Halfway home

Halfway home

We have finished up our third day of ministry here in beautiful Daytona Beach. For today, we want to give you a quick recap of what happened on Wednesday, and then share the names of some of the people we have been meeting with, ask you to pray with us for them as we finish up the week.

Yesterday started with part of the team heading across the bridge to meet with people in the homeless community who we have gotten to know during the last few days. Hanging out with them is always a mixture of great joy and some sadness. As a community, they often demonstrate great kindness and selflessness toward each other and they share what they have and protect their family. But each individual story is also full of brokenness (not to dissimilar to our own story). While the team was visiting with them, a church (or coalition of churches) came by to drop off meals for the people gathered there (this is a weekly ministry). While they passed out food, the Pastor asked our team to lead worship and read scripture – and so that pavilion was turned into a sacred space as a worship service broke out.

Meanwhile, back at the beach, the rest of the team was setting up the net and getting things ready for a REALLY hot day. The beach was more crowded than usual, but we were able to find a place to park and a big enough space to set up the volleyball net. Immediately, our friends from Oceanview began to come across the beach to spend time with us and the team began to scatter as they started to have conversations with individuals enjoying the sunny weather. The conversations were as diverse as the people we encountered. Families from the midwest to South America; locals and seasonally-locals; Christians, Buddhists, Atheist and Agnostics. Some were friendly and easy to talk with, while others had gave off a serious ‘darkness’ to them. We felt and experienced some real spiritual warfare yesterday – please continue to pray, it is needed more than ever.

The evening was different than most as we split the team by gender and the men, after dinner, headed to do some painting at a downtown shelter for the homeless. The women stayed back at our base and did some much needed debriefing from the day.

That’s how we would describe what we did yesterday, now we want to share the things that have really mattered during our first few days – the people of Daytona (just a representative sample).

James Lewis – one of our longtime friends, James has been a resident of Oceanview for nearly 35 years. He has an incredibly thankful heart but would love to be able to see his  mom one more time (lives up in Jacksonville but is too old to travel) or talk to any of his 3 siblings scattered around the country.

Tom – a brand new resident of Oceanview who moved in a couple of months ago. He has had a long history of traveling, partying, and alcoholism and we would love to see him know that he is loved by Jesus and our team. Also, at 6’5″ he has been a great asset to our beach volleyball games!

Lori – Middle aged woman who has a good heart but doesn’t know where that good comes from. She loves her family and loves the homeless but does not believe in God. She believes this complex world came about by chance but seems to be open to talking about God.

Jaylen and Jarren Tunnell- Both are brothers from a town close to Muncie, Indiana. Jaylen graduated high school and works in the local prison and hopes to be a police officer when he turns 21. His brother Jarren is a sixth grader, and both of them are currently seeking God. They told us that they hope to come visit us and enjoy a shake at Ivanhoe’s.  Praying that both would come visit us again at the beach.

Drew Leisure- Sophomore high school football player by Muncie, Indiana who came down to enjoy the beach. Drew is at a place where he is curious about God, but there are a lot of distractions for him including partying and girls. Drew is strong, loud and a leader. He was one of his twelve friends who asked about my faith story.

Art- An artist (yes, Art the artist). He uses a magnifying glass to burn designs into palm tree bark. We met him on Monday and have spent significant time with him every day by the beach. It’s amazing to see how his demeanor has changed in three days. It’s clear that the aroma of Christ is affecting him. He even joined us for worship by the beach the last two days! Pray that he would understand his need of Jesus.

George – An incredible man who we met at the homeless park.  He’s been out of prison for 23 days and is awaiting the end of his 90 probation.  He is 53 years old and has spent 32 years of those in prison.  He has one daughter, Chelsea, whom he barely knows but still loves just the same.  He has dreams of going to culinary school.  He’s kind, funny, protective of the people that he loves most.  He knows about Jesus and has read the Bible three times while in prison.  Pray for wholeness for George and an overwhelming knowledge of the Lord’s love for him and purpose for his life.

Marco- An incredible man of God who has the Word written on his heart. After several years in ministry, he faced a horrible accident and is now living on the street. He has an amazing voice and loves to worship the Lord. We have enjoyed hearing his testimony through spoken word, and we have been blessed to hear about how he experiences God’s presence. Pray that Marco would continue to seek the Lord in every area of his life as he trusts God’s provision for the future.

Shandi- She is someone who is finding all of her fulfillment in life through sex, drugs, and alcohol. Unfortunately, she thinks that it is all she is good for. Her mind is open to finding a religion, so please pray that the God of hope will grow the seed that was planted in her heart about Jesus.

Ty- He is a college student here and is a film major. Two years ago he gave his life to Christ and is looking for many answers. Thankfully, the pastor at his church has been pouring into Ty and helping him through his broken past. Pray that Ty will continue to keep looking for the Lord, and that the norms of this world would not effect him.

 

Weather Improves

Weather Improves

Yesterday, during our first day of ministry on the beach, Florida graciously welcomed us with a day of Indiana weather. The temperature barely registered above 50 and the wind was worthy of a Chicago day. But we bundled up and spent the day hanging out with some new homeless friends at the Library and connecting with anyone brave enough to spend the day at the beach. It wasn’t what we expected, but God still gave us opportunities to connect.

Thankfully, this morning brought more expected Daytona weather – clear day, beautiful sun and plenty of people.

For half the team, the day started again at the library hanging out with friends we made yesterday (and some friends we met last year). Great converstions, a small birthday celebration and a quick impromptu worship service.

But while these are good conversations, it was also full of a lot of sadness and brokenness as we heard stories.

The rest of the team headed to our spot by SunSplash and set up the new volleyball net and began the day of sharing. Things immediately got active around the net and students began connecting with individuals ranging from high school students to retirees. So many great opportunities to minister to individuals and to share the love of God with the people that God brought into our lives. We ran into Taylor alums and a future Taylor student during the day. And the day ended with an amazing time of beach worship with the team and a wide variety of beach goers who came over to check out the group.

imageKeep praying that God will give us energy and will keep us listening to His voice as we seek to love the people of Daytona Beach!

We Arrived

We Arrived

Just wanted to let you know that after 18 hours of driving – 1,044 miles of highway – we have arrived in our beautiful (but cloudy and rainy) home away from home here in Daytona Beach. The drive was largely uneventful (which is a praise) and we are now just waiting to get checked into our rooms. Pray that we get the rest we need today to be ready for ministry all week. Appreciate so much all your prayers and support.

Back Home

Just a quick entry to let you know we have arrived back safely to Taylor University!

It was an amazing experience, with remarkable opportunity for growth; and during the next few weeks we will each be processing what God has done in and through us.

Continue to pray for the people we met and those who observed us….that God would continue to work in each life we encountered.

Thanks so much for your prayer and support!

The Daytona Team

Wrap Up for the Week

spike ball chairs Lewis

It’s Saturday morning and the ‘official’ week at Sun Splash has ended. Today will be a bit of relaxing and processing before we load up the vans and start the long track back on Sunday. It has been a wonderful week of seeing God work through each member of the team as we cared for each other and reached out to the people of Daytona. As we wrap up the week, wanted to give you some names and stories that you could, with us, continue to lift to the Father:

  • Pray for our friend James Lewis. He turns 64 this month and we have had a chance to be with him for 7-8 years during these trips. He is a wonderful man, gifted with an amazingly thankful heart…he has been living in Ocean View for over 30 years and has siblings scattered around the country with a mom in north Florida. He would love to see his siblings one more time. Pray that God could somehow orchestrate that type of reunion for James.
  • We met a 22-year old man named Mike who is “getting his life back on track.” He has been clean from drugs for the past fifteen months, and knows that God has delivered him, but is living in a spirit of fear that the devil will pull him back under. Pray that he is able to find a community to support him and that the Spirit of power will leave no room for a spirit of fear.
  • A demon was cast out of a 17 year old girl named Sadie. Please pray that she continues to accept the Holy Spirit who she asked to replace the demon and that God continues to show her His power, truth, and goodness.
  • A Muslim friend named Habib asked many questions about Christianity and who we believe Jesus to be. The Trinity and the New Covenant were explained to him and what it means to have a relationship with a God who wants to be close to us. He is moving to the hometown of one of our team members and wants to meet with him to continue discussing what Christians believe. Pray that God would unite them and the truth would be revealed!
  • We were given the opportunity to a man with (most likely) Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder. He had not taken his medication at the time, and there may have been demonic activity in his life. Our hearts are broken for him as we see him listening to the lies of the Enemy. Pray that Justin would come to the realization of Truth in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that he would be called to living in communion with the Savior.
  • Pray for Colby, a junior in high school who had the opportunity to receive the gospel this week on the beach. He has a servant spirit and a heart of gold, but he wrestled with the hugeness of committing to following Jesus. Pray that he may trust in the Lord and find hope in the gospel. May he see that true life is only found in relationship with Jesus.
  • Pray for Bill, a 47-year-old man at the homeless park, who has never experienced love from a parent.  He had been abused.  Praying that God will emotionally heal him and invade the darkest parts of his heart.  Praying that Jesus will meet him as he starts reading God’s Word.  He kept saying he doesn’t end his life because he feels something good is going to happen in his life.  Jesus Christ is the best thing that could ever happen to him!  He began crying as we prayed over him, and the next day he said something happened deep in his heart as we prayed over him.
  • Pray for Robert. After more than two years of living on the streets, after years of a seemingly stable and successful career, he appears to have given up on finding a way out of his condition. Pray that he will find encouragement and will begin to see that his real need is reconciliation with the Father.
  • Pray for Richard, a 58 year old man of God who is so genuine and real.  He served in the armed forces for 8 years, and did roofing for 28 years. After getting arthritis in his knees he has been unable to get a job leaving him homeless the last six years. Please pray for healing in Richard’s knees and that he can get a job in the area. Also pray that he can receive encouragement and support from fellow believers.
  • Pray for Richard and Justin, two high school sophomores who love being friends, but have yet to realize the friend that they have in God. Please pray that they would discover a relationship with God rather than the religious experience they’ve already had.

These are just a few of the people we encountered this past week. There were so many others…a young man with an amazing mind, who has thrown it away through drugs; an older Jewish man so impressed by the way this team loved each other and the residents of Ocean View; three young guys from England; and many, many others. Each one was unique. Each had their own story. And each meeting touched us as well as them.

We are excited to head back to Upland with a renewed desire to see each person we meet as a unique masterpiece of God and each meeting as a divine appointment.

Tomorrow we pack up and start the drive home. Please pray for safety as we drive through the night!

 

A Beautiful Day…

NetToday was another beautiful Florida Day! The sun was out, the breeze was refreshing and there were just enough clouds in the sky to give occasional respite from the power of the sun…

But…that wasn’t what made the day so beautiful…

Today…we got a little taste of heaven. At one point in the afternoon, the volleyball court (yes…our contraption of PVC pipes actually worked to hold the net up) was FULL of people who represented all walks of life. Spring breakers, high schoolers, families, Ocean Viewers…a beautiful assortment of Volleyballpeople who would otherwise have NOTHING in common, all enjoying each other around a silly game of volleyball. And while the games were happening, all around the court were sacred conversations. Conversations about the important things of this life and the next.  It always amazes us (it probably shouldn’t) how hungry people are to talk and to be heard. And how open all of them are to hearing about and considering the idea that there is a Father who loves them. These conversations break across racial, economic and experiential lines.

We also saw some relationships continue from past conversations. Students that our team met during the previousConversations night, came to find the van and continue the conversation. Individuals we talked with on previous days, just happened to stop by for more conversation. Pray with us that those friends (and others we have talked to) will not be able to resist the lure of hearing more…and that they will find their way back to our group.

Remember also a precious 10 year old girl who has seen some incredible tragedy in her young life, but yesterday, was introduced to the ABBA Father, who will never leave her. She entered His family yesterday! Please pray with us for this beautiful new sister.

PrayerThe night ended with amazing worship with our friends at Ocean View. There is something about that experience which can’t be captured by words, pictures or even video. It’s VERY special. And we celebrated Dietrich’s birthday with cake and singing!

Today will be another day on the beach followed by an evening cookout at good friends! Keep praying! God is working!