Easter Celebration~ Prayer Resurrection~God’s Kingdom Perfection

**My apologies for the extreme delay in this update…I’ve been very busy…busy cleaning up potty accidents, and putting out sibling rivalry fires, and cleaning more dishes and doing more laundry than one can keep track of. I wish I had something “more significant” as an excuse, but every load of laundry is a Kingdom investment when done unto our King.

Easter, three weeks after the move-in.

Easter, the climax of God’s redemption.

And for us, a display of prayer resurrection.

For months, while we were consumed with renovations and the struggle to simply GET there, “all” we could do was pray.

To do the “work on our knees”.

We laid out the promises of God….promises-turned- prayers for God to work at our little tabernacle that we had been working on for so long.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us, and make his face shine upon us, 

that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” 

Psalm 67:1-2

Lord, may the nations be blessed through this home.  May your salvation and your ways be put on display in this place.

 “…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7 

Lord, may all nations be able to gather here to pray and meet you. 

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3 

Lord, would your Spirit go before us, to prepare the way for YOU to work through us. Make highways into the lives and hearts of people to meet you.

 “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. ” John 17:20-21

Lord, cause the Believers in this place come together as one.  May we work towards the same aim of bring your shalom, your peace, to this place. 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Lord, may true disciples be raised up and formed in Grove Park.  May you lead us to those that are ready to be discipled and who will want to follow you and will raise up others to do the same.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1

Lord, would you go before us and put a hunger in people’s hearts for You and Your Word which satisfies so richly. 

And then, as Easter approached, and I unpacked a few more boxes….

 “Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take
their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God”.  Luke 13:29

Lord, we didn’t plan ahead, but please bring to our table anyone who needs a place to celebrate your Resurrection with us.

And 48 hours before Easter, I didn’t know who all would come, but I planned to lay out a feast in faith that God would bring whoever needed a “family”.

And they started to come.

An international student from Rwanda.

Our Rwandan friend

Our Rwandan friend

Kenyan Christians just reeling from the news of the slaughter in their homeland.

Kenya, Rwanda, Japan, and Atlanta represented here!

Kenya, Rwanda, Japan, and Atlanta represented here!

Our former neighbor and now close friend, whose family is from India.

My friend, and former neighbor whose family is from India

My friend, and former neighbor whose family is from India

Friends that we had made from our life in suburbia of Atlanta, who once had been homeless but had now stabilized,

A woman from Cameroon, (who had randomly known our Haitian neighbor) and started coming to our sending church with us (and became a member!), who we had lost contact with but joined us last minute anyways.

Compton, who didn't have anyone to spend Easter with

Compton, who didn’t have anyone to spend Easter with

Then our Muslim neighbor, and our seventh-day Adventist neighbor, and a guy from our church, and our own rowdy crew and on it went….

Our gracious neighbor who ran extension cords to our house when we first moved in with no electricity

Our gracious neighbor who ran extension cords to our house when we first moved in with no electricity

all gathered at that kitchen island that a sweet friend had built for us

to feast on food, and fellowship, and the joyful declaration,

HE IS RISEN!

And that was just the beginning….

After our feast we migrated over to another “intentional neighbor”‘s house. A sweet friend and fellow Believer who has lived in the community for four years now.  We did a Scripture egg hunt and then a candy egg hunt on the big lawn in the middle of our community.  On my way over, I stopped by a house where I had invited the kids to the egg hunt just a few days prior.  As they prepared to come, another neighbor asked…

“You doin’ and Easter egg hunt for the kids? There’s a bunch of kids up that way that would wanna come..” And then the word started traveling up the street.  A bunch of kids and even a teenage girl hopped in the car, with others promising to meet us “over there”.

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When it was all said and done, there were nearly thirty kids gathered on the back deck, a handful of teens and a smattering of parents, all listening intently to the story of Christ’s death on the cross, his burial and his resurrection. Songs, a testimony, and a chance to invite this Risen Savior into one’s life and heart ensued. Neighbors had gathered to celebrate the beautiful Resurrection.

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After the massive candy egg hunt, kids played football, neighbors gathered on the front porch, Danny engaged the teen guys who had come down, and we enjoyed the beautiful day that God had given us.

Together.

So many people gathered together for Celebration over our Savior’s victory.

And my heart throbbed with joy for the prayer resurrection of all those seeds of prayer buried deep into the heart of a Father who hears his children’s cry to see Kingdom perfection.

And then, if that weren’t enough… God was about to show me just how extensively He had been answering all those prayers prayed.

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on the lawn of “pioneers” who moved into the community four years ago and are creating beauty through home and lawn and the presence of Jesus in their lives

~~~~~~~~

I pulled up to the tiny house that is “home” to more people than I can keep track of. I drop a handful of kids off, and then meander over to Tamiya’s dad’s truck, where he sits talking to all the neighborhood men, the ones who congregate at “the spot” to chat and sip away at their Budweisers all day. I introduced myself to him and apologized for keeping her so long.

“That’s OK. I’m just hang in’ out anyways. Hey, do you guys know of any kind of programs that mentor girls?”

You, mean, discipleship?!?

I think in my heart.

“Yah, my girl, she’s a good girl, but her mom and I split, and she don’t go to a good school, and she’s getting caught up with the wrong crowd. I know my girl is smart. She used to read all the time, but she really need some sort of mentor in her life to help give her direction, cuz she keeps mess’in up in school.”

And we had a long talk about parenting, and the Gospel, and the power of prayer, all amidst the other guys interjecting,

“You said your husband’s a pastor?”

“When you gonna start prayer meetin’ s or something’? I’ll come, I need to get back with God again.”

“I wanna be part of stuff too.”

“Can my kids go to church with you?”

And then we all prayed right by that beat up red pick up truck. We prayed for our neighborhood, for Tamyia, for the struggle of parenthood, and we thanked Jesus that, because of His death and resurrection, we could have His presence right there with us.

And we had “church” right there on the side of the street.

And it reminded me of the way Jesus use to do it. Along the road. As he came and went. Meeting people where they were. His Kingdom Perfection, amidst an imperfect world. His Resurrection, all making it possible.  And the Celebration that happens when we get to witness and participate in it all.

  

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And the Children Came…

A Part II of Let the Children Come

“WHY am I doing this?!? Why did I think running a kids club by myself was a good idea?!?” I wonder as, 30 minutes before Kids Club is supposed to start, I am cleaning up INCHES of water in my bathroom due to the kids climbing on the sink to fill water balloons, bursting a pipe, and continuing to fill the balloons, with the bathroom filling with water far faster than any balloons are.  I was, once again, running behind on preparing for the afternoon (there’s never enough time to get done all that I want to) and instead of gathering the materials I needed for the lesson that day, I was sweeping those inches of water into a bucket, and very testily lecturing my kids about not climbing on the sink, and the need to come get mommy about the water spilling before INCHES of it have accumulated on the floor and under the sink.

My home is still recovering from having children rampaging through it, and I am now two weeks behind on household chores (except, of course, for the bathroom floor which got mopped up on Friday afternoon).

So, WHY did I do this?  Cram more into my schedule when I don’t feel like I’m even doing what I already have well?  Why did I collect more kids and more chaos when I really could have used those afternoon naptimes to do get stuff done, order my world better, or get a chance to exercise?

Well, this is my answer….

1. God led me to do it. I had every intention to spend the first two months settling in and tending to “setting up house and schedule” after we moved in. But one morning it came to me in my quiet time, that I should do a kids club, and all the lesson plan ideas started rushing over me. And my job is simply to be available and obey the promptings…even if they don’t make sense.

2. It was a building block. We now have a well established relationship with many of the neighborhood families  since I was banging on their door every day for the past week and a half. One Grandma even joined in the effort by making cupcakes to match the day’s lesson plan on Friday. We now have several people interested in our weekly Bible study in our home, and interested in going to church with us. (see below)

3. My children (plus Jamar) and I had the opportunity to partner together, plan, pray for and implement an event to reach out to neighborhood kids and families. These little disciples are learning intentional community in the process.

4. Saprina, my newfound friend and neighbor who has started going to church with us, and I got to build a friendship as she came over every day to help. (Can I just say that being friends with Saprina is so refreshing, she makes me feel like I’m back in Newark, with all those inner city women who have so much spunk and energy)

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NOT crazy about this picture, but Trinity captured it and its the only one I have of Saprina

5. I was humbled through it.

6.  Janki. And her story. Thursday we went around to knock on all the doors again to gather the kids, and Karishma had not been able to come any of the days thus far (her grandfather always cracked the door open and said “She sleep. She sleep.”  Hesitant to keep harassing them, I ventured to knock again.  This time Karishma opened the door and her grandparents willingly sent her along. After her young mother, Janki, got off of work, she came by and ended up hanging out for an hour after kids club was over.  She.has.a.remarkable.story. She came to Christ three years ago-out of Hinduism,and a whole bunch of other obstacles, (maybe one day I’ll get to share her story…)but hasn’t gotten plugged into a really good church.  She was very interested in going to church with us and joining our weekly Bible story.

Katy-Grace and Karishma playing dress-ups after kids club while the mommies talk

Katy-Grace and Karishma playing dress-ups after kids club while the mommies talk

7. Cray and his mom and brother. He, too, hadn’t answered the door all week, but on Friday Jamar went and banged on the door and they were actually home. His mother was wary of letting him come over but we got to talking about Danny being a pastor and she said “Ah, yawl go to church? Yah, I been needin to go to church.  I need to go wit yawl sometime”.  So there we go, yet another searching soul, on this kingdom-strategic street that I prayed for all those months.

8.  The heart-to-heart with my kids Friday night. in which I confessed my anger towards them for not listening well and being a distraction during the lesson.  The sin. The repentance. The reconciliation. The cycle. of it all, with the children, seeing all the ugliness in my heart spilling out, and the beauty of them realizing they’ve got it spilling out of theirs also.  And that we all need a Perfect Savior to cleanse it all. And change it all.  The responses and the softness of the kids toward the confession time, made all the rockiness of the previous hours worth it.

9.  The joy of watching kids delight in a hose and water balloons and hot summer sunshine.

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10. Jamar and Armani (and my kids too) seeing Scripture tie together as something we were reading for family devotions that night referenced back to what we had learned about during kids club that day.  The lightbulbs that go off, are beautiful to witness.

Jamar and Armani are our part-time kids...joining us for a lot of our days or evenings

Jamar and Armani are our part-time kids…joining us for a lot of our days or evenings

11. Morgana. (yet another “motherless” child on our street…lives with her dad, but does have an awesome grandma who comes and stays with them when Dad is working) And her eagerness to help with the kids or help me in the kitchen.

Morgana and Jamar

Morgana and Jamar

12. I got to witness answered prayer.  Prayers for my neighbors and their kids. Prayers for divine appointments. Prayers for the kids to meet Jesus. Prayers for Jesus to show up and “do the heavy lifting”, even when I didn’t have my act together. THANK YOU to all those who prayed for the week!  I love getting to record how God keeps his promise- “Ask and it will be given”…

More "ebenezers" added to my prayer journal as to ways God provided and orchestrated events

More “ebenezers” added to my prayer journal as to ways God provided and orchestrated events

13. And since a picture is worth a thousand words…These are the rest of the reasons…

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**A HUGE shout-out to my friends, Amberly and Emily who volunteered to go shopping for me and collect craft supplies and all the snacks for the whole week.  They couldn’t come with their kids (they would have brought nine more kids between them) but they helped me out so much by collecting the supplies.