2015 – A Year in Review

What a year! WOW! And what a year we have to look forward to. (More to come from that in an upcoming post!) Here’s a quick snap shot of the Year in the Life of Marti and Louis Williams and their work in Richmond and beyond!  I’m sharing these things to give you insight to how we spend some of our time, but also in hopes that you will glean some ideas on how you, too, can join in God’s mission of loving your neighbor! I pray that you will share your ideas with us as well! Always looking for something new!! Enjoy!

January 2015  –   The Usual New Years Day Open House

We start every year with a New Years Day Open House from 10a-2p where we flip pancakes and hang out with about 100 of our closest friends and neighbors. For some reason, I have not ONE picture! Dope!  Anyway – it’s a great way to connect people from different parts of your life – work, home, and play.

February 2015  –   Mardi Bras RVA

You filled the pod with bras, underwear, pads and tampons for women who are homeless or on a low/restricted income! and we got to meet Karla Redditt!!! Amazing effort by everyone involved! Y’ALL ROCK!!! Get ready for Mardi Bras RVA 2016! For more info >> click here!

 

March 2015  –   Community Trustbuilding Fellowship

Throughout late 2014 and early 2015, I (Marti) joined about 30 other folks from across the Richmond area (as well as Texas, Washington DC, Ohio, Tidewater, Cameroon and the Netherlands) once a month for 5 months to participate in Initiatives of Change’s program called Community Trustbuilding Fellowship.  As a diverse group of individuals, we came together as a community – learning about how to build trust building through facilitating dialogue through experiential learning. Great experience! Highly recommend it!

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April 2015  –   Easter!

We continued with our Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Joy Bombing – as we drove around Richmond bringing joy, a blessing or prayer and some candy! What a treat! For more pictures, click here >> EASTER 2015.

May 2015  –   Church Facing Outward

Church, to me, is the body of Christ-followers…. not a place that people go on Sunday morning. We ARE the church. We go to gatherings or worship services. This is our how our church gathers on Tuesday evenings.

This is how we sometimes gather. This particular day we served a neighbor, together with his family and some other neighbors, to clean up an overgrown yard. You see, this neighbor happened to have a short stay in the county jail and was about to rack up major fines. So, we worked with the city on his behalf and got to work! Resulting in NO Fines and an opportunity to show our love in a practical way!

May 2015  –   Memorial Day Community Cookout

This is an annual tradition for us! Bringing people together over food is one of our favorite things to do to build community! Go ahead and mark your calendar for this year’s gathering! Check pintrest for your favorite recipe!🙂  More 2015 Pictures

June 2015  –   Lemonade Stand

Weekly, we gather together to study God’s Word, build nurturing relationships and serve the community. Part of that is FOOD! We have dinner together. The kids of our church family wanted to cook dinner, but didn’t have money to do that. So, they held a lemonade stand and then worked to plan, budget, prepare, cook and clean up afterwards! One of the best meals EVER!!!

June 2015 – Hope Church Neighbor Lovin’ Day

Hope Church also brought a team to serve our community by picking up trash, pulling weeds, trimming brush and more! They were able to meet neighbors along the way and involve them in the work – building friendships and community across geographic barriers.  See More Pictures

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July 2015  –   Annual Camp Splash – Backyard VBS

Again, in partnership with Hope Church, we held our 4th annual backyard VBS – Camp Splash! The kids FAVORITE gathering of the year! Grateful for all who serve and also provide meals each day!  We couldn’t do this without your help!  This year we capped at over 50 kids this year!  See More Pictures – Day 1    Day 2    Day 3    Day 4    Day 5

August 2015  –  Friends of John Marshall High School

A group of us went to John Marshall to help prepare the school for the first day – picking up trash, planting flowers, painting and more!

September 2015  –   Back to School

THIS. DAY. What a blast! Tons of people made signs and brought chalk and granola bars. 3 of us went out before day light and decorated the kids’ yards, bus stops, and sidewalks. Then, we went from bus stop to bus stop handing out granola bars and hugs galore! What FUN!  More Pictures!

September 2015  –   UCI Cycle Race

We took the opportunity to do something fun – going to the bike race and turned it into a way to serve. Just hanging out on the street…cheering… and chatting it up with people from all over Richmond and the World!  More Pictures!

September 2015 – West End Send Off

2 of our church family got hitched and moved to the West End. It is their intention to get to know and love their neighbors. So, some of us went to their home and served up ice cream, which allowed them the time to socialize and get to know their neighbors. We always appreciate it when people come along side of us to do that.

October 2015  –   Front Yard Halloween Party

Each year, we move the corn hole, snacks and hot apple cider to the front yard and just hangout getting to know our neighbors. Also a simple way to gather together – sharing life with a neighbor and a friend. Another day I totally forgot to take a picture or 2.

November 2015  –   Jobs for Life in the RCJC

Along with countless volunteers from numerous churches, we spent 2 days a week for 8 weeks in the Richmond City Justice Center (RCJC – aka the city jail), facilitating Jobs for Life (JfL).  JfL is a biblically based job and life preparation training program that teaches how to obtain, maintain and thrive in a job. This was real gift to us. God showed us favor in so many ways!  The class of 9 had a 100% graduation rate!  We are starting 2 classes this month!  Join us, will you?

  • You can learn more about Jobs for Life in the RCJC here >>> JfL in RCJC.
  • More pictures of the graduation >> JfL Graduation.

December 2015  –   Christmastime

Nothing like gathering together to celebrate the birth of Christ and remember why He came. He came to serve, not to be served. He came to be light in the world. He can to die so that we may live. And he came to send us to do the same. That’s always a hard pill to swallow.  Am I willing to die so that another may live? I mean really. I’m the one who gets ticked when my Dr. Pepper is flat.  Sigh. God has much work to do in me.

This year Louis and I  were reminded there are angels all around us – mighty sword-weilding ninja warriors who are protecting and fighting on our behalf. We learned (AGAIN!) that we fight not against flesh and blood, we fight against the spirits and principalities that seek to destroy, distract, and depress. I am learning (AGAIN!) that we don’t fight like others fight. We are to pray like none-other. I am learning (AGAIN!) to rely and depend upon God to fight my battles….as I kneel. (Yes – I saw War Room.  Can you tell???)

This Christmas we went with a crew of people to Glorious Christmas Nights and the Christmas Parade and luncheon – thanks to the donations of some great friends and organizations!  We are grateful for our friends from Restoration Church who joined us in Christmas Caroling! What a terrific experience for us all!

More Pictures:

Everyday Walk Around Lives – 2015, Looking at 2016

OK – I hesitated to post all of this, because I feared that it would look braggadocios. “Look at everything we did!” But really…. this is more like it right here. Let me share with you some real pictures of our everyday lives. It’s not all that exciting… trust me. NOTE:  This year, we will be working on our own ‘soul care’. Taking time to nourish ourselves – mind, body and soul. Taking care of our marriage, our health, and our own relationships with Christ.  Don’t hesitate to remind us that this is not a sprint, but a marathon.

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Here we are on our anniversary – I think or was it Louis’s birthday? Not sure. But, it’s our normal, everyday life. Feel free to stop by if you can handle all the fun!

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This is us eating NOT SO HEALTHY food. Nothing like a ice cream, apple, whipped cream with drizzles of caramel and cinnamon on a funnel cake.  Sigh.

Lastly, we say thank you! Thanks to all of you who have supported us through our work through the non-profit – Into The Neighborhood, through our church – Life Transformation Church, and us directly as a ministry couple. We couldn’t do all this (and more) without your love, support, prayers and financial gifts. So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We ask for your on-going support, and there are a few ways that you can do that.

  1. To support the ministry of Miss Marti’s House and Into The Neighborhood, click here>> Support Into The Neighborhood
  2. To support the church/gospel planting efforts- Life Transformation Church, click here>> Support Support Life Transformation Church
  3. To save on the fees associated with online giving, you can always send a check to us at 2101 Barton Avenue, Richmond, VA 23222.
  4. To support us as a ministry couple, please contact us directly, and we will share with you how to best support.

Thanks again, neighbor.

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Mardi Bras RVA 2016

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Mardi Bras RVA is Back!

How many pair of underwear do you have in your drawer right now? How many bras? When ‘that time of the month’ comes, do you wonder where you will obtain your supplies of pads or tampons? Sorry – if you are a guy and reading this, I dare you to ask your wife, daughter, sister, girlfriend, or mother these questions. I recently talked with a few women who used to be homeless and spent a lot of time on the street. They wondered about this every day… and every month. Supplies are NOT readily available for women who are homeless or on a low or restricted income. No – food stamps and other resources do NOT cover feminine protection. Then, I read this article…For Homeless Women, Getting Their Period Is One Of The Most Difficult Challenges which confirmed what I thought.

This is a problem that can be easily solved; and we decided to do something about it.  So, here’s the deal. We are going to collect pads, tampons, new bras, new underwear and incontinence pads for women who are homeless or on low/restricted income! Keep reading! MARDI GRAS, where women bare their breasts for beads in New Orleans, is right around the corner. Instead of revealing our breasts, we are going to work at covering some! Join us for MARDI BRAS RVA 2016!!!

OPEN HOUSE DATES/TIMES:

Monday evening, 2/8    6p-8p

Tuesday morning, 2/9  10a-12noon

Read more for details…

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Jobs for Life-Richmond City Jail

Check this out, friends! And learn how you can get involved with the Jobs for Life program for the men and women in the Richmond City Justice Center!

Into The Neighborhood

“I was in prison and you came to visit me… I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:36, 40

Hey, friends! We have EXCITING news to deliver! God has shown us favor in the city jail. He opened doors in the fall of 2015 for us to enter into the Richmond City Justice Center with Jobs for Life, a biblically based job preparation and life skills training program. We had our first graduation on December 17th!  And, we will continue to make regular visits to continue to encourage these men in the job search and in their walk with or toward Christ. Meet our first 9 graduates!

IMG_4628 Andre, Cary,  Terrence, Rafphy, Ramon, Lynwood, Pavel, Tyrone, Iya

And – Andre was the first to get a job through work release after graduation and starts…

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From Jail to Jobs!

Yesterday we entered into the City of Richmond Jail (RCJC) to provide a biblically based, Christ-centered job skills training program called Jobs for Life. We could NOT be MORE THRILLED!!!!!! God is on the move!!!! (Could I use any more capital letters or exclamation points???? or question marks???)  There’s room for LOTS of help from LOTS of people! Keep reading for how YOU can help!!!  The participants are Leaders in the  REAL (Realizing Everyday Addictions in our Lives) Program.

Why are jobs important? Because it gives a person DIGNITY!

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The church does a lot to help alleviate poverty…

How Church Fights Poverty

But little do anything to focus on work. Imagine if…

Flip the list

We would giving people their dignity back, and they could buy their own food, clothing, and more! Imagine that. Communities, families, schools, and loves would be transformed! Yes. and Amen.

So, are you ready to be a part of this? It’s going to take time…and sacrifice. Obedience is the best sacrifice. So, pray about it. If you hear a yes and amen… Contact us below!

The Jobs for Life RCJC Team will include the following key support functions in its leadership team working in partnership with RCJC staff and residents/peer leaders.  We are in need of Champions and Instructors!  Classes are held every Monday 4:30-6:30 (4:15 arrival) and Thursday 5-6:45- (4:45 arrival).

  • Co-Site/Champion Leader:  Marti Williams
    • Recruits, trains, directs and encourages a team of Champions (mentors); reviews student progress reports and coordinates post graduation Champion/Graduate support.
      • WE WILL NEED 5-10 more Male Champions (Mentors) for our first class of 9 men.  Champions help support and encourage the participants and help lead small group discussions.
  • Co-Site/Instructor Leader:  John Kirwan
    • Teach and facilitate the Jobs for Life Curriculum in a caring, creative approach to set the stage for learning and to create an atmosphere for student interaction and participation; consistently role models what is expected of students; works with small Group Discussion Lead­ers and Champions to ensure that students are learning and applyingJfL principles; helps every student move closer toJfL Graduation.
      • WE WILL NEED Male and Female Instructors and guest speakers.  Instructors can commit to facilitating to 1-4 (or more!) classes. Faciliator’s guide is provided.
  • Another way to help…Snacks
    • If you ever have known someone in jail, you will know that food is very sparse and commissary is VERY expensive.  One way we can help encourage the guys is to provide yummy snacks and drinks!  Last night, they had soda for the first time in a very long time!  And you can assist us in providing them!  Snacks need to be finger foods (no utensils required); and Drinks need to be in 2 liter bottles – NO Cans!) Favorite snacks include: Pepsi, Baby Ruth (or any candy, for that matter!), Cheese Popcorn, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Tortilla Chips and Queso, BBQ Chips, and all kinds of fruit!

Are you game to help someone go from Jail to a Job? If so, ask God about it. Then, contact us, if, and only if, you hear a Yes from Father God. Complete form below and submit it. We will be in touch soon!

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Side note:  

One of our JfL participants, Terrence, will be seen on This Life With Lisa Ling on Wednesday, 10/21 at 9pm. And Aziz, who was recently released will be on Steve Harvey Show Tuesday, 10/20 at 4pm. Watch them both!

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Pondering. Asking. Wondering.

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After a day of loving our community with Hope Church on Saturday, I am left asking myself and God a lot of questions the last few days.  We had a lot of great conversations while we worked and processed afterwards. I love, love, love to ask the question “Why?”. Sometimes it can be quite a frustrating question to ask. When I know the WHY behind something, then (and sometimes ONLY THEN) I can grasp it. Sometimes we know the why in the moment. Sometimes we have to wait a while to learn why. Sometimes we have to wait until heaven to learn the answer to a question that we long to know.  But, there’s nothing like knowing the WHY behind a situation right in the moment. If God truly cares about the details of my life, then these are questions I need to ask Him and myself regularly…

Why do I live where I live?

Why am I planted where I am planted?

Why do I work where I work?

Why am I married to the person I am married to?

For some it might be, Why do I go to the school that I go to? the tennis club, the whatever?

Regardless of the way we really want to answer those questions, if we are followers of Jesus, the honest answer SHOULD be – to glorify God. In the simplest of forms…keeping the ‘Main Thing’ the ‘Main Thing’, we live to Love God. Love others. And make disciples who make disciples. So, we don’t have to add anything extra to our calendars to fulfill this mission…God’s mission. It’s a matter of living on God’s mission in our everyday, walk-around lives….with intentionally. So, the questions, the prayers then become…

How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) others where I live?

How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) others where I go to school?

How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) others where I work?

How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) my spouse?

How do I love (and serve) those who look, act, and think different than I do?

How do I love (and serve) God and others in my everyday, walk around life?

Your life…my life… has purpose and meaning. So much more than going through the rote motions of getting up, eating breakfast and packing lunches, going to work or class, fixing dinner, playing tennis, taking your kids to a swim meet, walking the dog, fixing the brakes on the car, having a drink or ice cream with a friend, attending the PTA or civic association meeting, etc.

Imagine…

  • we were doing all these things not to simply check the box …going through the motions, but to intentionally pour ourselves out – loving our neighbors, spouses, colleagues, teachers, employees, grocery clerks, friends, frenemies and enemies as ourselves.
  • we went to bed at night with the attitude of ‘last man standing’ out-serving one another – not in a competitive way, but in a genuinely loving way only because that is what God called us to do. Jesus was sent to serve, not be served. Then, he sent us to do the same.
  • we, as those who profess to be followers of Jesus, actually believed and acted like King Jesus was really on the throne…was really in control… and that all things really do work together for my good.

Imagine that.

That’s my wish…my desire… to live my life with intentionality, out-serving one another, believing and acting like Jesus is King of my life and He has my best interest in mind….and that all things (good, bad and otherwise) work together for my good. I may not understand the why…. but I will trust him.

How can I love (serve) you today?


Quench Your Thirst This Saturday!

A few days ago, I shared about our Spiritual Family in Spiritual Family: Where We Are the Church and Do the Bible. In addition to that gathering, we have a weekly gathering for the youth as well called HIS kids where we focus on 3 things…

HOPE – The hope of Jesus Christ.

INSPIRE – Encourage and inspire the next generation.

SERVE – Giving back to the community through serving- like assisting neighbors and picking up trash.

These kids decided that they want to raise money for other activities throughout the summer The first thing they want to do is buy and cook dinner for our Tuesday Night Church gathering. Typically, we have a covered dish, but they want to make dinner and serve it their Spiritual Family. Please join us in supporting their servant’s heart by buying a cup (or 10 cups!!!) of lemonade on Saturday between 11a-2p.  And you can also donate online on our link to the right!!!

Do us a favor, please. Share this with your friends!

Thanks, y’all!
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Spiritual Family: Where We Are the Church and Do the Bible.

I was reminded recently that I don’t write as much as I used to. Not sure why, really. Mostly because we are spending time doing life and not writing about it. I was encouraged to write more because people are watching us and are encouraged to live like us, as we attempt to live like Christ. So, I’m going to try and make writing a priority again. First topic – my Spiritual Family. Since Louis hasn’t been pastoring a traditional church since his time at New Hanover, people have wondered where we have attended church.

Following 2 knee replacements and 1 hip replacement in 2013, in February 2014 – Louis, a few other friends, and I gathered to talk about what it would look like to start gathering weekly as an Acts 2 expression of the church, where are not simply going to church and reading the Bible. We ARE the church and we DO the Bible.

Acts 2 The Fellowship of the Believers

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

So, we’ve been gathering weekly on Tuesday nights at 6:30p ever since. One might ask… “What do we do and how do we do it???”
We focus on 4 main things…
  1. Divine Truth – Where we are focused UP – our relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to love God. The creator of the universe wants a relationship WITH US, and that’s pretty amazing. (vs 42) On Tuesday nights, we study God’s Word together – where everyone can offer what God says to them through the scripture. We rarely have traditional sermons. (vs 42 – they didn’t have Bibles back then, so they learned from Apostle’s teaching). Throughout the week, we are reading and discussing the Word with one another as we get together outside of Tuesday nights. Each Tuesday and the rest of the week, we are in prayer for and with one another and our neighborhood and city.
  2. Nurturing Relationships – Where we are focused on being IN relationship with others. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, we focus on building relationship with one another…encouraging and loving in a familial kind of way.  On Tuesday nights, we gather around the table to eat, laugh, eat, talk and eat, but also sharing life throughout the rest of the week – in person, via text, phone calls, etc. – (vs 46). We have traveled with one as he spent 4 months in jail and welcomed his mom and family into ours. We have cried together as family members have passed away and diagnosed with cancer, dementia, and more. We remind one another of the TRUTH and not the lies of the deceiver. We have celebrated marriages, new jobs, and new schools together. We like to party! We sent one to the military and another one on the road for a job. We have pooled our resources to repair homes, yards and cars. We have found new homes for washers, dryers and more! They will know we are followers of Jesus by our love for one another.
  3. Apostolic Mission – Where we are focused on going OUT into the community in our everyday walk around lives. We aren’t meant to be in a holy huddle sequestered away from everyone else. But, called to be in, but not of the world. Sometimes we do this as a group – like at our annual Memorial Day cookout or last year’s National Night Out in Highland Park where we set up a prayer tent. Today, it happened to be with my friend Karen who lives a few blocks away. We ate lunch at a new restaurant on Brookland Park Boulevard getting to know the owner and other employees. We bought and moved a piece of furniture from another neighbor who is moving because his wife had just died of cancer. We encouraged him and prayed for him. I got to meet 2 of her neighbors – 2 young men who said they wanted to come Tuesday night. Karen used her arboring skills to teach me how to trim a bradford pear tree beside the house. And the evening ended with passing on 5 white polo shirts to a neighbor who is starting a new job tomorrow. (Special thanks to friends who lovingly donated them!!!) So, as you can see… this isn’t a project or a specific thing we did. It was in the everyday rhythms of life that we were OUT and about looking for opportunities to love and serve. People aren’t projects. No one wants to be someone’s project. We just love people where they are.
  4. Beyond – Prepare and Equip – We spend our time preparing and equipping others to live a life following Jesus on His mission, who will then prepare and equip others to do the same. We aren’t meant to do life alone, but are meant to do so with others BEYOND ourselves.
I can’t imagine life without this spiritual family, which is growing weekly (vs 47) and we are seeing lives transformed (vs.43). All are welcome to the table. We are quite a motley crew, but this crew loves one another…warts and all.
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Taken 2 weeks ago! Grateful for an open floor plan where 2 folding tables can be added to the end of the dining table & extend into our living room.  The person on the end sits on the coffee table. Phew.🙂


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