Monday, January 30, 2012

January Update

I hadn't planned on apologizing for slavery this morning.  But in an environment of grace with a focus on being real, I guess you never know what might happen.

There we sat at our Real Men group.  A couple of friends of Village Oaks, including a business executive who drives 30 minutes to join us Friday mornings.  A couple of our staff members...including Ty Choice...who used to hang out at Village Oaks for different reasons than he does now.  And then me and a bunch of the Real Men.

Mike Downey led the discussion and talked about spiritually moving from slavery to freedom.  And it was a wonderful discussion.  The Holy Spirit was moving and there was a spirit of hope.  One man, who was visiting the group for the first time, broke down and cried like a baby.  His heart was so tender and open.

Mike began the conversation using an illustration that discussed actual physical slavery in the United States in the 1800's.  As he talked I saw that my African-American brothers were very much engaged with the illustration.  And I felt prompted about 30 minutes later to say something like this: "This may sound a little strange.  But to hear Mike refer to actual slavery, which happened in our country not too long ago...really impacted me.  That is something our race (pointing to my skin) did to your race.  And it was so terrible and wrong.  And so I want to apologize to each of you and let you know how sorry I am."


I looked around to see heads nodding.  The friend to my right extended his hand to shake mine.  Two of the friends across the room followed with generous words...and by sharing their belief that God can redeem all things...even slavery. One quoted the Scripture: "What man meant for evil, God used for good."  One concluded the conversation by pointing around the room...different races, backgrounds, etc...and said, "Look at us now!"

The love of God and a spirit of reconciliation among brothers. Look at us now. So thankful for all that God is doing.

We send you a hug in Jesus. Thank you for your friendship.

-- Behind Every Door Ministries

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Special Bond

The thing about working at c-grade apartments is the high turnaround.

We build a special bond and become a voice in children's lives...and then...poof they are relocated.

That happened to one of the girls at Willow Pond. We had become the only stable thing in her very unstable life. The next minute she was moving.

But, that didn't stop us from keeping close tabs on what was going on with her. Suzanne made it a point to pick her up for church on Sunday. She became my assistant in children's church.

Let me start off by telling you a little about her. When we first met her she would walk in to the Kids Club and make her grand appearance. She wanted to make sure everyone knew she was there. She held true to the code of the streets, and was proud of it. She saw herself as "Gutter Girl."

Now, two years later she has quieted down. She is the first one with the answers during children's church. She went from no biblical quickly answering my questions about the bible. She has become a leader to children in our church. Her attitude and image has gone from "Gutter Girl" to Daughter of God. When she needs something, she prays, and I have seen many of her prayers answered. I have had the opportunity to watch Jesus move in and around her.

I know she will grow up knowing that God was there for her during an unstable time of her life. I am glad I got to be part of that.

-- Rickey Fanning

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Isolation to Celebration

This is a neat picture I took at the end of 2011.  We saw God some amazing things in 2011 - this picture representing one of those.

One thing that Jesus does is bring us out of isolation and in to celebration.

Willow Pond was once a place where people stayed inside and kept to themselves; people were isolated.  Now, thanks to Jesus, they celebrate!

-- Will Dowell