When I first heard about the M25 Community Outreach in Garner, I was so intrigued that a bunch of ladies from different churches and para-church ministries were going to ACTUALLY DO what all our “pastors” had been preaching to us about. Not that there had not been some type of reaching out — there was the “Halloween” Door-to-Door Mug Giveaway to invite folks to our church, The Capital PH Church. But, I felt the Lord impress me to make sure it was on my calendar of “events” for this past December, 2010, along with all the other myriad of “things” we feel we must do and attend for the Christmas season. Boy, am I glad I did!
Saturdays are a tough day for me to “give up”, like they are for a lot of folks who work. The mile long list of pre-Christmas “got-to-get-done” activities that were staring me in the face that morning of 12/13/10 , along with the coldest, wettest weather we’d seen for awhile, ALMOST caused me to cave into my flesh! But, I kept hearing the Spirit say to push past all that and move out away from my “comfort” zone. He kept reminding me then, as well as through the entire outreach, that many, many of His flock have far worst conditions to worship or do anything for HIM on a DAILY basis. I thank Him for His gentle conviction. Boy, we are spoiled right here in America, and don’t I know it.
I drove the ten to fifteen minute drive to the apartment complex and the whole way I was thinking that surely this would be canceled due to the miserable weather, but after going in the wrong entrance, I found them — tents, tables, music, a manger scene with actors — up and running with a smile on every face. As I parked, I told myself, I’d stay about an hour. I must confess to all this so that anyone reading will feel right at home when your turn comes to really put your money where your mouth is!
The moment I walked up, all the gals I knew, Beverly Trainor, her daughter, Tara, and her family, Donna T., Janice S., Jenny R., Sherry S. and several more familiar faces–men, families — all from our church were on go! Others I did not know were also busy putting the finishing touches on the different stations—goodie bags, food, toys, “live” nativity, music — and a tangible excitement and spirit of cooperation could be felt! As Beverly gave me my assignment, the “goodie bag” station, was to also serve as a “prayer” point upon handing things out. I felt the Lord say to just be bold and be His Hands to TOUCH and hug everyone, especially the children. So often, here in the US, people know OF Jesus, but rarely in places like these do they ever really feel His people really care enough to be there to just love on them and pray with them as a point of contact, joining strong faith with some that is weaker due to the hardness and cares of life being faced.
One by one folks began to come out. There were lots of children! As we handed out the goodie bags with materials, the Lord said to hug and pray with every single person! I wondered if that hug would be the only one that day (or longer) for some of these kids. There were a few adults–a Hispanic family consisting of a brother (or uncle?) and a couple of small children were our first to receive Christ! We asked each one, “DO you KNOW Jesus?”, and many said yes, but we prayed anyway. So many know OF Him, but I felt our truest mission was to make sure THIS DAY they encountered HIM, and my specific prayer was that they would NEVER forget the cold rainy day they really saw Him and received from His Hand through ours!
Lots of chili, candy, socks, coats and toys were given out, but the two most compelling interactions I had were with Antonio and Nahlia (half siblings), and a group of teenage boys we “hollered” down:), and made come over to talk to us! “Ton” and “NaNa” came through our line early, immediately confirmed their faith in Jesus, and began helping us in any way they could! They told me all about their life–no father at home (different dads as is the case, sadly, more often than not), a mom from Germany, unmarried, and working a ot. They just worked and talked and hugged. They were hungry for affection. They were polite and drinking in the love -filled atmosphere, and tried, like true little evangelists to persuade their mom and cousin to come out. They wouldn’t, but Ton and NaNa would take them stuff and promised me they would tell of their adventures in being with us! We spied some bigger teen boys trying to walk behind our station, and Ton ran them down and they came over! We prayed with them, and they confessed Christ, too! One guy would not come over–he hid behind one of the buildings and just “peeped”! Eventually he came too! All prayed to receive Christ and took the goodies Ton pushed into their hands! Several sad stories came to light when a little girl confessed they were living with friends there because her mom and dad were “fighting” all the time. Another young girl was immediately identified to me by the Spirit as needing intervening prayer for her future. She was at risk for promiscuous sexual activity. The Spirit prayed specifically during that moment, and then later, as I shared with our Capital Church Nehemiah Prayer Teams leader, Dorothy Credendino, he revealed to me that we were ALL doing INTERVENTION work here. The day was sealed in prayer to be a junction in time for these precious ones that the Spirit would not allow them to ever forget. I felt strongly that futures were being directed even as we just simply touched many of them, especially the children! As we began to pack up (3 or so hours later!), the teenage boys that had come through earlier returned. They came directly to me and said to my face-“THANK YOU” ! I was overcome. This is “gang” territory, and most young black males are not generally known to do such! They even helped us pack up and carry things still to be given away by one of our ladies, Cathy Lloyd, who actually lives in the apartments. Ton and NaNa finally left, too, and as we hugged one last time, Ton looked up at me and said, “I am so glad I came outside today!”. They promised me they’d ask their granddad (he occasionally took them to a local congregation) to carry them to church more.
The results and effects of this timely outreach may never fully be known down here, but I have full confidence lives WERE strongly influenced and “touched” for the Kingdom. I know it had an immediate affect on me! My one hour zoomed by to three in no time as the Spirit infiltrated a place not often thought of with love and giving even in our North Carolina suburbia/ small town. “Church” can happen ANYWHERE because WE, His People, ARE THE CHURCH! I am confident this will not be the last outreach of its kind for me and the many sisters (and brothers!:) who stepped out in faith and obedience that day. I know in my heart it is the truest form of worship and “religion”, and that it is most definitely the solution for our “business-as-usual” local churches! The urgency I feel is even greater today as I write these words. We must do some “catching up” in order to accomplish all needed before He returns. And that is near! Even so, Lord Jesus, come!