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Friday, November 4, 2016

This last week or two have been fairly compact.  Hastings (a chain that sells books, games, videos, and more) and a local ministry thrift shop, The Bargain Hut, had announced that they were closing their doors in pretty short order.  This was both sad, and a moment of opportunity to turn something unfortunate into something beneficial for The Kingdom and local ministry.  We were able to work with both entities to get some new shelving units, office items, and some direct items that went onto the free store shelves (coats, shoes, clothes, a microwave and more).  To accomplish that, we had to work around their closing schedules, dates, and times while continuing to do the ministry that we already do (and neither week had much wiggle room to accommodate our attending bankruptcy sales for Hastings or sifting through some of the items that were free to nonprofits at The Bargain Hut—though they were very friendly and helpful once they knew who we were and what we were looking for).  One particular challenge was that things finally came back together for us to offer free, monthly community meals at our ministry location—and the first relaunch was right in the middle of this.  (Photos below).

Thankfully, as He usually does, God provided the right people at the right time to make it work.  First I have to thank God for answered prayers as He provided contacts through Breathe Coffee House who could oversee the food preparation portion of our meal, and other contacts with the FHSU social work club who volunteered to serve at it (and to help set up for it and put the place back in order after it).  These contacts came through First Call For Help due to some of our efforts to feed the hungry and the inquiries the club had been making.  In addition, a couple members of one FHSU fraternity were present so that even the Common Grounds Coffee House was up and running during the meal.  Not only were a little over forty people served warm meals at the relaunch of the community meals, but dozens of different contacts and networks came together to accomplish it, and all seemed pretty pleased with the results and willing to continue with it.  For those of you who have been in longer-term ministry, you know how hard that part of the equation can be!

As all of this launches, other things are afoot.  We have quite a few—on the order of almost one hundred—computers donated from a hospital.  All had to have the hard drives removed to prevent any risk of patient data being passed on. Previously, computers from this facility (which are nicer/newer than mine) had been melted down entirely to prevent such data loss.  Now, the hospital let us have them for nonprofit use (minus the hard drives).  We are currently putting together some volunteers to sit down and pop in new hard drives (after we obtain some) flashed with legal operating systems so that, after an investment of around $1,000 in hard drives (which would normally buy up to three computers of the caliber we have received), we hope to have almost 100 ready to give out to families who need them.  All of this is a work in progress, but I am excited that it has literally fallen into our lap.

Also encouraging is that the Common Grounds Coffee House is finally running semi-frequently again thanks to a new wave of barrista volunteers.  It does my heart quite a bit of good to see something that has seemed largely dead so long flowing with life and blessing people.  Thank God for answering prayers there.  It kind of feels like rain on a long-barren field or fresh wind after a much-too-long summer.  Please pray that He keeps that growing healthily.  I want to share a quote from one of those new barristas that left me feeling blessed to serve God here when I asked Him why he was currently volunteering at our small nonprofit.

“I try to look and see where God is moving and then go there myself.  I see that in your ministry and what you do; that’s why I’m here now.”

That was a strong and needed encouragement for me, personally.  Though I have been very busily engaged in ministry the last few months, I, like any human, occasionally look around and want to make sure that I’m moving in the right direction.  It is very important to me, personally, to move with God and not for God—I have learned the hard way that moving apart from Him often hurts instead of helps both others and me, even if I’ve done it with good intent.  Though signs of progress may not always be what we think (Paul’s encouragement for sharing the good news was often to get stoned), sometimes we can see God’s movement or providence in little encouraging ways that we, somehow, know are from Him.  This was one of those things, and my soul was very glad.

Anyway, as you read this newsletter, I thank you for your interest in the Kingdom work here and request that you keep us in your prayers.  Lord knows I/we need it.  It’s so very hard to balance resting on the Sabbath, loving one’s spouse, and taking care of the important Kingdom work (real life conversations with people who matter—and updates like this one since you all matter greatly) while still getting the grinding minutia of the work done.  When my rest is insufficient, or when I am sick (as I currently am while writing this), sometimes I can feel that exhaustion keenly.  However, I know truly that with a short bit of time sitting, listening/resting in God’s presence around all of us, I will be recharged and my perspective will be renewed.  It seems I have to let go to be renewed, but in so doing, all of the stresses and worries drop away, and I again see an open ground in front of me—ripe with opportunities to love someone, bring hope or light or laughter to someone, or just to be with someone.  Thank God for the opportunity to be His servants in this era.  We are truly blessed, my friends—Go with God!