The Journey Blog

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

Archive for the category “Wilmington Outreach”

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: http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/national_world&id=8490315. 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.

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.

-Sam

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.

The Cops Know About Us – Wilmington Outreach Update 12.26.11

Since last Sunday was Christmas, we pushed our Wilmington Outreach to Monday, the 26th instead.  I was actually going to just cancel it and re-convene in two weeks, but some of the students wanted to keep it going, and I can’t say no to that.  There were six of us this week.  I’ve been totally encouraged lately by the amount of support we have been getting for this ministry.  People in the church have been talking about it, donating to it, and asking us to share stories about it (including Kaitlynn’s testimonies at the Christmas Eve services).

Because of all of this support, we were able to up the ante this week – we made some nice lunch meat sandwiches instead of the normal PB & J!  Seems like a minor difference, but I think people really appreciated it.  And the encouragements didn’t stop there.  As we were in Rodney Square handing out sandwiches, a Wilmington Police car pulls up next to us and I could tell the officer was trying to get my attention.  Because of the glare on the window, I couldn’t really tell who it was.  After looking around (as if he wasn’t pointing at me) it was clear he wanted me to come over to the cop car.  I was wondering if he was going to tell us to stop handing out food, or talk to me about the people we were giving food to. As it turned out, it was the police officer we met during our second week in Rodney Square (back in July – see this post for more info: https://journeyde.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/nerves-and-spray-paint-the-first-two-weeks-in-rodney-square/).  He remembered my face and wanted to tell me how impressed he was with all that we were doing.  We had a pretty long conversation, sharing stories about what we’ve experienced in the city over the past few months.  Mainly, my only exposure to the streets of Wilmington come on Sunday afternoons, but they are the day to day reality for this cop.  He went on to tell me about all the violence that has been going on in the city.  “It’s been bad.  Real bad.  I can’t wait for it to get colder so people stay inside and things calm down.  But when spring comes around it’s just going to get bad again.”

That’s just one story – but we met lots of people, handed out lots of food, and had lots of great conversation.

Please pray alongside us for:

The city of Wilmington – that God’s peace and blessings would be poured out to the city, and that God would use His people to be a part of the transformation.

Our friend, the Wilmington police officer (who will remain unnamed here) – for protection and strength

Nerves and Spray Paint – The First Two Weeks in Rodney Square (Re-cap)

Week One – 7/10/11

Some of us were a little nervous.  It was our first Sunday doing this outreach.  We had just gotten back from Nashville on the fourth of July.  We didn’t know what to expect. We soon learned not to expect anything because it’s just a waste of time! There is no way we could ever predict the crazy stuff that happens to us when we’re serving God.

So, nerves and all, we prayed and then started looking for some people to talk to. We walked around Wilmington for about forty-five minutes before anyone would accept food from us! Finally, we were able to feed some people and have a few good conversations. We found the actual square to be the best place to serve. There is a lot of foot traffic from the buses, plus benches for people just hanging out. We’ve been following the same pattern ever since.

Week Two – 7/17/11

One of Train's paintings

Our second week was a pretty memorable one. We found some people sitting around talking outside of the square, so we decided to join in. Our friend Kenny was sitting on a bench with a guy named Train when, suddenly, the guy jumps up and starts emptying out his backpack. We were a little confused and asked him what he was doing. He said Kenny asked him what he did for a living and that he was going to show him. It turned out that Train was a street artist. He made paintings with spray paint and a lighter. So Train leads us down into the square to watch him work. He was starting to attract quite a crowd when a police officer and a couple of security guards came down to see what was going on. People were worried that the officer was going to kick Train out, but he stayed and watched with us.

Train was amazingly talented. And very passionate about his art work! He got so excited talking about it that his whole face would light up. And his enthusiasm was contagious! We all got excited while watching him paint.

Train made a couple of sales that day which would help him move on to his next destination (he got his name by traveling around North America by freight train). But he was running out of spray paint so we decided to pick some up at the store.

Our first stop was a drugstore that was close-by.  We noticed that the police officer from Rodney Square (the one watching Train paint) was standing behind us at the drugstore. We jokingly asked him if he was following us. Turns out he was just picking up some things while he was on his lunch break. It was interesting that we saw him there… we don’t exactly know why, but it wasn’t the last time we ran into this particular police officer! But that’s another story.

Personally, this was the day I felt most connected to the people in Rodney Square. It was as if we were a part of their community for a while. There was a mutual appreciation for something (in this case it was Train’s artwork). I know it sounds corny, but it was something we were all able to connect to, and I think that’s significant. As Christians, we need to find ways to connect to others so that we can effectively share the Gospel. We can’t just spit out verses that make no sense to the people we’re talking to. We need to ask God to help us connect to them somehow so that His truth can meet them where they are.

Train in action

Christmas Presents and Divine Appointments – Wilmington Outreach Update 12.18.11

We’ve basically been doing the Wilmington Outreach every Sunday for the past 6 months now and have so many amazing stories to tell, which we’ll be re-capping on this blog over the next month or so.  Last Sunday was no exception.  We met at BVBC after church to make sandwiches and pack lunches.  There were 8 of us from Journey – which is a great number of people for the ministry we’re doing.  We went downtown, prayed and started meeting people and handing out food!  I went around with my buddy Tim to hand out sandwiches and water bottles.  We didn’t get very far when we were stopped by a guy I had met several times before over the past few months who goes by the name “Rage.”   Unfortunately, he was recently kicked out of a local homeless shelter and is now on the streets with only a t-shirt, a hoodie, and bookbag.  We also met his wife and heard about his family (4 kids).  They have had a rough time this year in many areas of life – finances, safety, jobs, etc. and haven’t been able to get Christmas gifts for their children.

Toys we bought as Christmas gifts for a family we met downtown

They did mention, however, how important it was to them to give their kids something – so we decided to help out.  Everyone in our group chipped in a few bucks and we bought a bunch of toys for their family.  I was amazed at the willingness of our group of college students to jump to the occasion to help this family, and we had a blast doing it!  We know it’s not a long-term solution for this family, but we hope that by this act of kindness we will continue to show the love of Christ and develop a deeper relationship.  Next, we went to Panera Bread for lunch where we talked about the experience downtown.  We had some amazing conversations – what it means to be a follower of Christ and represent Him to everyone we meet, the role of homeless ministries in the city, and how God seems to line up amazing opportunities for us to be the answers to other people’s prayers.  Just as we were talking about these things, a guy sitting across the room came over to us and said “Sorry to interrupt, but I’m currently homeless and couldn’t help but overhear your conversation.”  His name was George.  He continued to share with us his appreciation for the work that we’re doing, some of his experiences while homeless, and a request for prayer.  Wow.  After he left, we all stared at each other, in awe of God’s guidance in our day.  He was leading us every step of the way – even to go to this particular restaurant for lunch and sit at this particular table so we could meet and pray for George.  He was so encouraged by meeting us too, and even got a private beat-box performance from one of our group members!  If only every day could be lived with this kind of purpose, joy, and meaning…

These are just a couple stories from last Sunday, but there were so many more.  Please pray for:

  • Rage and his family – that the Christmas gifts would be a blessing to them, that they’d rely on God’s strength to work in their lives, that they’d experience His love for them.
  • George – that God would provide a job for him and his situation would improve.
  • Children who are living on the streets this winter (see picture below).
  • Everyone else we met and gave food and water to!
  • That our group would have protection and discernment.

Samantha made some new friends!

Wilmington Outreach – How It All Started

This past June a group of us went on a mission trip to Nashville, TN.  On one particular day we went downtown and split up into groups of six.  We were given a list of things to accomplish before meeting up with the large group a few hours later.  The list included sharing our lunch with someone who was homeless, talking to a police officer and asking their opinion on the issue of homelessness, etc.  So we set out to find someone to share our lunches with.  We walked for a while until we saw a man selling newspapers on the street corner.  He was selling the homeless community’s newspaper called The Contributor in which all the writers have experienced/are now experiencing homelessness.  Talking to a Contributor vendor was on our list too!  We figured we were killing two birds with one stone.  The man’s name was Ben.  Ben was a fascinating person who had a lot to say!  We were talking to him for a while when we noticed hundreds of people lining up in front of a church across the street.  We asked Ben what was going on and he said The Contributor was having a meeting in a few minutes.  Then he asked us if we wanted to sit in on the meeting.  We responded with an emphatic, “Yes!”  So ten minutes later we were sitting inside of this huge church with hundreds of people who were all without homes.  To say it was moving would be an understatement.

Our view from the back of the church at the Contributor meeting

The Contributor editors held a press conference, which was pretty interesting.  But once that was over they began calling out vendors’ names in order to give them their next assignment.  There were tons of people waiting inside the church, so we thought, “We might as well start striking up some conversations right here!”  Why leave to “finish the list” when God had given us this awesome opportunity to witness right there in that church?

We split up into even smaller groups of three (we didn’t want to scare anyone away).  Our little group was so nervous!  We just stood there for a second looking around asking ourselves, “Who should I talk to?” and “What am I supposed to say?”  Instantly, God turned our attention to a man sitting quietly in the pew.  His name was Tyrus.  We began talking to him and the conversation soon turned to God.  The Lord gave us the words that Tyrus needed to hear.  We told him about being a new creation in Christ, and how the blood of Jesus can wash away any sin.  Tyrus was deeply affected by hearing the Word of God and how powerfully He transforms lives.  He could not deny the truth being spoken to him, but he said, “I think God will show me when it’s time [to accept and follow Jesus].”  We pointed out that God was making it pretty clear what he needed to do.  We said, “Well, six strangers from Delaware are standing here telling you about Jesus… that’s a pretty big message God’s sending you!”  He said, “You’ve got a point there” and proceeded to stare into space.  (At this point we were about to burst with anticipation!)  Then he said, “Ok, let’s do it.”  We prayed with him to accept Christ into his heart and turn away from sin.

We realized something after leaving the church: we submitted to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and were able to lead someone to Christ.  We realized that we needed to offer ourselves to be used as witnesses all day, every day.  This outreach is an expression of that realization. We commit our Sundays to be used by God to share His love with people living on the streets of Wilmington.

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