Happy Easter from Daytona!
We had a great final day in Daytona…starting with an amazing breakfast with two AMAZING alums Dale and Barbara Murphy. While the food was great….getting to know these to wonderful alums was the best thing about the morning. Here are some pictures from breakfast at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill:
After breakfast, we spent time relaxing on the beach thanks to some special friends we met last year who have become great supporters of our team! After a great dinner we came back to the hotel for some debriefing and our annual Daytona Talent Show – (no pictures of that auspicious event).
Tomorrow will start with a sunrise service – followed by an Easter service. Then after packing up – we will load up the vans and begin the long journey home. Pray for safety on the trip, for more good time processing and for the many friends we will be leaving behind.
Thanks for your continued prayers….thought it might be fun to upload a couple of quick worship videos to give you a bit of the flavor of worshiping in Daytona.
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.
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.
Keep 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!
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.