Sometimes you wake up and think, “what did I even accomplish?”.
Today, I am thinking, “How did all of that get accomplished?”
I have had the honor to pastor at the Atlanta Dream Center Churchfor the last year. I know I am not really great at sharing all the wonderful things that happen on a weekly basis at the Dream Center,but today I want to give you a little glimpse of this last weekend.
The last Friday of each month, the team and I decided to take the entire day to come into the office and prayer and fast (You should join us next time!). As soon as we started, two wonderful people, who we really call friends and mean it, came into our church. In the pictures you’ll see a man in a mask and a hat next to a woman in a purple shirt sitting on a bus. That man and I have met before and talked about our history in the Old Fourth Ward area more than once, but more importantly, we have a mutual friend, Nick McLean.
Nick had helped this man get into a program a while back. The man remembered this and he came to the church hoping to get back into that program. He said, “I knew, if I can get to the Atlanta Dream Center, I can get help”. While the man and I were swapping stories about all the local drug dealers we know and how we know them, Josh Ellig reached out to Nick to see if he remembered this man in need. And sure enough, Nick, who is quite possibly the best in the biz, knew him by name (Oh, by the way, it was 7am in Texas when Josh reached out to Nick. He really is a saint). With the wisdom of Nick and a couple of phone calls, our friend had a bus ticket in hand and was ready to head into a Christ centered program to get off the streets.
But it was the next moment that took us all by surprise. In the photos, you’ll see a woman sitting between Josh and I. Her name is Elaine. I met Elaine in the second row of a church service. She had come to church because of a mutual friend living on the street. He thought she could use some help. And he was right. She came into church and was coming down from smoking crack cocaine.
That was in February of this year.
Since then Elaine has become a part of our church. She would come in and drink coffee, call her mother on the church phone, help clean, and, usually the case, use the church property as a safe place to sleep off her high.
As our time with her progressed we saw her life get more and more disastrous and dangerous. We had found her in neighborhoods we serve every Saturday on Adopt-A-Block asking us to help her escape random men’s homes and even found her half dressed unable to wake her up. To be completely honest, we didn’t have a lot of confidence she would ever change her life.
Well, that all changed on Friday. Only an hour after we got the other man a bus ticket, Elaine walked into the church. We told her she could get off the street that day if she wanted too, and guess what? She did. She handed Josh her weapon (A sign that she was serious. If a woman gives up her weapon on the street, it means she doesn’t plan on having to protect herself any more), and we got her a ticket. Today, I write this with a heart that can sing and dance with joy. Elaine is in a Christ centered program changing the course of her life forever.
But that was just Friday. Saturday Josh led the team for Adopt-A-Block but this time we partnered with a company that took our block party to a new level. Thanks to our friends at LightSpeed Automationwe were able to rent an ice cream truck that provided free ice cream to everyone, two inflatable bounce houses for the kids and grilled out hotdogs and sides to everyone who came by! We also were blessed by Mount Paran Church with hundreds of articles of clothing to give out to the neighborhood alongside prayer and an invitation to church. But that is not all! Thanks to Serv International, we gave away just under 100 boxes of non-perishable items too! It was one of the best block parties to date!
Then, that evening, a church member (my awesome sister Haley) led a Movie-In-The-Park event to minister to the neighbors surrounding our church. We watched Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, gave out free popcorn with an invite card attached, hot chocolate and a million play things given to us from some volunteers from Passion City Church. It was the only movie night Old Fourth Ward Park has ever seen, and it won’t be the last.
Following that packed out Saturday, we had an amazing Sunday service. Our worship team is the best (did I mention I am bias?), but this Sunday they were even better than the best. My son Jacob told me that we don’t need to get a choir, the church sings loud enough on their own! It was a blessing. But the best part about Sunday was the fact that someone received Jesus to be their Lord and their Savior. Charles was his name, and this Wednesday we are going to try to get him placed into a program to get him off the street! I will keep you posted on that story as it unfolds!
You’re probably thinking last weekend made Monday feel like it lacked luster. Well, it didn’t. It happened to be my daughters 8th birthday. And in that evening, two wonderful people in our church held a worship night in the building to celebrate their new engagement!
I am blown away by all the wonderful things that have happened this weekend yours was amazing, too!