I am full of joy

Thank you for your prayers and partnership. The Lord is answering and I wanted to give Him glory and ask for your continued intercession! Last month we asked you to pray for me as I felt led to host a Kensington share and prayer group for women in leadership. I prayerfully took the step to invite ladies the Lord laid on my heart. I was overwhelmed with the emotional response from the women. I heard from each one how they have been asking the Lord for this exact opportunity! I am full of joy that I didn’t let the voice that said I was inadequate, unqualified and exhausted discourage me to the point of not stepping out in obedience.

Jim was trying to remember a young woman who is here serving by herself in ministry. He really felt she should be a part of this group. All he could give me was “young woman” in “some ministry”. That was a challenge! You can imagine my surprise when a mutual friend of this young woman came to the Saturday Outreach and said, “This is Kim, she serves here by herself and I felt led to bring her here today!” I texted Jim and he confirmed that yes that was the young woman! I invited her and she had tears in her eyes and said “I’d love to come, you have no idea how much I need that!”

WOW! Please pray as we gather and lift up our hearts that The Lord fills each one of these beautiful women with exactly what they need. We meet every Monday afternoon. Jim has a “small group” of his own that show up Sunday afternoon. Three or so college students come from Cairn University (where Abby is dual enrolling this year) to come minister on the avenue. Jim supplies them with the ministry resources they may need, a word of encouragement and sends them on their way! When they return he “debriefs” with them on how it went. It has been a blessing to watch these young men come and be filled as they pray for others. It is also not easy so keep them in your prayers as they are taking on new and challenging ministry.

This week we are hosting Mission Year for a dinner to share our “story” and feed 7 hungry college students! One of the team members came last year on a college break trip and decided she wanted to serve in Kensington for a year. She reached out to Jim to ask us to share with her team because our story was powerful. I must humbly admit it is! When we start sharing how many times we have seen and experienced the faithfulness of the Lord it sounds unbelievable to even us!! Pray for this honored opportunity!

Finally, we praise God our supporters feel led to put a new floor down in the ministry center!! We have had estimates drawn up and are waiting to pass the figures along when we receive them. Please pray we make the best choice for flooring materials, that the company we are working with does a great job and that we will have the volunteers to help prep and put everything back where it goes! It will require a lot of lifting and moving but well worth it in the end!

Thank you for your prayers!! We value your partnership and are so thankful!!

Faith Prayer

“…Where are we to buy bread, so that these people (5,000!!) may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.” John 6:5-6
Jesus questions Philip to alert him to an impossible situation that in and of himself would have absolutely no solution! I am taught by this testing to see the present situations in our ministry in the same light. We have needs that must be met and with human reasoning alone to come up with an answer seems impossible! Just to name a few…the complete restoration of the ministry center to the tune of 250,000 or so dollars, a growing heroin epidemic that seems like it’s taking over the city and leading young adults off as slaves to their addiction, and the daily running of operations here that require spiritual, physical, and financial resources to sustain.

What Jesus reminds me of daily is that his ways are higher than mine and he is without limitations. I cannot reason my way to the miraculous supernatural answers he will and has provided. He can simply multiply fish and loaves, why didn’t I think of that? He misses the boat while his disciples crossed over to the other side and walks on water to get there. You can do that? Never in a million years would I have come up with that! The storehouses of heaven are full of God’s unique unfathomable answers to our prayers waiting to be released by asking.

I share that with you to build up your faith to intercede over Cast Your Cares in belief God can do anything! I confess my doubt even while living in yesterdays answered prayers! Jesus provided the resources for Abby and I to go to Rwanda and what a faith building trip it was. The forgiveness I witnessed in the aftermath of 800,000 people killed by neighbors and friends in the 1994 genocide was supernatural, and again something I would not have thought possible. They are united as Rwandans and no longer delineate by tribes. “Everything is possible for one who believes” Mark 9:23

Would you please intercede for the resources needed to finish the building so Jim can continue to run the food cupboard, welcome guests to eat on Saturdays even in inclement weather, support the pancake breakfasts on Mondays, and the expansion of ministry opportunities we envision with a finished building? Pray for Jim as he disciples Vinny and Tyson. Please also pray for me as I host a share and prayer group for women in leadership in Kensington at our home Monday nights. I am honored to host these warriors in the kingdom that have come from all over the country to live here and bring Gods kingdom come His will be done on Kensington as it is in heaven!

We also ask for prayer covering over our safety, health, marriage, family and growth towards maturity in Christ. We pray for and appreciate each one of you! Your gifts and prayers sustain us and make all we do possible. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory!” Eph 3:20

Great is thy faithfulness!

We made it through another winter!! This winter was mild but to this Florida girl that’s all relative. With spring’s arrival brought an exuberant group of college kids to do ministry in the neighborhood. The fact that they chose to spend their spring break here set my feet to dancing! The leader of the team was one of our former interns from our first summer here. Veronica is now married with three beautiful children and a professor! It’s hard to believe 16 years have passed since our arrival and so much life lived in between. We are blessed that another of our former interns is in our small group! You just never know how the seeds planted and watered will mature.

Veronica back in the day!

Veronica back in the day!

With the visiting groups we are asked to share lessons we have learned along the way. I enjoy retelling how incredible Jesus has been at caring for us. He has met every one of our needs and many of our heart’s desires. We have seen Him provide miraculously in times of great need.

Just to share a few; we have a dentist who cares for our teeth at no cost! I’m glad he didn’t know I was a clincher and would need four crowns and four root canals in a year! He did Zachary’s braces, but said Abigail’s were too complicated. That stuck fear in my mama heart! However, a beautiful orthodontist who attends our church did them for 10% of her usual fee! Surprised? This is our reality!! He also provided a pediatrician that has become like part of our family. He is so kind and when we couldn’t afford the prescriptions, he would fill them for us.

I could go on and on! Ok, I will! Each of you is part of our story of God’s faithfulness. The challenge is to not give doubt and unbelief a chance to creep in and whisper what if that’s it? God may be out of resources to pour into you! Jim was quoting Psalm 50:10, “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.”  How’s that going to help, you ask? Never doubt the scriptures, on the following Sunday one of the dairy farmers at our church said that he sold a cow and the Lord told him to give us the money. Sounds like I’m making this stuff up, right?

The grand finale is that we look at each other and marvel that people ring our doorbell every day in need of something because they know we are a resource. In this kingdom we dwell in there is always multiplication happening, not subtraction! I have nothing, Jesus gives to me, I give away, and then I receive twice as much as I gave away….It has been proven time and again in our experience.

The glory all goes to The Lord. He has done this great and marvelous act. We love to impart that faith into the next generation. The Lord encourages us to remember what He’s done and to rest in His capable hands. I know I’m preaching to the choir because you are all givers who know how the kingdom works. Thank you for your generosity, may you be mightily blessed!!

Pray for us

While we love living here and doing what we do for our neighbors there is a never ending longing to do more. It can be overwhelming at times to see the scriptures lived out daily before our eyes and not do more! We tell ourselves we are only a small ministry… but then I read the story of the rich man and Lazarus and I am quickened to find a way to do more, say more, beseech the body of Christ to help us more!

At my literal gate there lives a man named, Leon. In the freezing cold, or scorching heat he lives on the street from time to time outside of our gate. On one particular freezing February morning I was leaving after just having read the passage about how the rich man dressed in fine linen and lived in luxury everyday found this beggar living at his gate day after day. He longed for the rich man to feed him scraps off his table that fell to the floor. He never did. When Lazarus died he went to live in paradise, while the rich man went to Hades, where he was in agony.

Try going about your day returning home to a warm house, full of food, and getting into a soft bed with Leon freezing outside! While we’ve given him warm blankets, food and whatever he asks us for there is an urgency to do more, be more, care more. Pray for us to know what and how to do what The Lord calls us here to do. Part of that calling is to be the voice of warning to the indifferent church. The body of Christ must not be the “Indifferent Church” and determine to be more “Real Religion Church”.

Indifferent church is neither hot nor cold. Complacent we have heard the words of Jesus but go about living in luxury blind to Lazarus who is truly there to give warning of how eternity may be lived. Abraham called the rich man “son” and told him, “Lazarus received bad things, but now is comforted here and you are in agony.” The rich man begged to have Lazarus sent to his family to warn them so they would not end up in the place of torment. Abraham told him they have had many people warn them, just as we have by having had read these scriptures and seen Kensington.

Pray for us to impart and believe this message with fervency. If this life and all the “bad things” our neighbors endure end, but the rich and religious of the indifferent church spend eternity in Hades separated by a great chasm, they must be urged to do more now!

Prayer Walk

In “Real Religion Church” we should heed the lesson Jesus taught the listeners gathered in the book of Luke 16:19-31.In James 1:27 he explains, “Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”(The Message). We need your prayers to have wisdom and discernment of how to do what we are instructed to do.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

December 2014Christmas Service

“God rest ye merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay! REMEMBER, CHRIST OUR SAVIOR was born on Christmas day!..O tidings of comfort and joy”

During the chaos of the holidays we may choose to accept the invitation to enter into His rest. The power of dismay could steal the joy of the Lord that is our strength! The strength we need to believe His promises, the strength to remember Him every moment of every trial, the strength to trust in the eternal glory that awaits us at the end of our pilgrimage! For our hearts that are heavy with suffering and loss, there is comfort in His presence.

We are mindful of several of you that have walked through “the valley of the shadow of death” this past year, and others as you read this are suffering physically, emotionally or spiritually.  We have prayed many prayers for you and share in your grief as we have walked through our own.

Take comfort and joy in our Savior’s gift to us, “What was intended to tear you apart—God intends to set you apart. What has torn you-God makes thin places to see glory. The places where you’re torn to pieces can be thin places where you touch ‘the peace of God.’ No matter what intends to harm you…God is never absent, never impotent, never distant. You can never be undone. No matter what intends to harm you? God’s arms have you.” Ann Voskamp

It’s in His kingdom that our hearts will testify we’re home! The death and suffering we face here is meant to remind us that this world is broken and temporal. His gift to us in coming was to show us the way. He shows us the way to walk through this life daily breathing Him in and exhaling a provision to others suffocating in darkness.

“Now to the Lord sing praises, All you within this place, And with true love and brotherhood each now other embrace; This holy tide of Christmas all other doth deface. O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.”

Our prayer is that you do feel our “true love and brotherhood” as we journey this life together. We would love to embrace each of you! Our hearts are full of appreciation for your faithfulness in giving as God’s arms have you. Even in your trials and need you continue to provide for the ministry so that God’s Kingdom may reach down and show the way home to our neighbors. We are filled with comfort and joy in all the good gifts God faithfully gives in believing.

Thank you for your care, prayer and gifts to Cast Your Cares throughout the year. We love being the hands that extend His love. Your generous hearts enable His tidings of comfort and joy to reach a hard and hurting place. The smiles of appreciation we get to experience daily are a gift we wish we could share. You are making a difference here in the lives we touch. We wish you a Merry Christmas filled with His presence and love!

2014 Battle Against Hunger … THANK YOU !!!

October 2014BAH

We are filled with grateful hearts and good tidings! The challenge battling hunger never ends but our 2014 Battle Against Hunger bike ride is safely behind us. Once again Stephanie Newton rode with us 50 miles or better each day and raised over $1,500 dollars! If you enjoy cycling or know someone that may be interested in joining us next year please get in touch. I don’t particularly enjoy cycling but I do love seeing a family pick up a full bag of groceries! The total funds Cast Your Cares raised are just over $13,000 and funds are still coming in! That will feed 35 of our 160 families for the whole year. Obviously, we have a way to go but it’s a great start.  You can see the current totals by going to battleagainsthunger.org and then click on “Sponsor A Rider”.

We currently have 40 families each Tuesday and Wednesday that come every other week. We also have a waiting list that we try to fit into the schedule as resources allow. The food bags consist of; canned meat, fruit, corn, green vegetable,  beans, soup, canned pasta, dry pasta, tomato sauce, macaroni and cheese, cereal and various miscellaneous items.

To fill the bags we give away, we purchase food from Philabundance, our local food bank. However, they have been lacking several of the items due to availability; especially the canned meat, tomato sauce and cereal. When we have to pick those items up at the local grocery store they cost considerably more. We love the fall food drives!! If your office, Boy Scout group, church or family is interested in collecting the items mentioned we would put them to immediate good use!

We are so pleased that our Saturday outreach meals have continued each and every week. With the incredible support of dozens of volunteers over 300 meals are prepared and served to our hungry neighbors! Our neighbors know that they will be blessed coming to receive a hot meal, a listening ear, and a prayer of hope on their way out. Thank you for your involvement so that this generous act of hospitality comes together each week. Many of you don’t physically come down to serve but prepare food, shop for paper goods, pick up donated baked goods, etc. We value your contribution and appreciate you!!

We are thankful for the progress the Saturday morning construction team is making. We love the camaraderie this group has working together to get the job done. Rory Huff adds his construction expertise to teach and facilitate the team. Project by project the walls are being rebuilt!  Our building will one day, Lord willing, be a facility to host groups that would like to volunteer for a short term mission project, host the Saturday outreach indoors during the cooler winter months, and be Code Blue facility once the bunk rooms, and ground floor are completed. Code Blue refers to the temperature dropping to a life threatening low during winter months. We would be able to be a shelter during those extremes.

We are also rejoicing that through the rainy days of summer our new roof kept us completely dry. What a comforting peace to not panic at the weather forecast.  We have many of you to thank for taking our needs to heart and enabling us to get that done! With the roof keeping us dry we have been busy repairing room by room the decades of water damage done to our 100 year old house.

We are encouraged by your outpouring to spur us on to care for our marginalized neighbors. Would you prayerfully consider ways to increase your involvement? Perhaps you can become a monthly financial and/or prayer partner? Whatever you can do is greatly appreciated!

Build Your Kingdom Here!

June 2014Construction with Daniel

This is the cry of our hearts and we know by your faithful partnering yours too! We, like Paul to the people dear to his heart, “..Thank God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”(Phil. 1:3-5). You are remembered every prayer we pray for all God is doing here on Kensington Avenue as it is in Heaven. We are constantly aware that without the generous gifts you give and volunteer support provided we could do nothing! We are truly grateful for all that is given and done with agreement.

We are so incredibly thankful for all the repairs that have been done to our home after the roof was secured a couple of months ago. Our bedroom has been completely redone and I am enjoying a mold free beautifully decorated sanctuary! I even got a new closet in the bargain. The next project was Aaron’s room. He graduated high school this June and has outgrown his childhood bunk bed. The water damage done to his bedroom was minimal but none the less motivated us to renovate and redecorate to bless the graduate! He’s thrilled with the results but not so much by us calling it the “guest room”. He’s welcome to stay as long as he likes but must forfeit his room to visitors, any takers??

Our next project is under way and overwhelming!! The front room was hard hit by serious water damage. There was severe water damage that resulted from the leaking roof and plumbing from the upstairs bathroom. The ceiling had collapsed, the flooring was stained, and my favorite was the exposed plumbing to the upstairs bathroom and the familiar smell of mold lingering in the air. All that to say a necessity yes, easy no! We are nearing the end of this room before we tackle the living room and kitchen.

The projects have been going incredibly well and provided for generously.  In fact, it is leaving Jim puzzled with regards to God’s will next door. Understandably, it is a huge project with a large budget to complete but we have seen God provide and do not doubt he can, does he will it is the question. Jim is asking for prayers of agreement with regards to this project. What do we all agree on??  It will cost nearly 200,000 dollars to complete the commercial kitchen. This would make us legal to serve meals, allow folks to come into the building, and host short term teams down the road. Do we need to do this? Should we press into this vision or seek the Lord on an alternate direction?

We value your prayer covering and need you to respond with how you believe the Lord is guiding the building project next door. Jim is weary not being legal in regards to how we currently operate. We can’t imagine not having the outreaches every Saturday or not allowing folks to come in the building when it’s snowing or sit at the picnic tables to eat and fellowship. But not our will but His be done. Please join us in prayer seeking the will of the Father for this project. We know Jesus desires to build his kingdom here. Thank you for considering us in prayer and for all you do!

We are celebrating all the Lord had done!

March 2014:

March certainly came in like a lion; we had one of the harshest winters of our 15 years here! Our hearts were heavy each time the weight of the winter snow would land on our compromised leaky roof. We experienced new leaks in rooms the summer rains had not come through. Even though the Lord had provided through your generous hands the resources to fix the roof we still had the challenge of dry weather to get the job done.

In a series of God led events the Lord gave Jim a peace to use a Christian construction company in Lancaster. This was the only company that agreed with Jim that the old roof needed to be taken off completely. Jim feared the wood was damaged underneath and didn’t want to just cover over potential future problems. As Rory, Jim, Frank, and Bob were on the roof pulling up layers of disintegrating roof paper the wood was in fact rotten. Rory actually stepped through in a few places as the wood crumbled! Thankfully, no one was hurt and Rory was able to replace all of the rotten beams.

What joy filled our hearts when the new rubber roof was installed and all of the challenges of the old roof were resolved. During the next rain, Jim stood and watched the water roll off the new roof and rejoiced that it was doing its job perfectly.

With the new roof in place we took to the most damaged room, our bedroom. The process of pulling down water logged plaster and rotten wood was messy! We discovered the mold issue that appeared over the summer was not from the leaky roof but from the bathroom vent that had become disconnected and was blowing the humid air up the wall into our room. That was a much simpler fix than we had expected. Rory also installed a new closet system, put everything beautifully back together and Jim did an excellent painting job. We had paint, linens, and a rug donated that made the room really come together. We both love the results. When I open my eyes in the morning my soul sings, “Great is thy faithfulness…all I hath needed thy hand has provided, great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me!”

The next challenge we face is repairing the damage done downstairs. One of our supporters that helped to fund the bedroom restoration asked me, “Jen, how long are you going to live here?” I answered, “Forever, I guess…” to which she responded, “Then we need to make the repairs as soon as possible!”  We struggle with putting resources into our personal home. We look at all the patchwork holding the ceiling together and know this is a need but it is still challenging to “take away” from ministry funds. Please pray for the next phase of the renovations, for peace in the decision process, for the resources in the form of finances or donated materials, and for us to endure the process with our marriage and ministry intact!

2014 new roof

New Roof

We are celebrating all the Lord had done, all the ministry that has continued in the midst of a fierce winter, the next phase of construction next door and to our home! Great is thy faithfulness!! Thank you for being the hands he uses to provide for all of this. We are so thankful.

“Danny is in the fight of his life.”

November 2013

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Danny has always lived in Kensington and his hard life of alcohol abuse is taking its’ toll. When I pulled my van out early Wednesday morning Danny was retching by the el pole. The hand he used to balance himself against the pole had a hospital band on his wrist. He had been released a couple of days before after a visit due to a near overdose.

It will not take much for Danny to overdose. He has done so much physical damage to his body, his system is shutting down. He has had to stop drinking because his body can no longer process alcohol.

Unfortunately, he is using heroin to maintain a drug induced state of being. When he wakes up in the morning he needs to use heroin to not be physically sick. In some ways I “hope” he gets enough to allow his body to be at peace, but I know that is not an answer to what he really needs. What the enemy promises as a solution is slowly robbing Danny of life. The reality is Danny will not be on this earth much longer. Even if today he never does another drug he is an end stage addict. He has a pace maker in his heart, his kidneys are shutting down, his liver is severely damaged. You can see visible swelling when he sits on the sidewalk.

As hopeless as this all sounds there is a perfectly alive soul in Danny that may or may not spend eternity in heaven in a new restored body. He has heard the gospel many times, some of you have sat and shared with him. When he is sober he is kind, intelligent, articulate, and eager to hear the “good news”. The addiction grips his body, he chooses to follow his flesh nearing its’ end. I know the Lord would exchange Danny’s filthy garments for a clean robe of righteousness at any point.  My prayer is that he would make that decision and soon.

His physical state of being has opened my eyes to the desperate situation many of our neighbors are in; balancing on the edge of this world and eternal life. We believe we need even more prayer to see the lives that are gripped by the enemy released. Our neighbors hate the drugs they use, hate themselves for using, hate what they have to do to buy their drugs but they live in a state of hopelessness unaware of the freedom in Christ they can experience. Our prayers may open these prison doors. It is definitely a spiritual battle; Danny is in the fight of his life.

Living here every day I am made aware of how temporary this life is. I see the evidence in the eyes of those slowly killing themselves by the lifestyle they “live”. A new life in Christ is an incredible gift for us all. I am so thankful for His grace and mercy. He makes himself available to all who call upon his name. Oh may Danny’s voice be singing in that heavenly choir…Holy, Holy, Holy…Please keep him in your prayers. We pray a miracle both physically and spiritually!

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts”

The good news is The Battle Against Hunger bike ride and fundraiser did incredibly well. We raised over 14,000 dollars to supply the food cupboard. We are rejoicing at this abundant provision! Having another rider, Stephanie Newton, join our team gave us the opportunity to share Cast Your Cares with many new people. She was able to raise over 1,000 dollars! We are extremely thankful for all of your gifts and support.

We appreciate your prayers and phone calls regarding last month’s letter conveying our roofing issues. Jim has been diligently gathering estimates for the roof, mold removal, new insulation, HVAC work, and the cost of putting everything back together. He also received a phone call regarding having the supplies for a “rubber roof” donated. A rubber roof is the highest quality roofing material, but much more labor intensive. The cost will increase from his ten to twelve thousand dollar estimates even though the supplies are donated. It would require ripping off the 100 year old layered roof to install the new one. Please keep praying Jim will feel peace moving forward in this decision. He has had many occasions to share with all the men coming to give estimates our journey from Florida to Philly. One man said “That is just supernatural.” and Jim agreed. Pray hearts will be changed, touched and moved with compassion.

We are also facing an inspection on the ministry center building next door this month. We have a permit for construction that needs to be renewed so these periodic inspections are necessary. I am studying the book of Zechariah now and I am taken with the idea of just how important and difficult the rebuilding of God’s temple was. I am comforted that He knows the difficulty of gathering His people together for the common purpose of providing a place of worship and fellowship in a land surrounded by evil. I wouldn’t call our building a “temple” but it will diffidently be a house of the Lord. When people enter they will know it was built, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” Zech 4:6. Our prayer is all who enter sense His love through the volunteers, be fed spiritually, physically; know how important they are to the heart of Jesus, and that Christ’s church loves one another.
We have big dreams! We are excited to see just how the Spirit will repair our house and finish the building. We surrender our will and have no might or power to do all of this ourselves. We ask for continued prayers of protection for our family. Please cover our health and safety, both spiritually and physically. We believe if this is to be done by His Spirit we must keep in prayer to heed His instruction and direction. Thank you for your care in all of these needs and for covering us. We recognize our need to be covered in prayer and would appreciate an increase in these days of decision. We will keep you informed as we move forward.