A Barber, a Yoke and a Baptism Part 2

OK…back to Marcellous…

Me and Marcellous

So…I took Marcellous to Commonwealth Chapel one Saturday night.  We had been praying for him for MONTHS.  So, it was awesome when some of my prayer warrior friends were able to put a name with a face.  Marcellous just couldn’t believe that people greeted him so warmly…and knew his name…and wanted to meet him.  He was so full of joy.  And…let me tell you…can that man sing!!!  What a beautiful voice he has!!!  Very impressive!

Marcellous shared this story with me a few days before his baptism.  We were in the emergency room during another scare.  When he was in the hospital a previous time, he had been in a diabetic coma (i guess!).  While in this coma, he was fighting and running…and everything was dark and scary.  Then, the skies turned blue and bright and a big hand came down and scooped him up.  When he looked up, he saw KK and me like angels.  He felt at such peace.  It didn’t take him long to realize that it was the hand of God.  That he had been fighting for his life…both physically and spiritually…and that God rescued him.  Marcellous simply said, “God gave me a 2nd chance, and that He must want something from me”.  I said he does…he just wants your heart.  Nothing more.  God wasn’t like anything that Marcellous knew from the street.  There was no scam. There was no hustle.  There was no hidden agenda.  All God wanted was him, Marcellous. Pure and Simple.

Marcellous quietly asked, “why did he have to wait 52 years?”  I had a hard time answering that question.  After searching through the Word, I found the perfect scripture in 2nd Peter 3:8-9.  Let me summarize it for you…our God is a patient God.  1 day is like a 1000 years and a 1000 years is like 1 day.  He is patiently waiting for everyone.

That is so comforting to know.  For those of us who are still waiting on our friends and family to know Jesus, we can be encouraged to know that our God is a patient God.

If you are one who doesn’t know Jesus….know that His yoke is light.  If you are tired, weary, and burdened, like Marcellous, know that the Lord is patient…and He is waiting for you.

After attending Commonwealth Chapel, Marcellous stated that he wanted to be baptized.  I am happy to report, that although Marcellous was weak, his foot was still bandaged, and he was unable to walk, we baptized him in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2007, 1 week  before his 53rd birthday.  We celebrated with him his new birth and his birthday.  What an awesome day!! Marcellous had also reconciled with his family during this time.  While he was in the coma, we were able to track them down knowing what little we did about him….and with the help of the internet…we were able to find his sisters!!!  I mean really….I couldn’t make this stuff up!!!

Within 2 days, Marcellous had gone to live with his sister in NC.  KK now lives with them as well.  I still pray for them, as KK adjusts and grieves for his mother…and his youth and his identity.

People used to always tell me – “Marti – You can’t save ’em all!”  And that is true.  I actually can’t save ANY of them.  But…my God can!  This keeps me praying for them both, even though we have lost contact over the years.  Those months that KK lived with me were HARD…for so many reasons.  Time and time again…KK betrayed me and my trust.  I cried A LOT during this time.  You can even ask my dentist, Dr Jeff Friend.  I actually cried in the dental chair one time!  I know…it’s ridiculous.  But, KK was not heading in the right direction…at all.  I still pray that in the middle of whatever craziness KK may go through…that he will remember what it was like to be loved…unconditionally….no matter what.

It makes me think….how in the world must God feel about me.  In the midst of all of my craziness….and stupid stuff…bad choices…He still loves me in spite of all that mess.  How I must break his heart when I try to do it on my own…and really mess things up.  But…He is always there for me.  24/7/365.  I am thankful that the hand of God….reaches down and scoops me up!  I’m grateful that He is patient with me.

Enjoy the pics of Marcellous, Emmanuel, and Marc.  In addition…there’s Riste and Butch who had the honor of baptizing him.  Thanks to all my praying friends…who prayed with and for me during this time!!!  I couldn’t have made it through without you!!!!

Emmanuel, Marcellous and Marc

Riste, Marcellous and Butch

A Barber, a Yoke and a…. Part 1

Matthew 11

28.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

29.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls.

30.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

One of my kid’s mom, Sondra, ended up in the hospital in mid December 2006.  She wasn’t doing too well, fighting a number of medical issues that no one in their late 30’s should have to fight.  But, a difficult life and bad decisions had led her to this place.  She checked herself out of the hospital.  Although I had pleaded with her to go back to MCV, she said that she had some things to do and would go back after the first of the year.  Unfortunately, she passed on January 3, 2007.  She left behind 4 children from the ages of 13 -18.  My kid (KK) was the youngest of the 4, and he lived with his dad, Marcellous.

Some of the youth leaders and I started spending time with KK after school until his dad could quit his 2nd job a few weeks later.  Only a week or so went by when Marcellous, also ended up in the hospital, due to complications with diabetes.  KK came to live with me.  He struggled with school…with life.  He had seen more in his short 13 years than I had seen in my life of 44 years.  His mom had made many choices to sustain her habits….choices no woman really wants to make but does anyway.  KK had seen people get shot.  He had seen drugs and alcohol be abused.  He was labeled early in life by the school system.  His siblings lived with different family members.  His older brother chose the street and was in and out of jail for various reasons.  I LOVED KK…a lot!

Marcellous was in and out of the hospital with complications.  There was a time when we thought we were going to lose him.  He rallied, but due to weakness and the need for continued care, Marcellous wasn’t yet prepared to care for his son.

KK went to live with his Aunt in NJ for the summer.  Marcellous eventually got stronger.  I spent many hours with him…as he no real friends or family.  He left his family years ago.  Then…one night he accepted the Lord as his Savior.  He wanted to go to church, but was still in rehab…learning to walk again.  But, he didn’t want to go with his hair long.   You see…his fro was about 3 inches high.

I went on a mission to find someone who would cut his hair at the rehab center.  I could find NO ONE who was willing to go.  Until Marc (you know…my friend at work) introduced me to Emmanuel.  Emmanuel has a barber shop called Edify 360 on Hull and Turner.  HE was willing to come…but it wouldn’t be until about 9pm at night.  I turned him down at first.  Not wanting to inconvenience him….come clear across town at that time of night.  But…I finally relented.  And I am SOOO glad that I did!!!

WOW!  Marc, Emmanuel and I rolled up to the rehab center.  I had NOOO idea what I was getting into.  Neither did Marcellous for that matter!  Meanwhile…Emmanuel wasn’t sure what he was doing either.  He wasn’t quite sure about me…and my heart.  But….after that night…let’s just say…we were all convinced it was a divine appointment!

Emmanuel proceeded to not only cut his hair, but he also encouraged and build him up (note the name of his shop…EDIFY!!).  As Marcellous said, “Miss Marti…I didn’t know I was getting a cut AND a sermon!” with both hands in the air…thanking God and Emmanuel.  Emmanuel did more than edify Marcellous.  He touched my heart that night.  How he was an ordinary barber…doing extraordinary things!!!  To this day….Emmanuel and I have done this more than once.  His wife Marsha says….”When Miss Marti calls, Emmanuel goes!”  I LOVE her and their 2 beautiful kids for sharing her husband and their dad with me in the ministry of loving God and loving others.  Although…it is NOT unusual for at least one of them to tag along.  Emmanuel is modeling what it is to be on mission with Jesus to his family.  May God BLESS Edify 360 and the Gayot family!!!  (Shameless plug for Edify 360!)

God wasn’t done with Marcellous yet…so neither am I. The story is going to require another post.  Stay tuned for part 2.  In the meantime…

Go see Emmanuel at Edify 360 and get a great haircut. You just might run into Marc or Louis there.  Give ’em a hug from me!  I love them all…and you will too!

Don, Luke, Jesus & Marti

Sorry….this is a longer post!  But, hang in there!!!  It’s a good one!  I promise!

Luke 10

  1. After the Lord…sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
  2. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

God gave me strength during some hard conversations.  Some close friends and family members were never super thrilled about me moving into this neighborhood.  They loved me and feared for my safety.  One close family member gave me a particularly hard time.  Finally, I asked him…”If God called me to go to Africa, China or Brazil to do His work, how would you feel?”  He quickly agreed that he would fully support it.  I respectfully shared with him, that God had called me to the mission field, it just happened to be an urban mission field.  I didn’t have to go half-way around the world, but could stay in my own Jerusalem and be about God’s work.  If he or anyone else had a problem with that, they needed to take it up with God…not with me.  I had to concern myself with obeying my heavenly Father first. No one ever said that following God meant it would be easy.  There were friends who refused to come to my house, or only came during the daytime.  But, that is why God called me (not them) to live here.  At times, being obedient means sacrificing.

I didn’t always see it as sacrificial….because it seemed sooo right.  I had a real peace about it.  But, I saw it as an opportunity to expose my circle of influence to something they might not have encountered otherwise.  My friends and family have grown to accept my choice and love my neighborhood and its residents.  They are willing to visit…day or night!  My neighborhood was really not THAT different from my previous neighborhood or theirs.  It just LOOKED different.

2006 had been a trying year in many ways.  I LOVED on these kids….day and night.  And their stories and their needs broke my heart.  There were many lonely times…where I felt like I was all alone in this…..and I was tired.  In retrospect, I was probably trying to do it all alone rather than seeking God’s will and help.  The needs of the community were so overwhelming.  I found myself only seeing the dealers, the prostitutes, the homelessness, the absentee fathers, the struggling single moms, the addicts, the guys hanging out on street corners doing a whole lot of nothing.  Trying to be a light in the darkness.  As a reminder…It’s interesting…in looking back, my journal wasn’t as full as it normally was.  Indicating to me now, that I probably wasn’t praying and listening to God as much as I should have.

In December of 2006, a group of us from church were meeting for lunch.  Rob, my pastor, had brought this group together to encourage us as Christians in workplaces throughout the city.  This is where I first got to know Don Coleman… Pastor Don.  I was sharing the story of my neighborhood, and work.  Don gave me a Word…Luke 10:1-7.

1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

It had been a year, almost to the day, since Kevin (remember Kevin…the bone God tossed me when I prayed for my future husband?) had come into my life.  I had not talked with Kevin but once or twice since that day.  But, I had meditated on Deuteronomy 8 many times.  Now, Don gives me Luke.  Being a quick study, I knew to take this seriously.  After meditating on this Word for weeks, reading it over-and-over again, by mid January, 2007, I felt sure of its intent for me.

–      God was reminding me that he still hadn’t forgotten about me and my singleness, that he had the other ½ of my pair out there somewhere, and we would be in ministry together.  God had sent me (and some day my other ½) to SBH in preparation for Jesus ‘showing up’.  I needed NOT to pray for my future husband….but to pray for the other half of my pair….my partner in the ministry.  If it happened to be my husband…Lord, THAT would be the icing on the cake!

–      I was right where I was supposed to be…at work and at home.  The harvest was plentiful…and the laborers were few.  I had been called to ‘be Jesus’ to people in my life.

–      My house…was a ‘House of Peace’.  Confirming that it was God’s house…not mine and that I was not to ‘force’ my Peace on anyone.

I was about to find out that there was more in that Word than I thought…..

Lookin’ to the Hills

Psalms 121

1.  I lift up my eyes up to the hills – where does my help come from?

2.  My help comes from the Lord.

The kids were attending church with me on a regular basis.  More and more kids became part of my life.  We had sleepovers, watched football games, pick-up street games, etc.  The youth group had officially started at Commonwealth…with Sunday night gatherings, retreats and lock-ins.  Neighbors were starting to call the house “Miss Marti’s House”….and it has stuck.

A women’s small group from my church was meeting at my house several times a month.  I was still regularly meeting with the Lord through reading and studying the Word and prayer….or at least I started off that way.

Not all was great.  I was accepted…by most, but not all.  In some cases, it was clear that I was not welcomed, as a professional white single woman.  The adults didn’t trust me.  Many didn’t understand why I moved in and why I was letting the kids run in and out of the house.  Some didn’t understand WHY in the world would the kids WANT to hang out.  It wasn’t me…it was the “God in Me”… the LOVE and PEACE they felt when they were in my home.  In the presence of the Lord.

Side note:  When I was younger, I used to DREAM of having a houseful of kids….and that we would have the “cool house” where all the kids would want to hang out.  What little did I know…that God would bring that dream true!  What I didn’t expect was that the kids wouldn’t be mine nor…would they be black!

My success at work and my sphere of influence had increased.  I often wondered why God called me to work among some of the wealthiest, and live among what some would call the ‘least of these’.  There was diversity in skin color, but also in education and socioeconomic status.  My two worlds were as divergent as you could get.  I began to wonder what God was up to.  At what point would these 2 paths cross?

Challenges were not just in the community, but they also came at work, where I faced an employee relations situation alleging that I created a hostile work environment based on race…because I talked about my kids.  It was unfounded.

As I reflect on this situation, I realize that Satan will go ALL out, when you ‘sell out’ totally to the Lord.  Satan will only mess with those who he sees as a threat…..because they are in the will of God.  This was simply a distraction.

I also have come to realize….in retrospect…that I must not have been reading and praying like I had done previously.  Let’s just say that my journals are a bit light.  But…I finally figured it out…

I knew where to go.  I went to the Lord.  My help….my strength….it cometh from the Lord.

This little light of mine…

I’m gonna let it shine!

2006 starts off to be a good year.  I became more and more engrossed in my community. It was a time of building relationships…and just living. My neighbors were now my friends…having cook-outs, walking, community civic meetings, etc.  I was now officially ‘Miss Marti’ and the neighborhood kids were now ‘Miss Marti’s Kids’.  It became quite normal to have a bunch of middle and high school boys coming in and out of the house. God had called me to this community…to live…and to love.  Nothing more.

I was encouraged.  The Wall of Crosses have been used more than once.  Shortly after Kevin’s visit, I moved the crosses (begrudgingly) from the front room in the house to my den at the back of the house.  All because I hung a candelabra that would block the view.  On the day of our joint cookout Memorial Day 2006, Nichelle, my next door neighbor, shared with me that her friend wanted to meet me.  I was like “Why does he want to meet me?  He wants to meet the crazy white woman on the corner?”

Come to find out, he had driven down Barton Avenue one evening…in need of a lift, when he looked in my breakfast nook windows and saw my Wall of Crosses in my den….on the other side of the house.  The corner lot has been such a blessing!!!  He stated that the crosses brought him peace and comfort in a time of need.  Now, some would be totally freaked that someone was looking in their house.  Me?  I was thrilled!!  I was wowed at God’s goodness.

I had begrudgingly moved the crosses…grumbling as I put each nail in the wall…due to a stupid candelabra…only to find out that God had something else in store.  Before, you had to come IN my house to see the Crosses.  Now, you could see them OUTside while walking or driving down the road.  That very day, I set my light timer in my den to come on at sunset and to cut off at sunrise, allowing the crosses to be seen 24 hours a day, every day.

It reminds me….how people look at me on the OUTside…they don’t need to look at the INside.  I have some family, friends, neighbors, colleagues who don’t know me up close and personal.  Who don’t necessarily know my heart, because they only see me on the outside.  But…does my outside shine brightly?  Doesn’t that sometimes speak louder than any words?  Is my timer set to shine in the darkness and light the way to the cross?

I pray that my Wall of Crosses…and my life…my home…bring Peace to Southern Barton Heights.  That my life shines BRIGHTLY and points to the Cross.