Hamp Life 2.16
Here am I, Around the World and Down the Street
What is an orphan?
"Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. -James 1:27"
How do we as a church define 'orphan' and 'widow'? In the Old Testament 'orphan' is a Hebrew word meaning 'fatherless.' The Bible most times refers to 'widow' and 'orphans' together, which makes sense if the term is defined as fatherless. So in this case, almost every child in my neighborhood is an orphan living with a widow left to provide for them and their 3+ siblings. It kills me to have a 15 year old crying in pain as she tells me how hard it is to stay strong and not give up when everything in her home and her life has told her she is a failure over and over again. Her mom is tired and overwhelmed and angry, her siblings sell drugs and are in gangs. She is making good grades and doing all that she can, and she tells me I'm one of the first people to ever believe in her. A few simple conversations pointing her to Jesus and a little love, and she tells me I have made her life better since she has known me. Since she has tasted the hope and love that Christ has for her. I see increase in the awareness of orphan care and adoption going on in our local churches, but we can not forget the orphans who don't necessarily need adopting.. but desperately need the love and support that scripture calls us to provide. Our streets are full of these people, we just have to be aware and available. I don't discourage volunteering or mentoring through a program, but I challenge people to go beyond that and use those things as 'ins' to help connect with people who you can form real relationship with outside of the program. That is where I have seen real transformation. Being available and willing to go out of my way for others whenever it is possible. 'You will love as well as you are willing to be inconvenienced by others.' - I got a call from a single mom at 9:30pm a few nights ago because her children did not have socks to wear to school the next morning, and it was going to be in the 20s as they walked over a mile at 6:45am. So I went. I've given rides to school because there's no way that a student could walk over 7 miles and get there on time. The buses don't run that early, and her parents don't have a car. These are real needs, and real people who are just trying to survive and care for their children as best as they can.The needs are constant and can be very overwhelming, but I have never felt so fulfilled and sure that I'm doing my best to live as Christ has called me.
High School Girls
Outreach at the High School has really taken off this month. Life Groups start next week and I'm looking forward to going deeper with the girls!
JJ and MK 1 year anniversary!
JJ has been with me for one year this month! It is amazing the transformation in this little girl and the prayers are definitely felt. The relationship with her mother and brothers has blessed me and my community more than I could have ever imagined. This is family. This is the church.
I've officially finished my foster care home study, and I'm awaiting the state to review and approve so that I may begin receiving other placements.
High School Girls
JJ and MK 1 year anniversary!
(Preface:: I recently began doing high school outreach after finding it difficult to get to know that age group in the neighborhood. I started by joining ladies doing a bible study through FCA with the girls basketball team during their season, and going to school lunches with a friend from Binghampton Development Corporation.)--As I walk into the neighborhood high school where I very much stand out in the crowd, the front desk worker asks after glancing at me and looking back to her computer.. 'Hi...what project are you with…?' She was clearly not hopeful about my presence there. I have had similar instances before, but none left me feeling quite like this one. Many people in the urban community have a hard time trusting people from the outside, but this seemed like a different type of hesitancy.. this is a woman in her mid-forties, who doesn't live in the neighborhood. She has obviously seen her fair share of people enter and leave the school never to be seen again. I explained 'Oh I'm not with a program..I just started coming up here to build relationships and be a friend to the students..give them advice if they want it, but mostly just to show them that I'm here and that I care about them. I'm a Christian and I live in the neighborhood to serve the community, and hope that they'll continue coming to me when they need someone who they can trust.' As I finished, I had to make sure I wasn't speaking Spanish. It seems it shouldn't be such a strange concept.. just a person….going to a modern day well…(school- where lost people gather every day) to meet the people…to know them and love them like Jesus did. When Jesus said for the church to 'Go and make disciples..' I don't think he required everyone to join an organized committee, schedule an hour bearing pizza and games to draw the crowd..and do a scripted lesson at the end. I've done nothing but be present and intentional in the school, and the crowd has flocked to me. I have had girls invite me to the movies, to dinner, to birthday parties, and showing up at my house to 'chill' on the weekends. They've laughed, sang, cried on my shoulder, and voiced their pain and frustrations to me.. and I haven't had to create any of it. They know that they're safe coming to me and that they will receive grace and Truth in love. The ones I'm close to know that I have high expectations of them, not because I demand anything but because I encourage the strengths in them that they never realized that they had…and they start to live up to them immediately! I'll be starting a girls Life Group next week where we will tackle some of the basics of the gospel and discuss things like identity, anger, and hurts. These will be great lessons, but real depth will come from the girls who get to just 'do life' with me. The girls have really opened up and several say they are ready to become Christians, and others have began asking very good questions. Another thing that I've learned is that the hood is not for everyone. I've had several people want to be a part of what I'm doing and after once or twice, realize the depth of the need here is more than they expected. It can be very overwhelming! God calls us all to different places. Some days the cafeteria consists of me being like Simba in the desert when the herd of wildebeests comes stampeding around him.. but its me, sitting there with 400 teenagers running around me through the cafeteria towards a fight and standing on top of tables yelling.. sometimes there is pepper spray, sometimes handcuffs, screaming and spitting.. 6 cop cars and angry cursing parents. But through it all God has given me crazy amounts of peace and desire to love these students even more. I want to grab the ones crying and cursing and screaming and say 'Hey, what is really going on? Do you know how loved you are and how much purpose you have?' If you can get them away from the chaos for a few seconds and have real talk…its amazing how quickly the soft children with big dreams and big fears, beautiful souls and a lot of built up hurt come pouring out. I'm so thankful God has placed me right here in Binghampton. There truly is no place I would rather be!
'The most difficult mission field..' -21 year overseas missionaries on Memphis
Current Prayer and Material Need
-New ministry opportunities at the high school. Access to a classroom they've labeled a 'faith based room' to do ministry during or after school hours.
-Teen girls fear and hurt, avoid home because of all the pain that is there.
-Foster care approval and placements.
-JJ continued growth and ministry to her family.
-Neighbor children dealing with abuse and trauma.
-MK strength and energy to balance all the different needs.
-I do hear gunshots quite frequently, so you can pray for safety too :)
-Snacks for ministry at school, and neighbor children who visit
-Baby video monitor
-Razr scooters for neighbor kids green line adventures! (10+ kids-no room for bikes!)
-Jump ropes, hula-hoops, bubbles, chalk, etc. for summer neighborhood fun.
-children's books, activities for waiting during appointments/court dates.
Feel free to share this e-mail with others in your community who may be interested in praying and joining in on this great tribe of support!
A friend who works at chic-fil-a has worked to give me great blessings in chicken so that I can treat the kids a few times a month! Thank you Jesus!
Substitute teaching and volunteering at the local elementary school is so rewarding and such a great way to build friendships with neighbors.
The Kids Room!
Donations from friends have helped to provide ALL large basic necessities for 0-5 year old foster children and neighbors to have a place to stay and to be loved!
-If you would like to read more or donate to the children's fund, you can do so on my goFundMe page or e-mail for other methods. https://www.gofundme.com/3b8gzy6c