Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Go Out Serving

Several months ago, Reid and I were talking about what we wanted our final days here to be like.  Reid and I both decided we wanted to go out serving.

Yes, time with friends and family was going to be important, but we wanted to be sure we prioritized on the things our family was already doing in our community for Christ.  So, on Mother's Day, we worshipped at Water Angels with the homeless community of Knoxville.

"For even the Son of Man 
did not come to be served, 
but to serve, 
and to give His life 
as a ransom for many."
Mark 10:45

We want our lives to reflect Christ in every way.
Serving the downtown community flows out of this desire.

The boys led worship.  Mason challenged the congregation through the songs.  The boys played their best while others worshipped alongside them.
The boys played -
Where I Belong
Salvation is Here
Friend of God
The Cry
Turn Around
Braden played the entire set - something he has just recently been able to accomplish.  At 8 years old, it's a blessing to see his heart for worship.
Franklin pounded out the beat.  What a Mother's Day gift to worship with them and hear them play!

All the time, we want our lives to reflect Isaiah 58:6-14:

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
     to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
     and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
     and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
     the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
     the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.
13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure[c] on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure,[d] or talking idly;[e]
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
     and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;[f]
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
     for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Several friends from downtown spoke blessing over our family.  It's amazing to hear how God has revealed His love to others through our little family.   Humbling is an understatement of what the testimonies from our friends meant to our hearts!

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!"  
Psalm 115:1

We have seen God redeem lives from the streets.  He's taken women who were selling themselves for physical love and bring them to understanding of His true, unending love.  We have seen God break chains of addictions (sin).  We have celebrated children being reunited with parents.  We have witnessed modern day miracles in the streets of downtown Knoxville!

Someone asked me recently what we have done to "train" for missions.  While we have attended an amazing training through Mission Training Institute - our hands-on learning has come through serving the homeless community in our town at Water Angels.  Our family has been willing to get our hands dirty in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus within our community.  Aren't we supposed to minister as Jesus did?

Reid shared God's word, and challenged the homeless community to be faithful.  God is calling them to be lights for Him on this earth.  Reid preached the truth.  Whether they are in church, under a bridge, sleeping at KARM, or in a homeless camp, God calls everyone to be faithful to Him.  Lots of "Amens" and "Yes, Brother!" confirmed the relevance of Reid's teaching.

Mason led the congregation in a call to Turn Around by playing the final song.

My Mother's Day was complete because my mom worshipped with us at Water Angels today.  What JOY to celebrate this day with her!
Our family wanted to give a final gift to Water Angels celebrating some of our memories.  we created these canvases to hang as a reminder of some of the joy we have shared.

It's amazing to see what God has done.  The relationships He has orchestrated.  The lives He has changed.

Stephanie and Jeff Mitchum run Water Angels.  There is no paid staff.  Everything is done by volunteers.  (You can contact them if you are interested in serving!)

Stephanie and Jeff were leaders for our family.  They do all ministry with their two girls, and always have.  They modeled for us how family ministry can be done.  Their family serves together.  Thank you for paving the way for us Mitchum family!  You have taught us well!  We are grateful for your family's obedience to God through your love of the people in need.

Mother's day ended for us serving with some precious friends.  We provided lunch for the homeless community.  Guess what we served as the meal?  Beans and Rice.  It was our way to connect them with Ghana, Africa!  

Below are many pictures from our day.  I don't want to write about each one, but you will see the friends that we have served beside for the past few years here in Knoxville.  Part of our worship together has come through serving together.  Adults and children serving alongside each other.  Families serving with each other.  We've all experienced Jesus together as we have ministered to the least of these within our town.

Serving with my mom and dad has been such a blessing!

The Buds!  The Guys!

I totally cracked up as this friend jumped in the picture, someone stole the cigarette off his ear.  That's life downtown!

Octavia also jumped in for a photo with the boys.  She's so funny.

I first met Octavia about four years ago.  Soon after I met her, I ran into her at the World's Fair Park.  She was in her housekeeping uniform from a local hotel. She was walking to work from the homeless camp where she was living with her boyfriend, Steven.

Octavia has struggled with addictions, but over the past few years, she has been pursuing what is right in the Lord's eyes as she has come to know Him.

She comes to the Tuesday night Bible Study often.
She takes notes and listens intently to the teaching.  God's Word is penetrating her heart.

She and Steven married last year.  They decided to "start living the way God wanted them to."  So, now they are married living in a homeless tent camp downtown.

Steven has also started coming to church.  Hands that previously beat on Octavia are now holding her.  His life too, has turned around.
Octavia and Steven recently learned that they are expecting their first child.

On Mother's Day they shared the story with me about learning they were expecting.  Octavia said she called Steven to tell him she was pregnant.

Steven told me he was standing in a dumpster when the phone rang.  He said he started jumping up and down in the dumpster when he heard they were going to have a baby!  Jumping up and down in a dumpster!

In a life that some would call trash - there is JOY!  Steven was jumping in exuberant JOY inside of a dumpster filled with trash BECAUSE OF GOD'S GOODNESS TO HIM AND OCTAVIA!

Friends, please pray for this little one and please pray for Octavia and Steven to obtain housing before the baby comes.

Righ has held Godwin in Ghana, and now holds him in Knoxville.

Samuel.  Continuing to pursue the Lord.

I handed the camera to a downtown friend hoping for a group shot.

Well, he tried.

The Buds!  The Girls!
Photo bombed!

Lanita, my precious friend, gave me some pictures she had colored for our Wall of Friends in Ghana.  What a priceless gift!  Thank you Lanita!

Stephanie, my friend and mentor.

Loving the homeless community...loving orphans...loving others...


We are so thankful for our time at Water Angels.  Our family has been so blessed on this training ground.  Thank you, dear friends, for loving us all so well.
In order to transport all of the music equipment, our family drove two cars to the service.  After the meal, I drove my friend, Pam, home.  She has no car.

Pam is a new believer.  Full of hope.  Full of JOY.

This is Pam's home.

And this is nicer than most people went home to today from Water Angels.  Some to homeless shelters.  Some headed under the bridges.  Some to homeless camps.  It's sobering.  In my own community, this is life for so many.  Yet, the needs in Africa are so much greater.

Friends, help is needed downtown to shepherd weary hopeless souls into the love of Jesus.  We are praying for God to continue to raise up people to love the homeless community in our absence.  Your help is needed.  You will be immersed into the reality of this town we call home.  And, you will be blessed beyond measure through the friends you will make.  You will be living Isaiah 58.

If you are interested in serving, please contact Water Angels.

"For even the Son of Man 
did not come to be served, 
but to serve, 
and to give His life 
as a ransom for many."
Mark 10:45

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