Choosing Life over Death

10411863_10153057562167442_1964199853704619084_nLast time I remember seeing Robert was out on CPR (Compassion Party on the Road) on a night when the temperatures were below freezing.  Robert was tucked away for the night, but our CPR team knew where to find him.  Behind the Texaco near Summer and Highland, an old sofa was turned upside-down.  We picked it up and underneath we found Robert without even a blanket.  We talked with him and prayed, knowing that God heard our prayers but that Robert wouldn’t be able to make a lucid decision until the morning when he sobered up.  As an answer to many of these prayers, one of our CPR team persistently reminded Robert of God’s love for him and the safe and warm place at the Warrior Center.  Finally when Robert was ready he was taken to detox and began the spiritual recovery program at warriors.  Today he has been sober for about a month and studying his bible every day. “Celebrating and thanking God that He still saves!  Robert has gone from this 10891739_10153057560967442_4143623180744525823_nstreet corner, where we would visit him for years to living a sober life off the streets. I love driving by this particular corner and knowing two men who were dying there are now alive and sober!!  Only possible by Gods amazing grace!”

Jimmy’s Journey

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Jimmy’s journey is a testimony of God’s power over sin and death.  Since the doors of Jacob’s Well were opened on the corner of Summer and Highland in 2010, Jimmy was there.  At first he came to worship inebriated, yet seeking God and community.  Jimmy’s journey led him to a series of bottoms and a number of God’s people who would show him God’s love such as Emily, Marlon, Linda, Chad, Michelle, which led him to detox and rehab a number of times but then back to the streets and the Med with life-threatening surgeries, and even an open wound which he struggled with while living unsheltered for several months.  For over 20 years Jimmy lived on the streets and drank from morning until night.  He cannot count on both hands the number of good friends who are no longer with us.  Yet by God’s grace Jimmy was graced to live his final three years on earth with peace, love, joy, largely free from the bonds of his addiction.  Thanks to Highland Heights UMC, he enjoyed meaningful work,  a nice simple place that he called home, a church to worship and serve, and friends who loved him and checked in on him.

Recently Jimmy went out with us on CPR, a homeless outreach of Jacob’s Well, and met with several friends from the “old days” out on the streets.  One man mentioned, “If Jimmy can do it, then so can I.”  Another was convinced that he was sick and tired of being sick and tired from the heroin addiction and homelessness and gratefully invited Jesus into his life as Jimmy and Jamey prayed with him and gave contact info for a local rehab. Jimmy was asked how he did it, and his response was two-fold.  “People wouldn’t give up on me,” pointing to those who had shown the unconditional love of God without any signs of fruit from their efforts.  And Jimmy quoted Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Only through the one who rose from the grave could this miracle be shared. So as you reach out to our homeless neighbors, do so with hope in the One who can do the impossible.  And as you face trials and struggles of your own, remember what God did in Jimmy’s life to find strength for your journey.

Saved

From two of our CPR veterans, Mike and Connie:  Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 11.04.34 PM

One afternoon we were standing in the Parking Lot of the Smith Center (where Jacob’s Well meets) at 602 Looney Ave.  We were talking with others getting ready to go out on the street.  As we were talking, a truck and trailer pulled up along side the curb.  The trailer was loaded with lawn equipment.  A lady stepped out of the truck, and walked up the hill toward us.  When she got close enough to us, so that we could hear what she was saying, she said “I want to Thank you” .  We said, “What did we do?”  She then shared her story with us…….

TearI was on the street for 15 years.  One night a group of men took me into a field, raped me, and beat me nearly to death. I laid in that field for 3 days, when someone from Jacob’s Well found me.  They got help for me.  They gave me a safe place to stay, they gave me spiritual guidance, they loved me.  I have gone through the recovery program in which I was given a job in lawn care.  I am now the supervisor over two teams for the Mayor’s office for Blight Control.  I have my own apartment, I pay my bills, and I am proud to be able to do so. Thank you for doing what you do, Praise GOD!

As we stood there listening to her story, we knew exactly why we were doing what we are doing.  May the Lord continue to Bless Jacob’s Well.  May we all be the Hand’s and Feet of Jesus.

God comes through

It had been one of those weeks where it was difficult to remember why we were doing this thing called “Jacob’s Well.”  Men that were being discipled and showed potential and promise on their road to recovery were relapsing back into addiction.  Leaders who had been so faithful in the past were stepping away to pursue other passions, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to round up the minimum number of people to carry on the weekly tasks of ministry.  One area that was particularly struggling was CPR, Compassion Party on the Road, which was beginning to feel more like OMG, Obligatory Ministry on the Go.  The guy who was scheduled to lead that Wednesday notified the pastor that he could not make it out on the streets, and our kitchen coordinator Sherri suffered a shoulder injury keeping her away so an email went out asking for help.  It was in this moment of surrender and reaching out that God came through in a glorious way.

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TwonA couple from a partner church, Quito United Methodist showed up at about 5:30 expecting to do everything themselves, but were greeted with the smiles and helpfulness from Jacob’s Well youth from the neighborhood.  After cooking and cleaning the kitchen the teens loaded the meals (spagetti/salad/dessert) and bottled water to go out on the streets.  The following is the account from Mike and Connie on the rest of the evening:

“There were three lovely young ladies that met us in the parking lot and asked if they could go with us.  What a Blessing to have them along.  Last night the weather was just lovely, we took 40 meals, and 2 cases of water out with us.  We drove around downtown delivering meals until we ran out of food.  We saw many of the homeless that we have become friends with, and have not seen in awhile because of the weather.  We were able to spend time talking with our friends, praying with them and just catching up on how they have been.  The young ladies were just wonderful!  They stepped right up, they served the meals, they talked with our friends just like they had known them forever, and they prayed with each one.  Everything was done, not as quickly as we could do it, but we took our time, enjoyed listening, and praying with each and every one.  One of the girls was so touched by these new friends, she cried for them.  As we pulled back into the church to return the trays etc. we met Margaret, walking up in the parking lot.  It had been months since we had seen her.  It was good to spend some time with her.
The young ladies, gave Michael and I each a hug, and said “They Will Be Back”  and I believe they will.  God has some amazing things in store for each of us, long before we can even imagine how things are going to turn out.  Michael and I thought we would be on our own, which was fine, but God had much greater plans.  We have been praying for Sherri, and for Jacob’s Well.  I thank God for all my new friends in this ministry, and also on the street.”
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:9  We thank God for coming through when all else fails.  Put your trust in Him!
Since this week back in February a faithful team with servant hearts have stepped up to lead each week.  If you’d like to join us in serving our neighbors on the streets, check out the details here and join us some Wednesday soon!

Walking the streets of Memphis

Not long ago, Rick was running the streets of what used to be known as Hurt Village and Smoky City, searching for dope.  But, tonight Rick is rolling with his new friends in the Uptown area of Memphis on behalf of Jacob’s Well.   Rick is clean and sober and now serving as an integral part of our Compassion Party on the Block (C.P.B.) team who meets eachWednesday night at 6:00.  As we fellowship and disciple one another we pass out fliers for an upcoming block party while getting to know our neighbors.

On a recent C.P.B. outing, Rick and J.Well disciple-maker, Mark, knocked on the door of an Uptown neighbor.  Rick did not recognize her, but she remembered growing up with him.  She shared how she’d heard of his trouble with addiction and let him know that she had been praying for him over the past few years.  In turn, Rick shared his newfound faith in Christ and the community of acceptance he’d found at Jacob’s Well.  What a reminder of God’s work despite our rebellion and the powerful effect of the prayers of God’s people.

The Lord guides our steps when we walk in guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Rick worked at defying that companionship for years.  But, when he finally began having hope in his future, he found his faith, and began to walk dutifully spreading God’s truth.  The irony of it all is that during one of those literal walks, the door of a long forgotten childhood acquaintance was opened, and there he found a woman of faith who had been praying for him while he was in his dark, faithless meandering.  Just goes to show, you never know how or when God’s blessings will be revealed.  Maybe our C.P.B. walks are just the blessing you’ve been looking for!

Compassion Party on the Block (C.P.B.) is unique in many ways.  This multi-faceted ministry involves community outreach, prayer evangelism and, perhaps the most important, relationship building. We see Missional Believers walk with faith newcomers as we share our experiences.  We forge bonds by relating the hope that is gained from not leading, but following.  Discipleship is learning about God through the scriptures and growing in faith by sharing your life experiences with one another.  We hope you’ll pray on becoming involved in this ministry, no matter what stage you are in your faith.  If God is leading you to serve, we hope you’ll consider C.P.B.

From Isolation to Embrace

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A little over a year ago, Alex sat in his car alone in the parking lot of a Church’s Chicken on the corner of Hollywood & Chelsea where he accidentally overdosed on heroin.  Somehow, he came to and soon after checked into the Warrior Center for rehab.  He was very skeptical of the Christian-based program and wanted to leave.  However, he was estranged from his family and had nowhere else to go.  Several years back he had thrown a party at his aunt and uncle’s house while they were out of town.  He and his friends did thousands of dollars worth of damage and his sin caused a riff in his whole extended family.  This guy was carrying a lot and felt responsible for much.  He didn’t know whether forgiveness was possible, but he doubted it.

Then on one of the first visits to Jacob’s Well, he bumped into his Aunt who he had not seen in years and who was not speaking to his mother since the incident.  It happened to be her first time to Jacob’s Well and honestly the first time to be in church for a while.  They embraced, he received forgiveness, and has begun to experience reconciliation in his family.  This miracle was what Alex needed to accept Christ and he was baptized soon after at the Well.  Last night at his graduation, his family came together in a way like never before.  Alex proudly recited 50 “battle verses” from memory as a testimony of the work that God has done in and through him this past year.

Do you feel like your guilt is too much?  Do you think your family can never reconcile?  There is no divide too big for God to bridge.  There is no wound too deep for God to heal.  Jesus Christ bridged the gap for us.  Through his stripes we are healed.  Through him we are made whole and can experience reconciliation with God and family.

 

Compassion Party on the Road: Reaching Out to Memphis’ Homeless

We had an extraordinary night out on the streets Wednesday night, 5/30/12, on CPR.  God was moving in an awesome way that was so evident.  At one of our stops there was a Hispanic man that shared with us that his best friend, that we also know,  had been assaulted, and was in a coma in the hospital.  We talked and prayed with him.  After the prayer he said, “your prayer and touch as we held hands made me cry.”  He said, “I never do that.”  He said that he wants to change his way of life and stop drinking.  He did not know what he had felt, but he knew that it was powerful.  We told him he had felt the presence of God.  He threw his beer away and plans on coming to Jacob’s Well. One of our other stops on Summer Avenue we saw another one of our friends, Michael.  He needed something to eat and drink and we talked for a while. He shared with us about another one of our friends, Johnny an elderly man with a cane, was killed crossing Summer Avenue a little over a week ago.  This was so hard to hear as I listened and could see the hurt and tears in their eyes.  As we continued to talk with Michael he decided that he wanted to get off the street and go into Safe Harbor, a Christian based mission that helps folks to get connected back into society and to work.  Wednesday night Michael was off the street and excited about getting another chance.


These were just two of the particular things that we witnessed not counting the seeds that were planted that we never even realize.  God works in mighty ways.  He orders our steps and directs our paths.  He reveals Himself to us and gives us hope and encouragement.  It is an honor and blessing to be His vessel!  We stand in awe of You, Jesus.