All posts by HOFabilene

Perspective

Denise1I am currently reading a book by Andrew Mann called ‘Upside-Down Joy: An inverted look at sin, sickness, struggles and death’.   In this book there are some chapters that discuss the word “perspective”.  Perspective is the position from which we see something.   Andrew then goes on to explain three components that influence our perspective:  context (the environment that surrounds us), time, and relationships.   I can’t imagine doing ministry without perspective.   I can’t imagine Jesus’ ministry without perspective.   Jesus was able to see things in ways that no one else could.  Mainly because he was able to see life with an eternal perspective.  I believe that is how He expects us to live also.

As we began 2016 getting back into the swing of weekly bible clubs and seeing our amazing volunteers, children and youth again,  God has revealed to me how perspective in ministry is a necessary tool.    I don’t help with all of our clubs, but at the ones I do help with, I have witnessed the unruly child, the angry child, the rebellious child, the sad child.     I have already broken up fights, tried to help with disagreements, name calling, bullying and tried to console hurt feelings and feelings of rejection.   All while playing jump rope, tossing balls, teaching a bible lesson, and making home visits.    This is a part of House of Faith.   This is why we are here.  To share God’s love to those who need it.

I often hear children and youth tell me they have been kicked out of church, suspended from school or kicked off the bus because of their behavior.  It is a consequence of their actions, but it also gives them a feeling of rejection.   But to me, this is where perspective is needed the most.  To truly understand  why they are doing what they are doing requires context, time and a relationship.   Let’s get real, often they don’t even understand or want to admit why they behave the way they do because that would mean they need to open up the hurts that run so deep.   But as we spend time with them, getting to know them on their own turf, in their own backyard we begin to see with God’s eyes.   We as Christians want to live with eternal perspective, but for our children and youth just seeing past next week is often difficult.    Through our home visits, we already learned of several parents who split up over the holidays and the passing of a dear relative.   Through taking the time to listen to a youth without interrupting them, we heard their fear of the unknown future while being removed from their home because of drugs.

Our job is not to fix these things.  Our job is to love on them, to walk with them, to gain perspective into their lives, to try and understand and possibly change the way we think about them.   But then we are called to try and help them look to God to help them with their struggles, their own sin and to show them that God is the author of their lives.   They don’t get to choose the road or the situation they are facing right now, but they can choose how to walk it and we can choose to walk it with them.

Perspective brings compassion.  Everywhere Jesus went, He showed compassion.  He was able to do so because he had an eternal perspective.    Please join us in this journey of helping our children, youth and families find Jesus’ love and hope in their struggles and to find His Story in their lives.   You can do this through your prayers, your time (volunteering) and your financial support (helping others build the relationships).

 

Beyond Expectations

Picture2Ephesians 3:20 from the Living Translation says this, “Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”   As I stand in the presence of the Fall Season, I look back at the summer and   soak in this verse.    This year has been a road of many turns, many dips, and many unseen curves.   In ministry, I have found myself on a road that is always changing.  Some of the changes I have liked and some I haven’t but I know that God is my map and I need to just follow.   Over some time, God had been directing us to do a Summer Youth Girls Bible Study group. I shared this vision with long time volunteer, Stina Prim and HOF staff, Hannah Elliott  who jumped at the chance to lead this summer adventure. We spent some time watching the youth girls during Xodus nights and prayerfully determined who would be in the chosen group.   I shared with Stina and Hannah some of my expectations and shared with them what I felt God wanted, but completely put this vision into their hands.

Needless to say,  through God’s mighty power at work, He did more than I ever dared to ask or imagine through these two women of God.   They poured their hearts and souls into creating an atmosphere of safety, of reverence and of holiness for these special youth Picture1girls.   Every Friday morning throughout the summer, the girls got together for 3 to 4 hours.   Cell phones were placed in baskets as they walked in,  a delicious breakfast  made by loving ladies from Pioneer Drive Baptist Church was enjoyed and then a deep devotion time was spent learning about women from the bible and how those lessons applied to their own lives.    I so wish I could share some of the amazing things that went on inside this group of girls, but I can’t.   This time was created for them to share with each other and with God.  But I can tell you that God changed these girls, and God changed us through these girls.    Each week, the girls drew closer to each other and closer to God.   As they drew closer to God,  we began to desire to give them a gift that was not in our budget. In fact, this entire discipleship time was not in our budget.   But it was in God’s.  A call from a supporter came asking if we had any needs.  I shared with her what our desire was and she gladly took that need and filled it.   As we finished out the summer with the girls, we were able to give each girl a special girls study bible that was more than we ever dreamed of.     We know beyond a doubt, that these bibles will not collect dust.

God truly went beyond expectations with the group of girls.   So much so, that they asked if they could still meet during the school year.  And so they shall!  The plans are tPicture3o meet once a month, learning what God’s plans are for them and how they can serve the Lord through serving others.   Please pray for these girls and for the finances to continue pouring into not only the youth girls, but into all the children of House of Faith.  We certainly have ‘great expectations’ now.

 

Children of the King

wildflower-wedding-bouquet-of-paper-blooms.original     Do you remember the phrase, ‘The lazy days of summer’?   Well, I have to admit that the summer of 2015 was definitely not lazy for us.   This past week we left summer behind and began the fall season.  For several weeks now as the days passed, I would tell myself ‘tomorrow I will do a newsletter about summer’.  Now we are in September, where did those days go?  I honestly have so much to tell you about our summer that it all can’t go into one newsletter.   God did some amazing things through the children and youth of House of Faith this summer.  We tried something new with a chosen group of youth girls who met every Friday morning as a discipleship group growing deeper in God’s Word.  They call themselves the ‘Wildflower Girlz’.  That in itself is a great story that we will share with you in our next newsletter.  We also offered three week long summer camps at Camp of the Hills in Marble Falls, TX.  At each of the camps, I was blown away with how God worked or actually blown away with how the hearts of the children and youth allowed God to work.  True healing came at camp this year for so many of those who went.

So, let me share just a few of my favorite moments of camp that will hopefully stick with me forever! It was while driving the Middle School Youth Girls van home.  Camp is over and the atmosphere is overflowing with joy.  One of the girls who attended the weekly Wildflower Girlz  group attended camp also.  She has the softest heart for the Lord and for others.  Her amazing counselors spent much time with the girls in her cabin and gave each girl a Bible as a gift from them.   On the way home, she sat in the front seat and while other girls where talking about all the fun things at camp, she was pouring into her Bible.   After some time, she gasped!  It scared me a bit and I asked her if she was alright.   She then looked at me with those, “I can’t believe it” eyes.  Then she read to me what made her gasp.    It was from John 14:1-2 “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?.”  She then states, “He is preparing a room just for me!”  I smile at her and tell her that yes, he certainly is.  I let her soak it in for a moment and then I asked her what she thinks her room might look like? She thinks for a short moment and says, ‘Well, it must look like a princess’ room because I am a child of the King.’   My eyes begin to tear up as I know that she truly understands her identity.   But mainly because this knowledge of a ‘her own room’  means more to her than any of us can ever truly understand.  This beautiful daughter of the King currently resides in a very small approximately 725 sq. foot two bedroom house with her mother and four other siblings.

This conversation was heard by the girls sitting in the first row of the van.  They then joined in and we spent the next two hours riding in the van sharing the Bible and reading different passages to see what it said.   In 15 years of ministry, I have never rode in a van with teenage girls pouring over the Bible and discussing what it means.  My heart was overflowing and so were my tears.  One girl who has been part of HOF for 9 years, was reading James 5.  She stopped at one point and said, “Oh my gosh Ms. Denise, this brought back a memory of when I was little (about 5) and you were sitting with me and reading to me from the Bible House of Faith gave as a Christmas present.  I couldn’t read it then, so you read me a story from it.  And now I am reading to you from the it. Do you remember that?  Isn’t that cool!”   I smiled and thought, ‘more than you will every know’.

Thank you for making these moments and many more possible through your financial support of this ministry!

 

Overflow of Joy

Denise     Today (Feb 19th) I celebrate my wedding anniversary with my husband.  He has stuck with me through many ups and downs.   On our wedding day, I truly had no idea of what our journey would be like, how hard it would be, how fun it would be, how worthwhile it would be and honestly, what a blessing I was receiving in Mike.

It is also the 50th day of 2015.  Joy is overflowing my heart.  You can ask Hannah Elliott, our ministry assistant, how   crazy I get around the office when I am overflowed with joy.    You see, God began to reveal to me way back in 1997 a new   journey that he would be taking me on.  He slowly showed me glimpses of it since he knew I am a runner.  Not a physical ‘run your 5k’ person, but the runner ‘from things’ I don’t understand or think is too big for me.  He has had to guide me slowly through the process and oh what a process it has been.  Today, as I stand in the HOF building and look around I am so blown away.  You see, just a few weeks ago the HOF board approved an expansion of space.  We rented the small 700 sq. foot facilities right next to us to create a bigger area for the growing Xodus youth and for a much needed storage room.  Of course an expansion means work and I often don’t think of all the smalldetails.  Thankfully, we have a God who does!  He also has bigger plans than we do.  We had planned for a small opening in the wall that joins our space, but Joythe landlord paid for a larger opening that brought on more potential for us.  We had a donation that would cover all our expenses to build the storage room and pay for any of our cost for the expansion.   Then we received a donation for a much desired sound system for our youth group.   Outside of that, we received an unplanned, last minute grant from 3rd St. printing to help with some professional printing needs!   These are just some of the bigger blessing we have received, I can’t even begin to tell you all the other blessings He has lavished on House of Faith.  All within 50 days of 2015.

Later, in my garage at home I was searching for some supplies for our next lesson series.  We have several bins of lessons and as I was looking for a specific one.  As I stood among the bins, my eyes just opened wide and I began reading each lesson title and could see God in each one of them throughout this journey of House of Faith.   At first I saw lessons thatrevealed what we desire the children and youth to know: that God So Loved the World to help us Walk in the Light to become Super Heroes for Jesus and know that they will always be Wanted by God.    But then I realized other lessons we have taught has been part of our own journey in this ministry. Lessons such as:  The Battle Belongs To The Lord, Cycle Breakers, The Mighty Acts of God and Master Plans.  I see the HOF journey in each one of these lesson titles and I am blown away by this amazing journey God has led me on.

Just like my marriage, I truly had no idea of what this House of Faith journey would be like, how hard it would be, how fun it would be, how worthwhile it would be and honestly, what a blessing I would receive from the children, the youth, the families, the volunteers, the staff and many, many new friends I have met along the way.  I am so grateful that God only gave me glimpses along the way so I didn’t run, run from all the amazing blessings He had for me.    How can joy not overflow from my heart?

 

Super Youth Summer by Denise Davidson

House of Faith-Abilene exists to takes Jesus to neighborhood children, youth and families, provide them a sense of belonging, and strengthen their faith, enabling them to honor God with their lives and offer themselves in service to Him.

This summer we wanted to make sure that the Xodus youth experience exactly what we know God’s mission for House of Faith is all about.   So we were excited about what God was going to do with and through the Xodus youth.

They started the summer with a lock-in held at Southside Baptist Church. If you’re a youth you can’t wait for a lock-in. If you’re an adult you run away as fast as you can before the youth pastor gets ahold of you to volunteer.   But it truly was a blast and the next morning they were already asking when the next one would be.   The greatest moment was the 4am Bible Bingo. They actually looked up verses in the bible and chose a word to add to their bingo cards before playing the game.   A great time of fellowship giving them that sense of belonging and helping to strengthen their faith.

They spent the next four weeks doing different service projects.   They visited a community garden and learned how it can honor God and help the neighboring 2013 June Xodus Community Gardencommunity all at the same time.   Then they put their hands and feet to work. Some harvested crops, some helped with the honey bees, while others stacked wood and helped clean up.   As we left, one Xodus youth thought it would be great to have something like that in his neighborhood.   Another week they went to the skate park and passed out hot dogs and tracks. Other things included helping a senior lady who was recovering from surgery get some yard work done, and went to a laundry mat offering to help carry in the dirty laundry and pay for their wash that day. But all in all, they were learning what it means to be the least of these, to put others before themselves, honoring God with their lives and offer themselves in service to Him.

Their favorite summer event, of course is youth camp. The time they are able to get away from it all for an entire week and indulge in swimming, sports, ropes course events, crazy and even more crazy games and a party each night while having an amazing time of worship and preaching each evening. But in all this they were surrounded for 24 hours a day by people who love God and just poured into them.   1 Peter 2:9-10 tells us ‘But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation. You are a people who belong to God. All of this is so that you can sing his praises. He brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people. But now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy. But now you have received mercy.’

By the end of the week, the youth truly knew that they are a part of a royal family.   One night, the sanctuary was filled with deep sobs from so many youth who were pouring out their hearts to our heavenly Father asking him to forgive those that had hurt them.   You and I both know what a joy it is to finally receive forgiveness from Our Heavenly Father but we still hold on to past hurts, not truly allowing God to take hold of them. That night, these youth were given the opportunity to release these hurts into the hands of their Father and to forgive the debtor as Jesus forgave them.   You could truly feel the Holy Spirit moving and healing hearts all throughout the room.   Oh the joy that followed. What a priceless moment. A moment that we wish so many of you could experience firsthand right alongside us. A moment where you could experience all your prayerful and financial support is truly worth more than rubies.

We love the honesty of the youth, as one even shared with us how he has someone in his life that he can’t forgive right now. But now he knows he needs to and is beginning to make the steps toward that moment and House of Faith will walk with him every step of the way.

Jesus forgives you and I and welcomes us into his Royal Family with open arms. He does this also for the ones who have hurt us.   I pray that we can all be as bold as these youth were that night and forgive those that have hurt us and begin praying for them in a whole new way.

What a Super Youth Summer.

Adeline by Amy Jeffers

There is a precious little girl that I have the opportunity to hang out with every Monday afternoon through House of Faith.

Her name is Adeline. I have watched her grow over the past 2 years–from a 1 year old to a 3 year old. A little girl that once knew very few words is now a talking machine. It has been a privilege and an honor to watch her grow.

I have always seen Adeline as the most innocent, precious little girl. And I still see her that way. But today was a little different for me.

Adeline was playing with another little girl and the other girl stole her toy. Adeline then called her a not so nice word multiple times. My heart stopped for a second, because a little girl that was suppose to be so pure said something that was not honorable or loving at all. Adeline then proceeded to be mean to this other girl. I told Adeline to apologize and she grudgingly in a huff, said, “Sorry!”…obviously, she didn’t really mean it. When I told Adeline to say it nicer, she called me a different not so nice word and marched off.

Reflecting on this occurrence from today, I couldn’t help but think of the relationship we have with our Father in heaven. From before we were ever born, he knew us. He has been watching us grow this whole time. He loves us so much and knows us so much better than I could ever love or know Adeline.

It really did pain me and hurt my heart just a little bit to witness how precious little innocent Adeline interacted today. How much more does it hurt our Father God whenever we fail?

He so often nudges us to correct the motives of our heart, like I had to correct how Adeline apologized to the other girl today–and instead of turning around and reacting in a loving manor, Adeline reacted rudely towards me. How many times does our loving Father gently nudge us into a greater relationship with his son and we rudely turn the other direction? I’m sure that pierces our Father’s heart.

But what happened next in the story with Adeline is my favorite. After she walked away in a huff, she came running back into my arms. She sat with me during the bible lesson. She even fell asleep in my arms and I rocked her as she slept for the majority of the lesson time.

Isn’t this such a beautiful picture of how our Father loves us?

No matter what we do. No matter how much we mess up. No matter the motives of our heart.

Our Father’s love for us is unconditional. We can always run back to him. We can never run too far away. His love is constant. His love is never changing. And not only is he always accepting us back into his arms, but we can find rest, and comfort; rest and comfort enough to gently fall asleep in his arms.

After the bible lesson was over and Adeline woke up, she apologized to me–in a very nice and loving way.

You see, the Father’s unconditional love has that affect on us. Whenever He so lovingly wraps us in his arms and we find shelter and rescue in Him–we can’t help but try to make our relationship right with Him–and that flows out of what we do.

Adeline gave me just a small glimpse of who God is today. Working with children as precious as these helps me to see the heart of the Father.

Childlike Faith by Amy Jeffers

Today at House of Faith, I was playing with one of the 6 year old boys I am closest to, D’Marion. He was just sitting in my lap telling me about his day: talking about writing his Alphabet, eating yummy food for lunch, playing with friends, and talking to to his teacher.

In the middle of our conversation, he looked up at the sky. I asked, “D’Marion, what are you looking at?” He simply said, “God!”
So, I asked him, “What does God look like?”
He responded: “Well I’m not exactly sure because it’s kind of hard to see him, but I know that he loves me.”
What if I had the faith of a child?
What if even when I find it hard to see God around me, I rested secure in his love?
What if I didn’t require him to make himself known to me, but simply took him at his word: that I am loved.
That should be enough: to be completely and totally loved by God. No matter how hard God is to see sometimes, I can trust in his undying love for me.
Lord, allow me to have faith like a child, like D’Marion.

The Fields of HOF by Bob Prim

Across the street from my home is a lot where a house had burned down. It sat empty for long time. Three years ago it was bought and the new owners, with the help of many volunteers, began to turn it into a family park. It had picnic tables and a barbecue. They made a nice garden area and planted trees. Everything you need for a family park. Except for one thing, it was hardly ever used. Recently, they added a swing set and a play house with slides. Now the park is filled with children and families all the time. This reminded me that there are many families and children all over Abilene we don’t see. But, if they  had a HOF club in their neighborhoods, they would come to a club each week. I could hear God saying “If you build it, they will come” Yes, it is quote from a movie, but so true of HOF clubs. When we have a club, they do come. We have touched many families over the years. Some, who in the beginning, did not think that God wanted anything to do with them.  Because of Club and home visitations, these families are beginning see that God does love them. It is exciting to see the changes in their lives.

Mathew 9:37-38 says “Then He said to His disciples, ” The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” If we build it, HOF clubs, there would be a great harvest in His name. Join with us at HOF in praying for workers. There are many ripe fields here in Abilene.