Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Christmas Day Story

While a team of engineers built sandwiches in the kitchen, cookie packers prepared packages of cookies, as assembly-line leaders formed their assembly-line team. The receiving department had spent the previous week receiving items to be assembled and stocked was double checked for quality and quanity. The shipping department waited with baited breathe for the first finished products to come off the end of the line to be packed in boxes for delivery. When the starting whistle blew the action began. Sandwiches came out of the kitchen at break-neck speed, the cookie packers piled bags of cookies on trays to be delivered to assembly line workers. The THREE assembly lines were kept stocked with "parts" as assembly-line workers put together the final product--- a sack lunch. Each lunch consisted of a can of soda, a piece of fruit (orange, apple or banana), a sandwich (turkey, ham or bologna ) a bag of chips, a pack of cookies and a napkin. When the lunches were completed they were placed in boxes to be delivered to neighborhood residents. On Christmas Day in the course of 30 minutes about 600 sack lunches were assembled by more than 40 volunteers. A prayer of blessing was offered over the lunches for the workers and the receivers and part-two began.

Dock workers loaded trucks, vans and cars with the lunches. Two hundred doors of apartments at Garden Square were knocked on and a sack lunch was given to each person in the apartment. Mid-way through delivering the lunches, the "delivery people" began to find families in need of Christmas gifts, food and general household supplies all of which were called into the "special need center" set up in the church. Elves in the church began putting together the need items, wrapping presents, gathering food etc. Items were, then, delivered to the apartments that had the need.

Meanwhile delivery teams began to return with left over lunches as many people were not home (just as on the day that Jesus fed the multitude, there was much left over). On Christmas afternoon in the pouring down rain, five brave souls went door to door at Pine Valley Apartments (A Sidewalk Sunday School location) and knocked on an additional 100 doors, distributing nearly 200 sack lunches. By mid afternoon, 300 apartments were called on and nearly 600 sack lunches were delivered.

Thank you to all who made this story possible. You have been a blessing to our family and the neighborhoods served.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Secret Santa and other Christmas fun

This has been the Christmas week. On Monday, we spent the day setting up a Secret Santa Shop where children in the neighborhood could come and go shopping for items for their parents. When I was leaving the church a little boy across the street called out to me. I went over to talk with him, he was wearing a tie. I told him he looked nice and asked him why he was dressed up. He told me he was going to be in a Christmas program and asked me to come and see him. I went. I saw so many of the children in the neighborhood that night. I didn't realize it was only the younger grades that night so I also, went on Tuesday night to see the older kids. On Wednesday night was our secret Santa night. The children visited Santa, entered a coloring contest and shopped for parents. We even helped wrap all the presents. Nearly 125 kids came through. We had about 75 volunteers(50 from the Student Council of Northwestern Elementary School).

On Thursday we went to son Andrew's Christmas program it was our 21st year of attending our children's Christmas programs, this will be our last as Andrew graduates this year. Wow! It is hard to believe.

Tonight(Friday) we are attending a church 's play. Then on Saturday a Birthday Party for Jesus at Pine Valley and on Sunday our regular outreach night. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Missional Church

One of the stated goals of Kokomo Urban Outreach is to help churches see themselves as a mission center in their neighborhood and to help every person think of themselves as a missionary. I have had several people ask me what a missional church could look like. I think a missional church, is more of a mindset. In order for a church to become a missional church it has to think differently, much differently. This shift in thinking is expressed by Ed Stetzer and David Putman in their book, "Breaking the Missional Code" (Broadman & Holman, 2006) :
  • From programs to processes
  • From demographics to discernment
  • From models to missions
  • From attractional to incarnational
  • From uniformity to diversity
  • From professional to passionate
  • From seating to sending
  • From decisions to disciples
  • From additional to exponential
  • From monuments to movements


  • After a change of thinking comes action, the following has been gleaned from many sources, and think it best describes the actions of a missional church.

    Missional Churches

  • are exploring and discovering what it means to be Jesus' sent people everywhere they go,(jobs, shopping, sporting events etc).
  • are individuals willing and ready to be Christ's people in their own situation and place.
  • are engaged with the culture without being absorbed by the culture. They are intentionally indigenous.
  • understand God is already present in the culture. The secular and sacred are blurred. Therefore, a missional church doesn't view its purpose as bringing God into the culture or taking individuals out of the culture to a sacred space.
  • are evangelistic and faithfully proclaims the gospel through word and deed. Words alone are not sufficient; service is as important as what we say.
  • aligns all their activities around the the mission and Kingdom of God.
  • seeks to put the good of their neighbor over their own.
  • practices hospitality by welcoming the stranger into the midst of the community.
  • understands themselves as a community on a mission together.
  • are communities where everyone is involved in learning "the way of Jesus." Spiritual development, through a variety of Spiritual disciplines are expected.
  • gathers for worship, encouragement, teaching, training, and to seek God's presence. The purpose of gathering is to be filled, healed, equiped, and empowered to be Christ's Representatives wherever they find themselves.

  • A Missional church is

  • not a dispenser of religious goods and services or a place where people come for their weekly spiritual fix.
  • not a place where mature Christians come to be fed and have their needs met.
  • not a place where "professionals" are hired to do all the work of the church.
  • not a church with a "good missions program." The people are the missions program.
  • not about a new strategy for evangelism.
  • not about big programs and organizations to accomplish God's missionary purpose. This does not imply no program or organization, but that they will not drive mission. They will be used in support of people on mission.
  • not labeled "liberal" or "conservative" perhaps there are elements of both.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Thanksgiving

    The Wednesday night Thanksgiving Dinner was a success. We served 190 neighbors and 70 volunteers a great dinner. It was hard to believe that the total was over 250. If you have been to our fellowship hall you would know we experienced a miracle. That night every child went home with a package of new socks and a toy. Adults went home with a doorprize(TV, Mircowave, knick-knacks, socks etc). Twenty some winter coats were distributed, along with blankets. We were blessed to have over 80 volunteers from who knows how many different churches. We used real plates and silverware, keeping every very busy.

    On Thursday, Chris' family met at her mom's new house (right next door to us) for dinner. There were 29 present. Patric and Laura were not there as they went to be with her family. It was a great time.

    On Friday, I subbed at the Academy which is always interesting, that day was no different. Of course our weekly load of bread was delivered and several coats along with a bike.

    Today I am preparing to attend a church craft bazaar in which the proceeds will come to the outreach. Tomorrow I am looking forward to church, hanging of the greens in church at 1:00, having the children's dinner at 5:00 and a concert at 7:00 where a freewill offering will be collected for the Outreach.

    I am seriously thinking about taking Monday off. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    John

    Yesterday was a great day in church. John showed up. John is a 25 year old neighbor that lives with Jamie. I have known John since we have moved in. He is a very angry guy. He struggles with , has been a meth user. John and I have developed a friendship over the past year. He is nice enough, but can't keep a job and is under-educated. As I said, John showed up yesterday. The scripture was from Luke 8:26- 39. It was the story of Jesus and the guy who had legions of demons in him, living in a cemetery. The sermon center around who possesses you, God or other things. I named other things like , greed, , etc. At the end of the sermon we sang, Precious Lord take my Hand, and asked if anyone need to take the Lord's hand to be lifted out of the graveyards or dark places. Two people came forward, one was John. John accepted Christ and then asked if he could be baptized right now. Chris had a bottle of water and we baptized him on the spot. As I was baptizing him I was thinking of how Phillip baptized the eunuch on the spot, just found some water and did it. That's what we did too. I can't explain how God is moving here. I have never, ever seen anything like it. Please keep praying.....Jeff

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Scott

    I have just finished an Advent devotional that will be sent to all supporters and to anyone else that would like to have one. It is a collection of stories about people in our neighborhood, along with a few insights of how poverty effects families. All the stories have been read to the people they are about and they have given permission for me to use them. One is the story of a single father named Scott, here it is:

    The shiny large cross necklaces hung around his neck. It seemed so big for such a little guy. He was being held by his father, who by the way had on the same necklace. Scott is a single dad raising a nearly two year old boy. They both look alike, dark crew cut hair, same eyes, nose and sheepish grin. Scott also has a daughter. His daughter lives with his wife and his son lives with him. Scott‚’s tattooed arms, goatee, the bling of his jewelry, and his black clothing makes it obvious that he is not a “Ward Cleaver‚” kind of Dad. Those that don‚’t know him might never guess it, but he did more than father a child, he is a dad. One of the best I have seen. He pulls his son in a red wagon all over the neighborhood. Scott is a quiet man, sticking near his apartment, full of wisdom and seems to be making good decisions. He holds his son with pride, he loves him unconditionally, he strives to do what is right, he protects him from the harsh realities of life that sometimes surfaces in the neighborhood. He spends all of his spare time with his son. He is the kind of dad that every child longs for, a dad who building a child who will grow into a man who will respect others and be a man of integrity.


    Last night Scott asked to speak to me after the children's outreach. He has never attended church in his life, he knows nothing about religion(his words). He just asked me why we were so nice to him. We have taken him food, clothing even though he has never asked for anything. He couldn't believe that I would include him in the booklet, he could not figure out why we care for people in the neighborhood that no one else cares about. He wondered why we help people that we know are doing or a host of things he didn't think Christians like. He was taken back by the kindness he has received. I told him we were just trying to show him the love of Jesus. He asked about Jesus, he knew nothing about him. I told him that Jesus offers peace. He explained that peace for him was like a word on the wall, he had no idea what that was like. One thing led to another and when Scott left, he was a changed man, he said he experienced peace, a peace that he said he couldn't explain. Maybe that is what the Bible meant when it talks about the peace that passes understanding. Please keep up the prayers. Things are rapidly moving from meetphysicalscal needs but also spiritual needs. ----Jeff





    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Tooo long

    I just realized I haven't posted anything for a long time. It has been kind of busy. Chris's mom bought the house next door to ours and moved from the edge of Greentown to the middle of Kokomo. Her new house is smaller, easier to heat, needs little work, and a smaller yard. She drives to Kokomo about everyday, now she is here. She is 5 minutes from the bowling alley and 5 minutes from the senior citizens center. She is near her doctors and the hospital. So far she likes it. We also had a big 80th birthday party for her, that was a lot of fun.

    • As far as the outreach we have around 20 kids coming to sidewalk Sunday school at Pine Valley and between 60-70 kids coming to Trinity. This past weekend we had a carnival at both places. The children were well behaved and won lots of prizes.
    • The children's space that we are trying to create at Trinity is going slowly, but surely. We have an artist that will be covering the walls with murals and carpet is coming for the area as a gift from a local church.
    • We are still collecting coats, hats, gloves and socks for children. However the coats are slow coming.
    • Our meals on Sunday Night are now being provided by a local business owner.
    • I just received word that we will be receiving a $5000.00 grant for our Annual Conference.
    • I resigned from the Kokomo Academy as a substitute teacher. They wanted me to work two extra hours a day for the same amount of pay. I decided I did not want to work for free. I would not get home until about 4:00 PM before the schedule change I was getting home at about 2:10PM.
    • I am just about finished with Advent devotional. It will be completed this week and should be printed in various locations next week and then be distributed to supporters and local churches.
    • I am making presentations for KUO at 4 church board meetings Lutheran, Episcopalian, congregation, and Church of God) hoping to garner support for the outreach and/or opportunities to work with the churches to reach into their neighborhood.
    • I will be speaking at St. Luke's UMC on Nov. 12 for all three services. It is their mission Sunday, I am looking forward to it.
    • We are planning for a Thanksgiving Eve dinner at the church. The food will be provided by the Kokomo Rescue Mission. We are presently recruiting volunteers we need about 70 we have about 50.
    • St. Andrews Episcopalian church is having a craft bazaar to support the outreach (Nov.25).
    • The KUO board of directors are putting together a Christian Concert to support KUO (Nov. 26).

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    Back on Track

    It has been a couple of weeks. Working at the Academy took its toll. It was a long stretch working every school day from 8:30-4:00 and then catching up at night on all the other stuff I needed to do. However, that is over, so now I can get back to business. Sunday's are getting very exciting. We are having neighbors showing up in the morning and we are seeing God working like I haven't seen in a while. Lives are being transformed that is for sure. We have added an Bible study on Sunday night and have been serving about 70 people each week. Tomorrow I head to the Conference Office to be interviewed by the Mission Group so that we can become a Conference Advance Special we are already a District Advance. On Thursday I am meeting with downtown pastors and community leaders to begin a process to discern what issues we might work on together. This weekend my mother in law is moving into the house next door to ours. She will be moving from Greentown where she has lived for 50 years. The following weekend there will be a mission team coming from the Goshen area. Andrew has completed marching band and is looking forward to the prom which, here, is in the fall not the spring. I am also working on a devotional called, "Life on the Porch" that will be used by supporters and area churches during advent. I have three more to write, most have gone to an editor to be fixed up and corrected, I am very excited about the project. I can't wait to have it all done. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Sidetracked

    This week I feel kind of side tracked. I am substitute teaching at the Kokomo Academy, for 9 days replacing a teacher that is on vacation. School runs year round, so teachers rotate out on vacation. I hadn't worked there for about 6 weeks and when I was called back, the schedule had been changed. Previously I was in school from 7:30 AM-2:00 PM which for me was great, now I go from 8:00-3:30 which is not so great. I don't have as much time in the afternoon to work on church and outreach stuff. I made the nine day commitment so I will complete it, my time ends next Tuesday, five days to go. After that I doubt if I will return. This past Sunday we had some good friends visit us and work in the Outreach we served about 70 people dinner, had about 44 kids in Sidewalk Sunday School, 3 in youth group and two in a new Bible Study. We had our largest Sunday Morning crowd yet....47. I am working on an advent devotional and I am trying to get a newsletter out. Next week I am meeting with a Lutheran pastor to talk about supporting the outreach, we are planning a concert that will be a fundraiser, and I soon will be meeting with downtown pastors and leaders to discern issues that need to be addressed in the downtown. Things are really going, please keep me in your prayers. Jeff

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Catch up

    I spoke too soon, in previous posts I have talked about how it has been kind of slow. I need to learn when times are slower, that is God giving me a rest. Life has been so full that I have not had time at all to blog. While I can't fill you in on everything. Too much has happened. Here are the highlights:

    • Bikes still coming in and going out
    • 700 pounds of gleaned potatoes passed out
    • Sidewalk Sunday School started at Pine Valley in the last two weeks we have reached about 30 children
    • Sidewalk Sunday School and dinner on Sunday Night have been a huge success. The first week there were about 70 dinners and 44 children in Sidewalk Sunday School and 9 in youth group
    • Last night we served closer to 90 dinner with about 48 in sidewalk Sunday school and 18 in youth group(some older boys left but they started out in the group)
    • Grace United Methodist Church is purchasing carpet for the new children's area so the children will not have to sit on the floor
    • The new children's area has opened with a fresh coat of paint and colorful decorations provided by Mary Ingle
    • I am writing an Advent devotional that is called, "Life on the Porch", they are stories about those in the neighborhood who spend a great deal of time on their porches
    • We have been averaging over 40 in church and since Mary Ingle started teaching Sunday school our children's Sunday School has gone from 3 or 4 to 8 or 9.
    • Mary and I visit every child that attends sidewalk Sunday school at both locations. We called on about 30 families
    • I have had two funerals and after this Saturday two weddings in the past 2 weeks
    • Then there have been meetings, lunches, Bible studies, sermons to prepare and a whole bunch of other stuff
    I am thankful for:
    • my wife and family who are supportive
    • the many, many volunteers
    • volunteers helping me during the week keeping the church building open and entering data in the computer
    • God for answering prayers and giving strength
    • for the church I serve that is soooo supportive
    Current Prayer Concerns:
    • Pray for a volunteer to work with middle school boys. It would be great to have an African-American Male to work with this sports minded group of African-American boys. I fear if we don't get them now they will get in major trouble, they already cause minor trouble through the neighborhood. However, they show up at the church to eat and to see if have someone to do something with them. We have a great worker that is willing to work with the 8-10 middle school s but 18 or more teens are too much for one person.
    • Pray for food(cans of food) we are very, very low(we have zero)
    • Pray for continued volunteers on Saturday and Sunday nights
    • Pray for people that we be good at weekly visitation
    That's it for now. I will try to update more often.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Week in Review

    Saturday(Sept. 2) - Spent much of the day mowing grass. It had rained for days. A neighbor mowed my yard while a church member and myself spent about 4 hours caring for the church yard. In the midst of that I was able to spend the morning with my friend David who was here from North Judson, as well a friend from Lowell in the evening. At noon I picked up the first bike. It was given to a guy who just got a job and had no transportation.

    Sunday(Sept. 3) - Worship went well. We had more kids than usual. Mary Ingle our new Volunteer Director of Children's Outreach, for KUO, had her first Sunday in church with us, she is now our Sunday School Teacher. She left her church to become a missionary here. A noon we had a family meal with my brother and sister's in law. Of course we had our cookout, our last hotdog cookout for the season. This Sunday a church is providing a fried chicken picnic. On the 17th we bring the children back in. After the cookout we went to a birthday party for a great friend and spent the evening relaxing and laughing with friends.

    Monday(Sept. 4) - Patric and Laura spent Labor Day with us. Took the day off.

    Tuesday ( Sept. 5) Went to my weekly breakfast meeting at Panera Bread. Spoke at "Added Grace" the senior age group from Grace UMC at noon and got caught up on some office work.

    Wednesday (Sept. 6) Went to "Youth Workers Cafe" a place where those who work with youth gather to share ideas and to network. It was an eclectic group: School Superintendent, mental health workers, social workers, police officer, non profit folk like me, about 30 people. At night led our regular Bible Study group we had 12 there a very good group.

    Thursday (Sept. 7) More bikes came in we are up to 12 with more on the way. Produce came from the Community Garden and about everything is gone except some squash and some beets. I spent the morning working on a story for a devotional booklet that I hope to have completed for Advent. It will be called Life on the Porch. The booklet will be made up of positive stories of people that live in the apartments that are being the hands and feet of Jesus. There are more stories than one would think. Mowed our yard again.

    Friday (Sept. 8) Today's agenda: mow church yard, meet with accountability partner, attend a noon prayer meeting, praying for those who suffer, writing some thank you notes, have a meeting at 4:00, unloading bread that arrives this afternoon and finishing bulletin an sermon for Sunday. This Friday not nearly as slow as last Friday.

    Thanks for the prayers Jeff

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Slooooooooow Friday

    The children were yelling, "Hey pastor Jeff, watch me!!", as they flipped backwards out of the swing at the playground in the Apartment Complex.

    Two more children came running up asking excitedly, "Is it church day yet"?

    "Sorry not today", was my response.

    Talking with various people on their porches I learned that things are kind of tense, as money is scarce, food supplies are running low, and drinking is on the rise. Alcohol and drug abuse always increases when things get tough. There was plenty of yelling and frustration. Yet at the same time, it seemed quieter than normal. Not as many children out.

    Today I did not have a lot do. I met with an accountability partner at 11:00, went to my every Friday prayer for those who suffer service at the Episcopalian church. After that nothing. Sure there are many things I could do. After all as a former restaurant manager, I could hear myself saying, "If you have time to lean you have time to clean", but nothing demanding my time. It made the afternoon go verrrrrry sloooooooooooooooow. I can't imagine not really have anything to do the majority of time. Yet many of the residents ask me if I have anything for them to do, as they too have little to do. They are fast becoming a committed volunteer pool for the outreach. Since most have little to do during the day, I can recruit them for last minute stuff, which is a blessing. I got a taste of the life that many of my neighbors live everyday. Little money to do something fun, no where in particular to go, feeling bored. If they do have a job, there is worry about how they will get there tomorrow and then doing the same thing over and over for $5.25 an hour, as the meter ticks on childcare and as their rent raises. Thinking about all of that made me go for a walk and on the walk I encountered people-- which in turn gave me new energy. I had an Ephinany a as I was walking through the neighborhood, I realized that on Sunday I get a paycheck and will have some cash, tomorrow I will be busier than I want to be, and I will engage in some sort of entertainment even later tonight, even if it is just watching TV or surfing the Internet. My neighbors will experience more of the same---tomorrow and the next day after that. I did not realize how hard is to break free from the grip of poverty. Poverty is not just about not having money, it is about not have any resources (education, family, church, jobs, cars, or hope). I know that most of the 300 families that KUO works with, struggle everyday and feel forsaken by God. I am beginning to wonder if they are God forsaken or church forsaken? Please continue to pray that as we work in the mission field we will be able to create a culture of hope. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Went to Indy

    Yesterday, we went to Indy, as we moved Patric and Laura to their new apartment on the campus of Christian Theological Seminary which is located on the Butler Campus. We also visited Jonathan who moved to Indy while we were in New York. He lives on the third floor of an old building on 16th and Delaware in downtown Indy. He starts at IUPUI tomorrow. I worked on administrative stuff which is not my favorite thing to do, but I got stuff off my desk, that had been there for a long time. God is really moving....we are having more and more people in church on Sunday Morning, we are having new volunteers almost every Sunday Night, hotdogs are pouring in as well as chips, cookies and drinks. We are preparing to bring the children back in in about three weeks and expanding to new areas. Thank you for the prayers. Jeff

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Back Pack Update

    Last Tuesday we distributed 150 filled backpacks!!!! One volunteer looked out the window and saw a mass of kids with parents returning home with colorful backpacks on their backs. We did have a snag in the plan, we had to turn 33 kids away. We took their names and addresses and told them we would have their backpacks to them soon. I quickly put out an email and by Sunday we had all the orders filled with about 10 left over. God is working through his people!!!!
    Last Wednesday we left for a mini vacation, we attended a wedding of a friend in a town near New York City. Chris and I took a train into New York on Friday, we went early and saw the Good Morning America Friday concert, featuring Carri Underwood. We also saw Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts and whoever the weatherman is. We experienced Times Square, the Empire State Building, Macy's Department Store and Madison Square Gardens. The wedding was very nice with lots of food. Returning home we are catching up on sleep, chores and phone calls. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Bookbag blessings!!!!


    This morning was awesome!!!! All the bookbags, that were generously given by so many, were piled in front of the altar in our sanctuary. Enough was kept out so each attender received a bookbag. During the service there was time when we prayed for the children that would receive the bags. The neat part was that we had one child in church today that will be receiving a bag(she was the only child in church). I called her up for children's time, and asked her if she would help me pray. She agreed. I asked her to put her hand on the pile. She knelt down beside the pile and put her hand on the bookbags. The rest of the congregation got out their bag and we prayed for the children that were going to receive the bag, asking that each child, would grow up to be Godly women and men. Seeing the little first grader, in her pink dress, kneeling beside the bags was a sight that few will forget. We will be passing out the bags this Tuesday at 6:00. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Full week

    It has been a good week, very full but good. Sack lunches were served Mon-Fri volunteers arrived at about 11:00 AM and left at about 12:40 PM. About 70 childrenwere served per day. I had an opportunity to speak to a Kiwanis group on Tuesday Morning. In the midst of this there were groups that were sorting through hundreds and hundreds of items of clothing, some working in the morning others at night. At the same time another, group was sorting and stocking items for personal hygiene packs that will be passed out next Tuesday. I got to go shopping for backpacks and talked with a woman as we waited in line at a store, she told me about a miracle healing in her daughter, as she told her story she began to weep, I never met her before, but right in the middle of family dollar she shared her "Jesus" Story with me. Mary Ingle and I were interviewed for an article that is to appear in the weekly paper about Sidewalk Sunday School. The community garden gave us produce everyday this week and it was distributed through a produce stand sat up in our driveway. We estimate that nearly 1200 pounds of produce was distributed this week. On Tuesday Night the apartment complex had "August Night Out" there was a dunk tank, a moon jump and pedal cars on a track. The police provided the fun and Target provided the food. In the midst of this event, I was presented with a Thank You card signed by most of the residents and a plaque that expressed their appreciation. I shared with them that without the scores and scores of volunteers the things that we do would not be done. I wanted them to know that what happens around here is by far, not a one man show. I only share about the plaque to let everyone know that all the things you do are appreciated.

    Today nearly 200 garbage bags full of clothing left the church in the arms of happy parents and kids. They were hauled home in red wagons or strollers. Clothes will go out again tomorrow. Today we received food left from a funeral dinner, more clothing, hundreds of packs of colored pencils and markers, along with 6 cases of hotdogs with 120 in each case, more bread and cans and cans of food and about 20 more backpacks, did I fail to mention more clothes?

    I sense that God is up to something, just not sure what it is. Need to get outside and get the grass mowed. Thank you so much for all the prayers. Jeff

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Kick Start Back Packs

    Wow!!! We are so close in completing our KICK Start Backpack Project. KICK stands for Kids Individual Care Kit to give them a kick start to good hygiene as school begins. A KICK Start Backpack is a backpack filled with shampoo, soap, toilet tissue, toothpaste and brush, and a comb, pick or brush with deodorant for teens. With the help of the local Kiwanis and churches we have almost everything we need for 150 backpacks. We still need about 70 backpacks which we know will receive. Thanks to all who made this worthwhile project a success.

    Monday, July 31, 2006

    Cook-Out Buffet

    Last night was the biggest night we have had outside. We served an estimated 175-200 people. Our menu was large as we had some great last minute donations. We had hotdogs, corn on the cob(200 plus ears), mac and cheese, cloe slaw, potato salad, pork and beans, a veggie tray, banana's, apples, grapes and cookies. Unbelievably we did not run out of any food except the fruit near the end. In the over 90 plus heat we had 39 volunteers. We had the senior citizen class and the youth group from Grace UMC join us. It was our first intergenerational group. The Older folks served the food, the youth played with the kids, helped them with their plates, walked them home, and even fed some little ones. Along with the two groups from Grace church(21) we had folks there from McGrawsville UMC(5), Russiaville UMC(1), FaithUMC(1), Crossroads Community(3), Abundant Life(2), St. Lukes UMC(3) and Trinity UMC(3).

    We were also blessed with produce from the community garden we gave away zucchini, cabbage and cucumbers- the Crossroads group brought fresh green beans which was gone in a flash. Along with our regular bags of food(cereal, juice, peanut butter, pasta, sunflower seeds, and jello), we gave away about 75 loaves of bread and 125 bags of assorted chips.

    It is amazing what God is doing outside the church walls as many churches come together to be missionaries in their own community. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Updates

    Just an update on the K.I.C.K. Starters (see article below dated 7/17) we have received most of the items for the pack. Mike the pastor of St. Lukes UMC emailed and asked about book bags. I am not aware of anyone in town giving away book bags, so after exchanging email thoughts we decided we would try to collect 150 book bags and place the hygiene items in it. An email went out to local churches yesterday morning by afternoon we had 20 bags delivered. God is so good. In our neighborhood the month of July is a bit too long. We have been blessed to help neighbors with what we have in the way of food but we have little. We are giving away cheese that was left from VBS, peanut butter, cranberry juice, a couple of cans of vegetables and a bag of chips. Bread does not come until tomorrow and food stamps start coming next Tuesday, depending on where you fall in the alphabet, food stamps are disturbed from the 1st-10th of each month. Some folks have about two weeks to wait.

    Each day, we are distributing sack lunches to children under the age of 18. The school system was providing lunches with their program ending last Friday. We picked it up on Monday. The lunches are catered and are funded by IUK. When the school provided lunch the largest group ever served was 50 kids the average was 30. We received 50 lunches on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We served 49 on Monday, 51 on Tuesday and had to turn 10 kids away and lock the door early on Wednesday. We upped the order to 70 starting today (Thursday). A stereotype of people living in government housing is that those folks don't work. That is untrue. Many do work. The welfare to work program provides mothers with two years of benefits and then helps them find jobs or mothers are required to work for local agencies to continue to receive government aid. Several of our neighbors have jobs in a meat processing plant in Logansport (about 30 miles away). Problem---gasoline is over $3.00 a gallon. It is becoming difficult to get back and forth to work. The Outreach nor the church has the funds to help with any kind of gas assistance and local agencies are running out of resources. Carpools are being organized and gas sharing is happening, pop cans are being collected to get people to work, those working in Logansport are becoming a community. That's cool.

    Other mothers without cars walk to work, we are seeing a need for bikes. Several bikes have been donated and they are given to people with jobs who need them to get to work. Working bikes are scarce so we can only give bikes to those who need transportation to work. We have several broken bikes, that do us little good as we have no one right now who knows how to fix them nor the resources to purchase the parts. Enough rambling. Please keep everyone here in your prayers.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    59 cent mission trip

    They came pouring in at about 11:15 as the U haul was being loaded with bags and bags of food (the truck was being filled by some of the young adult guys next door). They huddled downstairs making a plan ready to divide and conquer. Two of them blind, most of them girls which the one guy didn't seem to mind and then there was their leader(a board member and a regular volunteer). The "they" were some youth from Crossroads Community Church who had volunteered to join the other 6 of us go door to door for "Groceries and Prayer". After a time of prayer we left to church to begin the work. At first a bit neverous , the youth's confidence increased as bag after bag of food was taken from the truck and brought to the door. It became evident that the youth could sense they were being used by God, as they became louder and louder as they knocked on the doors and yelled, "Groceries and Prayer from Kokomo Urban Outreach." Residents would come to the door to accept food and many took them up on the prayer offer too. It blessed me when I saw one of the blind girls praying for an older neighbor who has trouble walking, and the neighbor praying for the blind girl. There was church going on, on the steps of the apartments. We also found some families that were desperate for help. Like the woman who had a miscarriage the day before and had no toilet paper or soap in her home or the father and son who has had to borrow food for the past five days. We prayed with the sick, the despised, the addicted, the confused and the hopeless. By the time we were finished we had a group of children following us and "helping" us carry the groceries. After we visited the nearly 200 apartments in Garden Square we moved on to Pine Valley where 100 more families received bags of food. Believe it or not each youth only paid 59 cents for this mission trip to buy a coke at BP as they traveled to the second apartment complex, however, I believe even the 59 cents became a gift from their leader, making this "mission trip" a freebie. Thank you youth from Crossroads for helping to create a culture of hope in a seemingly hopeless place. Thank you Kokomo Rescue Mission for donating the food that we distributed to nearly 300 families. I would also like to St. Luke's UMC for donating the money to pay for the U-Haul Truck through their leftover gifts to our VBS. Thank you to our friends at Russiaville UMC for helping us sack groceries the day before we delivered. A special thanks to the residents who came across the street to help us bag groceries and load the truck. And of course, thanks to all the "regular" volunteers who give time to the "Outreach" event after event. Thanks to all of you for the prayers. Jeff

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    VBS and other assorted items

    VBS went well. We didn't have huge numbers but the 20 plus children that came had a great time. We had the best of the best from every church. It was a good time. I hope to have some pictures. I took my camera to vbs and took quite a few pictures. There was some sort of writing on the screen, however, I could not see it without my glasses. I later learned it said, "No memory Card". So much for my carefully planned pictures. I presided over some very good friends daughter's wedding on Saturday, which I enjoyed. On Sunday we had a nice crowd in church and we had a good cookout. Today I spoke at the Kiwanis Club and was very well received. They are helping put together some personal hygiene kits to give to the children before school starts. The kits are to give kids a K.I.C.K.(Kids Individual Care Kits) Start to caring for themselves. It will contain toothpaste and toothbrush, a comb, shampoo, a bar of soap, and toilet paper. We want to have 150 ready to go. Before I left I had commitments of all the toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap. Someone brought us about 40 packages of toilet paper. We are well on our way. Thanks for the prayers especially as we pack food tomorrow and pass it out on Wednesday door to door.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Thank you note to St. Lukes UMC

    Wow!! What a great few days in VBS. We had so many wonderful volunteers from churches like Crossroads and Abundant Life(boy did we need them) and we received items from Grace UMC. The folks at St. Lukes UMC approached me about doing VBS and working with us to plan and to provide the resources to make VBS happen. St. Lukes sent many volunteers, provided the food, the decorations and the finances needed to make the VBS successful. We had a great song leader from Crossroads Karen Malone, also from Crossroads was Stephanie who brought her usual band of wonderful helpers and of course our Children's Outreach Director Mary Ingle was present along with Intern Patric Newton. The Storyteller, the Registration coordinator, the kitchen crew(including youth from St. Lukes) and the actor in the skit were all from St. Lukes. We also appreciated the Children's Bibles donated by Bebe Doris from the Kokomo Rescue Mission. Following is a letter sent to St. Lukes Church:

    Dear Friends,

    Thank you so much for making a difference in the lives of 25 children at our VBS outreach. I wish you could have met the children that were so touched. Few of them attend any church and for some it was the first time they heard about Jesus. It has been neat to walk through the apartment complex a week afterwards hearing the children singing the songs they learned in Bible School. It has been a blessing to work more one on one with the children than we are able to do in a large cookout setting. Thank you for providing workers, cookies, food, decorations, finances and prayers. I want you all to know that the neighborhood has been buzzing since VBS asking when we are going to do it again!!! You have been salt and light to a community that needs both. I also wanted you to know that your gifts not only helped the children at VBS, as the leftover food was used at Sunday's cookout. Leftover money was used to rent a U Haul truck($25.00) to deliver groceries to 300 families in two apartment complexes and will be used to purchase much needed shelving($40.00) to hold food until it can be distributed, our little plastic book shelves that surrounded our distribution room walls collapsed under the weight of the food. I would especially like to thank Jean Tarner for organizing and preparing VBS for us so it ran well even though she was called away.


    Thanks again.

    Jeff Newton Director of Kokomo Urban Outreach

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    VBS

    Today is our first day of VBS. We are doing a mini version, three days for 1.5 hours. As usual we are blazing new trails into unknown parts. Please pray for us as all our volunteers are arriving at about 12:30 it starts at 1:00. We have to organize them and move them where we need them. We do have the five main areas story, games, crafts, music and food covered with the best of the best leaders. I not sure I have ever seen so much talent in each area. What is interesting is that they are all from different churches. The primary church helping is St. Lukes which has supplied a great deal of materials. I hope to get some pictures today and will post as I get them. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    A Nice Weekend (Part Two)

    Wow!!! This week flew by. I thought I would have part 2 of last weekend up long ago. But, alas, time slips by. Last Sunday we had several nice visitors in the church, we had folks from South Carolina, Texas, and Florida. The cook out was nice because it only rained for 15 minutes instead of the usual whole time we are out there. It has rained on us every week for about 5 weeks. It was nice to have enough volunteers and we even had some missionaries from Guatemala.

    A couple of weeks ago I had been in conversation with a 23 year old man who is living with his 26 year old girlfriend with their three children, about marriage(he wondered how important it really was). I explained about commitment, the example being set for the children, the importance of promising to stay true to one person, honoring the children's mother etc. He asked if the time came would I do the service. I told him I would. I have had many conversations with him and her and see them everyday as they live across from us. Their children participate in our outreach. He and his girlfriend are very nice. Thursday I heard a knocking at the door when I opened it he was on the porch with a license in hand, saying lets do it now. I agreed. However, his wife to be felt she could not get married in a t-shirt and blue jeans which is all she had. They found some money and she went to buy a new outfit. He too found his best clothes and they dressed the children up the best they could. Two of their neighbors got dressed up to be witnesses. While they were getting ready I went out and bought a cake and got some sodas on ice. A friend, Steph. had just the day before brought some plastic silverware wrapped in napkins tied with a ribbon and a tablecloth to the church. At 8:30 the two were married, he was very excited, and they both had a good feeling, like they made something right. They crossed the street and went home. Patric and I quickly picked up the cake, drinks, table, plates etc and we set up a reception in their front yard. It was the exact spot where a gunshot rang out a few months ago, the space was being redeemed with a wholesome party. All the neighbors came out to congratulate them and to grab a piece of cake, meanwhile Patric and I slipped away into the shadows. From my picture window I would occasionally glance across the street to see how things were going, it went well. The party went on for about an hour and for the first time I saw a community come together, without drinking, screaming, fighting just friends having a great time. The children were playing and dancing and at least on this night life was good.

    Tonight we are going to a Pastor's family picnic, unbelievably I think all three sons are going with us. Tomorrow I speak at New Waverly United Methodist Church which is just west of 31 off of 24. Patric will be speaking at Trinity as part of his internship. Tomorrow night the children will be treated to some Gospel magic.

    Next week, I am not teaching at all. I taught 3 days this past week(the Academy boys go year round). I will be focusing on VBS. If you received our newsletter, you read that we were looking for some Bibles to give at VBS. We got them. If you are not getting the newsletter and would like to, you may subscribe to it by typing your email into the box at the top right hand side of this page.

    Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    A Nice Weekend (Part One)

    This weekend was a nice weekend. It was nice because I was able to hang out with some very nice people. On Saturday afternoon we had a baby shower for a young woman in the apartments. She is due at the end of the month and had nothing for her child. We collected clothing, diapers, lotion, a car seat, play pen, toys, everything she needed, she did have a bed. We also bought a cake, made punch, had peanuts and mints. Then there was the card table with a baby shower table cloth, with matching napkins and cups and we had some folding chairs. We set all of that outside of her apartment under the shade of a large tree and knocked on the door. The woman was surprised!!! I don't think she ever has been to a shower, and surely didn't expect one. She was very nice, humble, and appreciative. She opened each package very slowly and looked at each item. She would comment about the softness of the material, the stitching in the bibs and the practicality of the diapers. She didn't want to eat the cake(the cake was important to her, not sure she has had many just for her) because it was so beautiful. She savored every bite. We helped her carry her things into her apartment and noticed she had no furniture, none!!! There were plastic grocery bags of clothes around the walls. We asked her about the furniture, she said she was going to rent some after the baby was born. We told her not to, that we would be on the lookout for some. She needs everything but beds.

    At the shower we met two very nice boys on bikes one was 6 the other 5. The five year old stopped at the shower as we were setting up. He was quiet, kind, polite. We we put the peanuts on the table he asked if he could please have some, we said sure. He grabbed handfuls and began to quickly eat. He obviously had not had anything to eat for a while. His brother joined us, these two little guys ate two pieces of cake, two glasses of juice, a bunch of peanuts and a couple of mints. It may not have been the healthiest meal, but they went away with food in their stomach.

    On Saturday night I visited a parishioner who is having surgery today. They have only been coming to the church for a few months. Very nice folks. I arrived at dinner time and they set down a plate....good food. Our whole family spent the rest of the evening at the home of some good friends, laughing and watching our six adult children play together. It was strange as our kids live everywhere and really haven't been together for years. As we watched them play a game called "Ladder Ball", it seemed as if we were looking at them as if they were in elementary school again when we gathered our two families together often.

    This post is getting kind of lengthly and I have to be going to teach at the academy(they go to school year round). We will just call this "A nice weekend pt. 1". Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Friday, June 30, 2006

    A Ton of Food to Distribute

    We received more than a ton of food today. We plan on passing it out in the middle of the month when things start to get tight. I am looking forward to passing out groceries and praying with folks that we serve. Today we received:

    • 350 pounds of salmon
    • 200 pounds of instant potatoes
    • 300 pounds of rice
    • 500 pounds of individual cups of chocolate and vanilla pudding
    • 120 pounds of pasta
    • 600 cans of fruit
    • 450 packages of Raman noodles
    • 420 pounds of peanut butter
    • 48 cans of black beans
    • 24 jars of pickle relish
    • 300 pounds of table salt
    • 42 bottles of juice
    • 24 boxes of cereral
    • 52 loaves of bread
    • 68 bags of corn chips
    • 32 cans of black olives
    Tomorrow at 2:00 we will be having a surprise baby shower for one of the women in the apartments she is due at the end of July and has nothing. We have gathered stuff together and we're taking a card table, a table cloth, a cake and some punch setting it all up in the yard in front of her apartment. I think it will be a surprise. People say we're crazy, but I think Jesus would through a party for a single mom that has no support or resources and that is just what we are going to do. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Did you want your burger wet or well...

    This picture is not us, but it looked like us last night. I carefully watched the weather yesterday afternoon and knew that rain was headed our way, big time. At 4:15 it was not raining, we(me and a small group of volunteers )decided we would start the picnic early as rain was on the way. We quickly loaded everything up, drove to the picnic site and started unloading....it began to sprinkle. By the time everything was unloaded and set up it began to rain. We were under a canopy of trees so it really wasn't too bad. We knew that this was an important week as it is the last of the month, not much food available right now. So we thought the rain would blow over quickly and we could serve the needed food. There were children already in line waiting for either a pork burger or a hotdog to get done. It began to rain harder, volunteers went to cars and retrieved umbrellas. The situation became worse as the harder in rained, the longer the line became. The long line was something we were used to, however, this time children and parents were asking for 4 or 5 sandwiches so they could take them home to their families. The serving table was getting wetter and wetter. One volunteer had a tarp in her car we got it and covered the table, trying to keep meat, buns and chips dry. Dee one of our main stay volunteers was working hard under the tarp as two of us tried to hold it up high enough for her to prepare the meals and keep the food and her dry(she was the only one on the serving line, usually there are 5 or 6). People came out with broken umbrellas, plastic trash bags, and even towels over their heads, many had nothing just stood in the pouring rain, drenched and shivering. People were patient as they waited at times up to 10 minutes for their food, as our pork burgers took a bit of time to cook. We were thanked over and over for serving in the rain. It seemed like the rain nor the line would ever let up. Finally, after an hour and 45 minutes the line disappeared along with 100 pork burgers, 60 hotdogs, 20 large bags of potato chips, 200 cups of chocolate pudding and 150 juice bottles. As we began to load up the rain stopped and the sun returned. The children began to fill the grounds, playing and jumping in the mudpuddles. We left wet and tired, yet sensing that we were used by God. Last night was a defining moment in my life as I am quite sure I would never wait in the pouring rain to get a free hotdog and a handful of chips.....but then again I have never really been hungry either. Thanks for the prayers. Special thanks to our "all wet" volunteers that went well beyond the call of duty. They were Gary and Dee Hostetler, Boyd and Dan Mozingo(all from McGrawsville UMC), Jim Williams from Grace UMC, Cindy Myers from St. Lukes UMC, and Pastor Mike Tarner from Russiaville UMC. Jeff Posted by Picasa

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    New Podcast

    Dave and I just finished a new podcast. We have a great time doing these radio like shows, it is kind of our hobby. We are not sure how many listen to our 20 minute shows with no commercials. In this episode we chat about church shopping, cable TV, American culture, church success, secret agents and oh yea, we also talk about the book called, "Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America" by by Darrell L. Guder (Editor), Lois Barrett (Editor).

    The show is here.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    News Article from Grace United Methodist Church

    Be sure to check out the picture link Jeff


    Allelon, The Sunday School Class,

    Lends A Helping Hand To

    Urban Outreach's Sunday Cookout.

    Delegation and coaching won out. The gang mastered assembly-line bagging of give away food. And you would have enjoyed seeing them rise to the challenge of fast food service - - scrunched buns, splattered ketchup, crushed chips and all.

    Seriously, the team worked well together. But what's an activity without a few glitches?

    As they arrived the rain drops started. The sky darkened. It was touch-and-go for awhile. The group feared the gloomy, chilly weather might ruin the picnic. It didn't. The families knocked down 80 hot dogs.

    Shirley Hoy, master "condimentier" enticed the kids to smile as they picked up their meals.

    Jeff Newton brought 30 comfortable plastic chairs. That way people could sit down as they ate.

    Rob Pinto and Ralph Cory took pictures. Go here to check them out:

    http://kokomograce.org/images/ralph/20 06_ur ban_outreach/

    The extra help freed up the teachers to play with the kids. The kids crowded the teacher as she blew up and tied the baloons. Then they seemed everywhere as they scurried about trying to keep them in the air.

    Paul Zimmerman proved a soft-touch for seconds at the cookie station.

    Karin Pinto proved masterful at "packing and arranging". She missed her real calling.

    Karen Zimmerman developed true expertise in the fine art of "bunmanship". And Leanna Zimmerman created a strong support station for her mother as she slapped the dogs into the buns.

    Suddenly it was time to clean up. One little boy asked Jeff,"Pastor Jeff, do you have to go?" Jeff said, "I'll be back next week."

    As the group walked back to Trinity UMC, 3 of the children tagged along. They played with their teacher - - and hi fived it with the rest.

    You can help these kids. Each week it's a struggle to find enough sodas. It'd be great to switch them out for juices sometimes. But that seems a dream. I think Jeff would "beg, borrow, or steal" to get some of your home baked cookies. It gives the kids a special treat.

    You can even leave them at GRACE UMC and Urban Outreach will pick them up. Just let Jeff know. You can reach Jeff at 765-461-9618.

    Remember, there's nothing like the love and trust of a child.


    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Feeling better? sort of

    I am starting to feel better, it has been two weeks since I started feeling bad. I have too much to do to stay in bed, which is what I have been doing most of the time. I did do all my Sunday stuff last week. We had a neighbor come to church, it was very exciting to me. On Sunday Night we had our cookout in-- off and on rain. We still served 100. We were blessed to have a Sunday School Class from Grace UMC helping. Patric and others played games with the children. It was a great night. We saw the Kingdom of God!!!

    Please pray for Jim he is 22 with a 6 year old daughter that he has raised totally by himself since birth. He works in Logansport at Tysons(about 15-20 miles from here). He got a raise and they raised his rent and then he got his hours cut(no hogs right now). He went to housing to talk about not being able to pay all the rent right now and they told him his car was a luxury and he needed to sell it to pay the rent. Of course, if he does that he can't keep his job. He collects cans at our cookouts to buy gasoline to get back and forth to work. He also has some dental issues that he needs addressed but has no insurance and no way to pay. Please pray for him in his difficult time. Oh yes, as we have been praying for Jim a volunteer on Sunday Night has befriended him and is walking with him and is being sure this month's rent is paid --which Jim and his daughter will not be evicted(becoming homeles) and his car does not have to be sold. Jim is experiencing the Kingdom of God.

    We've been praying for Shar who is expecting a baby in July. She is living with her sister in the apartments which is against the rules, if caught she will be homeless. She has nothing for the new baby. However, God has provided everything she needs. We are going to throw a surprise shower for her on her doorstep in a couple of weeks. We are bringing a baby bed filled with gifts and we are setting up a card table with a cake and punch. The Kingdom of God is Near!!

    Jane is a single mother of three who is really a great mother. However, the stress of life, has been almost too great. Her children went to her ex husband's house for a couple of weeks and somehow he was able to gain temporary custody of the children. As I and several others worked with Jane we were able to get her to legal aid who assures her, that the children will be back with her soon. The Kingdom of God is Near!!

    The other night my son Jon was up late and heard yelling and a gunshot. The neighbors called police, no one was hurt. The Kingdom of God is Near!!

    It is exciting that God is using KUO to make a difference in the lives of so many. Without your prayers and your support, many folks we are working with would never see the Kingdom. Everytime God's will is done on earth as it is in Heaven, we see the Kingdom of God. God is at work with his people to make things right. We are seeing God's Kingdom come in a little 4 block area of Kokomo that needs to experience the Good News of the Kingdom. What is really neat is that so many of our volunteers are seeing what the Kingdom of God is like as they work with us.

    Thank you in advance as you continue to pray for us and that we will be effective builders of God's Kingdom in Kokomo. Jeff

    Names have been changed to protect privacy but all are true stories.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Down sick

    Please pray for me as I went to the doctor, yesterday, and found out I have pneumonia. I have not felt this bad for a long time. Looking forward to feeling better. Have barely got out of bed. Hope to update everything soon. Jeff

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    Reading, Meetings and Grease Fires

    Again, the past week has been incredible. Last week I subbed 3 days at Kokomo Academy(PE, science and social studies. I am rereading NT Wright's book, Simply Christian and have met with no less than 5 community leaders discussing various community issues and KUO events. We are planning a VBS in July with the help of several churches. Last Sunday night we were short on volunteers due to holiday weekend. We only had 8 volunteers usually 15-25, plus it was the end of the month lots of hungry folk. We feed well over 125 people. They ate 1oo hamburgers, 100 hotdogs, 20 pounds of fresh carrots, bags and bags of chips, and who knows how many cookies. We also made nearly 100 bags of food to be given away that include bread, granola bars, toilet tissue or Kleenex, soup, popcorn, chips, cookies, gravy mix, and little treat bag.

    Because we received a huge about of hamburger buns I decided to have hamburgers and hotdogs. I went to Walmart looking for some inexpensive hamburger, BINGO, I found 20 quarter pound hamburgers in a box for $4.93, I purchased 5 boxes. When the cook began grilling the hamburgers, there were so much grease in them that it started a grease fire in the grill that would not go out. We just shut the gas off and cooked all the hamburgers and hotdogs on the grease fire . It was a good thing, since we felt like we might run out of gas before we were done cooking.

    Late Sunday night Oldest son, Patric, arrived to stay with us for 10 weeks as he completes an internship that will satisfy the last of his college requirements. His wife will be here two days a week and will keep her job near Chicago while staying with her sister. The plan right now is that in August he and his wife will move to Indianapolis where he will attend seminary working toward a masters degree in Christian Education/urban ministry. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Thought

    "Is it about God's plan for my life, or my life for God's plan?" What do you think?

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Reading

    I have been spending some time reading. The two books most recently read include: Simply Christian, by N.T. Wright, it is one of the best books I have ever read and it is a must read for the serious Christian. Finally, a writer with balance that gives a glimpse at the top of the puzzle box enabling us to see what God is having us put together. You can read more about it here.

    The second book is by Brian McLaren called, The Secret Message of Jesus : Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything. Read more about it here. Again another eyeopener. McLaren sent me two free copies I guess, because I have a blog that discusses emerging church issues(but I am not sure) that blog is found here. McLaren referred to NT Wright several times especially in the footnotes, which caused me to want to read Wright too. Caution: These two books will challenge you and cause you to think, they might even cause some late night discussion with your friends. They spoke in huge ways to my twenty year old son Jonathan.

    As for the cookouts the first one we served 140 people, the second week it rained and we served about 40 kids in the church with class time etc. and this past Sunday we served about 110 outside it was kind of chilly, I wonder what will happen when it is hot. We could always use drinks and cookies and help. Most of all we need prayers as we are meeting the parent of the children we are working with. Thanks Jeff

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Another tribune article

    Garden residents eat up Outreach fun

    Editor’s note: The Kokomo Tribune publishes the “Good News, Good People” column. Tom Carey, community news editor, pens the articles, which spotlight local do-gooders and inspirational news. Carey may be contacted in care of the Tribune at 300 N. Union St., Kokomo, IN 46901.
    Submissions may be dropped by the office or e-mailed to Carey at tom.carey@kokomotribune.com. He may also be contacted at (765) 454- 8560 or toll free at (800) 382-0696,Ext. 8560.


    A plate laden with chips, cookies and a mustard slathe dog in one hand, a frosty can of pop in the other, the youngster ever so carefully walked toward friends at Garden Square. Right before ally dumping the food. The Rev. Jeff Newton quickly and calmly hovered over him, assuring the youngster someone else would clean up. He then told the boy to go get some more munchies.

    Meanwhile, other youngsters faced serious decisions. Would it be the root beer, they mused, standing over a tub of iced cans; maybe a cola or a red pop? Assembling food, parents and their children settled around the area, enjoying the repast, neighbors’ company and maybe some games.

    Newton, pastor of nearby Trinity U.M. Church, also is executive director of Kokomo Urban Outreach. The group is an interdenominational network of churches, faith-based organizations and individuals who have a heart for hometown missions.

    Sunday was the premiere barbecue/block party Outreach presented at the south side apartment complex. Such free events will begin at 5 p.m. each Sunday through August. Newton said about 140 folks were served Sunday night. Many were parents joined by their children and that pleased the pastor, who said the summer events will provide nights of family togetherness. Dean Bousom, resident coordinator at Garden Square, said parents were joining their children at the barbecue site, then visiting with neighbors.

    “We had whole families out,which was good,” Newton said. After dining, some of the children
    drew chalk figures; Outreach personnel chatted with the kids, then distributed food for them to take home.

    Any kind of canned soda would be appreciated from donors, Newton said. He also said the ministry could use items, including:
    • Cases of water
    • Cookies
    • Charcoal
    • Flying discs, Hula Hoops, playground balls, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and other game items.
    Those wanting to donate or get more info on the Outreach may call (765) 461-9618.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Cookouts and other amazing things

    Sunday Night we had our first Cookout. We had twenty volunteers and served 140 people. Children drew on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk and huddles of families sat on the ground and had a picnic. On Saturday morning we had a clothing/rummage giveaway. I wasn't there as Patric graduated from College. Hundreds of items were given away, however, like the loaves and fishes, everything multiplied. An interesting thing happened. Those who took the clothing, went home and brought over things they were using to share. We ended up with about 50 percent more items than we started with. Is this called community transformation? All the items left were given back to "Mustard seed Ministries"( a group that gives away clothes). They actually brought all the clothes in the first place. Last night there was a board of directors meeting for KUO, thanks to many of you reading this, our checking account is growing. For the first month of KUO's existence I worked for free, in the second month I was given 50 percent of my approved salary and last night I was given a raise to 75 percent of approved salary. God is blessing us!!!
    I will now not have to yes every time I am called to sub at the school. Thanks for the prayers and your support.

    Jeff

    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    Sunday Night Outreach

    Tonight was a big surprise to me. Since the weather has been nicer we have been having less kids on Sunday Night usually about 20-30. I did not expect many tonight because of the rain. At 4:15 14 kids came in we don't start until 5:00. We had one teacher at the church she took them to color pictures as we were a long way from being ready to eat. By 4:45 we had 40 kids by 5:00 we had over 50 kids. Some of the kids (as they were walking in 40 minutes early) were asking if they could have seconds tonight, they said they were hungry and it hit me--- it is the last day of the month. They ate about 2 1/2 cases of corndogs, 8 pounds of french fries and two restaurant size cans of fruit and drank five gallons of Kool aid. Two teachers were there and I was going to take the third class. With over 50 kids we did not have enough teachers. We had 4 high schoolers who would need their own class, 12 middle schoolers, about 15 elementary kids, and about 20 pre-schoolers/kindergarteners. Three of us could not do it, nor did we have enough craft supplies etc. we were ready for about 30 kids. We had two cooks and 5 servers three of which were there for the first time, we also had one "getter"(person who picks up kids). We had no option to keep things safe to feed the kids and send them home.

    At 3:00 we had only loaves of bread to give the children, we usually have more. At 3:15 our friendly reporter, Tom Carey brought in 30 pounds of bologna, when he saw we didn't have much he went home and got some more things he had. The kids went home with full bags of food, enough to get through at least the next day or so. We also gave out a great deal of toilet tissue. I learned this week that some go to fast food restaurants and each family member takes 4 or 5 napkins home to use as toilet tissue. I do want to stress that not everyone that comes on Sunday night are in dire situations but tonight it seemed like there were more than normal. Please keep us in your prayers as next week we go outside into the complex for cookouts.

    Thanks Jeff

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Miracles

    Yesterday I received a call from the Chaplin of the Miami Correctional facility which is located at Grissom Air Force Base at Peru. The inmates had a fund raiser and collected nickels and dimes and presented a check to KUO a check for $500.00. Wow!!! It was a surprise. The inmates wanted to join us partners hoping to keep those we work with out of prison. Everyday God surprises me. Today someone at the bowling alley gave Chris' mother a check for KUO. Believe it or not the door bell just rang(as I was writing this) and I picked up the mail after visiting with a friend. In the mail our family received gift cards to a local grocery store from another faith based ministry that gives away food. Along with that we received gift certificates from Hillsdale Church last Friday. God's people have been so faithful as they follow God. These gifts come at a great time as Chris gave away our milk and bread last night, last week she gave away most of our canned goods. We do have plenty of food in our house, you can tell by looking at us we don't go hungry. The thing I am learning is that you cannot out give God.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    God is Good!!!

    Last week was one of the busiest weeks that I have had here. We collected items for Easter Baskets, passed out fliers to area residents telling them there would be free Easter Baskets and on Thursday 260 Easter Baskets were made by parents for their children. Hundreds of toys and hundreds of pounds of candy were distributed.

    On the same Thursday I volunteered at Morning Star Church for their Faith Fest Weekend which was a faith based Art Show and free dinner, along with story tellers etc. On Thursday nearly 400 children took field trips to the church to see the art work. Then Thursday night was the Maundy Thursday Service which is a big service for me, I did a one man play as I normally do on this day.

    Friday I worked at the academy subed in English and at night was one of the speakers at a Community Good Friday Service. In the midst of this a dear man of the church passed away and we had a funeral and dinner on Saturday.

    Of course Sunday was Easter. The first time in years that I did not have or attend a Sunrise Service. Actually, kind of nice. We had a new couple attend, they had received an Easter Basket for their two small children on Thursday. That night we had a community Easter Dinner. We had chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, cake. We served 90 people. Our volunteers for the evening included: My stepmother Susan from North Carolina, her sister Carolyn, the seventh grade basketball team from St. Joan of Arc School, two sister in laws, brother in law, two nieces, a group from St. Lukes United Methodist church, along with the pastor and his wife and of course Chris, Norma, and Andrew. There were 24 volunteers in all. We gave away over 50 door prizes and had an Easter Egg hunt for the children.

    I took Monday off. Mowed the yard and that's about it.

    Tuesday I put out a newsletter for KUO and meet with the new director of the Kokomo Rescue Mission--Van Taylor. Good Day.

    Today who knows. I am subing at the school on Thursday and Friday. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Today's Tribune

    This appeared in today's Kokomo Tribune as a follow up to the article yesterday. Scores of people made this happen. Thanks Jeff

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Thanks for all the stuff





























    Thanks for a great day. All this stuff collected in three days and almost everything gone today. Thanks for the help and prayers. Jeff


    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    A Ton of Fun

    What a fun day. A friend from Granger IN who is an artist came to Kokomo today for a Art Fun Morning for neighborhood kids as a spring break-break. The children learned about the color wheel and how to mix colors. Some of their work is in the pic above and will be entered in an Art show in a couple of weeks.

    In the afternoon our friends were joined by neighbors and my family 13 in all who volunteered to go door to door and pass out groceries. We delivered literally a ton of food which included:
    • 1000 pound of potatoes
    • 250 pounds of bread and buns
    • 220 pounds of bacon
    • 500 pounds of caned food, macaroni and cheese and spaghetti
    • 40 pounds of microwave popcorn
    We knocked on about 350 doors at 4 apartment complexes, we started at 2:00 and got home at 6:30. It was great to have people residing in Apartments volunteer to bag up and pass out the food. One of friends from Kokomo met a very young mother with a very sick baby and held the baby and prayed for the baby. We met a woman with two small children who was praying for food when we knocked on her door. We met an older woman who lost her food stamps and was out. Some families have yet to received this month's food stamps and Spring Break has put a strain on families with children not eating at school. The children in Art had fun, we had fun passing out food and it was great to bring joy by serving others. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff
    PS: If you click the picture above it will open in a new window and if you click on it in the new widow picture will enlarge.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    The Weekend

    Wow!!!!! What a great weekend. Here are my highlights:

    Saturday

    • Attended a Lenten Breakfast heard a good speaker
    • The art class went well all the kids were there with their great teacher
    • During Art Class the art teacher brought a man to my office. I thought I wonder what he needs...food, rent, etc. He came to offer bread. I actually have been praying for more bread as we want to pass out food to 200 residents as this is spring break and children are not eating at school, which could put a stain on food supplies in homes
    • Also During art classes we received 1000 pounds of potatoes
    • At 11 on Saturday Morning five of us went into neighborhood and passed out door knob hangers that reminded people to change their clock and we gave them a battery to replace in their smoke alarm. We did not go to the apartments as their smoke detectors are wired in their homes. We passed out 200 hangers while Morning Star Church passed out 800 in other areas of town.
    Sunday

    • Services went well. Still no one at 10:45. Looks like that will be falling by the wayside.
    • Sunday Night Outreach went very well, the best yet.
    • Three new volunteers including a man from St. Lukes that sat at a table and a young couple who attends the Free Methodist Church who is presently living in the apartments. Very very nice couple who want to continue to help.
    • Sunshine until after 8:00 PM. I am one the few who really like daylight savings time. The later the sunshine the better I feel.
    As I write this on Monday Morning I am getting ready to go to work at the Academy. I am working this week on M, W, F. On Tuesday we have a great friend that is going to do an Art Class in not just one but two of the public housing apartments. We hope that will also be the day we pass out food. God is so good. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Friday

    Put up a new post at Rechurch, something to think about. I hope to create some conversations about the topic there.

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Thursday Spring at last

    Just another normal day. Presided over a funeral, did paper work for KUO, opened the church for dance classes and Chris and I explored the neighborhood by going on a walk enjoying the 72 degree sunshine. Talked with many people. Now we are both too tired to make supper. I guess we will go hungry(no chance of that). Tonight is Survivor Night. Kind of bad to have our life planned around reality TV shows. Keep praying. Jeff

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Wednesday

    Today:

    • walked three laps in mall about a mile
    • cleaned house
    • made several phone calls
    • took a call from a woman in Attica who heard I was very sick(not true). She decided to call rather than spread an untrue rumor.
    • met with a family of a man that I am doing a funeral for tomorrow(My first in Kokomo).
    • led Bible Study
    • now waiting for American idol to start
    Sort of slow uneventful day. Need those quiet days from time to time.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Tuesday

    Had my normal Tuesday Breakfast with a group of friends. We always go to Panera Bread. Someone put a Panera Bread gift card on the pulpit Sunday. Will be eating for free for the next few weeks. Spoke with a pastor who is going to implement Project EAT in his neighborhood. Walked 4 laps in the mall. Returned home and read some more of my book. After lunch felt led to go to the Laundry mat to see who was there. Took all of our blankets, sleeping bags and sheets to wash them. Listened to two ladies struggling over jobs. After Laundry went to favorite restaurant for ice tea and to read some more. While at the restraunt had a call from a 20 something who read about Project Eat on the webpage and attended an event that fired him up to go into the neighborhoods. He was calling to ask if he could be the neighborhood coordinator for an area. Wow. On Saturday we had no one doing project EAT today we have three people working their neighborhood. Tonight we will watch American Idol as a family and cleaning up the house as we are having company tomorrow. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Monday

    Today was restful day. I walked 3 laps in the mall, went to a local restaurant for coffee(trying to build into the life of the employees there) and met in the afternoon with a friend. Also started a book called, Post- evangelicals, very good book. I went to the mailbox and had several checks for KUO. Very exciting and much needed. Chris and I went to the grocery store and ran into a old friend and listened as she expressed husband's health concerns. The evening was spent making dinner, watching TV with the whole family and looking to do more of the same tomorrow.
    Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Sunday

    Today was a good day. We had 34 in worship with people being excited about having church article in the paper. I was able to recruit 4 people to pass out doorknob bags in the neighborhood this Saturday. On Saturday we change our clocks forward for the first time in 40 years, since most are not used to this. We are putting a reminder note along with a 9 volt battery in the door knob bag saying:

    Just a reminder to set our clock one hour ahead tonight. It is also a good time to change the battery in your smoke detector. We want to offer you this free gift to remind you that God cars about your life, and so do we. Please remember to let us know if we can help in any way.

    We signed it "the church next door" and included service times and contact information. Sunday night with the kids went better. We still need more help, but it was much better. We sent two bags of food home with the children and passed out several others. The bags not only had food but also toothbrushes, soap, toilet tissue and candy. I
    also saw God do an incredible thing on Sunday Night. The four streams of Outreach for KUO are 1) making contact with neighbors through acts of kindness 2) Provide a focused ministry in a neighborhood(we have done that through Artreach and Sunday Night Outreach) 3) provide a safe place to explore Christianity 4) Organize neighbors into groups where they begin to serve their own neighborhood and reach out to under served neighborhoods in their area.

    We have been able to do streams 1 and 2. However, I have been wondering how 3 and 4 would work. I thought providing a safe place to explore Christianity would be held at a certain time and place. I thought it would be a well planned event. It didn't happen that way. It was a spontaneous time after the Children's Outreach on the porch of a neighbor. A couple of others joined us and we had "church'. Maybe things are more organic and fluid than I thought. Maybe we are the water under the bridge, flowing where God would lead us.

    One other thing happened today. A younger woman who live across town, asked if she could collect food in her neighborhood that would be given to KUO to be given to children on Sunday Night. I made her the Neighborhood coordinator for Project E.A.T.(Everyone Ate Today), read about it here, she will not only be collecting food but meeting neighbors.