After spending the afternoon talking to the neighbors and kids, Louis and I went up to the hospital to visit with Frank’s family. Because this was being treated as a trauma and a needless to say a crime, Frank’s personal information was being withheld. The operator would tell you nothing about Frank…not even a room number. But, we were persistent and made our own way to the trauma ICU to see what and who we could find.
That was it! We found Frank’s friends and family overflowing out of the small 8’x12′ waiting room. I admit I was a bit hesitant and felt a bit intrusive, but the Lord had directed us to go. There appeared to be some hesitancy on their part too. Not sure about us and our agenda. But, we were there to….again..just be present….to pray…to read scripture…to be the feet of Jesus. No agenda.
We learned that Frank was not conscious. He had been shot 9 times. Upper right chest, left shoulder, left thigh, right hand and 5 times in the gut. Frank had survived surgery that repaired the extensive damage to his gut and other injuries. Geraldine (Frank’s mom) and Vicky (Frank’s girlfriend) were there. Although only 2 people could be there at any time and only a handful were allowed on the list to visit at all, Louis and I were permitted to see him. Admittedly, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what I would experience.
Because of Frank’s serious condition, we obviously didn’t stay long…just long enough to pray. We also prayed with Geraldine and Vicky. This became a daily occurrence for Louis and me. We would head to MCV – sometimes together, but sometimes separate. After a couple of days, I think they finally realized that we weren’t going away….we were there for the long haul.
We are soo thankful for the many people that prayed with and for us. The folks at Tuesday Night Prayer Service at Commonwealth Chapel regularly lifted all of us up, and we are so grateful for that.
Louis and my relationship went from basically 0-60 in just about 24 hours. I went from barely liking the guy to seeing him every day! We all still laugh about this now. But, Vicky and Geraldine knew we were getting married before we did! During that first week, they regularly asked me (when I was there without Louis), Where’s your husband? I would repeatedly tell them, we aren’t married. I barely know the guy. We are still getting to know one another. I just met him 4 weeks ago, etc. But…they kept asking me where my husband was and Louis where his wife was.
Then finally, we were there together. I was at one end of the room getting to know one of Frank’s friends, Anthony. And Louis was at the other end of the room talking to Vicky and Geraldine. When Geraldine asked – so….when you goin’ to marry her? It’s written all over your face! You’re in loOoOoOve. I (obviously) was ½ listening to the conversation and glanced at Louis out of the corner of my eye, when I saw that Louis had turned a deep shade of RED!
This was a lovely time of bonding, sharing, and communing with Frank’s family. It didn’t take long before we were hugging each other as we greeted and as we said farewell. We were 2 vastly different groups of people in every way possible with very little in common brought together by a tragic event. Now, over 2 years later, we are sharing life together…birthdays, holidays, etc.
Although I am SOOO sorry that all of us had to experience this event, I am thankful for the friends and dare I say family that is now the result!
But challenging times weren’t far off….
As most of you know, I started this blog in obedience to the Lord for Lent 2010. Although there are different durations of Lent, depending on…on…well a lot of things. This is what www.wikipedia.com has to say on the topic of Lent…
Most followers of Western Catholicism observe Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday (midday, 40 days to Palm Sunday) and concluding at the Ninth Hour of Holy Thursday (44 days in the Catholic Church) or on Holy Saturday (46 days).
One notable exception is the Archdiocese of Milan which follows the Ambrosian Rite and observes Lent starting exactly 6 weeks before Easter. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter,” a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. When Lent is to continue until Holy Saturday, this leaves exactly forty days of fasting……
And there was more! So, since I am not Catholic and no one really agrees on the length, I’m going to call it until Easter! I committed to posting daily through Lent (or now I will say until Easter) and then, I will reassess the frequency at which I will post. So, now….I guess it is Holy Week posts!
There is still so much to tell…and I KNOW I have left you hanging with Frank. And, you already know that Louis and I got married…so there is no big surprise there. But, there are many good pictures to share!
I will keep on going for now!
I have learned much during this Lenten Season….about me, about God and about others. This has been a sacrifice of time. It has taken a lot more time to write then I originally thought it would. There have been many late nights and early mornings to complete each day. So, sleep is lacking. I have learned that I don’t function well without proper sleep. Reliving some of these stories have been difficult in some ways and absolutely wonderful in others.
Difficult…because of the pain, loneliness and fear that was sometimes involved. Growth is painful and tearful. During these times, I have learned to rely on the Lord. I have been reminded of staying strong through regular prayer and reading of God’s Word. I continue to learn (over and over!!! one day i pray i will finally get it!!) that my identity comes from who I am in Jesus and not from my job, my husband, my ministry, my friends or family, my community or my church.
Joy…because God has been sooo faithful through all of it. It’s been awesome to really see just how much God has been moving and working in my life. It is a pleasure to be used by the Lord in so many ways.
God isn’t done with me yet this season…so I will continue to write daily through the end of the week until Resurrection Day! When I pray that I, too, will be more FREE and ALIVE.
I’m excited to share an event I was just made aware of…
Urban Ministry Forum
“Theology on the Ground”
Wednesday, April 7th from 7-9pm
Union Theological Seminary
You will hear from urban ministers, whose work in Baltimore, DC, and Richmond are truly rooted in building community, empowering the marginalized, and helping people at their point of need.
- Rev. Dr. Anthony Hunt will be discussing how he’s been creating ‘shalom’ zones in some very poor parts of Baltimore;
- Rev. Dr. Roger Gench will be discussing what it’s like to be an urban parish minister and how collective action among churches can accomplish change; and
- Richmond Hill’s Rev. Ben Campbell will describe how spirituality and prayer create ecumenical bonds which then forms concrete social action to help transform this great city.
Union understands that effective ministry means opening one’s doors, offering radical hospitality, and creating relationships to develop the ‘beloved community.’
Today is Saturday and I am writing this post for tomorrow, because I have time today and probably won’t tomorrow. But…by the time this posts and you read it….tomorrow will be today.
Today is Palm Sunday, so I started reflecting on that and reading about it in the Bible. The beginning of Matthew 21 tells the story of how Jesus entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Large crowds gathered…laying down their robes and others cut down branches of palm trees and spread them on the road. All while shouting:
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!!!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!!!
This is why we celebrate Palm Sunday. Many refer this event as the Triumphal Entry. I looked up the meaning of triumphal on www.dictionary.com and learned that it is an adjective meaning of, pertaining to, celebrating, or commemorating a triumph or victory. At first glance, this might be referred to as the Victory Circle! I don’t know much about Nascar. But I do know that the winner of the race typically does a couple of donuts before he revs up to the Winner’s Circle to receive his prize.
But…Jesus…He rode in on a DONKEY! The King…the Messiah…rode in on a donkey, NOT a stallion, showing humility. That might be like a driver calmly parking the car and walking over to the circle.
He enters into Jerusalem on a donkey on a carpet of cloaks and palm branches…not a red carpet. The TV crews weren’t there publizing and critiquing the suit he wore or what designer created it for him.
But…the crowds…they did gather and they did scream! They screamed Hosanna! Hosanna! Which basically means SAVE US! SAVE US! Dictionary.com defines it as (an exclamation, originally an appeal to God for deliverance, used in praise of God or Christ.)
And that is why Jesus came to earth. In John 12:47 Jesus says:
“….For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.”
As I read the paper, watch the news, look out my front door into Southern Barton Heights and look at myself in the mirror. I, too, scream today…. HOSANNA! HOSANNA! I know that I live victoriously because of God’s abundant grace. But when I think of the events of these last few weeks in the nation, the world, and in my own life….I find myself also screaming to the top of my lungs….
SAVE US! SAVE US!
Because I know that ONLY HE can save us…save me…
In January of this year, I was nominated for and accepted a board member position with a non-profit ministry serving Richmond’s inner city called STEP (Strategies to Elevate People). If you are interested in learning more about, serving with or giving to this deserving organization, check out their newsletter by click this link > STEP March Newsletter.
Here’s a little more info about STEP….
Develop strategies to meet the needs of the urban poor in Richmond.
Defeat poverty in the lives of our urban neighbors.
Build vital relationships through effective Christian community and
Mobilize resources of the church to serve the poor in the City and
Empower organizations and ministries seeking to reach our urban neighbors in order to
Minister to the urban poor by sharing the love and hope of Christ
Our Core Values:
We serve as an arm of the Church, upholding its role in ministering to the needs of the poor (Eph. 4:11-12)
We believe that every person has a valued place in the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-15, Ps. 8:4)
We are called to be in community with other believers to support God’s Kingdom work (Heb. 10:24-25)
We enable others to be educated in order to produce opportunities and enable them to more effectively steward the gifts with which they have been entrusted (Prov. 23:12 & 24:3-4)
We enable others to work so that they can in turn give to others (Titus 6:17-19)
Thanks for reading and considering.
Continued from last nights post….The Next Day Part 1
These are complicated questions to answer. There is so MUCH history that goes into it. There are way more questions than answers. Or…answers that you want to hear, anyway. I encourage you to dig deep…ask the questions…seek the answers.
A question like, HOW did it end up like this? Deep-rooted systemic decisions and policies that were made intentionally by people in power dating decades….centuries ago…that have led to the problems we have in the City of Richmond today. If you want to learn more, Ben Campbell, at Richmond Hill, has a wonderful class – Richmond’s Unhealed History – 9 Lectures on the History of Richmond 1607-2009. It offers a whole new perspective….that is NOT what you read in the history books in school growing up. We need more people to get involved in the social justice issues that impact not just the City of Richmond, but the metro area as a whole.
Others may ask…why don’t YOU move? Why do you stay? As a matter of fact, Frank himself has asked me that same question more than once. He thought I would be packing it up after that night. But, I will tell you what I told him. A year before Frank got shot, my car was vandalized when the windows were shot out. It later was stolen and dumped off in Petersburg. People then asked, why don’t you move? If I had moved in early 2007 after that happened, who would have been there the night Frank got shot? God doesn’t NEED us to do a thing. He can do it on His own, without our help. But, what a priviledge it is to be used by my Almighty God. So, He called me (and now Louis) here to SBH. We won’t leave until He calls us some place else. I have committed my life to Him..so I will go where He sends me. Will you?
Just yesterday, Mom sent me a devotional newsletter email called Inspired Faith. I will end this post with that word…
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.II Chronicles 16:9 NIV
God has called each of us to obey Him in the place He has us. In His eyes we all have a ministry. Many serve Him in a local church through a variety of ministries, such as music, teaching, youth work, or by being a part of the church staff. Others serve on the mission field, on the job, at school, or at home.
God knows you and He knows your heart desires to serve Him. You are someone that He will use to make a difference, to share His love, and to touch the hearts of others. What has qualified you for this high privilege of being used by Him? Is it your talents, your personality, your education, your influence, or your résumé? It is none of these; rather, it is the response of your heart toward Him. God is always searching for those whose hearts are yielded to Him so that He can work mightily through them.
Sometimes we can be led to think that God’s work is dependent upon us, upon what we do, and upon what we know. The truth is that God wants us to be totally dependent upon Him. He is the Treasure, we are the vessels; He is Vine, we are the branches; He is the Living Water, we are the channels through which He flows.
The apostle Peter was someone who needed to learn this important truth. Jesus taught him the futility of trying to get results through his own efforts by allowing him, an expert fisherman, to labor all night and come up empty. Afterward, when He followed Jesus’ word to cast out into the deep, Peter pulled in a catch that was beyond his dreams.
As His servant, remember that your ministry is His idea and not yours. He is the One who knows you, who has called you, and who has equipped you to serve Him. Remain true, remain faithful, remain restful, and remain totally dependent upon Him.
God is not looking for those who are clever, but for those in whom He can be wise; He is not looking for those who are talented, but for those to whom He can be all sufficient; He is not looking for those who are powerful, but for those through whom He can be almighty.
by Roy Lessin, DaySpring Cofounder
Needless to say, I went on to work the next day…until mid afternoon when the kids were coming home from school. I SOOO wanted and needed to check on Anthony and Lil Mike to make sure they were OK. God blessed us with a beautiful day! A few things happened that afternoon….
One – My mom met me here. She just wanted to lay eyes on me and pray. I SOOO appreciate the many, many prayers that were offered up on our behalf!
Two – Lil Mike and Tony were fine! Those kids totally were amazing and so strong.
Three – The community also was wonderful! Frank had grown up in the Southern Barton Heights area, so he was well-known and loved by a lot of people. Since it was a beautiful day, I was putzing around in the front yard…with my plants, etc. The kids had always loved and welcomed me into the community, but many of the adults didn’t quite know what to do with me. Didn’t know what I was all about or why I moved into SBH. That day, I met more neighbors than I had in the last couple of years. People intentionally stopped by to thank me (and Louis) and to ask about Frank. It was an opportunity to not only meet people, but also share what God had done that night. It was a time to pray and encourage Frank’s friends. I had gained a “street cred” that I didn’t have before.
People shared what they did when they heard the shots. The natural instinct of living in the inner city, crime infested area is to run away (if you were on the street), hide in your closet, jump in your bathtub, lock your doors, brace the door with a chair under the doorknob (should the shooter try to run into the house). Yet, Louis and I ran into the street into the fray. We never thought to do anything else. We were Called to be there and to respond.
I often wonder what we would do now. Hopefully we won’t have to find out!!! We hear gunshots all the time….but thankfully from a distance. Needless to say, we were a bit gun-shy (no pun intended!) for a while after that. Late one night we heard a gunshot fairly close. Louis and I looked outside, but didn’t see anything to respond to. But, we quickly shut and locked the door. A little later our door bell rang. Normally, I didn’t think twice about opening it. That night we did…we just yelled through the door. My heart pounded in my chest. I realized that I was more traumatized than I realized. By the way…it was just someone telling us that Louis had left the inside light of his car on. It took a few days before we realized that we trusted God that night, and we can still trust God now. That we must use wisdom, but we could no longer live in fear. God healed me of that.
That day…when I sat outside talking to people, I heard their stories…everyone had one, two, three friends that had been shot~ injured and killed. Some had been shot themselves. I can’t even imagine WHAT this must do to you after years…how it must impact the kids who grow up here. For I have the HOPE in me….and it sometimes is tough. What about those who don’t know the Lord? Many may ask…why don’t they move? Why do they stay? Why don’t they just pack up and move some place safe. Let me caution you (and me for that that matter!) about judging these wonderful inner city dwellers! Remember what the Word says about judging. Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37 and John 12:47, to name a few scriptures, speak to this directly.
to be continued….