Thursday, December 29, 2005
Tonight we had a great time hosting a dinner at the church. We invited all the neighbors over to a meal of Sloppy Joes, Chips, Green Beans, dessert and a salad bar. When I say salad bar I mean salad bar. Lots of items including cole slaw, cottage cheese, potato salad, macaroni salad and every imaginable salad topping. This was happened as a result of the generosity of Tom and Charlene Grant our friends from Lowell. They provided the food and did a great deal of the preparation along with Chris, Jonathan, Andrew, Pete and Norma Blue, Chris' mom Eve, Mary Ingle and me. Thanks everyone. We had a time of sharing of concerns with our neighbors. The question was, what do we need in our neighborhood to make it better? Often I am surprised at the responses because what I think is needed is not what others think is needed. My assessment at least this time was correct, responses were jobs, transportation(especially to grocery store) and better housing. I also spoke of "Artreach" a new fine arts program we are putting in place and our new worship service simply called, "Church @ 10:45". We then played grocery games where in a fun way we taught about grocery prices, portions and nutrition. The grand prize winner won a $100 gift card. We had 72 people attend, they went home full and with extra food and groceries going home with them. The place was so packed we had to squeeze in extra tables. It was a great night with a good response. Please keep up the prayers. Jeff
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
- God is way bigger than me
- God is full of surpirses
- You can't outgive God
- God does amazing things
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Our family has been learning to color outside the lines, meaning, not just to think different, but to live differently. To take risks and see what happens. Andrew had an idea for our Christmas tree. After we went out in the seven degree weather and cut it down, he thought it would be a good idea to cut all the limbs off the back and hang it on the wall upside down and decorate it with fruit, and place a pineapple on the top. We have a wet towel under the pineapple to water it. We thought why not? I never imagined having limes, oranges, and lemons with gold lights on a live tree upside on our wall in our house this Christmas, but this has been a year of surprises.
PS: If you click on the picture you can see a larger clearer picture of the tree.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Last night we had 60 children at out outreach ministry. The most ever. They had been cooped up in their house for three days due to snow and school closing. It was fun but challenging. Keep us in your prayers as we are going to need more volunteers. Over 80 hotdogs, 80 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, potato chips and several pounds of Mac and Cheese, along with several gallons of milk. Keep us in your prayers as the number continues to grow. Jeff
Monday, December 05, 2005
Our community outreach on Sunday Night brought in 45 kids, 20 volunteers, Chris' sister who own a pizza parlor in Burlington brought in 15 large pizza's and 75 breadsticks, we also cored and sliced about 30 apples and put jars of peanut butter on the table. In addition we heated left over mac and cheese about 5 pounds. Believe it or not-- all be three pizzas were eaten and everything else was gone. I can't believe how thin the children are and how much they are able to eat. We also treated them to cans of pop which is something they rarely see. Please keep the prayers coming......
Please pray for the following:
On Tuesday we are having our Mother's time out, we are providing child care and a taxi service to give moms a break
I am working with a group that is offering to wrap presents for free for men at a local youth outreach. We will be providing snacks, pop, and coffee, along with pool tables, ping pong tables and a big screen TV to give them things to do while gifts are being wrapped. Pray that those of us mingling with the guys will be able to listen with Jesus ears and be aware of openings that might occur.
On Sunday December 18 during worship we are having a Blue Christmas service it is a service of hope and healing for those whose Christmas isn't so joyous. We will offer a healing service as part of the service. Hoping to give strength to those attending.
Thanks for the prayers. Jeff
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Later in the week I worked at the Kokomo Academy on Wednesday and Thursday, I was interviewed for the substitute teaching job on Tuesday. I subbed in science on Wednesday and Math on Thursday. I will be hard for me to complain about youth group behavior again. I had about 75 boys, throughout the day, between the ages of 12-17. All but one were felons. Everyone of the used the F word multiple times. They jumped on chairs, banged on walls, slept through class, disrupted, rapped out loud and a whole host of other things. There was a guard to maintain some composure. Several were put in the hallway or into a quiet room. The class rooms had cameras. About half acted out while the other half did their work. All must reach a certain level to go home. Zeros in school makes them stay longer. If they put their head down and aren't disruptive that is fine, it is their choice how long they stay locked up. I heard a hand full of stories of mothers, murdering fathers, running from foster homes, drug selling and use, physical and sexual abuse as well as being abusers. The youngest class was the worst behaved, with those working toward GED being the best. It seems to me that someone had to work real hard to make these young men as hard and perverse as they are. Would I do it again? Yes I would, now knowing what to expect, I would go back in a heartbeat. It made me realize that what we are doing with Kokomo Urban Outreach is even more important, we must keep children here out of there.
Dave and I also recorded another podcast on Control, this was before I subbed. I may have had different comments if I we produced the podcast afterwards. You can find the podcast here.
On Friday Night Chris and I attended our District Pastor's Christmas Party in the past 21 years we have only missed one. The one this year was very good. It is good just to be around friends and peers. What made this one so special was that no one we sat with talked about church. We were just friends gathered around the table to catch up with each other. Maybe after 20 years of attending I have moved onto the old pastors table where everyone knows that we are all full of bologna. We had nothing to prove, we simply enjoyed the food and the evening.
This Tuesday coming ahead we are having a mothers morning out. From 10-1 we are providing child care for the neighborhood parents and offering them church bus rides to go shopping, we will be running a sort of a taxi service for those three hours. The Freshman class from a Christian School in Marion IN will be providing the childcare and lunch for the children. I have borrowed a church van and will play taxi driver. This will be our first venture into this new area. We are hoping to take moms to buy groceries but we are giving them the option of what they do with their free time. We are trying to offer our services as unconditional as possible. Keep Tuesday in Prayer. Thanks for you prayers. Jeff
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Chris goes to her orientation on Monday at Bona Vista, she will be a sort of life-skill coach for mentally challenged s who are living on their own. We are praying that these are jobs we can handle as the income is needed. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff
Friday, November 25, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The picture above appeared in the Kokomo Tribune on Friday, Nov. 25. It is a picture of some folks eating at the church.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Wow!!! Last night was incredible. We had our first Sunday Night Outreach at the church. The outreach is a weekly meeting from 5:00-6:15, it is open to anyone K-up, including adults. There are Bible Classes and then a meal at the end. I was expecting somewhere from 10-20 people. We planned for about that many. We had the teachers for three classes Kindergarten-5th grade, Teenagers and adults. We ended up with 55 people, there were 40-(k-5th), 13( 6-12 graders) and 2 adults. At the last minute we had to add classes we had a Kindergarten class, a first -4th grade class, a 5th and 6th grade class and a 7-12th grade class. The s who came for Bible Study readily pitched in to help. We had 17 volunteers. We thought we had enough hotdogs etc for the whole five weeks we cooked 150 and served 130. We served 6 pounds of potato chips and several dozen cookies along with more than 5 gallons of Kool aid. I was going to teach an Bible study ended up with the older teens. In my room we had a senior, freshman, an eighth grader and two seventh graders, I enlisted the help of a mother with small children that came for Bible Study to help me, she has really never been to church, so the story of David and Goliath was new to her. When I write this out it sounds like chaos, but it wasn't the kids thought we knew what we were doing. Our volunteers were veterans and able to go with the flow(we had 17 volunteers), not only were they from our church but from other churches too. Our eyes were opened to the fact that the children do not eat much on the weekend. They have good lunches at school, but by Sunday night they are hungry. Little kids eating 2 or three hotdogs, I also noticed that only one of the 55 was overweight, almost all very thin. It was good and it made my family and all the other helpers realize how much we have to be thankful for. Keep up the prayers, they are working. Jeff
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Last Night I presented a plan of restart to the church. It was very well received and people left excited. There is new hope being generated from the church.
The Re: start plan consists of the following:
We will move from a Traditional church to a Missional church meaning we will be a mission base in the community becoming a community center/church.
We will help those in our community realize that they matter to God because they matter to us.
Our mission is to reach people for Jesus by serving, bringing hope and offering the Good News of Jesus.
We will provide fine art classes and performing art classes to the community for free. Providing those that would never have an opportunity to participate in activities that they would never dream of precipitating in. The classes are designed to help with self esteem, discipline, and a will be a venue to proclaim the Christian faith.
The present congregation will continue to be served as in the past. I will provide the present congregation with pastoral care, Sunday morning worship, and Bible Study. The present church will continue as is.
We will re: start the church by adding new worship experiences at a different time, starting out in the church building but we are so flexible that it can be held in other locations. Presently we are trying to focus on reaching those below 35 years old. The majority of the 1330 people in our five block square are below the age of 35. Worship will be indigenous to the people we are trying to reach. I envision it to be simple, real, and experiential.
While it goes against every new service start plan we will open second service only by word of mouth. No big fanfare. However, we are going to be featured in the local newspaper as a church restart.
Every person in the church will be a missionary and look for ways to reach other people.
Our priority is not to keep the church just "open" but to do what God is calling us to be about.
In the midst of great financial difficulties and pressure we will give 10% of our offering every week to support the ministries of our Annual Conference. It will be the first check written before anything else. We are learning to trust God with our finances.
This week we will be beginning a children's ministry on Sunday night, next week we will be providing a Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday night an we will be delivering 50 food baskets to the very poor in our area. Last Sunday we made 118 shoe boxes for the Samaritan Purse, raising $5.00 per box for shipping, over $575.00 which is a big task. However, it came much easier when we began to tithe our income.
Please keep us in your prayers as we move forward. Jeff
Thursday, November 10, 2005
- To find someone to help out with the administrative part of the ministry.
- To get a Board of Directors in place.
- To find a webmaster and get a webpage up.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
By TOM CAREY
Tribune community news editor
Pastor Jeff Newton had some
neighbors over for a barbecue this
summer. The night before Thanksgiving,
they’re invited to a pre-holiday
feast at his place.
He’s expecting around 100 to
drop by that Wednesday night so
he’ll be setting up some extra tables.
Newton’s Trinity United
Methodist Church at 1701 S. Locke
St. sits next to Garden Square apartment
complex. As part of his urban
ministry, the house of worship is
hosting a pre-Thanksgiving feast
with the Kokomo Rescue Mission.
Thanksgiving Day, the mission
will host its annual Great Thanksgiving
Day Banquet in Grace United
Methodist Church, 219 E. Mulberry
St., just east of the mission.
Newton said he and Bebe Dorris,
the mission’s director of development,
were talking recently
about the mission’s annual dinner.
Although attended by many —
about 400 came last year, Dorris
said — some have no way to get
there. Included in those ranks are
Garden Square residents, the pastor
It was decided to use Trinity as a
satellite church for the dinner.
“We care about our neighborhood,”
Newton said, adding his
wife and their children live adjacent
to the house of worship.
He said they enjoyed the opportunity
this summer’s barbecue
gave them to meet and talk with
their apartment-dwelling and other
Dorris said volunteers are needed
— especially for cleanup — for
Good Samaritans also can deliver
dinners to shut-ins that day, the
mission spokeswoman said.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Just a note of thanks and appreciation for your prayers and your support for Kokomo Urban Outreach. I am preparing a newsletter to be mailed to all of those that would like to receive it. Email me with your address ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). I have had many people ask me what we have been doing, so I will share it, knowing that it is not about me, but how God is using a whole bunch of people to do the work:
- We have been in Kokomo for 5 months.
- We have received financial support from 13 individual families
- We have received financial support from 2 churches (Grace UMC and St. Luke's UMC)
- The Attica Thrift has also supported us
- I have had the opportunity to speak at two churches--Grace and St. Luke's--and the Kokomo Kiwanis club
- I have visited the following ministries and community leaders: Bridges, Congo Cares, Birthright, Nesting Doves, CAM, Headstart, Salvation Army, the Housing Authority, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Open Arms, Caleb Ministries, Crisis Center, Howard County Foundation, Red Cross, the Superintendent of Kokomo Schools, the Majors office, the police department, and have met individually with 18 pastors.
- I have attended a weekly Tuesday Morning Men's breakfast
- Monthly United Methodist Pastor's Breakfast
- Wednesday Lunch Men's Bible Study---The Huddle
- Coordinated 5 weeks of displaced hurricane family relocation into Kokomo--working with 17 families of the 22 identified in town
- Worked on a Walk to Emmaus Weekend
- Planned life skill classes at Garden Square Apartments--Cooking classes
- Cook out in Backyard for neighborhood
- Went through neighborhood and collected 500 items to be sent on truck to Mississippi
- Have knocked on every door in a five block square of our house and have met about 60% of people
- Worked with UAW to distribute school supplies to those in need
- Worked at a carnival at a local school with school supplies as prizes
- Was a driver on a Bridges field trip
- Laundry Ministry
- Attended District meetings and I am on the District Board of Ministry, mentoring a candiate for ministry
- We popped popcorn on our porch for Halloween and met a great number of neighbors
- For fun I have been walking, doing Internet podcasts (radio shows) with a friend, watching Marching Band Completions and spending time with family
- In the church we working on a church "Restart" hopefully making a church/ community center
- We will be working with a local church on Sunday Nights providing a Children's Ministry with games, stories, crafts and dinner
- We will be serving Thanksgiving Dinner in the church on Wednesday before Thanksgiving in cooperation with the Rescue Mission
- The Salvation Army will not be providing food baskets at Thanksgiving, nor will anyone else in town due to lack of funds. We with the help of other churches are going to provide food baskets to families in need from two of the poorest elementary schools in town.
Our greastest Prayer Needs:
- To find jobs to supplement income (we have applied for many)
- Presently Kokomo Urban Outreach is an extension Ministry of Trinity Church, however, we need a board of directors in place soon (we are working on this now)
- Administrative help, setting up data bases and proof reading stuff I write etc
- Webmaster, I believe a web page would be a fast way of communicating with others.
- Those that we are working with might become followers of Jesus
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I am becoming more and more aware of what it is like living on the edge of society. Chris and I have been looking for jobs to supplement our income. We have applied at a plethora of places, I was told to come to an interview yesterday at a certain time. I cleared my calendar and went, however, when I arrived for the interview I was told the person was not there that was to interview me and that my application would be given to the manager and if he wanted to interview me he would call me. I was bit put out by this, because they contacted me for the interview. No one has called me back, don't think they will. We are working hard to find jobs, going out most everyday. We have a car, we have time, we have no small children to worry about, we are educated, have a good track record, we have nice clothes to wear and can hold our own in an interview. I can only imagine what a person who is without childcare, a car, an education, etc. does when they are constantly rejected. I would guess it would throw you into depression. I am understanding more an more the plight of the poor and the need to figure out ways for folks to get jobs. We are very critical of those in our society who are poor, we often say just get a job. It is not that easy, if you don't have the resources at hand to get the job(transportation, experience, education and childcare). I am reminded today of how blessed I really am. Jeff
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Tomorrow we are having a blessing of the children service. I started this in Lowell and it was so well received there. However, there is a big difference between the two churches. Lowell had children in Worship. Here we have no children in worship. This is a leap of faith. I know God wants me to do this, so I will. We do have a trio of siblings that sometimes come to Sunday School. Chris the boys and I have been working with this family since we moved in, they live in the apartments across the street. . We have tried to build into their life to show them the love of Jesus. I took 40 bulletins over to their apartment so their children could draw pictures on the cover. I asked them to draw Bible Stories, pictures of themselves etc. I just got them back about an hour ago. They did a great job. But the one at your right blew me away. I think the plan to be incarnational (living among those you are trying to reach) actually works. It seems to be going faster than I thought, I figure a year or two to get this far. Not 18 weeks. The bulletin cover says: Dear Jeff,
We love you
you are are
Mom: Jamie Dad: John
Sierra, Thomas, Janie K
Wow this is very exciting and after a more difficult week than usual it is very uplifting.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Jonathan has found a job at the hospital. He is a Mental Heath Tech he works there from 11PM-7 AM. He really likes it. He is a sort of a nurses helper and monitors rooms via TV camera. He is also attending school full time and plays in a Christian Band that travels almost every weekend, playing at different venues.
Andrew just finished marching band and loved it. He is now on a speech team and is in the ecology club. He likes both. He grew several different sizes of pumpkins, still cares for his rabbit and found a lizard at the warehouse which he made a pet.
Chris and I are job hunting. Nothing seems to be working out. I have put my name in to substitute teach(no calls at all), I am still waiting on an interview to be a hospice Chaplin but that doesn't seem to be happening, I also have visited all the funeral homes in town hoping to be of help of families without pastors(no calls),
Chris has applied at the school to work with special need children, but did not get the job. She has had three very promising interviews at Buena Vista(work group for special need s serving over 800 people) . They seemed interested but have yet to call back. She is applying at a place called CASA to monitor supervised visits of parents with their children. It is a Sunday afternoon job for about three hours a week. She is considering making crescent Rolls and selling them through her sister at the factory.
I really don't have time to have another job but we both need jobs now. Please pray we can find jobs.
The church is a good church,however, years of downturn has caused it to hit rock bottom. For the past three years it has spent 10,000 dollars more than it has taken in and all savings are gone. The church has little money. At the rate it is going it can only survive for about 1 more year at the most. We are going to have a meeting on Sunday in which we are going to have to make some hard decisions and the budget will need to be cut by 1/4 since it is a bareboned budget to begin with it will have to be salary cuts. I expect my salary in the church to be cut in half. There really isn't any other options at this time. We will have to cut office supplies first, meaning no bullentins, copy ink, or paper. We will cut curriculum too, along with Upper Rooms,
and music. Anyway please pray for the future of the church.
While this post seems negative, I am, however, positive we are where God wants to be and I know He will provide. God did not say it would always be easy but He promised He would be faithful. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Monday, October 17, 2005
I cannot believe how blessed we are. It is amazing how God uses his people to bless other. I started the day yesterday by welcoming some great friends to church, I haven't seen to them in so long, I used to see them several times a week. We had a good service. I was presented with a Pastor appreciation card from the congregation with a gift card to Living Water Book Store. Bought a book today. Haven't purchased a book in long, long time. Opted for George Barna's book, Revolution, I have read four chapters it resonates with me and what I am doing. I digress. After Church we(me, Chris, and our friends) went to Grace where I spoke about Kokomo Urban Outreach, it was very well received. I am Grace's Missionary to Kokomo. They will be financial backers in 2006. Afterwards the boys joined us for lunch our friends took us out to eat. It felt good to go to a nice restaurant and sit down and eat without a rush or having to be somewhere soon. We took our friends on a brief tour of Kokomo, of course stopping at the world famous steer and tree stump:) The pics are some of the things saw on their first time to stop in Kokomo.
In the evening we do what we do every Sunday Night, we have dinner with friends at their home. Several couples and their families meet for food and fellowship. Our kids go each week too, that is amazing when one is in college and the other is a Jr. in High School. They never miss it. It is good. The pace yesterday was slower and more relaxed.
Today I met with the director of CAM a daytime homeless shelter at the shelter, it seemed to be organized chaos. I saw and learned a great deal in about an hour and half. I have no clue how she does that everyday. They are payees for 72 homeless or semi homeless people, meaning they handle the 579 dollars that an individual gets in a month from Social Security disability. The check comes to them and they pay the bills for all of the individuals, however, they are swarmed with people that want a couple of dollars of their money each day to get by. They give it to them if the individual has it in their account. I met a couple that "borrowed" one of those plastic portable rubber maid sheds made for lawnmowers and put it on the CAM parking lot and slept in it last night. As with most ministries with the very poor, there is little money to operate. When I came home to my house, I was thankful to have a place to live. Thanks for the prayers and the support. Jeff
Friday, October 14, 2005
Today was the first day in nearly five weeks that we have not been in the warehouse. When we left yesterday there was only a bit left I am anixious to see how it looks with all the racks out. Please pray for me as I speak at Grace United Methodist Church this Sunday at 10:45 I am looking forward to it. Jeff
Monday, October 10, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
We continue to take boxes of clothing to local resale shops. Yesterday we sent out two pick up full of clothing. We still have enough to have some sort of sale. The next big thing we need to find homes for are lamps at least 50 are left. No one wants the particle board commuter tables, coffee tables etc. We have about 15 of those. We also have about 50 kitchen chairs, 5 stoves and two refriderators. We know by this time next week we will be done. There is joy and sadness combined. Jeff
Friday, September 30, 2005
Our warehouse has turned into a distribution center. We are still distributing stuff to hurricane victims(we have helped 16 of 22) but we have so much stuff that we are actually helping folks throughout the world. Here is a run down of what is happening:
- sent 1000 pairs of shoes to Africa
- sent toiletries and school supplies to Mississippi
- sent food and toiletries to Louisiana
- sent 70 boxes and bags of summer clothing to Mississippi
- provided local Humane Society with many boxes of soiled blankets, sheets and pillows
- Took food to local food pantries(food not a need here)
- Sent four bags of stuffed Animals to a hospital in Texas
- Sending a couple of hundred McDonald Toys to Honduras
- Gave hundreds of pens, pencils, pads of paper and school supplies to local schools to give to children in need
- Gave baby formula and clothing to women living in Nesting Doves House(home for single mothers)
- Gave toys to Head Start
- received so much school supplies a church is making 24 YES Kits for Operation Classroom
- Making many health kits to send to LA.
- donated hundreds and hundreds bottles of shampoo, little bars of soap, sample bottles of toiletries to Homeless Shelter
- have given extra clothing to Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Crisis Center, and Goodwill
still have hundreds of articles of clothing in boxes with racks full in selection area
- Sending about 150 boxes of summer clothes to Africa
- Lucas furniture: new mattress
- McCool's carpet: Furniture Cleaning
- Guyer to Mover: Many boxes
- Chrysler Transmission: Workers on Loan
- B and B Pizza in Burlington: Lunch
- Hobson Cleaners: hangers and coat cleaning
- Old Navy: Sized and hung many boxes of clothing
- UAW: Computer
- Dr. Whitfield and Tim Taylor: The Warehouse
- Tha Roots: Workers, soft drinks and space
- Girl Scouts: New School Supplies and health items
- Bible Baptist
- First Friends Meeting
- Sycamore Friends Meeting
- Quaker Friends Sunday School Class and Hostetler Electric
- Morning Star
- City of Refuge Church
- Mt. Pigspah Baptist
- Howard/ Miami Mennonite
- Galveston United Methodist
- St. Lukes United Methodist
- Grace United Methodist Church: Eyeglasses, car insurance, title transfer, damage deposit
- Shiloh United Methodist Church: Car
- West Middleton United Methodist Church: Gas Cards and Wal-Mart Cards
- Howe/Pretty prairie United Methodist church: Mission Trip / Sorted 100's of bags of clothing
- First Baptist: Mission Trip/ sized many boxes of clothing
- Morning Star Youth:Moved many boxes of clothing from one area to another
- Faith United Methodist church: volunteers and clothing racks
- Galveston United Methodist: Many, many hours of volunteering and clothing racks
- Morning Star: Volunteers and tables
- My Father's House: furniture
Monday, September 26, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
The TV images are riveting: the rolling waves swamping people'’s homes, beams of houses turned into matchsticks, toys covered in seas of mud, a tattered Polaroid picture of a
family in happier times, the tears at lives lost or destroyed. The levies in New Orleans just broke again. Interstates in Texas are virtual parking lots as Rita bears down behind them. It reminds me of the Israelites fleeing Egypt with the Egyptians behind them and the Red Sea in front of them. The folks in traffic are waiting for the seas to part.
Meanwhile the rest of us watch, wait, wonder. My fear is that the novelty of helping is wearing off. The tune of talk radio in the area has turned from that of compassion to that of criticism, not of the government, but of the victims.
I think many folks are suffering from compassion fatigue. It'’s not unlike eating a big meal and needing to push away from the table because we can't eat any more. Or it is like, now the new puppy that is making too many messes, has chewed too many shoes, and has takes more care than we thought, we want to take it back. For many helping others is no longer a novelty, it has turned into work, that drags on and on. It is like the clothing that is piled up in the warehouse, it never goes away.
God is now beginning to teach me some stuff from the bags of clothing, that pile used to bother me because it never goes away. Now I think that God keeps the pile there for the following reasons:
- That God is bigger than we can even imagine
- That God's provision is more than enough
- That God is bigger than the storms in life that we find ourselves in
- It reminds us that our work is never done
- It gives us a picture of God's grace, something without end
- It reminds me that people need to give and want to help, every bag no matter how bad the stuff is in them was given to help someone else
- The stained and buttonless clothing reminds me that many who gave the clothing are living the same way stained and broken
- I also know that the junk we have to throw away may be things that givers can't throw away for one reason or another, giving freedom
- God reminded me today that some---not all-- of the stained and smelly clothing could have been the best that some could give
- I am reminded that the goal is not to be done, put to continue to work
- I think the bags of clothing reminds others that there is a need to help out
- If all of the bags were gone then those on tours or even those working might believe the work is done
- Maybe God wants to remind us that the work of compassion needs to expand to those in our community in need
Scripture:Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (And if we do become weary take a break, some time off and remember the words of Jesus)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Thought: Make sure you rest and then roll up your sleeves to do your best for Jesus.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
What a great day yesterday. Here is the top ten list
10. Receiving more furniture than clothing at the warehouse
9. Placing two more families with sponsors
8. Picking up a donated car for a family
7. Met with Father Richard the Rector at an Episcopalian Church I will be briefly speaking at his 11:11 AM service on Sunday
6. Secured another sponsor with 2 more just about there, moving us closer to the goal of 10
5. Guyer the Mover donated 80 moving boxes that we need to help move families
4. Hobson Cleaners is cleaning all coats in need of cleaning
3. Made arrangements to meet a friend, Tim on Thursday
2. Had breakfast with a group of men as I do most every Tuesday Morning
1. Great friend Dewey is bringing his church on a mission trip this Sunday to Kokomo they will drive over 2.5 hours leaving from the Indiana/Michigan Line with 33 people signed up to come. The Calvary is coming.....................Praise God
Today I get to shift gears a bit this morning, I am on the District Committee of Ministry. We are interviewing a new candidate for ministry. This afternoon I will meet with a sponsor and a family to make a connection. This evening I have Bible Study at church we will be looking at Genesis 4.
Your prayers are awesome and powerful.....Thanks Jeff
Monday, September 19, 2005
Sorting, sorting sorting, with the cell phone growing out of my ear was the way I spent my day. I took time during lunch to meet with a local pastor of an influential church about Kokomo Urban Outreach. He was very supportive. I returned to the warehouse in the afternoon to sort some more. It looks like we wasted our day since anything we sorted was replaced with more bags of clothing. We have got to get the stuff out. We now have families arriving at the warehouse each day and while it looks like a lot, people are not finding their particular size.
Today I had a women with a six year old daughter come in she needed clothing for her daughter which we had trouble finding, but we were able to help. This woman also needed a car badly, she said, 'I know you can't help me because I need a car." I told her I would do what I could. By afternoon I had a car for her. A 87 Toyota, it is in good shape and it is free. She wept.
At about 5:00 we had a married couple with a 13 and 14 yr old boy and girl. They were refereed by a local apartment complex that is offering one month free rent and utilities, with no deposit for displaced families. They came in expecting to receive some warmer clothes, they left with coats, dishes, beds, dressers, a dryer(they had a washer) and we hooked them up with a sponsor. They were completely overwhelmed and where in awe. The husband has a job interview tomorrow and he received several nice shirts, pants and ties. We were also able to provide them with a gas card and a gift certificate because we had no boys size 16/18 jeans for their son. I bet we have them in the piles we just have not got to them.
Many of the workers want us to stop accepting clothing. However, I am not because we need teenage clothing, winter coats, little s clothing. We had the six year old and hardly had any clothes for her. Our volunteers are dropping away, as the work is hard, long and non stop. Most workers have not missed a day. We have few new workers, because I quit calling the radio station with the hopes people would stop coming in for awhile so we can catch our breath. I am not complaining but as we often find, people are willing to give stuff and money(which doesn't hurt) but time is harder to give it costs.
That's enough of the rambling tonight. It is all worth it when we see families with nothing leave with more than can be put into their car. I have know I have the strength to keep going for the joy of the Lord is my strength. Please keep the prayers going for us. Jeff
Sunday, September 18, 2005
We were blessed with some great treasure this weekend. We spent time with friends that we treasure, we were able to help a great number of displaced people, and we had a good worship service. The sermon was based on Matt. 13:4-46 about a man finding buried treasure and buying the field. We talked about how people are the treasure, because they are valuable in God's eyes. Our job is to be treasure hunters not sparing any expense in finding those that are the most valuable to God(everybody). At the end of the sermon some children from the housing project across the street walked in. It brought tears to my eyes, because they are part of the treasure that we need to reach and we got an opportunity to do it. Jeff
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Yesterday I was advised by INVOD (the place where those with housing are to register to receive families) that they were NOT accepting anymore housing offers. In our community effort I was able to call two weeks ago and register 5 completely furnished homes with sponsors offering displaced families free rent, food, utilities etc. When I called yesterday to see where we were in the process, I was told that it still would be several weeks, if ever, that they would need us. Unfortunately I was told not to call back and that if they needed us they would call us, which throughout the conversation, it seemed highly unlikely that a call would come. After speaking to our group of volunteers we decided that we would begin to house those that are presently living in Kokomo with friends or family members (there are presently 20 identified families). This means now we are proceeding on our own. For those of you that have called me with houses or sponsors in your community, find a family and help them. One caution: As disappointed as I am with FEMA and the whole process, families still need t register with FEMA before receiving aid. The reasons are two fold. FEMA needs to know where families are so that the families can receive FEMA money, secondly, having a FEMA number will identify family as a true hurricane victim and will separate those in need with those trying to take advantage of the situation. The fastest and easiest way is to register on line at fema.gov, the phones are always busy and we were are told the best time to call them is between 2AM-6AM. Please do your best to help any families that are arriving in your community. Our prayers are with the displaced families and those trying to help them.
PS: Our goal all along was to cooperative with government agencies instead of running down and just rescuing people out of shelters etc. We wanted to do the right thing and let families be processed etc. While we are receiving great cooperation on the local level, the Federal Level, seems to have its own agenda. We will be placing families in need into their own homes and I thank God that God is the one who is leading us.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The second family was a mom and two teenage sons, they have been living in a fire station since the storm. There are no schools that are open and it was difficult to live in a fire station with many others. Her husband sent her to Kokomo to stay with distant relatives that they had never met. Her husband remained at the fire station in LA. so he would not lose his job. This family has been separated so that the young men may go to school. This family have never been out of LA. and they were cold today, high temp 79(felt great to me).
The third family had two small children and two teens. They are living in a motel, th father was hired by a friend here who gave him a job. They want to get into a home soon and came in to see how we could help them. We explained we could provide them with household items, but they did not have anywhere yet to take the stuff. We did give them some dishes, pots, pans etc. to cook in a kitchenette in their room. They all recieved coats and sweatshirts, they too wer very cold today. The children got some toys and the teen children took some books to read.
The last family was a couple that had live in Los Vegas, who were art and antique collectors. They were looking for a quieter town, in a warm climate, that was sort of artsy and cultured. They took two years to locate a town in LA. they built a brand new house and moved into their dream home and town. They only lived in their house for 6 weeks before it and the entire town was totally and utterly destroyed. All of thier art and atinque collection was gone. They came to Kokomo to stay with a sister. They secured a house and traded in their early american furnitrue for early salvation army. They were so cold that they wore their winter coats home.
Please pray for all of these families and for volunteers to come forward to help us sort through the mountiains of bags of clothing etc. We estimate we have 700-100 bags and boxes of things to sort through. For some reason the volunteer pool is low, but the stuff never stops coming in. We had to just start ripping open bags this afternoon to find a coat for a 16 year old boy. We have to find the stuff we need in the piles soon. I am having trouble getting the word out. Once a volunteer arrives they usually come back each day. In the week we have been open we have had about 100 volunteers but that is not nearly enough. The project is large but God is larger. Anyone up for a mission trip to Kokomo? Jeff
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Today I met with City leaders(over 20 community leaders) as we plan together for how to handle displaced families. I was able to present the plan below and it was embraced by the group.
Plan ExpansionWe are beginning to see displaced families arriving in Howard County to find refuge with family members. The Kokomo Katrina Relocation Plan Task Force, as of September 13, 2005, has expanded its plan to offer aid to displaced families who are presently safe with family members but will soon need a home to call their own. The expansion plan will address the needs of these families.
The expansion plan will be working with local government and the Kokomo Housing Authority to provide housing for these displaced families. The Kokomo Chapter of the Katrina Relocation Plan will work with the city to provide other physical and emotional needs. The KRP (Katrina Relocation Plan Task Force) will provide the following physical items:
- All household needs, furniture, including a sofa and chair, beds and mattresses, Kitchen or dining table with chairs, dishes, glasses, silverware, pots and pans, we will also provide stove and refrigerator if needed.
- All clothing needs including, a winter coat for each person in the family
- We will provide families with infants, cribs, diapers, clothing, high chairs and car seats.
- We will provide towels, sheets, pillowcases, and blankets
- Families will be able to select toys and household decorations.
- Families will receive bathroom items such as toothpaste, soap etc.
- Families will receive caned food, and cleaning supplies if needed.
With the aid of local churches, non- profit organizations and/or trained individuals, the KRP will provide each displaced family, if they desire, a "Community Contact" who would provide the following :
- Help family move into home
- Make arrangements for transportation
- Help secure government aid
- Work with families to get children in School
- Help regain Identification (drivers license etc.)
- Help family become acclimated to new community
- Help family secure reliable car, insurance, etc.
- Help secure a job
- Work with families that have specific needs such as tutoring, childcare etc.
Presently, the KRP is securing names of Doctors, Dentists, Optometrist and Certified Counselors who will provide services to displaced families without concern of fees.
All displaced families must register with the local chapter of the Red Cross to receive the above stated services.
It has been a good day. Jeff
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Dave and I have recorded a new podcast that deals with the Katrina Relocation Plan. It can be found at TMAP(Two Middle Aged Pastors)
Please keep praying.............................................Jeff
Friday, September 09, 2005
Since Wednesday noon we have it up on a Website and other Communities are joining us and using this plan. You may see the website at katrinarelocationplan.com
I am very limited on time but here are the highlights of the week or should I say since Wednesday:
- Opened up a 20,000 sq. foot warehouse in Kokomo called the Katrina Warehouse
- Have been receiving household items to be given to families coming to Kokomo
- Have had many volunteers working every day in warehouse.
- Got on radio on Monday, first volunteer Lisa called me.
- We opened the warehouse at 9:00 on Wednesday with a blurb on the radio.
- The second volunteer was a woman from Galveston Indiana who attends the UMC there, she just closed her hardware store. About an hour after we opened I asked her to cordinate the warehouse, she readily said yes , she said that God told her before she left home she would be asked and she should say yes.
- We have a great receptionist that takes care of the phone
- Could not get phone installed fast enough, using my cell phone. My cell phone never stops ringing with messages piling up. For our friends trying to reach us use Chris' number. If you don't have her number call the Lowell UMC at 219-696-9219 and they will give it to you.
- Have been interviewed on the radio numerous times and have had major articles in the paper the past two days.
- We have had two groups step up to sponsor families with 8-12 month commitments. Two families should arrive in Kokomo in two weeks.
- Last night we had a group of teen offenders come into the warehouse to work.
- We have a furniture store in town willing to provide new mattress's for every person.
- We have a cleaners that will clean all coats
- We have a carpet cleaner service that will clean all sofas and chairs
- Office Supply store provided all of our office supplies
- Computer donated
- Chrysler Transmission sent several workers on loan to help us, meaning they paid their employees to help us.
- Meijer Store gave us clothing racks
- Goodies Dept. Store lent us nice clothing racks
- We had several unemployed men with pick ups who wanted to pick up stuff for us but had no gas money. Recieved 100 dollars in gas cards.
- Have been able to witness to searching volunteers who are looking for meaning to life, gently pointing them toward Jesus.
- We are having a toy drive on Sat put on by 11 year old special need triplets with Indianapolis TV coming to cover it.
- The presence of God is with us each day. When I go to bed at night I am tired but feel so good.
- Was called to a meeting of top officals of Howard County, to help cordinate effort. They gave me about an hour's notice and insisted I come. I walked into a confercence room at town hall with 15 people in suits ties and dresses, I in my shorts and polo shirt, I barely had time to leave the warehouse, just went as I was, felt a bit out of place, but I don't think it was the clothes, never been to a meeting with city movers and shakers.
a pastor friend of mine that lives near Kokomo he is 39, with two small children and just had a stroke.
pray for chris and our family as we all have been at the warehouse a lot. We have only been open for three days but it seems like weeks. I wish I could share all my stories with you, I could write a book.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Today was a great day in church. Only 19 people in church, however, worship was excellent and all of those 19 people brought nearly 500 items to put on the semi going to Mississippi, we added it to the 500 items we collected from the neighborhood. I have never been more convinced that churches and neighborhoods can partner together to make a difference in the world. Jeff
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Have you heard me say that God keeps dropping things in my lap. Well, on Thursday I received an email from the Kokomo District Office listing a bunch of stuff that is needed in Mississippi, a larger church in town has secured a semi and they are making a connection in Blioxi Mississippi at a local United Methodist Church. So I got the bright idea that our whole neighborhood should work together and help fill up the semi, I made a flyer and but it on 300 doors of the houses in our Neighborhood. I gave them the list and said we would return on Saturday to pick it up. Today Chris, Andrew and I went back through the neighborhood and picked up a truck load of stuff. We gave everyone a thank you note inviting them to church to see how much stuff we collected together and how we will be praying for those in need. In the midst of that we met so many people. We met some folks who were from La. and haven't heard from their relatives, and they were about in tears. I had a conversation with two young African Americans about the perceived racism in the situation and listened to them without having to express my views. I met a young mother who gave me a half a bag of diapers as she was holding her tiny baby in her arms, I told her I did not want to take her last bag and she said she would stretch her new bag further. We had people bringing stuff to our door and having a chance to meet them. I met a 23 year old man and his five year old daughter. He has had her from birth, he had to quit high school to take care of her. He works at a meat processing company about 20 miles north of here. He dug through his cabinets and gave me some food. He was trying to clean his house. His daughter was so cute and polite. I asked if I could come back and see him again he said, please do. Had a guy named Bruce in the regular neighborhood who jumped in his truck to help out, he followed and we loaded and he helped us carry all of the stuff into the church. As we drove through the housing project, people just kept coming out of their house piling stuff into the back of our car. I got into a conversation with a young mother who really couldn't see the difference between 911 and present situation, she couldn't figure out why so much stuff was needed when no one collected the stuff for 911 victims. Not only did we collect a lot of stuff I learned a great deal about he neighbors and neighborhood.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I have had two good full days. Yesterday I spoke with four funeral home directors, offering to provide pastoral care for families that do not have a pastor. I also met with folks from the Gilead House(a drug rehab house) for women, the director of the Howard County Foundation, checked in with the guys from Bridges at the Middle school, I went to CAM which is a homeless drop in shelter, I visited with a group that recently bought the YWCA(it ended up being a private Christian School), I went to the Nesting Doves a group home for teen moms, and I visited a parishioner in the hospital. Last week I went to the Crisis Center and First congregational Resale Shop. Today I made arrangements to have a mothers morning out at the community center in the apartment complex next door. We are offering cooking classes the second week of September, I have a friend coming from Texas to teach the class along with how to shop. Pray that people participate. I still need to line up child care. Today I made brochures for our new intern ministry at the church and revised the Kokomo Urban Outreach brochure. While I am tired it is a good tired, I am at complete peace and know that I am doing what God is calling me to do. Oh yeah, someone bought a book. Thanks to whoever it was. Jeff
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The second thing we are going to do is to provide a place where people, especially young adults, can discern if God is calling them into ministry. They will work with me as I mentor them and they gain experience through Ministry(in the church), Outreach(community ministry) and Reflection(being sure they are being called). It will be called, Ministry, Outreach, and Reflection Experience (MORE). Trinity could be a training and discerning ground for those that are being called to ministry, while gaining practical experience in church and neighborhood ministry. There seemed to be a positive reaction to the plan. Jeff
Friday, August 26, 2005
I have been doing some streetwalking over the past few days. I have been walking the same route at about the same time and meeting people, along the way. I also have been mapping the neighborhood using observation and the US census Data. In an 5 block by 5 block square around our house there are 473 homes, with 1339 people. Included in these blocks are 16 businesses: Tommy's tattoo and Body Piercing, Galloways car upholstering, positive Results physical therapy, 2 insurance agents, a Village Pantry, a Pizza Parlor, a , glass shop, and two bars. There is also a branch of Ivy Tech State College that specializes in Medical science, in the same building there are technology companies and research labs for I.U. and Purdue. There is a very large workshop and building that houses a program for those with mental and physical disabilities. Of the 25 blocks in the neighborhood, 7 blocks are vacant a factory was torn down about three years ago leaving at least 7 blocks of grass and weeds. There is also at least 6 blocks of parking lots that were used for the factory, I counted 2000 parking spaces in the area. Half of the neighborhood is business, parking lots and the Vacant lot. Sixty-Five percent of the houses are rented and well more than half are under 30. The average rent is $200 and the average mortgage payment is $400. There are 155 apartments in the government housing with the average rent there being $65 which includes utilities. Spent a great deal of time walking the neighborhood this week. Thank you for keeping us in prayer. Jeff
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
My friend Dave and I recorded our first podcast today. A podcast is like a radio show that is created by individuals. We are planning on reviewing books about Christianity once a month. You may listen to our first podcast here http://twomiddleagedpastors.blogspot.com . It last a bit more than 40 minutes. Please email and let me know what you think at email@example.com .
Met two young men today, Casey Cline and Travis Taflinger, they are directors of a ministry called Bridges Outreach. God gave Casey and Travis a vision of ministry in which they would reach youth. Their original vision was for a sort of Christian Boys and s Club, it evolved into an afternoon program at the inner city middle school. Each day. Casey and Travis and some volunteers tutor, mentor, feed and help teens develop study an life skills. At the end of each week the group goes on a field trip sometimes a Christian event, other times something like swimming and bowling. During this past summer, they took the kids to church camp where 15 of them gave their lives to Christ. These two guys, get it, they live out loving God and loving others. They build into the lives of those they work with and point them over time to Jesus. They started this program in January of 05, and as with every ministry, have limited resources. They are looking for people to work with them, I think they need 60 people in a database that they could call on(this is me saying this not them). They need chaperones, drivers, office workers, mentors, tutors and life skill speakers. If you are reading this in the Kokomo area call me or email me and I will put you in touch with them. I am asking my prayer partners from all over to pray for Casey and Travis and the Bridges Outreach Program. God is answering my prayers that God would raise up young s to do His work. Jeff
PS: D.M. Casey participated in http://missionyear.org he thinks a program like this would benefit Kokomo and those young s particpating.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Today I did volunteered to do a disabled person's laundry. I went to his house and picked it up, only one person right? Yes, however, he had not done laundry for three months and had enough clothes to last for three months. I was going to do it at home, but the 4 large plastic storage tubs was more than I could do at home quickly. I went to the Laundry matt and got an education. It is no wonder that people in the poverty cycle can never get out of it. I had 9 front loader washers packed full of clothes each one cost 2.75 and then I had 20 driers full of clothing each one cost me 2.00 to completely dry the clothing. Forty dollars. WOW!!! While this was three month for one person. A family of four could easily have this much laundry each week. There was a young mother with two children doing laundry, her children were about 5 months old and 4 years old. The mother's mother was with her. This mother was so kind, she helped me figure out which clothes belonged to me, since there were so many machines going and I didn't recognize the clothing. She explained that the machines have letters on them to help you remember. She gave me a great deal of helpful hints. Obviously a laundry mat guru. The problem was that she screamed constantly at her daughter. She wanted her daughter to stay put without any toys, coloring books or anything at all to do. I felt so sorry for the as she really wasn't doing anything wrong. They made the daughter fold towels, which gave her something to do, but would give her bath towels taller than her, and would yell at her when they touched the floor. We have got to get into the laundries with a children's program. Please pray for that. When I returned the man's clothing he was so excited, and humbled, I only had them for three hours. He talked to me about his 22 years in prison for selling drugs and being out for 7 years. He offered to talk to any youth that I would know about how drugs steals your life. He seemed very gruff and mean on the outside, but he was really a teddy bear on the inside. Please pray for him. Jeff
Friday, August 19, 2005
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Today has been a day for reflection and rest. Everyone needs a Sabbath day. Today there has been a great deal of "Chatter" on the conference email about issues that for me doesn't really matter. To the best of my understanding there is a disagreement of who will be in control. It seemed to have little to do with Jesus. I mostly just shook my head, as most churches are in decline or near death. My friend posted on his blog fuzzythinking.blogsome.com
There he lays out his list of why he believes the church is dying. I agree with him wholeheartedly.
Why we are Dying…
Here's my top 10 list on why are we dying?
I'm sure there are others.
10) Because we believe salvation is within our walls.
9) Because we are so busy with our own stuff.
8) Because we have no idea what we are doing and we stopped being a long time ago.
7) Because we don't really understand (or care to understand) what is going on with the people around us.
6) Because ministry is what is done to us (rather than what we can do for the others)
5) Because in all our breadth, we have forgotten our depth.
4) Because we don't know how to be neighbors to the strangers.
3) Because we like the good gig we've got going.
2) Because mission is somewhere out there, not somewhere right here.
and the top 1 reason on why we are dying.
1) Because we seek to not die and thus never really live.
I think the emails of today reflect why we are declining.
I also read something about Popeye the Sailorman. Until we as the collective church get to the point where we can say, "that's all I can 'stanz', and I can't 'stanz' no more" will things change. Debating budgets, salaries, clergyincompetencee or how difficult lay people are--- is just all talk, meanwhile most of the world lives without Jesus. Jeff
My friend Dave led me to a new website late last night: Lulu.com. It is an on-demand book publishing service where a person may sell their book. The company only prints them as they are ordered, and there is no cost to the author. So for fun, I published the paper I wrote last year in book form. Now you can go to http://www.lulu.com/jeffnewton
and order a book. I am sure it will be a best seller! :) ha! Take a look at it - it was fun to do. -Jeff
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I met a friend today who has a very exciting, interesting and much needed ministry plan that I know is from God. It is an out-of-the-box sort of idea. I can see how it would easily compliment what I am doing here in Kokomo. Everyone, please pray about this new ministry idea. I hope I can share more details later.
I shared with my friend today that every night since we have moved to Kokomo is like Christmas Eve. I can't wait to go to bed so I can get up the next day to see what God has in store for me and for us as a family. Andrew has been in school since Monday and seems to be enjoying it. Since the school is so large and four middle schools funnel into the high school, "new kids" go unnoticed. Everyone meets new people all the time. He is enjoying the ethnic diversity and the block schedule. He has 4 ninety-minute classes on one day, and 4 different ones on the next day. He starts school at 7:10 a.m. and is done at 2:00 p.m. He is getting used to the schedule.
Tonight is Bible Study and we are still looking at prayer. Please keep us in your prayers.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
On the way home I remembered I left my house key in the house and was locked out. My family was out of town. I had no idea how I would get in. Another gift...neighbors. I was able to get a window open and a little neighbor was able to go through the window to unlock the door.
Looking forward to church today.... I'm not sure why, but I just am. -Jeff
Thursday, August 11, 2005
We were surprised by the Nadolskis from Lowell. They were on vacation and came to Kokomo on the way home. They hadn't planned to come to see us or even come to Kokomo; they have never even been to Kokomo. They did not have our address or phone numbers with them. They just drove in. They followed US 31 and took the downtown exit and just started turning. They stopped at a convenience store and asked for help. Of course, our names are not in the phone book, as we only have cell phones. They told the clerk I was a pastor of a United Methodist Church and they couldn't remember the name of the church. The clerk called a few, hoping that an answering machine would be found with my name on it. Finally, the clerk went back to a computer and somehow located us. Funny thing - the convenience store named "Mac's" is on the corner of Webster and Hoffer and we live on Hoffer. They traveled about 10 blocks east of the store and in about three minutes they were at our house. For those that are not familiar with Kokomo, there are 50,000 people in town and many, many neighborhoods. We had a great visit. It reminded us we have many friends all over the state. -Jeff