Tag Archives: Washington DC

Church With A Capital “C”

Sadly its a unique moment when the Church (with a capital C)  intentionally gets together and ignores the many obstacles that hinder unity (organizational names, control, finances, selfish leadership, pride, etc.). 

See what’s happening in Ohio:  http://tiny.cc/q3rb1 

They get it !

Will the Church (Capital C) in the DC metro consider taking similar steps?

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The Phone Call

Sitting in Panera (one of several places that serve as a part-time office).  As usual great Hazelnut coffee and pastries.  I needed to catch up on a lot of writing  so decided I’d escape from “appointments” and have a “me day”. 

The past weeks have been filled with those little moments where others have said or done some little tid bit that has caught my attention.  I spend nearly two-thirds of my time listening to the visions of others; each vision is unique and each person has little obstacles that keep him/her from realizing their vision.  Most of the obstacles are perceived and not real.    The only true solution is to help each direct their sights to God’s vision not to some strategy or problem solving scheme.

One special moment was a phone call from a friend who has made some very tough choices in order to be available so He could hear God and let God unfold what was to take place next in his life.  His willingness to let God be God and step aside from his own desires has spoken volumes to me about how deep his love is for God.  He still hasn’t realized his vision, but God has opened the door to an opportunity that fits so well into his understanding of God’s plan that you know his faithful, patient reliance on God has been rewarded.  It’s truly a “God thing”. 

My wife knows my friend well.  After I shared the gist of his phone call with her she quietly asked “how’s that going in your own life?”  Bam!  Nothing left to add.  Nothing left to say.  God has truly blessed me with an adventure, wonderful friends who only care about what Jesus has in store for them, and a super wife!

Summer Camp Reflection: Past/Present

Growing up I always looked forward to attending summer church camp.   It had log cabins, a pool, horses, archery, etc.   The best part of camp were the counselors who worked hard at building relationships during the short camp period.   I always left camp feeling like I was loosing my best friend.

As fate would have it I was at camp the week America got to see the final episode of the TV show “The Fugitive”.   While I ate ice cream at the canteen everyone else was watching Dr. Kimble catch up with the one-armed man who had murdered his wife.   I’ve never seen that last episode, yet I know how it ended, and I know I can rent it on DVD (hint: great Birthday gift idea).   That night, that summer,  I let my anger get the better of me when I discovered that no one was going to let us watch TV.   My counselor spent several quality hours alone with me as we stumbled alone in the dark with our flashlights.    Somehow we ended up sitting on a log near the archery targets and I knew it was long past “lights out”.  That night he made sure I understood that Jesus was so much more important for my life than a missed TV show.  A Kodak moment I’ve never forgotten even though I can’t remember the counselors name.

The year of the “greased watermelon” is perhaps my favorite summer camp experience.  That year the counselors took a watermelon and smothered it in lard and then threw it in the pool.   The object was for each team to wrestle in the pool with each other and the greased watermelon and somehow at the same time manage to get the watermelon into the net at the end of the pool.  Boy was that fun; pure jungle warfare!  We had such a blast that the fact I was on the team that lost didn’t seem one bit important.  Later as we sat around the campfire each counselor stood up and shared a personal story.  Listening to each of them was mesmerizing and the message was simple.  They loved us and wanted us to realize that our lives at times might seem just like if we were wrestling with a greased watermelon.   They made it clear that the only solution (solvent) for our lives was Jesus; He could clean all that gook out of our lives.  Another Kodak moment I’ve never forgotten even though I don’t remember a single counselor’s name.

I’m a grandpa now.  It is the critical message that I remember from those happy days at summer camp.  Not once during all those happy memories did I ever think about the kids that never got to go to summer camp.  Now as summer draws close I think about the many kids who will not get to build Kodak moments and listen to stories and lessons told by passionate,  dedicated young men and women;  stories that impact lives and make a real difference. 

Each year many kids never get this wonderful experience.   We can help!   

Below I’ve listed just a few links that will take you to an opportunity where you can easily make a difference in the life of a child.  I’m familiar with each camp; each is sponsored by folks that love kids so much that they desperately wish they could give those kids who have so little just this one opportunity to hear about Jesus while helping them develop their own Kodak moments.  

I’d love to hear about your own summer camp experiences.  Help those who help kids this summer – send a kid to camp.  Drop me a line if you can help.

•  Central Union Mission/Fellowship of Christian Athletes :  This year Central Union Mission is partnering with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (DC) to send inner-city children to camp.  Join them on June 7 for their 2010 Golf Tournament.  The funds raised from this tournament will provide scholarships to send inner-city children and youth to either Central Union Mission’s Camp Bennett or Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) sports/leadership camp this summer. Click on the above link for detailed information or contact Don Woodall (703) 250-1096 or Deborah Chambers (202) 745-7118 xt 227.

•  South East White House & Southeast DC Partners:   A 6-week safe, structured environment is provided for the children of the Randle Highlands community (SE DC).  Consistent activities and outings as well as two hours of classroom instruction each day help the children improve learning skills while having fun and experiencing new things.  Contact (202) 575-0214.

859 House (No Link):  Serving the NE DC community of Carver Terrace, summer camp is offered during July.  Consistent fun activities allow the children to have fun and experiencing new things.  One special need is for funds and/or buses that can make a dream reality.  859 would like to spend one day each week during July to take neighborhood kids out of their neighborhood to places like Kings Dominion, Luray Caverns, VA Beach etc.  Transportation is needed for each week for 100 kids.  Contact:  carvertw1@yahoo.com

Camp Dynamite:  This 2 week camp is offered by DC Christian Ministries/American Missionary Fellowship and is primarily for urban youth but senior citizens are also given an opportunity to join in.  It offers all the things associated with camp and includes Bible stories and getting opportunities to know who Jesus is.  Contact:  (202) 277-2601 

 

More Than a Bed?! (#2)

Kudos to Mattress Discounters in Alexandria – they were very accommodating in arranging for a new mattress, box spring, and frame!!  God is good!!

When we get out-of-the-way and let the Holy Spirit work the results are always better than expected.  When hearts are convicted, and the motive is simply loving our neighbor as ourself, miracles take place.  I think we miss most miracles simply because we aren’t taking the time to relish in any down time – we’re always on the go. 

I have puzzled over why we easily want to give our “used extras” to those in need.  Does loving others as ourselves mean as we are – I don’t sleep on a used mattress and I don’t wear clothes from the thriftshop (well that might not be true  – my wife finds great savings at such places so I might be wearing used clothes and I’m to dumb to realize it) – there is nothing wrong with “used extras” – but if we love others as ourselves, as we would want to be treated,  is it right to give folks in need “used extras”?  I haven’t resolved this yet, so feel free to chime in and share your thoughts.

I continue to travel to DC several days a week to pray and mingle with the pastors, business,  government, and nonprofit  folks.   Some are residents, some are not.  I spend at least one night each week at a pastor’s home or sleeping on a couch or floor of a nonprofit.  I go with expectation and each week I have various “wow” moments.  I’m surprized how many pastors I continue to meet without calling/emailing to make an appointment.  Each time that happens it’s a “wow” moment and I’m always anxious to see why God wants us to spend time together.

Just a Bed ?!

Recently I discovered that a friend in DC doesn’t have a bed.  He sleeps in a chair.  This is America, how does this happen in my backyard?  I think what really bothered me was that a fellow follower of Jesus told him that he would have a bed last Nov.  – now it’s April.

I’m constantly praying about this bed, about the guy that needs the bed, and for the guy who promised him a bed.  A day doesn’t go by I don’t ask God to reveal not only where a bed can be found but how to get my hands on it. 

I’ve discovered it’s  like looking for the Holy Grail.  I’ve been to plenty of Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrift stores.  I’ve passed the word to friends thinking they might know someone who has a spare bed to give away.  I just need a twin bed or a roll away bed.  Yesterday I even visited Mattress Discounters to see what it costs to simply get a new twin bed ($200).  I wake up at night and think about this guy and that bed.  I guess you could say I’m either obsessed or on a mission – not sure which.  I certainly have seen it from the eyes of the guy who promised he’d get a bed – it’s not that easy – did he just give up?

Through it all I’ve wondered what God is up to – that little voice has told me “It’s not about the bed, it’s about letting me be God”.  Because of that I haven’t shelled out the money and just bought one – each time I chat with someone about that bed I realize how God will be glorified when that bed finally arrives.  That bed will appear – I know that without a bit of doubt.  I am concerned about my friend who has no bed – does he think I’m another follower of Jesus who just talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk?  This bed issue is so much more – the visible is the bed – the invisible is what God is doing in the various lives that are praying about this bed.

A friend constantly reminds me that life takes place “at the speed of prayer”.  Would you join me in praying about this issue?

Pictures of Unstoppable Momentum

The statistics of DC high school dropout rates, illiteracy, crime etc. have just been numbers that I’ve either read about or others have told me about.  Recently I began setting time aside to meet some of the residents in both SE and NE DC with an expectation that while chatting and praying both with and for them God would reveal to me those things He wants me to see and know. Some of the mental pictures that have now been formed are ones of despair and hopelessness. I see it in the eyes of children that should be thrilled to play on the streets. It’s in the eyes of elderly people who should be enjoying retirement and I see it in the eyes of men and women who should be hard at work at some job that they enjoy. My heart is broken over what I’ve learned.
An item caught my eye as I was reading What Matters Now.  Dave Ramsey wrote about his formula called “Momentum Theorem”.  The formula is Fi/T(G)=M which is Focused Intensity Over Time.  Through prayer God has multiplied my understanding and has revealed an army of folks who share my broken heart over what we see in DC.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are developing an unstoppable momentum of partnership.  It’s God’s plan that we don’t know the end result; it’s just great to watch it unfold. If you would like to join me as we pray both for and in DC please contact me (Tom – see contact above). The first cup of coffee is on me.
One of the issues that has caught my attention is obesity and malnutrition.  Anne Jackson has published statistics about overweight pastors and our 1st Lady Mrs. Obama has begun a campaign (Let’s Move) focused on anti-childhood obesity.  I couldn’t find any published statistics about obesity and malnutrition in DC, but I have observed families that either have little to eat or can only afford cheap, belly filling starch products.
Here are just a couple of the folks I’ve met who are praying and making a difference in the obesity and malnutrition arena:
Erin Mulhern is a wellness specialist who recognizes the enormous problems associated with childhood obesity. Erin works with Just Fitness, LLC and offers various programs that help those looking to shed a few pounds. One of those programs is an after-school program that picks up kids from school and takes them back to their facility for a workout as well as an education on nutrition. Erin offers metabolic testing, personal training, circumference measurements etc., all aimed at providing a wholistic tune up program. She wants to explore the possibility of finding one or more host churches that might agree to sponsor various children through a scholarship program and/or provide space so she might offer services to the children in the communities where the need is greatest. Church volunteers acting as mentors would be able to participate in the wellness program.
Chef Paul and Chef David love to cook. They have developed a culinary art cooking/nutrition program that offers flexible, adaptable age appropriate courses that are fun and teach cooking/nutrition and life skills. They want to explore the possibility of finding one or more host churches that might agree to offer their kitchens so that they can help others learn to cook nutritious meals.
 

The Prince of Anacostia

For the past month, a couple days each week, I have been intentional at picking a spot in NE/SE DC where I could enjoy a cup of coffee and mingle with the residents of those communities.  Before I go to DC I always invite various local pastors to meet me if their time permits, have a cup of coffee, and pray for our city.  Each moment spent in DC is accompanied with an expectation that God will reveal Himself through the eyes and hearts of those we meet.  

A friend always accompanies me; its his way of being supportive of what I am doing.  Kind of reminds me of how the disciples always traveled in twos.  This trip was no different. 

The coffee shop I had selected is new and it is located in Anacostia (The Big Chair Coffee Shop) .  Wow, great service and super big coffee mugs!  We purchased breakfast (large portions!) and as we chatted with the barista we learned that the coffee shop was a family affair.  Police officers and folks on their way to work stopped by and as they waited for their orders we chatted with each of them .  I did notice that more women than men stopped by over the two+ hours we were there. 

One man came in, ordered a cup of coffee and pulled up a chair and sat right next to us.  It was obvious he and the barista knew each other well.  I assumed he was a regular customer that came in each day.  He casually asked what brought us to the coffee shop and over a matter of minutes we discovered that he was the owner of the building.  He is a developer that owns a sizeable bit of property in Anacostia.  As folks came in they stopped and chatted with him and it was obviously that he was well-known and respected.  Some laughed and told us he was a great guy to know and that he was a man who truly cares about those who rent or lease from him.  They had a nickname for him – “The Prince of Anacostia”.  As we continued to chat, we learned that he knew most of the pastors in the area and he enjoyed helping them find affordable rental space so they could open child development centers and other community oriented endeavors that would benefit the “poor in spirit”.  He seemed humble and it was obvious he loved the community.

The coffee shop has an upstairs room that local companies have begun to use to host staff meetings etc.  My friend and I went there to find a quiet spot to pray and at that moment it was empty – perfect.  

As we prayed for the city and those we had just met I realized that my plan to meet with pastors wasn’t nearly as terrific as God’s plan for me to meet with other men and women who care for the city.  Whether planned or simply something that has evolved, the “Prince of Anacostia” has already begun to build a fellowship of friends who are discovering how they can use their gifts and pour love back into the community.  

I’m looking forward to spending more time with him!