Monday, June 27, 2005
We first started at the top of Signal Hill. Have you ever been up at the top of Signal Hill Park? It's an awesome view. Except for the east side of Long Beach, you can see practically all of Long Beach (and on a clear day - all the way out to LA). We spent some time hearing from them about why they are on this urban mission project. Many of them felt led by the Lord here. Many of them felt like they wanted to develop God's heart for the inner city. Many of them have recognized that they need a new type of lens in which to see the world. One guy was actually from Long Beach and when he decided to go on an urban mission with Intervarsity, he was expecting to be sent to Los Angeles or Santa Ana. He was surprised to be sent here to Long Beach - his own hometown. After asking the Lord, he realized that he doesn't need to go elsewhere to find the "real" problems - his own city has issues of its own in which the Lord can use him. I thought that was awesome!
We took them along the East side around to Naples, through Belmont Shore, through Broadway, the Pike, the rescue mission, and city hall in the downtown area, then over to the West side at Camarillo High School, then up to North Long Beach. At each stop, we shared with them various stats and info about some of the needs, issues, and concerns of the city. We had lunch at a great place called M & M Soul Food on Cherry Ave & Market Street. Great food! The teams are on a tight budget so they ordered just a few plates, shared and ate family style. Of course the Lord provided and multiplied with more than enough because they ended up with leftovers! It was kewl to see them try to plan out how to spend their money. I heard them considering money for gas, food for next week, laundry, etc. During the tour we had given them statistics regarding the amount of people that are considered below the poverty line. These families often have to make decisions about whether to buy food vs. other items. Here these interns were having to do the same thing. It'll be exciting to see these students grow in their understanding of life in the city.
As with any project or mission, it's only a snap shot of what's really going on. It's important for all of us to really consider the things we see, then to be able to apply what God shows us into our every day lifestyles. Living out the Great Commission - living out our faith all the time whether in the inner city or in suburbia - that's the objective!
Saturday, June 25, 2005
What would it look like for bridges to be built between the seeming segments of our city - the arts district, the homosexual community, the homeless, the marketplace, the gangs, city hall, the Church? What if the Church stopped viewing "outcasts" as the unclean and people to be "changed", and instead began to see a collective city wide community - all unique and gifted - welcome as a valued part of the Body, and able to be transformed by God Himself in His own timing. This generation is highly relational. If God would form bridges to reconcile people to each other - this is the generation primed to do it.
In theory, we all accept that Jesus hung out with the "outcasts" and that he used the foolish to dumbfound the wise and that he uses the lowly to humble those with pride. But can the Church live out this paradigm? What would it look like if God used these very people to minister to those already in the Church? They can surely be used to minister to those not yet in the Church. Would the Church welcome a genuine word from a former gang member? What if God's intent was to raise up future pastors of the city from these fringe groups? We always pray for workers for the harvest. What if God raised up workers for the harvest from within the harvest? Now that would be a city who's Church lived out the Great Commission!
God is stirring, preparing, moving...he's building an infrastructure within the city - a relational infrastructure that will be ready to live out faith and worship as a lifestyle with Christ as a firm foundation. The younger generation can handle this paradigm of being Church. It's time for the current and older generation to invest in them, because relationally, they will stir change and direction in our city regardless.
Friday, June 24, 2005
We spent time praying and blessing their church, Linda and her family, Pastor Art, the other churches that gather there, their community, and this city. We also prayed for Pastor Larry Mathieson from Destiny's House, lifting up their needs and asking for God's strengthening, encouragement, and support for the local body there.
I know that God will continue to do amazing things through First Foursquare in the community. I will keep in touch with them to coordinate some of their intercessors who will be able to prayer walk North Long Beach with the rest of us in July.
It's clear here that the Lord has led them to living out their faith among the brokenhearted - to have compassion for them and to serve them. They share that a shift needs to take place in our paradigms for outreach - perhaps even semantics. In living out our faith, the people around us are not projects but rather relationships that could be formed. I agree with them. What would it look like if the Church lived out their faith by simply building relationships absent of any agenda? What if we came along side people, out of love, supporting and encouraging each other, no matter what the burden was?
We also took some time to lift up the local body and intercessors at The Last Call Christian Outpost. We prayed for their encouragement, support, and strengthening. I will keep in touch with the intercessors here at LBCF to help coordinate with those who will be prayer walking North Long Beach with us.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Saturday, June 18, 2005
One important thing that will assist this process is to cast vision. We should all be casting vision in these young adults and begin to instill this idea that they can do more - they can transform their campus, their city, their world. We can help them to see what can be done by telling them stories of what God has done in the past - both in Scripture and among the Church in the city. We can inspire them. We can help them connect with the needs in the city beyond the boundaries of the campus. Young adults want adventure and if they see the journey of reaching their city, God can raise them up to be the next influencers of the city.
Another important thing will be discipleship. We need to make sure that these young adults are fully equipped and trained as followers of Christ - keeping a strong connection to Him. Pastors and seasoned leaders of the city will need to invest in these young adults. Campus ministry staff will also be training them up as well. It will be interesting to see what this will actually look like to have these young adults mentored.
Among us were some individuals whom God has already strategically placed on campus and they will be working towards connecting student leaders and staff of the different college ministries to get together once over the summer. Hopefully, the leaders can get together regularly so that they can communicate, coordinate, and mobilize so that they can function as One Body on the campus even though they are all from varying local campus ministries. God is doing much the same thing among the pastors of the city who have been regularly connecting every month.
We also talked about the mobilizing of intercessors who will be prayer walking North Long Beach on July 16th. We'll continue to connect with prayer ministries throughout the city so that we can coordinate.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
There will need to be ongoing training. They will need to know that they are not alone and that they can have a sense of accountability with more mature leaders who are willing to invest in them. They will need to be given a sense of hope and purpose so that they can know that they can significantly impact the city for Christ together. Many young adults, whether in college or not, have a difficult time affording life in the city. What would it look like if churches rallied together in support of key young leaders and financially supported them to serve the city? What if churches pooled resources together for community and economic development? What if churches collaborated towards mutual efforts?
It will be interesting to see what the Lord does with all of this and to see who else He's stirring about these things.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
I prayed for Ila and their church and for the needs she expressed. Together we prayed for God's blessing upon another church in the city - First Foursquare Church of Long Beach for their pastor and their prayer ministry. I'll be connecting with Linda from that church sometime next week, just to connect with them and see what wonderful things God is doing among them. We both also prayed for the school Superintendent and councilmember Val Lerch and for the prayer requests they gave me last Friday. We asked for God's blessing upon their families.
I'll keep you all posted with further connections I make with other intercessors and prayer ministries throughout the city. Let's all together continue to rebuild the spiritual wall of Long Beach, to worship the Lord here, and to welcome His Kingdom here in Long Beach as it is in Heaven!
Monday, June 13, 2005
One of the most exciting things about this night for me was seeing people talking about and taking responsibility for their cities not only as the place where they lay their head at night and store their stuff but seeing them as places that God has called them to be good news as well. My prayer is that in some small ways (and maybe even some larger ways) God would use this ministry called Kindom Causes to inspire people to be open to what the Lord might have them do there in loving service to Him and to their neighbor!
Friday, June 10, 2005
Afterwards we went to the North Long Beach Community Prayer Center to hear from Michael Rutledge McCall. I referred to him last week - he's the journalist that spent 18 months in South Central Los Angeles getting to know Black and Latino gang members to understand the subculture. Intriguing testimony! He wrote a book called "Slipping Into Darkness" and it's currently in production for a movie set for sometime in 2006. His message is typically for men and relates it with scripture and his experience with the gangs. He believes that there is a fundamental need for men to step up in their own families and in the community. [On a side note, i've been speaking to several people recently that feel the same way - that men need to rise up with integrity and character and need to be solid intercessors for their families and neighborhoods. Prayer intercessors are typically women and more men need to realize that prayer is not a "women's" thing. Men need to stand in the gap as well. Men need to have that spiritual strength in order to guard over their families and to raise up their children in the ways of the Lord.]
After his talk, I spoke to Michael and found him to be a real down to earth kind of guy. An interesting thing he pointed out was that in his experience with the gang members, the gang leaders are actually pretty brilliant. They are smart individuals and have much potential. They are leaders for a reason. What if we can invest in these gang leaders so that they can influence the younger generation not to get trapped in the "dead"-end lifestyle of gang banging? Many of these young people don't have much of an alternative - with no positive family context and no one else willing to nurture them - a gang satisfies a need for community. Something significant that Michael continued to talk about is that we need to be able to love one another unconditionally - not because we know the person and not because we are Christians and not because God says so. He says that we need to be able to love someone - regardless of who that person is and regardless of who we are - and that's when we know it's sincere. That's what God is wanting for us. Love. That's the mindset that we need to adopt and apply. The racial divide can begin to close when we can look past the surface of what we look like and love for the sake of being loving - whether its deserved or not. I think programs and community strategies may be necessary to get things rolling so that we can see tangible change, but without genunine and sincere love for one another - the root causes of community tension won't subside.
I also met the Long Beach School Superintendent who is also very concerned about the escalating gang violence in our schools. I offered the prayers of the intercessors of Long Beach. He asked us to pray for the family structure, peace, and for people to make right choices. I met the 9th District Councilmember for North Long Beach, Val Lerch, and offered the prayers of the intercessors of Long Beach. He asked us to pray for his colleagues - fellow councilmembers - in the decisions they make for the city. He also asked us to pray for change in the city.
What will it take for more and more people in the city of Long Beach to see that the tensions in the inner city are real and effect us all? I overheard Pastor Wood in conversation with someone else saying that "it's going to take all of us to stimulate this". I think he's right. If we are going to catalyze our community for positive change, all of us are going to need to be involved and committed. What would it look like if an entire community made a covenant with each other? Business owners, pastors, youth leaders, community leaders, fathers and mothers, teenagers, police officers, judges, council members, teachers and principals and school superintendents, and even the gang leaders - what if we all made a covenant with each other to revitalize the city with life rather than death, light rather than darkness, hope rather than despair. A community united and revitalized - that's a cause worth rallying around!
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Here is what he sent...
...was wondering if you and your crew would be willing to offer up a prayer for some outreach stuff we have coming up. It's an intense, but tremendous opportunites to reach people for Christ...thanks guys. You have been a big time encouragement. We thank God for you!
* ART WALK / JUNE 11th - This is the biggest Art Walk (the "Tour Des Artiste") of the year. Our theme is "Creativity and Spirituality". Please pray for the unbelievers (Annette, Julia, Adam) who we've meet that will be helping us. Please also pray God would lead us to "persons of peace" through our interactive art canopies.
* NEW IN TOWN / JUNE 12th - Please pray God's work would be used to open up spiritual conversations at the BBQ and the service project. Please pray for Enrique, Mark, Ricardo, and Ramon especially (the owners of The Creative Design Lab)
* SE'S (owner of The Open Bookstore across the street from us in the East Village) BIRTHDAY PARTY / JUNE 12th - Se is on the board of the EVA and a major player in the future shaping of the East Village Arts District. She invited us to her birthday party Sunday night. Please pray we would represent Christ well at the party.
* BOOKCLUB / JUNE 21st - Please pray for the hearts of Mark, Aaron, & Jason especially that we have been developing a relationship with.
...in the powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen!
Reminder: We are and will be encouraging other local pastors to be posting their personal and/or local church family prayer requests in the PRAYER AND DISCUSSION FORUMS. They may not always make the blog like this so be sure to head over to that part of the site often as well. Any feedback that you could give them (yours or the Lord's) there would not only encourage them but also help them see the value of taking the time to post these requests! They may also post their events on the calendar so that might give you another way to pray as well!
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Monday, June 06, 2005
Our next gathering of strategic intercessors will be Saturday, June 18th from 9am - 11am in the Greater Long Beach area at 1965 E. 21st Street, Signal Hill, CA 90755 (the corner of Cherry Ave and 21st Street). We will worship the Lord together, intercede on behalf of the city, and engage in strategic dialogue regarding how we can coordinate our prayers for the city.
There will be a multi-church picnic on Saturday, July 16th at 1:30pm - 4pm for the purpose of bringing life into North Long Beach. There has been a great deal of escalating gang violence in North Long Beach (as well as other parts of LB) and several churches in that area are calling for help. We will be sending out prayer walking teams at noon to specific sections of North Long Beach to worship and pray and also to welcome neighbors to Scherer Park at Del Amo Blvd. and Atlantic Ave. for free food. One of our strategies will be to enlist people who live in North Long Beach and to train them up to prayer walk their own neighborhoods.
We haven't forgotten about the Port of Long Beach! We are still in dialogue with the Longshoremen and we are waiting for an open door and the timing. In the mean time, i have sensed the Lord calling us out of our prayer closets and out to where the King's presence is needed. Wherever we go, the King is there - so let us resolve to welcome His Kingdom to come here in Long Beach. I encourage you - these are the times that we have been praying for for so long. Let's mobilize together so that we can not only witness the Lord's move here but also be a part of it! If you and/or your prayer team will step up and prayer walk with us in North Long Beach in July, please let me know so that we can coordinate.
The city has been vulnerable. The ground has been desolate. It is time to rebuild the spiritual wall of Long Beach (Nehemiah 1-4) and to ask the King to breathe life here (Ezekiel 37)!
Friday, June 03, 2005
He's going to continue the lecture series for two more Fridays - June 10th and 17th from 7pm - 9pm. I'm planning on going next week too. I spoke to Susy and some of us will be meeting before the meeting to prayer drive North Long Beach and to pray over the church and for Michael and Pastor Wood.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
*the equipping, training, and enrichment of families
*the connecting of churches and pastors in North Long Beach
*the training up of young leaders to be youth pastors (trained by existing youth pastors from throughout the city)
*the training up of new prayer intercessors by seasoned prayer intercessors - possibly establishing neighborhood prayer watch teams who will prayer walk their neighborhoods
*connecting with existing city-wide gang task forces and coalitions to address the violence
*the physical renovation of North Long Beach by both the city and the Church
Let's keep these things in prayer!
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Another interesting thing we noted was that Long Beach was a "first" for many things. Some include being the first city in California to utilize school uniforms, the place of the first commercial venture in California, the first nuclear warship was called the USS Long Beach, Dr. Kevorkian first started here in Long Beach, the first female mayor in California was in Long Beach, this was the place where new fire fighting techniques were developed and also a place where new methods of making cheese were developed, and Long Beach was the location where the first steam ship was launched. All these examples came from old newspaper articles that Jana had collected. Talking to many intercessors over the past several months, many have been getting the sense that the Lord will use Long Beach to launch or start new and fresh things. Interesting stuff!
Here are their prayer requests:
Pray for Pastor Gregory Sanders:
To have servants heart.
To maintain his own sanity in the busyness.
To maintain his integrity as a man and as a leader.
Pray for leaders of The ROCK Christian Fellowship:
Enabled and empowered to do the work.
Pray for spiritual leaders of the city:
There have been several storefront churches that have been evicted.
There are a number of existing churches and new church plants still looking for worship facilities.
Pray for peace in our city:
Escalating violence in our cities.
When men lose their identities, the city changes. Pray for restoration and healing of men and women.
Words of Encouragement from the pastors:
We must continue to build bridges.
We must be watchmen. Be silent and observe, then speak when the Lord directs.
We must speak truth to power.
Pastors must covenant together.