The Journey Blog

Stories and updates from the college ministry at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church!

I want to serve God, but ……….. – Wilmington Outreach Update 2.12.12

It’s COLD, it’s windy, I’m tired, it’s scary, I don’t know what I’ll say, I don’t know if anyone will be there, I’m hungry, I don’t feel like it, it gets in the way of my plans. These were just some of the excuses that went through our heads last Sunday afternoon while we were getting ready to go out and try to serve people in 20 degree windy weather. And I think the buildings downtown create a wind-tunnel that makes it feel even colder.

But five of us went anyway and met lots of people (yes, there are still people hanging out in Rodney Square in the middle of the winter). The most interesting conversation I had was with a guy named Ken. We met him about 30 seconds after I said “well, looks like we might strike out this week.” Ha. He was happy to receive our bag lunch and water, and seemed even more happy to talk to us. He was just on his way home from the hospital. Thankfully it didn’t seem like he had any major health problems, but once we got talking to him further he shared with us about some other issues he’s struggling with. He mentioned an addiction to alcohol and depression, among other things. We talked about faith and how God has the power to meet our deepest needs. While he agreed that he should turn to God for satisfaction, it didn’t seem like he was ready. Nonetheless, we had a great conversation and hopefully gave him some inspiration that will impact his future. We also had lots of great conversations with other people.

One of the lessons I learned this week has to do with making excuses. How often do we make excuses for what God wants us to do? Maybe you identify with some of the excuses listed above, or have others of your own. I guarantee you that when you recognize your excuses, put your selfish desires aside, and follow God, you will not be disappointed. But how do we do that?

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25)

Join us in prayer for Ken, others in our city, and pray that you’d put your excuses aside through Christ and experience life to the fullest.


Meeting the Family of a Tragic Accident – Wilmington Outreach Update 2.5.12

Last Sunday was another great experience. We got to pray for healing for a man who has been having migraines, seizures, and a possible brain aneurysm; pray with someone who has “drifted away from God” over the years and is ready to re-commit, and had a long conversation with an intentionally “homeless” man who has been living on the streets of Wilmington for about 20 years. Of all these conversations last Sunday, the one that impacted me the most was in a bus stop with a man and his two daughters. We normally walk around Rodney Square and hand out food and water bottles to mostly everyone we come across. But there are certain people that are more intimidating to go up and talk to – because of their physical appearance, demeanor, or other reasons.  Still, we pray that God leads us to the people He wants us to talk to, even if it doesn’t make sense to us.

This man was one of those people, someone who I felt I should offer food and water to, but was expecting to get rejected. He graciously accepted what we had to offer, and we started talking. After a short conversation I asked him if he and his family wanted any prayers. Again – I thought it would be a quick and easy “no thanks” and we’d be on our way. But when I asked the question, he immediately said yes and began sharing with us. Apparently, his mother (the girls’ grandmother) was recently killed in a terrible accident – a hit and run that happened while she was trying cross the street in her wheelchair. This happened on south Market Street – not far from where we were. You can read about it in this news article: After he shared this request with us, their bus arrived and our group went over to some benches to pray for them.

Edith, the woman who passed away in the hit and run accident on 1/4/12

What I realized from this experience is that sometimes God calls us to do things that don’t always make sense. I had a feeling that this guy wasn’t going to want anything we had to offer, but when we asked him for prayer he lit up like he knew we were sent for a reason. I don’t know very much about this family’s situation, but I do know that prayer is important and it’s all I can do for them at this point. Please join us in prayer for the people I listed above, and for this family as they mourn the loss of their beloved grandmother.

Pajama Party! Journey Small group 2/2/12

Just a quick update for those who are out of town – you missed out on our pajama party and brinner (breakfast for dinner) night!!!  There was tons of amazing food (pancakes of the following variety: chocolate chip, blueberry, bananas, m&m’s), biscuits, sausage, muffins, and lots more. 

After eating we had some worship time and a Bible study on Romans 11.  We learned about the meaning of “ingrafted branches,” talked about Paul’s heart for his fellow people, and how we as Christians can lead the kind of lives that attract people to become a part of God’s kingdom.  Romans is so good!  I’m looking forward to chapter 12 next week.  We’ll be trying to incorporate more fun events like this throughout the year.

What’s Your Response to Suffering? – Wilmington Outreach Update 1.29.12

What do you do when you are face to face with suffering?   We felt God calling us to this kind of ministry – to go on the streets of Wilmington and minister to people in need.  And yes, many times, our paths are directly crossed with people who are going through immeasurable suffering.

This past Sunday as our group of 5 went downtown, we encountered a few of these stories.  One of the first people we met was a man who appeared to be in his fifties sitting down on a ledge.  He seemed to be shivering with a coat wrapped around his arms.  After talking to him for a few minutes, he told us how he had been beaten badly with a metal pipe and just got out of the hospital.  He had a broken arm and significant wounds to his head and side.  He was certainly in no condition to be on the streets.  He wasn’t really shivering from the cold; it seemed like it was from the pain.  I thought of times when I’m sick or sore and all I want is my warm bed where I can escape from the rest of the world and recover.  But this man spends his days outside in the cold and nights in a homeless shelter with no personal space.

Another man, who we have become friends with over the past few months, had just gotten out of prison.  He told us stories of the injustices he faced over the past month or so.  But it became clear that the worst was when he found out his girlfriend had been cheating on him while he was locked up.  He was frustrated with where he is in life – homeless, jobless, criminal record, but his long-time girlfriend’s infidelity wrecked him the most.

When we face people in these kinds of situations, we aren’t naive (at least we try not to be).  We hear a lot of “victim” stories.  No one seems to take responsibility for why they ended up there.  It’s always someone else fault.  We know that, more realistically, it was probably a combination of bad circumstances and bad decisions.  But we don’t feel the need to judge or critique the person for why they are in their current state.  We feel called to love them as best we can, exactly where they are.  The beauty of the cross of Christ is that He saves us in spite of our bad decisions, not because we make good ones.

We all have people in our lives who are suffering.  Poverty isn’t just financial.  It’s relational; it’s spiritual.  So the next time you come face to face with suffering, I encourage you to engage it rather than avoid it.  Ask questions.  Listen. Pray for direction and that you’d know your role.  Be ambassadors of Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. (2 Corinthians 5).  And join us in prayer for Wilmington and the people who are suffering in it.

Hot Chocolate Brings People Together – Wilmington Outreach Update 1.22.12

The past two Sundays, our group decided to bring some hot chocolate downtown and serve it to our friends in Rodney Square (along with our usual bag lunches). On the 15th, it was unseasonably warm, so we didn’t have a bunch of takers. But this past Sunday, it was a pretty popular item. Three of us went last week, not sure what to expect with the low temperatures and everything still covered in snow. There weren’t many people other than those huddled in the bus stops. We walked into one with our big jug of hot chocolate and food and started offering it out. It’s funny how much having a warm cup in your hand on a cold day can change the social dynamic of a situation. We were mostly all strangers (aside from those that we had met on previous Sundays), but enjoying a meal and a drink together really opened up our conversations. We were able to hear what was on the hearts of lots of people, some experiencing homelessness, some just waiting for the bus, and got to pray for/with them. It makes sense that Jesus spent so much time eating and drinking with people.

I specifically remember praying for Beau, a guy we met before who is currently homeless and struggling with an alcohol addiction. It was a really meaningful prayer time and he seemed impacted by it. Please join us in prayer for him and others who are on the streets of Wilmington as the temperatures drop this winter.

Forget Your Expectations – Wilmington Outreach Update 1.1.12

Whether you are the church janitor or the church worship leader, God will remind you (sometimes in really obvious ways) that you need His protection and power to do His work. This Sunday we had the chance to see God work powerfully through us and to protect us from a couple dangers we came close to facing.

Since usually it’s just three of us that go to Rodney Square, having a couple more helpers this time was great, especially because we went to a new location. Rodney Square is also the main bus stop hub in the city of Wilmington, and we didn’t know the buses wouldn’t be running on New Year’s day.  Since the buses weren’t running, Rodney Square was as good as barren. We just talked to about five people.  One of those people was a father of a teen-age girl that was developing her art portfolio for admission to a local school.   They were also neighbors to members of Brandywine Valley Baptist, which gave us another point of conversation with them. Thankfully we had an easy time talking to these people. Not everybody is open to conversation, but sometimes we meet people that are just thankful that they had somebody to talk to.

Since we had an excess of lunches and water bottles, we decided to follow one man’s advice to check out another area of the city surrounding a homeless ministry.  After we came to the neighborhood and parked, we picked the corner on the intersection that just had an elderly man sitting in front of his home.   It was our first time in this part of the city, so we were a little hesitant.

This elderly man was out of work and had recently been released from the hospital, but he was still having pain. We kept conversing with him, after giving him lunch and water, and then another man came by that was showing us all the books he got from the ministry across the street. Chris and Samantha went to pray with this man while Kaitlynn, Darby, and I stayed with the elderly man. A way in which God showed His power in this situation was that He allowed us to pray for healing for this man, and God answered! Kaitlynn prayed for his back and I prayed for his knees. The man said he was feeling better and, after we jokingly suggested that he should dance or run a marathon, the man got up and started to dance! He was having a great time! Later we met the man’s wife, and we gave her more of the lunches for their family.

While we were talking and praying with these guys, we noticed some activity going on at the nearby intersection that we definitely didn’t want to be around.  So as we were heading back to the car, we decided we’d stick with Rodney Square from now on.  When we made the food and headed to the city, we expected to be in Rodney Square the whole time.  But God led us to a more questionable area of the city and we still ended up praying and encouraging people — even seeing God heal someone!  You might not have the opportunity to serve in an urban setting like we do, and you might not have experiences like the ones we enjoy, but no matter where God has you serve, remember what Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  So wherever you can serve, find somebody to whom you can show the love of Jesus.


The Importance of Biblical Teaching – Sunday Morning Journey 1.8.12

How do you approach reading the Bible? Is it a chore or do you love it?   

In our last Sunday morning Journey meeting this winter break, we discussed the importance of Biblical teaching.  As you head back to school (or stay home), the college years are a very important time to understand the meaning of the text we hold as God’s Word.
We started by watching a video by Francis Chan’s Basic Series – Teaching. Click here to view the trailer of the video:

Then we discussed the following verses:
Acts 5:17-42 – The early disciples were put in prison for teaching God’s Word, and continued to do so even when they were threatened (oh and by the way, angels miraculously broke them out of prison).
Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”  Can our view of scripture be described as “devotion”?
2 Peter 1:16 – Peter was an eyewitness account of Jesus.  He wasn’t just making up stories.

Another topic we talked about regarding teaching was identifying false teachers:
John 13:34-34 – We will know who God’s people are by their love.
Matthew 7:15-20 – We’ll be able to recognize false prophets by their fruit – or the works that their lives produce.  See Galatians 5:19-26 for more about the metaphorical/Biblical definition of “fruit.”
1 Timothy 4:16 – Don’t just pursue an understanding of doctrine, but live it out!

If you are traveling back to school this semester – remember the importance of being involved in a Christ-centered community who has a high regard for Biblical teaching.  As Christians, we have a responsibility study and teach the Word to others.  If you are not currently involved in a group like this at your school, let me recommend a few:

Campus Crusade for Christ
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

The Day We Met Rob (Re-cap)

July 31st & August 7th

As always, we stood together and prayed when we got to Rodney Square.  We usually take turns praying so it probably went on for a few minutes.  As soon as we said “Amen” a man came running up to us with tears streaming down his face.  His name was Rob, and he wanted us to pray for him.  He said that he was sitting on the sidewalk (we didn’t even see him!) and was listening to us pray.  He was so grateful to God for sending brothers and sisters to pray with him.  So we brought Rob into the middle of our circle and prayed for him.  Afterwards, he told us how the Lord had led him to that very spot.  He had been struggling to quit drinking and smoking and was basically at the end of his rope.  He said he wanted to “turn away from bad things and back to Jesus.”  He pointed to a brown bag that was sitting on the sidewalk.  He opened it and showed us the beer and cigarettes, and we asked him if he wanted to throw them out.  Without hesitation, Rob began to crack open the beer and pour it into the trash!

We saw Rob a week later and he wasn’t doing so well.  He had been drinking again. Chris had a long talk with him and found out that he was facing a few months of jail time.  Rob was afraid of being in jail because he didn’t want to be sober and “alone with his thoughts.”  However, he realized that he needed to face the consequences of his actions, and he did end up turning himself in.  We’ve seen him since, and he’s doing great!  He says that no matter what his circumstances look like, he’s free.  Rob amazes me with how well he knows the Word of God.  I think that’s why he knew that he needed to turn himself in.  God’s truth is written so deeply in his heart that he can’t get away.  I thank God for His Word and for the heart that He’s given our brother Rob.

Making the Most of New Year’s – Sunday Morning Journey 1.1.12

In many ways, there aren’t any real differences between December 31st and January 1st.  The sun will still rise and set on its usual schedule.  But the cultural implications of this transition are huge.  We reflect on the previous year – from accomplishments to failures, people we’ve lost and new additions to families, good times and bad.  We hang out with friends, go to parties, make resolutions, and plan for the new year.  Or some people go to bed at 9 pm.  No matter what your new year’s traditions are, as followers of Christ, we can look at this time as an opportunity for reflection, expectation, and growth.

That is what we talked about last Sunday morning at Journey.  We went over a great devotional from Oswald Chamber’s, “My Utmost for His Highest”: Some of the questions we asked were:

“How can our past be a ministry of spiritual growth to us?” and “How can we avoid going into the next year carelessly?”

We read some scripture:

Hebrews 10:1-7; 15-22 – As we reflect on the previous year, we can’t let our mistakes plague our present and future.  Christ died once and for all so that we can be cleansed of sin.  Our past should act as a ministry to us – that we would learn and grow from it – rather than be burdened by it.  And we also shouldn’t just try to avoid sin in 2012, but seek to do the will of the One who sent us (v. 7).

Isaiah 52:1-12 – This is one of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding Israel returning from exile.  They weren’t coming back to their land by random chance.  God let them be taken into exile and orchestrated their return.  He had a purpose and a plan for them.  He will go before them and prepare the way; He will be behind them and guard them.  So it is with us as we reflect on the previous year and move forward into 2012.  Let’s remember who has sustained us and provided for us so that we could make it this far and be intentional about living for Him in the coming year.

God doesn’t want us to carelessly go into the next year, but wants us to be intentional about our steps – that we’d be obedient to him.  We closed with a video clip of a real life example of people living in obedience to God:
NEW ZEALAND {Our Extended Story} Webisode 5: Looking Back

Brief Relief 2011 + other events from Christmas break!

"My Name is Drew" performing at Brief Relief 2011

$737 and 116 pairs of underwear.

Brief Relief is a benefit concert run by BVBC every winter, spotlighting local bands to raise money and clothing for the impoverished in our own community. It all started years ago, when we found out that one of the most needed clothing donations at homeless ministries is underwear.  While it’s common for homeless shelters and clothing banks to get shirts, pants, etc, it’s easy to forget that they have to buy underwear.  So we started a benefit concert where admission is either a package of underwear or $7.  This year, all the underwear donations are being given to Wilmington’s largest homeless shelter, the Sunday Breakfast Mission, and the financial proceeds will be donated to Urban Promise, another ministry that does great work in Wilmington.  For more information about the event, including the band lineup, see the BR Facebook Event.  Also, check out this video of Nick Taylor and Jack Shepard from “Rain Falling Up”:

This year’s concert was another great experience – lots of people and lots of donations raised.  We also had a guest speaker from Urban Promise, Jeff Thompson, who came to share with us what was going on in their ministry – how God is using them to bring love and hope to a city that needs it desperately.  So it was a night of music, food, catching up with lots of friends, making a difference in hundreds of people’s lives, and learning about what God is doing in our city.  Sounds like a good night to me.

In other Journey updates – we had a great time last week with our Ice Skating/Cheesesteak trip to Philly on Tuesday and our prayer & worship night on Thursday.  During the prayer & worship night, we had a good chance to reflect on what God has done in our lives in 2011, and looked forward to what He’s going to do in 2012.  It was awesome!

McKinley Short performing at Brief Relief 2011

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