Blankets? I’ve Got This!

IMG_5308

Lori displays some of the blankets headed for South Africa

One of the joys of serving the Lord is that ‘momentwhen you realize, once again, the Lord is walking ahead of you. To put it in modern vernacular, you hear Him say, “I’ve got this.” Let me share one such moment.

Lori and Rich, my daughter and son-in-law, are leading a NHIM mission team to South Africa. They lived in Johannesburg for over three years. During that time, they worked with a vibrant New Testament Church which is committed to serving people in the name of Christ, especially the poorest of the poor. The church will be assisting and working beside the NHIM team as they engage in ministry there. Preparations for the team have included much prayer, team meetings, arrangements for transportation, ground cost, etc.  They knew that the expenses of the trip would be sizable, but believed the spiritual rewards of this ministry would be more than worth the investment.

As preparations were proceeding, my daughter came to me and asked if NHIM might have enough funds available to help buy some blankets for the smaller children who live in Kya Sands Squatter’s Camp. Lori had worked with the children while living there. A part of the NHIM’s team itinerary will be working in this demoralized slum while in Johannesburg. I promised her that we would make every effort to raise the money for the blankets.

The next day, I bumped into an old friend, Tommy Baker, in our local Wal-Mart. Across the years, Tommy and NHIM have worked together on several projects.  During the conversation, Tommy asked if I ever needed blankets in our ministry. I responded with an enthusiastic – YES! Through his contact with the Wal-Mart manager, he had just purchased some fleece coverlets at a remarkably low price. I asked Tommy, “How many blankets do you have?” He told me seven hundred.

Lori, Rich and the NHIM team now have all of the blankets they need. I am almost sure I heard the Lord say, “Relax, Brother Roy. I’ve got this!”

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

~ Brother Roy

Advertisements

Abiding Hope Food Pantry

 

Abiding Hope Pantry

The Abiding Hope Food Pantry has been an important part of our ministry in Eastern Kentucky since the beginning of our partnership there. Eugene Spencer, the pastor of Bear Pen Community Worship Center, oversees this vital ministry. Lewis Roberts manages the day-to-day activities of the pantry and, with other volunteers, provides invaluable service managing the acquisition and distribution of food to needy families. The pantry is located at Bear Pen and currently serves approximately 350 families a month.

ahfp 1The pantry started as an outreach to the community when David Spencer, now director of the church planting ministry, was pastor at the Bear Pen Church. On Sundays after service, the pews in the small church were moved to the platform so the floor of the sanctuary could be used to stack the food. The food was sorted and boxed for distribution by volunteers from the congregation.

ahfp 2

Later, a rough shed was constructed on the property.

ah1

ah2

As time passed and funding became available, a concrete floor was added and other improvements were made.

ah5

The building was finally brought to its current condition and shelving was added.

truckThere are other improvements that should be made, and the pantry also needs ongoing financial support. Fuel and upkeep on the box truck as it makes the roundtrip journeys from Bear Pen to God’s Pantry in Lexington necessitate a regular flow of money. Utilities costs for the building also provide a recurring challenge. If you would like to help support this outreach in the name of Jesus, you can make your checks payable to NHIM and mark in the memo line – ‘Abiding Hope Food Pantry’.

Jesus said, For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” (Matthew 25:35)

New Hope News

cropped-nhim-logo-bigger.jpgIt has been a while since we have provided an update here on the website on New Hope’s many ministry activities.  Here are a few ways that the Lord is blessing New Hope in these days.

Over Asbury University’s Spring Break, a team of four students traveled through NHIM to Jamaica where they led devotions for preschoolers and built a home for a family in need.

During last month’s NHIM Board meeting, members voted to increase the expense account funds for David Spencer, our Director of Church Planting. David is driving 204 miles round-trip twice a week from his home at Bear Pen in Wolfe County to work with one of our church plants, Green Hill Community Church, in Harlan County. Green Hill is growing in numbers and spiritual knowledge under David’s leadership. Attendance on Easter Sunday was 70. From ground zero, when the church first opened, to 70 on Easter is a testimony to God’s love for those folks and David’s hard work. Within a few days of approving the increase for David, an unexpected check for $2,500 came in that will help cover the increase. Praise the Lord!

truckSeveral months ago the Abiding Hope Food Pantry truck ‘went home to be with Jesus’. The truck was old and tired and threw a rod through the block. Since then it has been a real struggle to get the food from God’s Pantry in Lexington to the food pantry at Bear Pen. Many of you have been praying with us about another truck. In the Lord’s timing, David and his son Eugene located a truck. The price was reasonable, and all we needed was the money. I called the gentleman who had sent us the money we were going to use to help increase David’s expenses account.  I asked him if it was all right to split the money and use half for David and the other half for down payment on the truck.  After a pause, he said to use the full amount he sent to help David. Then he said, “I’ll send you the money for buying the truck shortly.” That was another “Praise the Lord!” moment. As I was sharing this great news with the fellows I drink coffee with, one of the men asked if the truck was road worthy. I told him it was as far as I knew, except the front tires were badly worn. He pulled out his billfold and handed me a $100 bill to help with new tires.

Green Mountain

Green Hill Community Church

Pray for our upcoming Tent Revival in Harlan County. David will be holding an old fashioned tent revival later this spring a few miles from the Green Hill Community Church. The tent and folding chairs have been moved on-site. We are trusting that the Tent Revival will bring souls into the Kingdom and make people aware of the Green Hill Church. Prayer and fasting is helping prepare the way. Join us as we petition the Lord for revival.

I recently joined David in a meeting with a man who has been attending Green Hill Church for about a year. He has been a pastor and has preached extensively in the Harlan County area. This man has expressed interest in working with us in ministry and possibly becoming one of our pastors. Pray for wisdom as we explore partnerships such as these in our efforts to reach Eastern Kentucky with the Gospel.

kya

Kya Sands

My daughter Lori and my son-in-law Rich are leading a NHIM mission team to South Africa in May. As they were making preparations, Lori asked me if NHIM might be able to help buy some blankets for the small children in Kya Sands, a Squatter’s Camp (a terrible slum) at the edge of Johannesburg. Lori ministered there during the time she lived in Johannesburg. The next day, I ran into Tommy Baker, a dear Christian brother who had worked with NHIM on some previous projects. During our rambling conversation, he asked me if I could ever use some small blankets. I responded with a resounding – YES!  When I inquired about how many he had, he said, “700”. He had secured them from an overstock at Wal-Mart for one dollar apiece.  Can you believe it? The team has all the blankets the need and more.  Again, I want to humbly bow my head and say “Praise the Lord!”

~ Brother Roy

What’s Wrong with Eastern Kentucky?

hazardI was recently asked to speak to a civic organization about NHIM’s work in Eastern Kentucky. I shared a number of newspaper articles and various reports concerning the plight of people in Appalachia. During a Q & A period at the end, I was asked point blank, “What do you think is wrong with Eastern Kentucky”?

Let me share some of the observations with you that I shared then. First, I related to the gathering my recollections of growing up in the hills more than five decades ago. I had been largely absent from the area since graduation from high school. Except for an occasional visit or vacation weekend, I had spent little time there. A few years ago, I started working on a regular basis in Eastern Kentucky, I soon discovered, to my dismay, that it was a far different place than my boyhood memories. I have struggled to determine what had changed. My conclusions are as follows:

  • Small churches in many communities were gone, which contributes to a lack of moral fabric and opportunities for healthy social interaction.
  • Although there appears to be a number of churches in some areas, they are often totally independent. There is no accountability or oversight as to religious doctrine or financial matters. Heresies and confusion abound.
  • High unemployment, lack of job opportunities, and chronic poverty dominate most areas.
  • There is a low priority on education and marketable job skill training.
  • Welfare and reliance on other government programs have created a mentality of dependence and a sense of entitlement.
  • Poor diet, obesity, and lack of accessible medical care exacerbate the situation.
  • Drugs are rampant and violent crimes are a major problem. An abundance of ‘Pain Clinics’ greatly contributes to the crisis.
  • Breakdown of the basic family unit is leading to large numbers of neglected and abused children.
  • Human trafficking is on the rise. Recently a social worker in Eastern Kentucky informed me me of the heartbreaking and rapidly growing problem of human trafficking. Young girls (children) being sold by addict mothers for drugs is common.
  • Hopelessness and a fatalistic world view permeates the region.

Take a look at some of these heartbreaking statistical maps:

ky_poverty_rates_hca

county economic levels

Economic Levels of Appalachian Counties (source: Appalachian Regional Commission)

KyOverdoses2012

change in life expectancy at birth

Change in life expectancy between 1980 and 2014 (source: Business Insider)

In the face of these overwhelming obstacles, most programs that are meant to help only seek to change the external environment. They are based on a belief that people change from the outside in – change the environment, change the man. This failed philosophy is repeated over and over again as things continue to deteriorate in the mountains.

NHIM takes a completely different approach. We believe that the only way to truly change a person is for change to take place from the inside out. There needs to be a ‘new birth’ of moral conviction, principled life styles, and a strong work ethic in individual hearts. We rest solidly on the premise that when people become new creatures in Christ old things pass away and things become new.

Our church plants are positioned in communities where little, if any, Biblical teaching takes place. They are centers for moral instruction, healthy social interactions, and community-building. As individuals make internal changes, they link with others in the church who have also changed. They then form the building blocks for a better community and a better way of life through Christ who strengthens them.

~ Brother Roy

NHIM Pastors Retreat Cruise

img_0387Over the past week, 26 friends and co-laborers participated in a pastors retreat cruise sponsored by New Hope International Ministries.  The goal of the cruise was to provide a time to get away and refresh for several pastors with whom New Hope works in Eastern Kentucky.  The theme of the week was “Come Apart Before You Come Apart” with the theme verse of Mark 6:33Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (NLT). 

The ship sailed out of Mobile, Alabama, and included two full days at sea and a day each in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.

A major purpose of the retreat was to provide time away from the pressures of daily life and ministry. We spent much of our time enjoying fellowship with each other, sharing victories and difficulties, and eating dinner together as a family.

The retreat provided important opportunities for our group to get to know each other personally. Hectic schedules, work and ministry obligations, and family responsibilities leave little time to visit and learn about each other when we are at home, but the fellowship in sessions and around the dinner table provided opportunity for encouragement and enjoyment of each other.

While we were together as a group for many activities, we also wanted ministry couples to have some private time together – catching a nice lunch together in the dining room, watching the waves in the moonlight, or a late night coffee and dessert date provided an important time of refreshing and renewal.

In our scheduled sessions, Brother Roy preached a message on how Hezekiah took his challenges before the Lord, Pastor David Spencer shared about his vision for church planting and evangelism in Eastern Kentucky, NHIM Board Chairman Matt Kinnell spoke about how God’s plans for our lives – both physical and spiritual – are always better than we could have imagined, the laypeople traveling with us provided input on what they expect from a pastor, and we ended with a celebration of ‘The Lord’s Supper’ as a family.

Here are some photos from our week together:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sad News from Kya Sands

10944376_1569695026604278_921775643271970204_nIt has been a hard Tuesday morning. I am feeling sad, frustrated and just plain mad! For the past year I have been volunteering in a preschool ministry of our church at Kya Sands (a squatter’s camp/informal settlement) here in South Africa. We have met under a tree, beside an illegal garbage dump where children have to cross about a 4-foot-wide open sewage ditch to come to us. Not ideal conditions, but we had our space for our “school under the tree”.

This morning when we arrived after a 6-week break for Christmas and summer holiday, we were horrified and heartbroken to see that our place, our school under the tree, had been covered – actually buried with enormous mounds or rubbish. While we never had safe or ideal conditions, today it is a huge health hazard (burning rubbish and dead rats everywhere), and there is absolutely no way to meet or work with kids there.


10941004_1569695079937606_3139088662771421787_n 
10392395_1569695113270936_966004402413557777_n

 

10941852_1569695046604276_4672767030204442239_n

Our church is working to secure land where a proper preschool can be built; however, that has been in process for a couple of years (nothing gets done quickly here!), and even when approved, it will take time before we can meet there.

I am trying hard to rest in this verse, Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you says The Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Hard to realize at this moment, but I know HE has plans for Kya Sands far beyond what I could ever imagine.

~ Lori Lauter Wright
NHIM Board Member