. Here a car pulled up and a woman got out, went to the house, and cam back out to her car, where she sat with it running and loud music playing for at least 20 minutes. On the side of her car was airbrushed the name "Icylicious". Now I do not know for sure what she was doing in that car all that time, but I have a pretty good idea, so I prayed my heart out for her, unable to hold back the tears as Amy L. pointed her out and said she had children. I wondered what had happened to her to cause her to believe she had no other choice but to turn to drugs and who knows what else...what lies from the enemy had she believed? How could this cycle be broken before passing it down to another generation? Oh, Jesus! Only YOU, Lord!
We stopped at the corner and she shared with us that a little 9 year old girl had been run over and died at that corner awhile back. That's when it struck me that here where senseless death had occurred, there was new life, for there across the street was a huge community garden. Yes, I said GARDEN right in the middle of the 'hood! And I'm not talking about a poor, pitiful barely surviving garden either, I'm talking about a HUGE, thriving, beautiful vegetable garden, where the neighbors can come harvest veggies to share. For many of them, these are the only source of healthy food they will have access to. The garden isn't the only source of new life here at this corner, for there across from the garden is the home that the Lancaster's now live in, called appropriately Restoration house. Next to it is Victory house and Freedom house, which are used by missionaries. We prayer- walked through each of these houses and my heart was especially tendered toward a young man named Stephen, who is the brother of one of the missionaries there. Though raised in a Christian home, they believe he is not saved, so we prayed over his bedroom that he would have a life-changing encounter with The Living God before leaving We Will Go. Life, Restoration, Victory, Freedom...Good words!
Behind these houses which make up base 2, there is a row of shacks, which were practically given to the ministry. I'm telling you, these houses look like one puny wind could blow them right over, but Amy L. reminded us that the other houses they had re-built and re-named once looked like those too. You see, they see the potential where others only see condemnation. They see beauty for ashes. They see what God sees and then bring it into being. Oh, Lord, give me Your eyes and Your heart. As we walked the ground in front of these houses, lyrics to John Waller's song, Our God Reigns Here kept coming to mind, so we began to sing it over the neighborhood...Spirit of death, you have no place here! I command you to leave In Jesus' name! Spirit of fear, you have no place here! I command you to leave In Jesus’ name! You’re not welcome here, so go! Spirit of doubt, you have no place here! I command you to leave In Jesus' name! Envy and jealousy, you have no place here! I command you to leave In Jesus' name! Go back from whence you came! Our God reigns here! Our God reigns here! We claim this ground In Jesus' name, ‘Cause our God reigns! Our God reigns here! Our God reigns here! The battle’s won! Have no fear 'Cause God reigns here! Anger and rage, Guilt and shame, I command you to leave In Jesus' name! Depression, Anxiety Addiction, infirmity, I command you to leave In Jesus’ name! Go back from whence you came! God reigns here, there’s no doubt, He has overcome the world!
As we headed back to base 1, we stopped and visited with "Boss Man", a big, jovial man who once hated white people until Amy L. and We Will Go loved him into the Kingdom. Praise God! While visiting with him, a car pulled up to the side of the road and we met a man named Keevan, who was from another town and was here to visit his children. Melissa (a 17 year old girl who went to Peru with We Will Go and is here for a week) and Brooke (my 17 year old) witnessed to and prayed with this man.
We then went back to base 1 for lunch. During lunch, Marci (We Will Go missionary) shared her family's amazing God story with us. We spent some time praying for the extended families of the missionaries who live here, because they don't understand why their families would choose to raise their grandchildren in such a "God-forsaken place". It was a beautiful time of agreeing together for their eyes to be open to Kingdom realities.
Next most of us went and sorted clothes in their clothes closet, which is really the size of a large garage. The men helped David put together a shelving unit. As we sorted clothes, we prayed for their recipients and their donors.
Finally we ended up at Love house, which is where We Will Go began and used to serve as the Lancaster's home. Marci and her family now live here. We prayed over their family and ministry. Very powerful presence of the Lord here!
My emotions had been building in me all day and though I did shed a tear here and there throughout the day, when I got in the shower at the hotel, I could no longer hold it back and had what Amy S. calls a "burst", where I just let it all out and wept, not even sure if they were happy tears, sad tears, or a combo...not being able to put into words all I had just experienced, but oh so thankful to a God Who has called me to love The One and love the one.
I must go now, but will update more later.
Thanks for reading these words and praying for us.
Once again, my apologies for the lack of photos. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out this new phone soon and can get them to upload. They are on facebook, so if you're my friend, you can view them in my summer '11 album. Enjoy!