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Friday, December 23, 2011

View From the Bridge

sThese last two days before Christmas seem surreal. My cards are made, but not sent; gifts purchased but not wrapped; commitments noted but dangling for that magic moment that propels us into a new year filled with the promise of grand opportunity and expanded parameters of success. These last nine days before 2012 is like standing on a bridge between 2011 and 2012. Looking back, I can clearly see the steps that brought us to this place of transition. God's nudges from one path to another are clear but fading as time propels us into this new season -- a  season is, in many ways, requiring us to pick up the mantle He placed on us almost 10 years ago, one that was laid down when we couldn't find a replacement for our prison outreach. But this 2012 path is different; one tempered by time and experience. Now, for our ministry to survive after we no longer inhabit this earth, we must find and train new people; our replacement.

So, where do we begin? In the homeless shelter.

Already we have dates on our calendar for our new DIMH team -- January 15 at Eagles Wing Church of God in Dover, DE. We have dates for our men's prisons, for solo ministry, and a request to join the Garveys in North Carolina for several men's prison performances. It's a beginning. As we prove faithful here, the Lord will open new doors.

I am also committing to a new project for 2012 which begins January 1st. I will be completing faithbooking challenges with Patter Cross -- 26 entries focused on traditional hymns and scriptures. While I am expanding my scrapbooking business, Christ remains at the center where He belongs.

Through the application of this wonderful, legacy-building genre, I expect to see significant breakthroughs both commercially. The sense the Lord empowering me creatively. I am eager to soar higher  than ever before through two art forms I love -- drama/audio theatre and scrapbooking. Please keep our ministry in prayer as we continue to move forward in His perfect plan for us. Pray that we consistently touch hearts and draw them ever-closer to Him -- the One who created each of us. That said, May your Christmas be filled with peace, comfort and joy and may your New Year offer a greater manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ in your lives and the lives of your friends and families.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homeless Men Light Your World

I absolutely love those special times when the Lord calls and we make ourselves available. Sunday morning, December 4, 2011 at Trinity Wesleyan Church was certainly one of those times. Cathi Kopera, one of our CTM Players prison outreach team members, was instrumental in putting this together. She obtained permission for some men from the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing to minister through  our signature mime at her home church. We decided to rehearse with the men at the church on the previous Friday night.

Now, our "signature mime" is Kathy Triccoli's "Go Light Your World." CTM Players has closed every program with this mime since 1999. Suddenly, a week before our Trinity Wesleyan presentation, I decided that we needed to make a change! I'm allowed to do that since I'm the director and the Lord actually gave me the blocking for our church drama team in 1996 or 1997.

Now, when we performed this mime last month in partnership with the homeless group, we had four men. Imagine my surprise when 12 entered the church with Cathi on Friday night! I looked at them, then at the performance space and then back at them. No way! Not enough room! But that wasn't what Cathi had in mind. We stationed the additional men in specific pews in the sanctuary for what promised to be an ending with a punch. Afer maybe 45 minutes, we were satisfied with the presentation.

Sunday morning arose cool and crisp. It promised to be a great day for fellowshipping with the body of Christ. Our first surprise came when I looked at the program and discovered that we were not at the end as we expected; we were positioned before the sermon. We found that most unusual, but that was the pastor's decision, not ours. We're nothing if we're not flexible. We are there to serve; not demand. So we seated ourselves in the back of the sanctuary and waited for the call.

The service started with greetings, moved into praise and worship, prayer for those in need, a report on their new youth program, special music, and then us! Oh! Did I mention that at the last minute Cathi asked me to cold read a "Night Before Christmas" parody that a DIMH board member wrote? The parody touched on the holiday plight of the homeless. So we positioned ourselves for the mime while Cathi presented some facts about the homeless in Delaware -- the most telling fact is that there are 39,000 homeless in the state. Two of the men offered brief testimonies. I read the poem. The music started, I began singing, and the mime proceeded as planned.

I love the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The men were perfect in their presentation. The "new" ending that we engineered with the extra eight men showed six (the four men, Cathi and my husband Dave) going out to share their light with the congregation and 14 coming back.

Then it was over, but the glow remained. The greatest impact for the men was (1) the accomplished something powerful, and (2) they were seen as something other than "homeless." They experienced the anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit that comes only with the setting aside of self and pouring out to others.

So, we returned to our seats and waited to hear the pastor's sermon.

"Well," he said. "That's the sermon. There's nothing that I can add. Cathi, please come here." At that point, he presented Cathi with a check to the homeless shelter from the church, made a personal commitment to the men, lit the second advent candle and dismissed the congregation.

 I was stunned. I couldn't recall that ever happening before. The men were delighted. One man expressed special interest in doing more. Sadly, before the next week ended, he broke a major rule and was out of the shelter. That's how the enemy works, isn't it?

This experience birthed something new that begs for additional prayer covering and it comes on the heels of our promise to be more available. We are going to organize a new audio theatre team at the shelter with men from the shelter. Our first ministry opportunity will be on Sunday morning, January 15, 2012 at Eagles Wings Church of God on Denny's Road in Dover, Delaware. But I must stop here and start writing scripts. I'll keep you posted. Please keep us in prayer.