Church Planting with the Homeless

I started as a Community Liaison in Yonkers which opened many connections and showed the needs of our City. I saw how homelessness was rampant and as I met some of the population, I was moved to do more. It began with a closing of a shelter. From engaging in the community, I felt God calling me into full time ministry to care for, support and aid the homeless in Yonkers.  I shared this calling with my pastor and he was supportive until he realized that my work entailed teaching and preaching to the homeless, who were all men. It was a time of conflict for me, as I wrestled between listening to my pastor and listening to what I understood the Holy Spirit nudging me to do in faith. After much prayer, discerning with a few trusted friends and seeking God’s will with my daughter Kimberly, I surrendered everything to God. I quit my job and have been walking in faith, weekly connecting with the homeless in Yonkers.

The homeless became my church. I lead Bible study with the men in the local public library or the YMCA; visit the recently incarcerated in prison; and lead worship service. We already had our first baptism in March. There are times I feel alone, but God reminds me how He has provided – with mentoring  from Pastor Kenny Auyeung who leads D15:4 (a homeless outreach ministry in NYC), attending a church planting series with May Lee of WOW! and other church planters and partnering with local community organizations  to service the homelessness. I am seeing how God has already planted His workers all over Yonkers to collaborate and make a real impact. The men are coming. They are hungry for God’s word and thirsty for His kingdom.  

Lourdes baptizing a brother, who surrendered his life to Jesus, since the homeless outreach work began. 

Lourdes baptizing a brother, who surrendered his life to Jesus, since the homeless outreach work began. 

I did grieve over the loss of my former church community from the decision I made, I trusted God to provide. As the outreach continued, I’ve gotten to know many of the homeless men in the neighborhood. They are  open to share about their lives and how they’ve come to their predicament. They all want to change, but they’re still in bondage. As long as they come every week, I am hopeful. I have already seen a few of the men breaking free slowly from drunkenness and other addictions. They’re beginning to get cleaned up and trying to get sober about life.

Birthday party with the members of Hope and Love at her home.

Birthday party with the members of Hope and Love at her home.

What is still challenging is that I need a team to work with me. I’m thankful for the collaboration with the local shelter, the YMCA and the Yonkers Public Library, but I want to ask God for more. I am dreaming for a church building space, for co-laborers in the ministry and more finances to support the changes toward a better Yonkers. I believe God can and God will.

~ Lourdes

Support Hope and Love ministry to the homeless in Yonkers

“Miracles only occur when motivated by love.” I am a Christ follower, mother, connector and hopeful that anyone’s lives can change if they give themselves the opportunity to have a healthy relationship with God/Jesus. Lourdes Delacruz founded Hope and Love. Support their ministry at their GOFUNDME page.

Miracles only occur when motivated by love.” I am a Christ follower, mother, connector and hopeful that anyone’s lives can change if they give themselves the opportunity to have a healthy relationship with God/Jesus.
Lourdes Delacruz founded Hope and Love. Support their ministry at their GOFUNDME page.

Women in Leadership? Well, Why Not?

Often the Bible seems to place women in lower position than men and focuses on the achievements of men more than those of women.  In chapter 5 of the book of Genesis in the 2nd verse it says, “He created them male and female and blessed them.  And when they were created, He called them ‘man’”.  As you can see, both men and women have been blessed by God.  Men and women are to complement each other; the strengths of one can offset the weaknesses of the other.  The same holds true in the church.

We are all given spiritual gifts to use to glorify God.  Some have been blessed with gifts of administration, teaching, preaching, service, giving, healing, hospitality and leadership to name a few.  God has provided these gifts to fulfill the purpose He has for our life.  Doesn’t it make sense that if God has provided you with a spiritual gift that you are supposed to use it regardless of your gender?  When people are not using their gifts, problems arise.  As the apostle Paul states, the gifts are to be used to edify the body of Christ.  If a woman has been blessed with the spiritual gift of leadership she must use it, or else she will not be as effective for the work of the Lord.

Throughout the Bible, we have examples of women who took on the role of leader.  Deborah was a judge, Miriam was a prophetess, Lydia was a church leader who influenced her household to accept Christ when Paul visited and Priscilla was a teacher alongside her husband, Aquila.   This is just a small sample of women in leadership.  What would have happened if these women had the attitude that they could not lead because they were women?  Sometimes God uses the “perceived weaker sex” to lead.  If the Lord has given you the spiritual gift of leadership use it to honor God.  Set the right example whether He created you male or female!

~ Wayne Vaughan

 

Brother Wayne Vaughan serves as the Christian Education Coordinator and Men’s Ministry co-chair of the Mount Ollie Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York.  He is the author of Keeping Your Church Alive: Advice for Pastors, Leaders and Active Members.

Brother Wayne Vaughan serves as the Christian Education Coordinator and Men’s Ministry co-chair of the Mount Ollie Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York.  He is the author of Keeping Your Church Alive: Advice for Pastors, Leaders and Active Members.

Reflecting As A Father

When my wife travels, I sleep with a daughter tucked under each arm. Their heads nestle into my neck. Their stray hairs tickle my face. Their knees press insistently into my torso. I angle my head so I can kiss the warm forehead of my eldest (age 8) on the right and my youngest (age 6) on the left. They snuggle closer. I am emotionally at peace and physically in pain. This was easier when they were smaller. This is perfect and uncomfortable. This is fatherhood.

I remember their birth. When I held each of them in my arms for the first time, I wanted to pray for their safety, but I didn’t. My instinctive prayer for my children’s safety would be mostly selfish. Their birth made me vulnerable. I wanted to protect myself from pain or loss. (“Would you rather our children be scared or scarred?” I remember asking my wife in bed one night, months before the birth of our eldest. “Neither,” she replied, quite sensibly. “But, if I had to choose, scarred. I would rather she tried and risked than never tried at all.”) So I prayed that God would be with them, wherever he led them, into safety or into pain. Perfect and uncomfortable.
 
I remember working with my wife to choose their names. We wanted something that would do more than reverberate pleasantly in the air. So, for both, the names of women who challenged male leaders to trust God’s word and power. For the eldest, the name of a woman freed from spiritual oppression and freed for the first resurrection proclamation, Mary Magdalene (the origin of Madeleine), and the name of ruler who guided the leaders of Israel to trust God, Deborah. For the youngest, a middle name shared with a woman who takes decisive action to enact God’s purposes (however violently), Yael. We also like how their stories are linked – one completing what another has started.
 
(“Are you going to be the kind of dad who greets potential boyfriends at the door with a gun?” I’m often asked. I think on the names I’ve given my daughters. “No,” I say. “I expect my eldest, like her namesake, will be fully able to thoroughly rebuke a boy who isn’t yet a man. And the youngest, like her namesake, will be fully able to protect herself.” I would enjoy it if her nickname was “Spike," so I anticipate meeting potential suitors at thedoor with a liability waiver, not a gun. Those boys are on their own. That would be perfect, but possibilities for future harm and grief make me uncomfortable.)
 
I remember countless moments where I have to make choices in front of their watching eyes. Consistently casting vision for their mom’s work, even when it takes her away from home for weeks a year. Curtailing work and sabbatical plans so I can be a father who cooks, cleans, and cares for them when they are sick. Confronting sin (my own – and my sin replicated in their behaviors) and asking for forgiveness. I anticipate countless more moments in the future where I learn to die to self and to serve.
 
My daughters are the agents of God’s discipleship in my life. Perfect, and uncomfortable.
~ Greg Jao

Greg Jao serves InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA as Senior Assistant to the President. For the majority of his 31 years with InterVarsity (as a student and at IVP and in the field), he has been discipled and supervised by women. He is married to Jennifer (an assistant professor at Mt. Sinai Hospital & Ichan School of Medicine, where her research focuses on HIV mother-child transmission issues) and father to Madeleine Deborah (who is reading her way through the Lunar Chronicles) and Kirsten Yael (who is on her first re-read of Harry Potter.)