Never Heard

Blank stares met the mention of his name.

Again, I asked, have you heard of him?

Just a few blinks.

and the shake of a head.

Never heard of my Best Friend.  Never heard of my Encourager. Never heard of my Daily Strength. Never heard of the One who spoke the universe into existence, and sustains it there daily. Never heard of my Father, and the One who speaks to Him on my behalf.  The One who endured hell, so that I can experience love unlimited, and grace unmerited, and forgiveness abundant, and a Power that is not my own. The one who entered into the mess I have made with my stubborn, selfish heart. Dealt with the consequences of my rebellion of my Creator, took all the punishment and wrath I deserve for the sickness of my self-centered heart…and those times I’ve yelled at my kids and the mean things I think and the messed-up priorities I have and the pride that wells up in my heart. He took what I deserved, let me go free, free to be alive to the Source of Life. Free to live in a power and strength and a motivation that I could never muster in my own will.

I stood their desperately trying to eek out an explanation of Who He is.  How do you even start, when there isn’t even a frame of reference?  A golden opportunity to share with this man the greatest JOY of my life,  but at the same time utter chaos ensued, and I’m left pondering what I could have done differently. I’m left wondering how many others I pump gas next to, and stand in the check out line beside, and buy coffee from who HAVE NEVER HEARD the sweet name of


That afternoon on the way home, we met a Russian woman who didn’t have a place to live. She told us she was willing to work and help out with housework…well, we were in the middle of cleaning up from the mold and hauling things to the curb to be picked up  by the trash collector, so we told her we could give her some work and try to help her out.  We brought Lucy home with us, and I told her what I had on the agenda for that day…spraying down items with mold-killing chemicals and cleaning up inside my disastrous house.  While we worked she told me her “story”. Catholic in background,  A “mail order bride” who came to the States to marry someone who found her profile on the internet. A six year marriage ended in divorce, a few nanny jobs, and jumping around from house to house, whoever would take her in.  My mind is reeling as I work alongside her and I brainstorm how we can help her when we don’t even have a home to live in either. We take a water break as I regroup for the next task, and she tells me.

“I hope you don’t mind, but God doesn’t want me to do this work. Someone else can help you. God has important work for me to do. I want to leave.”

Ok, I think.  “Well, she can just hang out, while I work and when Danny gets back with the car we can take her wherever she wants to go”

I wanted to at least read Scripture with her, because despite her frequent mention of God, we can always benefit from reminders of the TRUTH.

As I sit down and get my Bible out, she tells me

“I don’t need to read that, God speaks to me already.”

and this is when I start to get suspicious. Of mental disorder, and other principalities at work.

It was when I was talking to “Kenny” (his American name) that I really knew there were other principalities at work….

We had headed outside after an around and around conversation on my desire to read some Scripture together for mutual encouragement, and her frequent interruptions to keep me from reading it.

Thats when Kenny pulled up, and started looking at the stuff we had put out on our curb.  I started talking to him and explaining what was wrong with the stuff, and we got to talking about how he had four daughters, and Lucy immediately said “Oh, he NEEDS this stuff! He has four babies! You need to give him this stuff!” I started explaining again about the situation with all the items and he said “Oh I don’t really need it anyways.”

While he was there, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity, so I started asking him questions.  From Vietnam. Buddhist. Been in the States eight years. When I asked him if he had heard of Jesus, is when I got the blank stares.

I was taken aback by him not knowing ANYTHING about Jesus.  My mind went reeling as to “where to start?” and I started explaining creation and the God who made it all.

This is when Lucy and whatever principality was at work in her, started bringing utter chaos.  She immediately started saying again, “This man needs these things! Let him take this bike! Let him take these clothes!”

He told me that he didn’t really want them, and I kept trying to share the story of creation, and Lucy kept saying that he was in desperate need and should take all the stuff I was getting rid of…this mad circle of conversation ensued for the next 5 minutes until, Kenny said “I think I need to go”. Lucy begged him for a ride, and she piled into his truck with him. and they drove off.

And I stood in my yard dumbfounded.

Dumbfounded about the bizarre scenario that had just unfolded before me.

Dumbfounded that a man who had never even heard the name of Jesus had been standing right before me.

Dumbfounded that I wasn’t able to share this incredible story of love, and redemption with him…..all because of a crazy, homeless, Russian lady who we had randomly picked up at the CVS.

and pondering how many more people live in my Atlantan-suburban city, who have come from countless other countries, and have yet to hear of my Savior, much less meet Him.

Do I have the eyes to see them? And the heart and mouth to engage them?

My friend, Susan Lytle, who graciously shares Christ with many people, has written up a little step by step way of taking the heart to engage those that haven’t heard, into the practical realm of actually engaging them . 

Notes on “Sharing Jesus Without Fear”
There is MUCH joy that we receive when we’re obedient to God in sharing the Gospel!
When we stop sharing our faith, things become routine and we can become spiritually lethargic, etc. This effects many churches.
It’s not about heaping guilt, its about the privilege of the process, about knowing God’s Word and obeying the Holy Spirit. Living our lives for Him, vs ourselves.
A few conversation starters..

1- Do you have any kind of spiritual belief?

2-To you, who is Jesus?

3- Do you believe there is a heaven and hell?

4- If you died today, do you know where you would go?

**follow up question: 

“If what you’re believing is not true, would you want to know?”

If they say “no”, you stop. This helps you to know if God is working in this person.

Using your bible (preferable a small one that you can have with you) Write down the next scripture verse in the margin so you know where to go next. Earmark or memorize Rom 3:23 to begin.

go to the first scripture (Rom 3:23). Try to avoid getting into arguments over statements like “the Bible has errors”, etc (you can kindly respond by asking them to please show you one)

Faith comes from hearing the Word of God. Ask them to read aloud:

Romans 3:23.

Then ask, “what does it say to you?”

Them-“we’ve all sinned”

You- “you’re right”. Turn the page..keep going. Let GOD do the work..they can’t say it’s you.

Go to Rom 6:23  (The wages of sin is death (hell), but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ.” 
After they read it, say “Did you notice in the Bible, it reminds me (point to self) that even one sin would send me to hell? (Anywhere in the bible where it speaks of death/separation from God, it’s referring to hell) “In” reminds me that I need to be IN a relationship with God.”

Ask them to read John 3:3 aloud. Afterwards you can say “are you wondering how to get this relationship with God?”

Next verse- John 14:6 “I am the way , the truth & the life”)  “What does this mean to you?”

 (some verses that confirm Jesus being God: Luke 23:2-3, John 1:34-36, 3:36, 4:26, 5:24, 11:25, 12:3, 17:3, 20:31, Acts 4:12, 10:34-43, 26:18)

Romans 10:9-11, (“That if you confess your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” )read aloud. “What does it mean to you?”

2 Cor 5:15        (“And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”)

Isaiah 1:18       (“Come, now, let us reason together, “says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, ;they shall be as white as snow; though they are read as crimson, they shall be like wool”.

Rev 3:20  (“Here, I am! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and He

Additional verses that are good- Mark 1:15 (“…repent and believe in the gospel..”) “believe” means put your trust in.

Luke 10:25-28 “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 


The Christian is often afraid of “the decision”, sometimes thinking it’s up to them, rather than the work of the Spirit.

Follow-up questions:

1- Do you believe you’re a sinner? 

2- Do you want forgiveness for your sins?

3- Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and rose again?

4- Are you willing to surrender your life to Jesus?

5- Are you ready to invite Jesus into your life and follow Him? 

Whenever you ask #5, “shut up and pray’. This is a holy moment, the most important question they’ll ever hear. 

  2 Last principles:

“Read it again principal”- Don’t try to play theologian if they get stuck on a scripture. Just ask them to read it again & watch God reveal the truth to them. 

If they say “no”…use the “why principal”-

“I’m not sure this is the only religion, there’s a lot of them.”

Answer- There are really only two: 1-Christianity- Jesus is God, He had to come to us, we couldn’t get to Him. 2- Everything else- Jesus is not equal to God & you have to use some effort on your part to get to heaven.  One belief or the other is in vain.

“I’m not good enough.” (back to Romans 10:9-11 “..ANYONE who calls on the Name..”

“Do I have to give up relations with my boyfriend?” 

Do not wimp when answering biblically when conviction of sin is surfacing. They have a choice to make to follow Jesus. Never “force” a decision by making it easier or watering it down. Let them go. You’ve done what God has asked you to do. The Father is in control 🙂

Summary of verses:

Rom 3:23 (we’re sinners)

Rom 6:23 (penalty for sin)

John 3:3 (Jesus crucified) 

John 14:6 (I am the Way)

Rom 10:9-11 (Anyone who calls on the Name)

2 Cor 5:15 (turn from and turn to..I no longer want to live for myself)

Is 1:18 (Come let us reason together)

Rev 3:20 (Jesus is knocking at the door) 



Not about the soccer schedule….

"Our Kids" at one of our youth group meetings several years ago. "

“Our Kids” at one of our youth group meetings several years ago.

Spoke to my best friend yesterday.

We didn’t shoot the breeze about our kid’s soccer teams.  Or about ballet schedules being busy.  Didn’t talk about the sale at Macy’s or about what color we will paint our kitchens.

No, the mothering issues she faces are far more intense than that, for she resides in Newark, NJ, where every day is a battle for a child’s life. A struggle against a society so broken and dysfunctional due to the generational curses of sin and selfishness…theirs and ours.

When asked what was going on in her life, she unloaded the enormous burden she’s been carrying for the past several weeks in.  One of her surrogate children came to visit…came to visit with bruises all over his body.

Bruises due to his stepfather’s anger.  His anger and his leather belt.

She tried to contact that boy’s mother, but that mother is in such an intense addiction due to her own mother’s neglect and abuse because of her addiction (the cycle goes on and on), that she can’t think of anything beyond how she will get her next fix. My best friend didn’t dare call the cops, because that means that child and his two older sisters would be taken out of the home and tossed around the foster care system.

A system that my friend herself endured as a child, and to this day bears the wounds of abuse within it.  She just could not do that to them.

Weeks passed by with him living in her home, hiding him, being a refuge for him from the wrath of his stepfather, and those weeks rolled into the school year starting. She worried and fretted because wasn’t a legal guardian and couldn’t enroll him in school. But she prayed. And she cried out to God to work in this situation. Miraculously, that boy’s grandmother, showed up out of nowhere and agreed to take him and enroll him in school .  A beacon of light for this hurting boy, whose hurt and crying out for help has come in the form of behavior that has kicked him out of four different school.  Will that grandma have what it takes to help this eleven year old boy overcome the ripping apart that happens in a child’s heart when his mother abandons him for her drugs, and a stepfather left to raise him beats him?

THESE are the questions my friend battles with…on top of her own financial struggles, on top of raising numerous children in a violence-ridden city, on top of not having a local soul to help her, pray for her, encourage her, because where she lives…she’s the most stable one around.

And if all that weren’t enough, towards the end of the conversations she says,

“Miss Kimberly*, I know you are going through alot, and I hate to tell you this…but I need you to pray…..

….last night a fourteen year old got shot and killed in Rosie’s (a housing projects two blocks from our old home).  I haven’t found out who it was yet…after I saw it on the news, I started calling around but I still haven’t found out who it was…it might have been one of our kids**”

*She still calls me Miss Kimberly from when I started teaching her daughter’s Sunday School class those 8 years ago.

**”OUR kids” means one of the kids who was part of Safe Haven

A child. got shot. and killed.

And I’m worried about toxic black mold.

Daniel’s heart-wrenching story started flooding all over me again.  All the thoughts and emotions, and tears and grief I experienced two years ago over his death, they surfaced like it had happened yesterday.

And my heart goes into a panic, and I feel like a caged animal. Longing for a city, a people so dark and broken. Longing to be THERE. Longing to DO something. Longing to simply show up in that place, to at least be a tiny light for kids who have nothing, kids who get beaten by grown men, kids who have mothers so hurt by the abuse they themselves experienced that they can only live  for the numbing affects of their heroine addiction. I feel trapped. trapped here in the comforts of the suburbs, in the mess of dealing with mold and moving in, and school schedules and housework.

Something must be done.

Those gates of hell, must be stormed.

The darkness must be penetrated.

Penetrated, not with a financial gift, or a handout, or a soup kitchen,

but penatrated with the Power of the LIVING CHRIST, whose precious blood has already been spilled to break those kids, those abusive dads, those heroine-using moms free from the power of sin.

and the LIVING CHRIST shows up in that neighborhood through his Body.

Who will go?

What Lies Beneath

Danny wrote a reflection on this mold crisis from his perspective…

what-lies-beneathI never knew it was there… for three years it silently worked its way into my body, and the body of my wife, and precious Benjamin, and his four siblings. Constant fatigue, bleeding noses, kids always coughing – and sweet little Benjamin, as soon as he started talking, began communicating how much his legs were aching all the time.

We couldn’t figure it out, and our doctors just kept pumping us with more antibiotics and telling us “this is normal for large active families…”

If I only had known that under the carpet of the place my son had been sleeping since his birth was a toxin that was invading his little body and sucking the life out of him. If only I had could have seen the invisible spores in the air my whole family was breathing… Maybe I would have done everything in my power to protect my family from this black mold from hell… this plague that has made our family homeless for the last two weeks, and forced us to have to throw out nearly everything we own and start over. If only… If only…

They call it Stachybotrys, a toxic black bold, a silent destroyer of human flourishing that had been growing in our walls, and under the carpet/tile for years, most likely even before we had moved in. Maybe it was past water damage, or just Florida Humidity – who knows how it got there, but it sat silently beneath the surface of a beautiful home and spread unchecked on the inside, invisibly toxifying our air and crippling our health.

The kind Rodriguez family, who bought the house from our land lord once we moved to Atlanta, discovered it when doing renovations – they found it everywhere. After getting it tested and finding out its toxic nature, they graciously let us know, and told us to check our things. Sure enough, nearly all our possessions had it quietly growing in obvious as well as conspicuous places… We were able to find an amazing mold specialist who came along side us to help with remediation. We didn’t like his advice – to throw all of our belongings away – but for the sake of our health and our current home, we decided to trust him.

It has been a hard month, with lots of loss, lots of tears, and lots of uncertainty about why God has allowed us to go through this trial. But as the sun breaks over the horizon and sheds light into the confusion of night, God’s sweet grace has broken into our hearts these last few weeks in a way I never could have imagined. It has shown me the power of my Father in heaven, a Father who, unlike myself, never fails to protect his children.

It has shown me how amazing it is to be his child, and how amazing a family I have been born (again) into – filled with generous people who have sacrificed time, stuff, and money to help us rebuild what has been destroyed…

It is showing me my own sin ever so clearly and how when it is not realized and dealt with, it spreads like Stachybotrys and toxifies not just my soul and body, but all those around me as well.

This sweet and painful Grace is leading my heart into new depths of repentance and renovation, cutting away the colorfully painted sheetrock of all the convincing facades I put up to hide what lies beneath – revealing what is growing at the root of my addictions and behaviors that bring death instead of life to myself and others.

The cosmic eternal good news for us all is that there’s a sin specialist who looks past the facades, under the floor boards and into the core of who we are. He calls our toxic-molding sin what it is, and tells us to throw everything away, all the moldy stuff this world holds so dear that we often cling to try to find meaning and joy. He asks us to give it all up so he can renovate us, make us new, and change the very air we breathe, the way we live… fill us with his joy.

His name is Jesus…

and to the extent we trust him and his renovating work that he accomplished through his life, death, resurrection and ascension, we begin breathing with every breath the fresh air of the Spirit…

we receive healing…

we have hope…

and our world changes.

Watch This!!!

He just kept bringing me there, in my quiet times with Him.

Every time I sat down to listen to Him, the verse would flash through my mind. Hands would flip to it.  Eyes would once again gaze upon the words. Heart would ask questions about it. “Yes, Lord, I already know that…”

“The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not be in want.”

It was as if He was taking my head in His hands, directing my eyes to the promise, and saying, “Do you really? Do you really believe that I am your Shepherd? Do you really believe that you will never be in want? Just in case there was ever a doubt in your mind about My ability to keep my promises, big or small…

“Watch This!!”

For I was about to find myself in a situation in which I desperately needed a Shepherd. And I desperately needed to know that HE is the provider of my needs.

After two weeks of a daily mental reminder that

“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want.”

He was about to give me a heart reminder.

News of the toxic black mold in our former home, a desperate searching through the internet as to what it all meant, a mind-reeling discover of the stuff was on my children’s mattresses, our couches, our dressers and a puzzling over what to do next, all led to a heart cry, “Lord, I don’t know what to do now! Please just guide us, one step at a time as to how we are to deal with all this!”

And He did, for

the Lord is my Shepherd.

~The very evening after that heart cry for guidance went up, we sat around the dinner table with old family friends, come to visit us in our new home, and we shared the news with them.

“Mold?”, He said. “Oh, I know a great guy who works with mold situations. I’ll get you his number.”

Well, that man has been THE most helpful lifeline in all my questions about this.  A vibrant Christian man, who loves Jesus and loves people (especially those who are walking through mold situations) came out to the house (even though it was out of his district) and gave me an indepth education about mold, how it spreads, what do do with things infected by it. My Shepherd had guided me to him. And now I have a human to call (almost every day with new questions) instead of a thousand conflicted responses to the googled, “What to do when you have toxic black mold?”

~Our second week in town after we moved here we needed help transporting our neighbors back from a church event and one woman volunteered. I rode with her and we talked of the Chinese medicine practice that she worked for and the principles of holistic healing.  Back then, two months ago, I was telling her I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Benjamin, and was asking advice. I lost contact with her, but when the source of all Benjamin’s issues were uncovered, I hunted her down on the internet. I wanted holistic healing for my family, not a bandaid, like traditional doctors give. Upon hearing our story, she and the doctor (a Christian Korean man who trusts in the Lord to be the ultimate Healer) worked things out for us to come in at a greatly reduced rate so that we could work towards restoring Benjamin’s body. The Shepherd had put me in that stranger’s car that one evening, because He knew her boss would heal my son.

~The Lord guided us to this place, this church, this school, even though my stubborn heart wanted to go elsewhere.  This place where the body of Christ has utterly and completely rallied around us and SHOWERED us with love and support. I can’t help but think of what it would be like emptying our home of all our earthly possession and being in need, in the midst of Newark, where everyone around us was in the same exact boat… due to other reasons-bed bug infestations, evictions, being desperate to find a bed for their kid, something to sit on in a living room, or a meal to feed their family . Yes, my Shepherd, knew of the mold those three long years and He was guiding us into a place where we could start over and bring our family back to health.

~The Shepherd even put my children into the exact classes they need to be in.  Trinity in a class with a teacher who is a kindred spirit. Daniel Josiah in a class with an incredible room mom who has just stepped into the role of being our personal “mold remediation coordinator”, setting up meal schedules, coordinating donations of replacement furniture and items, recruiting child-care needs while I work on cleaning our house out. This mold thing erupted in my face the very first week of school, and immediately everyone has come around us, despite the fact they didn’t even know us.

I shall not be in want.

~I shall not be in want of prayer support….people all over the school and church have been praying for us.!  We have been able to rejoice in the Lord, and give thanks in these circumstances, and see the good, Kingdom-advancing things that are happening because of it. We feel so privileged to experience losing nearly every earthly possession, for it shows us so clearly that the physical can pass in a blink of an eye but the eternal lasts forever. A new resolve to store up our treasures in heaven is burning in our hearts. Also, it would be very easy to be a beastly parent during the strain, busyness, and exhaustion of this ordeal, but the Lord is giving us grace and patience for our five little ones who still need to eat three times a day and need clean clothes in the morning and need hugs and discipline and refereeing.

~I shall not be in want of moral support. The FLOOD of emails, texts, and phone calls I’ve gotten from new acquaintances and complete strangers all asking what they can do to help, words of encouragement, and promises to pray has been so uplifting, and has assured us that we are not walking through this alone.

~I shall not be in want of a place to stay while our home is emptied and worked on. Three different people offered their homes to a family of seven, five of which are under the age of eight. Now, thats brave, folks. The home where we ended up is a child’s paradise…trampoline, play house, pool, hot tub and basketball hoop, tons of toys, and an incredibly gracious and loving family (with kids!) to befriend.

~I shall not be in want of meals. Immediately, Daniel Josiah’s room mom put together a  meal plan and people I don’t even know have been bringing us dinner every other night. What a relief it has been to be able to focus on the “Mold Remediation Plan” and also know that the kids will have something (other than cereal) for dinner that night.

~I shall not be in want of child care.  So many already-busy-moms have signed up to watch my kids while I clean out our house, take Benjamin to the doctors, spray chemicals over everything, and fulfill school responsibilities. These women are making huge sacrifices to free me up to do what I need to do.  Would have had a nervous breakdown trying to do this with five kids under toe.

~I shall not be in want of hands to help.  The Lord had provided the childcare so I could  run back to the house during school to work on things but it was slooow going as I labored over, “Is there mold on this?” “Can I salvage this?” “Should I toss this?” about every.single.item in the house.  I started asking the Lord for hands and wise minds to make quick decision for me.  Two days later SIX women were working with me in my home systematically going through each room in the house and helping me make tough decisions. I don’t know WHAT I would have done without them!

~I shall not be in want of clothing, replacement furniture, new bedsheets, pillows, towels, stuffed animals, mattresses (Thanks to Ken, and The Mattress Firm), luggage, and so much more. A whole google doc has been set up with all the stuff we had to get rid of and people are signing up left and right to give us items from their homes that they don’t need any more.

~I shall not be in want of gift cards to Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc. Complete strangers sending us them!!

~I shall not be in want of the funds needed to pay for all the medical visits. People have been giving so generously to us to help cover the costs of the frequent doctor visits for Benjamin and the rest of us.

So, here I am, watching God keep his promises far above and beyond what I could even ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:23).  And He’s preparing me, prepping me for the calling He’s placed on my life to serve “the least of these”. And He’s given me an example of what will happen as I make mighty risks for the Kingdom, or give away time, money, and resources to the point of being foolish in the world’s eyes, for I know the path God has put us on, and the people He has called us to serve, there will be times that I will need to remember back to this point in our lives….this point where

the Lord directed my gaze, put His faithfulness and goodness on display, and said


Mold Remediation Plan

Life has been a whirlwind these past two weeks, and I’m working on a post documenting God’s incredible faithfulness through the Body of Christ here, but in the meantime, here is our” Mold Remediation Plan” which we are working through (we just finished #4 today). We have also moved out while we work on everything, and are staying with a dear family from our school who has a child in Daniel Josiah’s class.  They have a GREAT house for kids, so the children think that having black mold is awesome!

1. Get rid of all items listed  (practically all items in house) in blog post, here. (yesterday we found black mold on our Scrabble pieces for goodness sakes!)
2. Purchase 50 pint dehumidifier from Lowes or Home Depot (to be put in basement area to keep humidity down)
3. purchase 1 gal. of Micro ban  Plus (mold and spore killer),  to spray down anything we are trying to salvage
4. Spend a day spraying down all salvageable (things that show NO signs of mold) items with Microban, bleach in laundry anything trying to be preserved.
5. Purchase Hygrometer (humidity gage)  in order to keep humidity under control, and prevent any leftover black mold spores from sprouting
6.. Have AdvantaClean come in to remove current mold in house. Won’t be able to come until September 5 due to their booked schedule.
7. Go through house and wipe down all baseboards with Microban.
8.  Have all carpets cleaned by All Star Chem-dry, which uses a special process to remove mold spores brought into house, without wetting carpets
9.  Have dry cleaned any sentimental linens, articles of clothing, etc.
10. THEN start moving replacement items into house. (SO NOTHING NEW CAN COME INTO OUR HOUSE UNTIL THE EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 5)
11. Have Benjamin and Malachi’s lungs x-rayed and checked out by traditional medical doctor. Have entire family get checked out by physicians.
12. Have Benjamin detoxed and his immune systems strengthened (after having lived with a suppressed one the first three years of his existence)  through an all natural Chinese medicine treatment plan through Green Med Spa, (Benjamin goes twice a week)
13.  Attempt to detox rest of family with essential oils, and natural mold exposure remedies
14.  Keeps singing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.