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.

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. 🙂

Our Back Yard… Memorial Day… This Monday… Be There!

One of favorite gatherings!!! Every year on Memorial Day you can find folks gathered in the backyard… eating, playing games, eating, laughing, eating, talking, and eating!

So, grab a covered dish (with some food in it!!!) and come on over! We supply the meat (chicken), drinks and dessert… you supply the rest… veggies, chips, bread, salads, fruit, beans, etc.

Monday, May 25th
4p – 8p
Please note: There is NO rain date for this event. But, the weather is looking GREAT!

2101 Barton Avenue
Richmond, VA 23222
Memorial Day 2015 photo

Memorial Day 2014 – You’re Invited!

Every year, we hold our annual community Memorial Day Party!  Come if you can…and bring something to share! Here’s last year’s post if you wanna check it out…  Memorial Day 2013.  See you Monday!

Memorial Day Flyer 2014

A Night Unlike Most Other Nights

Revised 10.29.2013 11:57pm – Read here for an update on our prayer gathering and more >>>  New. Every. Morning.

Revised 10.29.2013 2pm – At 6pm tonight, we will be meeting in our front yard for prayer for our community and our city. Feel free to come!  2101 Barton Ave, RVA 23222

Tonight was a night NOT like most.  Our neighborhood has been riddled with different problems and challenges over the 8+ years I have lived here (and, of course, before as well).  But, the last few years, I have been so pleased with how calm things have been. How our community has been strengthened. Tonight, however…that has all been challenged when someone was shot in front of our home at 8:30 in the evening.  A bullet came in the front of the house, between the 2 windows above the couch – traveled through the living room and the dining room and into the back wall of the house.  All this as Louis and I sat in our customary chairs watching TV in the living room.  Meaning, the bullet went just a few feet in front of my eyes….1/2 way between me and the TV.

I am mad. I am angry. I am hurt (not physically of course). Yet, I am also grateful to God for his protection. I am thankful for the neighbors, friends and family who have checked in on us, have hugged us, called us, texted, FB’d, etc. It’s a real encouragement.

I am asking that you pray for me….especially for peace. It is not unusual at all for us to have folks enjoying an awesome night of good food and fellowship at our dining room table at 8:30 at night. It’s not unusual for us to have neighborhood kids and teens sitting on our couch or at our table doing homework, writing essays, watching the World Series, snacking on popcorn or chocolate chip cookies, etc. Our house is a house of peace…which I now feel has been violated.

This, of course, brought back memories from nearly 6 years ago when someone else was shot outside our home on the side street on Louis’s and my 4th date. The gunshot victim lived after being shot 9 times.  Praise God!  Tonight, yellow police tape hung around our house for the 2nd time.

I am asking that you pray for my community and others like it. As neighbors called and stopped by, everyone had a story about how bullets had at sometime entered their home by forces beyond their control. Pray for healing in our community.

I am asking that you pray for tonight’s victim and his family. Pray for the medical staff at MCV who is treating him.  I understand that he was shot once, and it wasn’t fatal.

I am asking that you pray for the shooter. That God will ‘arrest’ him/her even before the police do. That the shooter will ‘surrender’ his/her life to Jesus and find what he/she is looking for. That the shooter will turn himself in and seek the help he/she needs.

I am asking that you pray for the police and detectives, as they tirelessly work to solve these senseless crimes.

I am asking that you pray for our ministry and our friends. I know that these things often scare people away. We have youth and adults who join us in our ministry on a regular basis. Pray that this does not deter folks from wanting to love our community with us.

I am asking that you pray that God will work in and through us to bring glory to His name. May Jesus’ name be known through us during this time. That we won’t miss opportunities to minister to our neighbors. That this won’t be a distraction from our calling.

I am grateful to God for so much this evening. To name a few…

  • All of us are fine. God’s angel armies are camped around us and our home. I still praise God, regardless!
  • Terence was on restriction…although I really want some of his chocolate chip cookies!!!  🙂
  • Marques left just moments before the shoot occurred.
  • Shooting wasn’t fatal.
  • So many neighbors who came to love, support and hug.
  • So many friends who are praying, loving and supporting us via email, phone calls, texts, etc.
  • Quick and thorough response of our City’s finest.

And, now, I will answer the question that many of you are probably wondering. The same question we were asked last time a bullet came in the house.

“So…are you packing up your boxes yet?”

And our answer remains the same.

“No. Until God releases us to go or sends us some place else, we will stay.”  May God be glorified through this and through us.

For those who are curious…and want to see pictures….see below! Wonder what our insurance agent will say when we call tomorrow…

entry from the outside

entry from the outside


up close entry from inside house


from the living room


the exit in the dining room beside the chalkboard

Makin’ Waves…at Camp Splash 2013

It’s that time again! Sign up for our annual backyard Vacation Bible School called…

Camp Splash!

For more information and pictures from last year…check out this link…

Splish Splash, I was taking a bath…. 

Be sure to RSVP, so that we will have enough supplies for all the youth.

In addition, note that weather permitting…we are having a community cookout on

Friday evening at 7pm!!!

Bring something to share! Thanks!

Camp Splash Flyer - Front

Camp Splash Flyer - Back

Front Porch Challenge – Need Some Help!

Louis and I undoubtedly have THE. BEST. wrap-around front porch ever.  Best view of the best neighborhood.  EVER.  Now that the weather has warmed up, we will find ourselves out there every chance we can get. We refer to it as our front porch ministry.  Since we live at an intersection with quite a bit of foot traffic, we get to meet a ton of our neighbors just by sitting outside chillin’ with a drink in hand greeting our friends and neighbors.  Sometimes we have music…and Louis and I have been known to dance as well.  🙂  We have created a ton of a unforgettable memories of on that porch as well.

We also have the happiest, best dogs ever.  Bella and Wesley love the porch just as much as we do, and we LOVE to have them with us.  Wesley, the nearly 15 year old black lab, is not our worry.  Bella, the 8-9 year old almost chocolate lab, might as well be 2. With all the feral cats around, she will bound off the porch before you know it, which doesn’t make for a very peaceful night when we are constantly saying…No, Bella.  And we find ourselves a bit more stressed than we need to be.

So, here’s the challenge.  Note in the pictures below the set up of our porch.  We need a creative, tasteful, inexpensive, simple, portable, easy-to-store, way to contain the dogs on the porch while we are out there. You might say…simple!  Get a leash.  Well…not so simple.  Bella will chew through it in about 10 seconds flat – which won’t end up being very inexpensive after we replace it over and over again.

So, any ideas???


happiest dogs ever

happiest best dogs ever


the entrance - steps

the entrance – steps


across the street

across the street


from the front to the left

from the front to the left


from the front to the right

from the front to the right


from the side

from the side


Brookland Theatre – Back in the Spotlight, again!

I have lived in the Northside, specifically Southern Barton Heights, for going on 8 years.  Many people over the decades and recent months and years have prayed and believed that the Brookland Park Boulevard corridor can be revitalized.  There have been several attempts to do so.  We (and by we…I mean the community!) are back at it again…fully believing the time is now.  Now, it’s time to gather the larger Northside community and then, listen to the answers to questions like…What do we want from this theatre and corridor? What will they support and build?  What else would they like to see along Brookland Park Boulevard.

Hope you can come to the first of 3 community forums facilitated by the Storefront for Community Design.  We want to hear all the voices – old and young, long-time residents and new residents, etc.  All are welcome!

We look forward to seeing you…and bring a neighbor!

Tuesday, November 27th


Northminster Church
Contemporary Worship Center
3121 Moss Side Ave, RVA 23222

Remember to RSVP to info@storefrontrichmond.org or 804.649.4935.

“Feeling Grateful For all He Has Given to me!” Cassie Matthew

Cassie Matthew is a fairly new friend of mine, yet I feel like I have known her all my life.  I love her like a sister and so enjoy getting to know her better.  Cassie is the founder of a ministry called Hands Up Ministries here on the Northside of Richmond, VA.  When we met a year or so ago, she had never heard of CCDA (Christian Community Development Association), Dr.John Perkins, Bob Lupton,  Wayne “Coach” Gordon or any of the well-known folks who have been doing CCD for years…dare I say decades.  But, the Holy Spirit led her to do this work, and she obediently got busy.  Now, we are partnering and learning this stuff together.  She is such an inspiration and encouragement to me!  This is an email that she sent out today to her “pals”, which I am grateful to be counted as one of them.  I have posted it with her permission.  Take a read…and check out Hands Up…you won’t be disappointed.  I promise!

Cassie – Thank you for being my friend and sister in Christ.  I am grateful for how you model being Jesus to our friends.  You’re the best!!!  I am sooo looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us in the future!  May God be glorified in all that we do and say!  Love you!  Mart

November 14, 2011

Dearest my pals….

I am sitting in the doctors office, patiently waiting for a biopsy report to come back…thinking  of how grateful I am to have insurance that I can just waltz in here, fill out paper work sit down and have the work done…never paying a dime(today). Just a mole on the face…not to worry. There is a little coffee machine, and SNACKS…my darlin’ husband is having a big time while I’m all patched up here with a big fat swollen eye….I am comparing my experience with that of my friends, who don’t have the luxury of insurance(private), who sit in offices, without snacks, without coffee and piped in music….and are barely acknowledged. I have sat with my friends in the doctors office, with their “Va. Premier” insurance card, they are treated in a much different fashion than I’m being treated today.

The disparity is so obvious, hurtful, and unnecessary. Why? Why must we treat “the poor” so differently? ‘Perhaps’… I wonder, if we treated friends with dignity, if it were required,  I dare to say many folks might take better care of themselves in a more positive way. Feeling uplifted versus leaving angry and indignant. It just makes me sad, and If you don’t see it firsthand, it doesn’t enter your mind.
Just wondering. Just praying God is leading me somewhere…social injustices abound.

On a lighter, happier note…..This semester has been amazing at the Ministry…I’d love to share with you. VCU students have been so wonderful, we started  “Adopt a Family”  pilot  and it is going so well. The city friends are grateful to have someone over who cares, and the Students are really excelling at loving others. Antonio(VCU) has been mentoring a friend, Allen, making decks, fixings friends homes(small jobs, however important), from this opportunity, neighbors want them to come over and help them…For a Fee for the friends! This my friend, is so exciting.  I have to admit, it takes a real effort to help friends, without hurting them, or letting them think “WE” are the answer…“We” are not!…I am very conscious of this always. We must support and not enable…that isn’t always an easy call. Many times it’s not until I’ve(we) made mistakes, that I realized..OK that does/did not help.  Many times, calling on God and asking for His Guidance, is the only comfort I have. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have finally accepted, there is NO ONE I can change, my power is only working in vain, like a hamster on a wheel…i am just killing myself hoping for a change in individuals…NOPE..that does NOT work. There is only one HOPE: Christ. He is THE only answer.  Christ and the individual have to come to terms with what they are willing to give Him, to make changes, I am no different..I must lean into Him, ask Him for the strength I lack for change…and for me, it’s as equally hard, frustrating, difficult, and often I want to quit, many times I do quit. Knowing what is best, I quit, or i don’t DO what is best for me.
In my own strength, I can’t do it. Imagine how my friends feel…who lack all that I have, i see their pain and difficulty. Still i wonder, is this the way to approach friends…with the encouragement of God, I push on, press in,  listen for His direction and get up and try once more. Peace abounds.

There is joy in giving, loving, seeing others receive joy from giving. VCU students who are teaching dance class to our sweet babies, helping Mohammed with his fire stained home with a fresh coat of paint.  Students who are taking the children on field trips to local parks.Tutors who are loving the children and see the true impact sitting with a child for 1.5 hours, right then and there you feel the impact. VCU lady rams who have taken a day to spend it with our kids to teach them basketball drills, but truly making the children feel so special for being them. Inviting us back, all 25 of us to cheer on the team…Amari says..”Hey there is my coach, Andrea…She yells..”Go Andrea” as if they are long lost friends…Fills my souls with love only God could be filling.

So I press on, trying to do all that this ordinary person can do, and when I am exhausted and defeated, He sends an encouraging word my way through His people. He sends me to an extraordinary Sunday School class with beautiful women…or a local Bible study in my neighborhood for His love. Know that there are moments when i say “Really God?”…I can’t…”Then it’s amazing, i look back, and He and I did.”

For those of you who like numbers: We are sending out 65 meals for Thanksgiving(everyone hand delivered by families, SS classes, small groups, circles, Schools), leting folks know we are proud of their hard work and we recognize them and letting them know there are families who care. 29 kids came to tutoring on Wed., with 30 individual tutors from around the city, with a hot meal from SunTrust and a bedtime story to send them home, loved, full, and tired.(Me Too)

25 of us went to see the VCU Lady rams play ball, that feat alone takes an act of congress to make happen…i wish logistics were easier…But they can make me stronger. Thanks to NHPC for always loaning us vans to get the babies around safely.

We visited Monroe Park to hand out  50 hygiene kits and warm clothes and blankets to the homeless, this is a tough gig….send in your warm coats/hats/gloves for men please.(used is perfect)…Let’s go back!

Knitting continues, Computer classes are increasing, jobs are still hard to land, but we are still pushing folks to keep working on new skills.

We’ve had over 180 volunteers this month, doing a variety of demonstrations of loving others, one favorite new act of love was Wally from NHPC who came and played his acoustic guitar and sang to MY SWEET FRIENDS…it’s so EXCITING when something so beautiful happens like that. He gave what he had…his gift of music.

We keep our focus on housing, knowing this can make the biggest tangible difference in a person’s life in the city…dreams we too have and want. I ask for your prayers for God to Bless this direction, praying for a tangilbe way to show our love in the lives of the working poor.
My love and thanks, for all of you, for your time, your donations, your love and words of encouragement….As I tell my children as I put them on the bus…”Be a Blessing…not a Burden!” Come. Give. Pray.

His in Christ,

Cassie Matthew
Hands Up Ministries/Founder

Northside Back to School Community Day






‘This is Discipling’

Some of you have asked….what is a Missional Community and what do you do?

Every Thursday at 6pm, a group of us (mainly from the Northside of RVA) get together in our home.  What do we do?  We fellowship (which basically means talk and eat great food together),  We study God’s Word (also known as the Bible) and pray (talk to God).  We live out God’s mission together (which means we encourage each other to love God more and to love our neighbors) in our everyday lives in our community, at work, at the gym, at the barber shop….wherever we spend our day.  It isn’t project based.  It’s just life.

Weekly, we also have Kids Missional Community, where we do the same thing, but for neighborhood kids.

I recently found this video online and thot I would share it because it describes beautifully what we are doing.  This is the way we roll….in Southern Barton Heights and beyond. If you want to be a part or learn more, feel free to contact me!

This is Discipling from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.