Friday, May 15, 2009

Street Ministry - Marion/Harrison Street neighborhood - 5-14-9

This was a beautiful evening.  The strong thunderstorms of the night before had washed the sky to a distilled clearness.  It was so very clean and fresh and blue.  We have had nearly perfect growing conditions this spring and everything is so vibrantly green.  Add to this the hours just before sunset are known in photography as the golden hours, for the light of the sun is so soft and warmly rich.  A soft breeze gently caressed the trees making walking a deep pleasure.

I was alone tonight.  I'm not sure where Terry was and Carey never joined up with me.  

It was a perfect evening to be out, but the people were somewhere else.  I don't understand.  Last week I was so very busy on these same streets.  Tonight I was virtually alone.

I always park near the Congregational Church at the corner of Third and Marion.  One of my first stops is always the large four story apartment building on the north side of Marion Street.  There was a lone lady sitting drinking beer up on the first level porch.  She intently watched me as I hung fliers on the door ringer at each of that floors entryways.  Hers was a very hard and piercing look.  As I gave her a flier and Bible verse card,  I told her that I was praying for the neighborhood. . . for the drug houses to close. . . for people to stop shooting each other. . . for good things to happen to people. . .

She started to object. . ."I'm Catholic and I . . .",  before trailing off.  Realizing that I hadn't given her a target at which to shoot.  I smiled broadly at her, "I remember you."  I told her that we had prayed with, I believe her daughter and grand daughter last summer as they were leaving from a visit with her and I had seen her on this same porch that day.  They have some connection with the Bowlin family.  I can't remember exactly what that relationship is.  I've looked through my reports of last summer, but I cannot find the reference.  I thought I had written it up, but anyway. . .The hardness of the lady began melting. . ."Yes", she said and she mentioned the names of the little girl and daughter.

As I was leaving and walking down the sidewalk, she came to the railing and speaking down to me from the height of the porch, "God has blessed you greatly", she said.  I didn't understand, "How is that?", I asked. . . "You remembered. . .", she replied. . .

All my life I have been a very mentally lazy person when it comes to people's names.  I am just notorious for that.  30 seconds after I meet someone, typically I would not remember their name.  It's just plain laziness and nothing more, but for the past couple of years I've been making a serious attempt to correct that weakness and really focusing on remembering names.  People really like being recognized and knowing someone's name is key to that.  I still have work to do, but I'm trying to improve.

We don't yet have the same depth of relationship on the Marion/Harrison Street neighborhood that we do in the Middlebury Street area, but  we are gaining experience and making new friends almost every week there.

Last week I reported watching from Bob's porch as a man picked up a prostitute.  In this morning's Elkhart Truth is a story: 


of a street crimes sting operation last night the very night I was out praying.  One of the arrests was of a prostitute at 6th and Marion (Bob's address).  I don't really think so, but maybe that's where all the people were last night, hiding from the EPD Street Crimes Unit. . .LOL

I stopped and talked to and prayed with Bob.

I stopped at the little store at 6th and Marion.  I always buy water there.  Thirsty or not I always go in and make a purchase to make contacts.  The same with the Hispanic street vendor who sells ice cream from his little cart.  I always buy one of his confections.  The little store is a hub of life of the neighborhood.  If you remember on Tuesday I ran into a lady whom I had done Bible studies with when she was in the old jail in Goshen.  She and another lady would come out of their ward by themselves and for several weeks I would do a little Bible study with them.  Anyway Brother Evans and I lifted up a fervent prayer with her Tuesday night.  

She asked if I ever saw her friend whom she was incarcerated with.  I told her no.  The last I knew she was over in South Bend. . .Well tonight a lady was in the little grocery store.  Her face looked so familiar.  I greeted her, but it didn't really click. . .after I left the store, it came upon me in a rush.  It's been about 3 or 4 years, but this is the other lady from our little Bible studies at the jail. . .I hurried back to the store.  She was just getting in her car.  I said, "You're _____."  She smiled broadly and said, "Yes."  I told her how I'd seen her friend just two nights ago on Middlebury Street, how she was greatly pregnant due any day, and how her friend had asked about her, if I'd seen her and now here she was. . .This is so cool. . .This is so God!!!  I gave her a flier and Bible verse card.  I didn't even ask, but she very warmly told me that she would come worship with us someday soon. . . 

This all took place in the first half hour or so of my being out on the street and after this I really spoke with almost no one.  The usual little group of kids (that Lee picks up in the church van) at 8th and Harrison mobbed me for fliers and Bible verse cards, but other than that I might as well have been walking out in the game refuge or some wild place taking pictures.

It was though a great opportunity for prayer.  As I walk I pray for a huge revival to sweep Elkhart.  I pray and visualize nearly everyone I see with their hands raised, fervently worshiping and crying out to God. . .Plowing the ground. . . planting seeds. . .

I love you God. . .
I love you all. . .

Dave Stokely
anewcreature.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Street Ministry - Middlebury Street neighborhood 5-12-9

Tonight it was Terry Wallin, myself. . .(and drum roll please!!!) Brother Larry Evans.  I was so excited and glad to see Brother Evans tonight.  He was such a blessing to have along.

I am so sorry if you get tired of my enthusiasm, but tonight was a really great great night of ministry on Middlebury Street.  I was especially wanting to have a good night for Brother Evan's sake and we had a good one.

Zoe and David, a regular stop on our walk, are having severe financial problems.  In addition Zoe lost a close friend this week and is emotionally quite fragile.  Kathy (another friend in the neighborhood) showed up just as we were getting ready to pray.  David is having quite an attack of gout and was sleeping.  I told Zoe that we would stop and pray with him later on our way back to the church.

Rejections take a toll on me and to me the damage seems to be cumulative.  The longer I do street ministry, the more I almost flinch at expected rejection before I even talk with a person.  I have a tendency to pre-judge people on the basis of their appearance, sometimes fully expecting rejection before they even open their mouths, but. . .but. . . but!!!  I try with everything I have, never to allow that fear or expectation of rejection to dictate my actions.  If I have learned anything, it is that I am a terribly lousy predictor of who will or will not be receptive.  To exterior all appearances, the hardest, meanest looking people have often proven to be among the most receptive of all the people we talk to.

I spotted a fellow crossing Middlebury Street toward us.  I just had this feeling, from his age, his demeanor, and the way he was dressed,  that he wouldn't be interested at all in hearing what we had to say or being prayed for, but I gave every bit of love that I could to him in my voice, in telling him that we were praying for the people of the neighborhood and asking him if there were anything that we could pray with him about. . . the man just opened himself completely to us.  He had just gotten out of prison 4 months ago.  He had an addiction to cocaine and he was greatly struggling with temptation.  He was just so emotionally receptive. . . he greatly desired to be anointed and prayed for.  There right in the street, Brother Evans, Terry, and I anointed him and lifted up a powerful prayer to God for this man to be delivered from his bondage. . .It was just awesome. . .

A little further on, a 13 year old girl crossed the street and approached us and asked if the church needed any summer help.  She was so sweet.  Her Mama was getting her a puppy and she wanted to earn money to keep the puppy up on its shots and vet visits. . .She wanted prayer and anointing also.  We asked for the Lord to open a door for this young girl, to provide a job for this girl in a wondrous way to help build her faith in Him. . .She was such a sweetheart. . .

We talked for quite a bit with Ralph, one of the neighborhood regulars.

I went into the store and bought some water.  WOW!!!  What a great surprise.  The owner's son and 2 daughters were in the store.  I really miss seeing them every week over on Marion Street.  They are such sweet kids.  They are very young.  I think the oldest is maybe 7.  They love getting the little Bible verse cards.  I had forgotten, but Terry reminded me how one day last summer when we came upon them, how they were all on the sidewalk with little markers and pads of paper. . . all writing letters to God. . .Melissa and Terry and I almost wept that day.  It was such a special time. . .

At another of the subsidized apartment complexes, a man was drinking beer on the front steps.  Again I had to resist the urge to just pass him by. . .I'm so very glad that I did not.  He was initially closed to me, but when I told him that we were just wanting to pray for good things to happen to people, he started to open up.  He had gotten laid off a few weeks ago and it was very tough on him. . .It turned out I was very familiar with the company he had worked for.  I had designed tooling to help them manufacture their product.  The flood gates now were full open.  He was very emotional.  We made a great connection.  I gave him one of my chaplain's cards with my cell phone number on it.  I told him I'd love to have coffee with him sometime. . .

The apartments were filled with people wanting prayer. . .a man about Terry and I's age, sitting on the sidewalk wanted prayer and anointing for his prostate trouble. . . LOL  OK  we laughed, between Terry, Brother Evans, and I, we can relate to that request. . .We anointed him and prayed for healing for this man.

Young mothers wanted prayer for financial help and wisdom raising their children.

I almost wept.  I ran into a young woman I know from the jail.    I was so happy to see her.  I did Bible studies for a number of weeks with her and another lady, several years ago.  She has such a sweet spirit about her.  I've seen her a number of times on the street since then.  The last time was in the middle of last summer.  Today she was greatly pregnant.  She is due this week.  One of the things that I had prayed for her at the jail, was for God to raise up a Godly husband for her. . .I asked her how the search for a husband was going. . . she almost began openly crying. . .Brother Evans and I lifted up a most fervent prayer for her. . .I strongly believe that we will see her at church.  I told her that I would not be there Sunday, but to please please come anyway. . . 

Another lady, again I prejudged not to be interested.  She was just getting out of the car in front of her apartment.  She was on crutches.  I told her what we were doing, praying for the neighborhood. . .praying for the drug houses to close. . . praying for people to quit shooting each other. . . (smiling looking anywhere but at her). . . praying for people to be healed. . .She just burst out with a big grin and a laugh.  I said, "Those hurt don't they."  "Yeah", she really agreed.  She was still only half out of her car, but Brother Evans, Terry, and I anointed and began praying for her when a man walked up and asked if he could get some of this, so he joined our prayer circle.  I anointed him and we all lifted up a prayer for this woman.  Her cast is supposed to be on for another 3 weeks.  We prayed for the Lord to take her pain and to give her a more rapid recovery.  It was great.

I've got to get to bed, so I've got to draw this to a close, but I saw 2 young mothers pushing their babies in strollers, walking with another woman on Aspenwald about half a block away.  I was waiting for Terry and Brother Evans to finish their side of Aspenwald.  So, I walked up toward them.  The one lady was so excited to see me.  Truthfully I didn't remember her, but she said that I had anointed her and prayed with her last summer two days before he son (in the stroller) was born.  She was very glad to see me.  Everything worked out well in her pregnancy.  I now remembered her.  She had been with several friends and they were walking her around the apartment complex trying to start her labor.  Her friends took my anointing oil and rubbed it all over her belly.  It was so funny.    She really enjoyed getting the flier and Bible verse card.  The older lady, without a stroller and baby, turned out to be a strong prayer warrior.  It was like I lit a fuse.  She just began giving testimony after testimony about the power of prayer. . . She loves to pray. . .

Larry and I stopped back at David and Zoe's.  David was awake and we went into his house and prayed with him.  He is not well at all. . .

It was just a grand night. . .

I love you my God. . .

I give you all thanks. . .

Thank you my God. . .
Thank you my God. . .
Thank you my God. . .

Dave Stokely
anewcreature.blogspot.com/
facebook.com/people/David-Stokely/711689740
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Street Ministry Report - Middlebury/Aspenwald 5-5-9 & Marion/Harrison Street 5-7-9

This has been a very busy week and I'm behind on my reports. . .

Middlebury/Aspenwald 5-5-9

Again I was alone this week as Terry Wallin is continuing to have back problems.  He broke his back a number of years ago and periodically it flares up in pain and gives him a great deal of trouble.  Please keep Terry in your prayers.

The evening was cool and somewhat overcast.  Not lots of people were out.  I stopped and prayed with David and Zoe.  As I passed the apartments at Prairie and Middlebury there was a large crime scene taped off with a number of squad cards and two large step vans, one of which said 'CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION'.  The rumor on the street (later born out by the newspaper article in the Elkhart Truth ) was that a young man had been stabbed in the neck and a woman cut.  Both were taken to the hospital.  Both survived.  There was lots of attention toward that.  People were concerned and upset.  Three young men sitting on a car, talking on the sidewalk about what happened.  I joined them and spoke with them for maybe 10-15 minutes or so.  I have no idea of what the conversation would have been without my presence, but with me being there God was repeatedly brought up. . .again and again it was mentioned how lucky the young man was.  How much blood he had lost and how close the knife was to his jugular vein. . .How God surely must have been protecting him. . . only a fraction of an inch difference in the knife wound and he surely would have been dead.  These three young men, to see them. . . their demeanor and general appearance. . . would make you wonder. . .make you possibly feel uneasy. . .These three young men. . . I anointed them and we joined our hands in prayer there in the parking lot. . .we prayed for the victims of the knife attack. . . we prayed for these young men to find jobs. . . for God to guide their lives. . .

I ended up praying with and talking to quite a good number of people in the apartment complex.  It ended up being a very good night. . . lots of young mothers with their children were out.  Numbers of kids interested in coming to Sunday School. . . I had just begun on Aspenwald when my wife called me to come to the church for a meeting. . . so I rather rushed back.

Marion/Harrison Street 5-7-9

This was just a grand night.  It had been spitting rain most of the day and I was wondering if we would be able to go this evening, but about the time we started at 5 p.m. the skies cleared.  The temperature was in the low 70's and somewhat cloudy.  Carey Slack accompanied me.  He pulled the wagon.  Carey likes to help.

I stopped at Blessing Bob's.  He wasn't out, but he came to the door at my knocking and told me that his roommate wanted to see me.  He had received a letter he wanted me to read to him.  


0507091743a.jpg

This is Blessing Bob's roommate.  I read the letter for him.  I anointed Bob and his roommate and prayed with them.   

Quite a number of prostitutes were out.  I spoke with two or three.  Gave them fliers and Bible verse cards.  Told them if they needed me to pray for them or for anything in their lives that I would be glad to do that.  I watched from Bob's porch as an older man, looking to be in his sixties, in a very nice large car with a handicapped license plate and a large dog in the back seat looking out the window, picked up a prostitute. . . so very sad. . .

I spoke with so many people.  I don't want to exaggerate, but I think I easily spoke with 50-75 people tonight.  A  man and woman, a married husband and wife, just moved in the neighborhood.  They have 8 children between them.  They invited me into their home and asked me to pray for their family.  I anointed them and we prayed in their living room.  They want me to stop back each week and pray with them.

I am pushing more this year, trying to be more assertive in getting them hooked up with LTC.  I spoke with a Spirit filled lady over on Harrison street whom I had prayed with last summer.  She is laid off, but her two sons are home from college for the summer and are helping her out financially. . .things will be OK.  She had wondered where I had been over the winter, not realizing that I stopped doing street ministry when the weather got cold.

I filled a page up in my notebook with prayers and prayer requests. . .

Just as I started onto Harrison Street my phone rang.  I thought it was my sister, but it was my nephew using my sister's phone.  He wanted the phone number of my mom's former boyfriend (Mom died in Feb. 2008).  A few minutes later again my phone rings and again it is my nephew.  He and I are not close.  If I see him or speak to him every two or three years that would be a lot.  He just poured his heart out to me talking and talking about things going on in his life.  He needs to get hold of my Mom's boyfriend. . . My Mother's boyfriend, George, lives in a house on an alley on Harrison Street, not two blocks from where I am then standing. . .Thank you Lord!!!

I went to George's house.  He is very hard of hearing.  I pounded and pounded on his door while at the same time calling him by my voice and on the phone, but no one answered.  I left a flier and one of my Chaplain's cards on his door and continued down Harrison Street.  A few minutes later I'm headed back to the car and walking on Marion Street, a car behind me half a block away begins honking and honking its horn.  I don't recognize it.  I wave and continue walking.  They round the block and it's George (Mom's boyfriend) and his friend Steve.  We have a great talk.  I haven't seen George in several months.  I tell him about my nephew's wanting to contact him.

These two old gentlemen are hard core Democrats, both of them life long democratic precinct workers.  I smile broadly and shake my finger at Steve (the driver of the car that was honking at me).  I tell him you know we elephants (referring to my being republican) have such long memories. . .I still remember. . . I still remember.  He grins, but looks puzzled.  I remember you telling me that day in mom's hospital room, how you were going to come to church with me one day. . . That wonderful day a couple of years ago.  Mom, George, Steve, and I prayed together.  Steve confided to me at that time. "No one in Elkhart knows this, but I too have been filled with God's Spirit and have spoken in tongues."

George and Steve have been friends, I believe since WWII and George had no idea that Steve was spirit filled. . .Steve told me that day that he would come to Life Tabernacle Church. . .I'm believing in the power of God to change lives. . .

It was just a great great night.  This is all that I have time to write now. . .So many wonderful people. . .God is moving. . .

Thank you my Lord. . .
Thank you my God. . .

Friday, May 1, 2009

Of Presidents and Priests and Kings and Many Things. . .

We are coming upon the much celebrated by the media, mini milestone of the 100th day of the Obama presidency.  As a politically conservative, fundamentalist, One God, Apostolic, Spirit filled, Jesus name Christian each day’s headlines cause me greater and greater anguish.  If I allowed myself, I could easily become distraught at the path our country, indeed more than that . . . the path that our entire world has taken. . .
 
But Mr. Obama cannot be held responsible in a mere 100 days for the position in which we find ourselves as a nation.  He is a symptom, not a cause.  In fact, even his being in office at all is not attributable to Mr. Obama’s particular talents or past accomplishments, but rather to the desperate hunger of the country for a new direction.  His mantra was ‘change’ and that alone is what people wanted. . .change is what people needed, but their eyes are blind to the change required for lasting happiness. . .
 
Being horribly dissatisfied with our present national and cultural circumstances, as a nation we have sold the old homestead farm, which with all its flaws and problems, still and all had served us well and had been in the family for generations.  We wanted change.  We bought a new place next to the landfill, across the street from a nuclear waste processing facility, thinking any location to be better than where we were.
 
How similar to the circumstance of a young person, newly graduated from high school and being so eager to escape the oppressive atmosphere of their parents home, that in a mad rush, they blindly moving in with an acquaintance whom they scarcely know . . . Only to learn a painful lesson in that the structure and stability of the parental nest were in the end shown to be greatly desired over the madness of unending parties and undisciplined hedonism. . .
 
In a few years the old family farm becomes a passionately fond memory and we must at some point, if we ever mature enough, admit with great humility that life with Mom and Dad wasn’t nearly so bad as we thought it.
 
When this country started, we had a firm moral direction, interpreted and administered by our priests, from behind the pulpit in our neighborhood churches.  Granted there was imperfection, admittedly there was at times excess and abuse, but it was a self-correcting imperfection.  As long as we had an arbitrary and unchanging standard against which to measure our direction, any misdirection would soon become apparent and could be nudged back into the proper course. 
 
Now we have lost both that local leadership, and the inviolable standard against which to measure our moral compass heading.  As a nation, as a culture, as a society, we still have our priests, but now even though they continue to wear the black cassocks of their type, the leather bound book to which they refer is no longer the inspired word of God, but rather the words and wisdom of their own fellow man.
 
This puts them in the position of taking another man’s intellectual output as their input, digesting it, and reissuing it again as output to be again used as the input of another.  This is a classic feedback loop.  The output of a speaker becomes the input of a microphone, which feeds the speaker. . . and round and round the loop goes.  Each cycle of feedback imperceptibly modifies and distorts the original input until the once beautiful tones of music and singing soon become harsh and piercing. . . pain arises where beauty once stood.
 
Barring any other moral locus, hedonism always becomes the direction of our path.  Given our own will, our flesh and its hungers greatly desire to predominate above every other more nebulous and airy, in short Spiritual goal. . . We are now in a position where the hedonism of a man and woman, their desire for unrestricted coupling with no consequences or responsibilities is now given by our judicial neo-priesthood in preference over a baby’s right to live and breathe . . .The pleasures of the parents are more important than the essential right of life of the child and on and on. . .
 
Issues of this similar nature arise again and again.  Questions we never before thought to ask, arise and are decided, taking dark and confusing directions.  The very fabric of that which holds us together as a people seems in imminent danger of giving way.  As a culture, we spiral ever more deeply into the abyss of animalistic impulse. . . if it feels good, do it!  That now seems to be replacing 'In God We Trust' as our national motto.  No longer a phrase found only on psychedelic posters in head shops.  That license that our neo-priesthood is granting our society, to act upon every whim of passion as a right of man is anything but freedom.  It is bondage of the most severe form . . . bondage to the lusts and appetites of the flesh.
 
As a Christian, am I justified in despairing?  Should I continue to become more and more overwrought and dismayed at each new immoral revelation of our godless neo-priests.  I think not.
 
First of all, I must strive continually to keep foremost in my mind, that the source of my happiness is not my job.  It is not my 401k plan.  It is not my house, my car, or my health.  It is not the latest decision of the Supreme Court, nor the latest legislative initiative signed by our President.  I will be sorely disappointed if I look for my happiness in these things.  All these things can easily be taken away from me.  I must remember and remain focused upon the true source of my happiness, which is my relationship with God. 
 
Secondly, each new manifestation of evil in this world is merely a more currant and stronger confirmation of the Bible’s prophetic writings regarding the imminent return of our King. . .If things were to remain peaceful, holy, and righteous in this world then we would know that the time of the Lord was in the long distant future.  We know, we have been given warning that the times will become very much more tumultuous before the return of the Lord.
 
And lastly, as the ambient light of our world turns to dusk, as the gloom increases, the bright twinkling of our peace and stability will more fully contrast with the world around us.  Whatever light we posses will be more visible amidst the surrounding chaos and confusion.  Do not be fooled.  The stars in the sky shine both day and night, only appearing to suddenly and magically turn on in the absence of the brilliant sun.  The day is late.  The sun is beginning to set and the hours of darkness approach. . .
 
As Christians we have an exclusive franchise on the only source of lasting and genuine happiness.  With the accelerating moral decline of this world, as the people around us become more greatly frantic and miserable, our peace and joy will stand out as a beacon in the night, this contrast will draw men to us, and through us to Jesus as moths to a flame.
 
Do not despair my beloved Brother and Sister.  Let your faith rise. . .and gladly look forward to the return of our King. . . 

Revelation 22:11-17
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  (12)  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.  (13)  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.  (14)  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.  (15)  For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.  (16)  I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.  (17)  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

I love you my God. . .
I love you all. . .

Thank you my Lord. . .
Thank you my God. . .

Dave