Food Pantry Update

Celebrating the one year anniversary of our new client choice pantry called Harvest: A Galley of Grace

Moving Forward in Ministry in 2011

"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Blessings from Forest Park Ministry Center

        Christmas greetings from all who minister and all who are ministered to through Forest Park Ministry Center!  We are eternally grateful for all of the supporters, donors, and prayer warriors whose gifts keep the ministry going.  No gift goes unnoticed, and God is using your prayers and your gifts in many ways to bring about life change in the hearts and minds of the guests who visit the center, and in our own lives as well.  We will be sharing some of those stories in this posting; read and rejoice in
God’s work!
        Recently, Fred had the opportunity to help a man of another faith.  He had not received help from his own and was ashamed to come to a Christian to ask for help.  The beauty of God’s grace flowing when he saw a Christian reaching out to him in his need will make an impact on him and could even lead him to see the truth in His Story.
        Jackie learned of a need that a grandmother had for her grandchildren.  Having temporary custody of the children, she struggled just to feed them.  As Christmas approached, they anticipated the release of the children’s parent from prison and had not signed up for Angel Tree assistance.  Having just learned that the release would be in January, this precious lady was distraught and thought there would be no gifts for the children.  Jackie motivated her church and prayer group to assist, and she, her husband, and her grandson had the joy of purchasing gifts for this family.
        What a grand way to show our own children the real meaning of Christmas! Whether it’s adopting a family in need, filling a shoebox for children in need around the world, or providing Christmas dinner for someone who is lonely, reach out this year, and your family reap the joy!
        It is truly a joy to work alongside each of you as we seek to reach our community with the true message of Christ’s love.  May each one of you experience Christ’s Love,
Peace, Joy, and Hope this Christmas and throughout the coming year.
Joyfully Serving,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We will have a special drop off day at Heritage Baptist Church FRONT parking lot, ALL DAY -Monday December 5th from 6:30a.m.-7p.m. AND Tuesday, December 6th from 6:30-8a.m.( MORNING only) Thank you Faith Radio for partnering with us on this!  Toys will be loaded onto a truck to take to storage unit that day! Save some time and come that day to bring your toys!

Call for more information:
Donna McCullough  269-5726
Lisa Rose 271-6794

Friday, November 11, 2011

“Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

            That’s a tall order, and speaking for myself, I cannot do it alone.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of like-minded believers, we can persevere even when it seems like we are running an endless race.  That was never so evident than last week when myriads of issues surrounding multiple guests mounted, compounded by deadlines for papers and presentations with my own graduate work.  Last Sunday, my mounting frustrations were confronted with the words of Jeff Iorg who spoke at the MBA Annual Meeting.  His exhortation to be the church empowered by the Holy Spirit was right on time and right on target for me personally, reminding me that God provides what is needed to both discern and to minister when and where He leads.
          In October, 36% of the guests who came to Forest Park Ministry Center had not visited before for assistance, and in addition to over 3,200 pounds of food, Goodwill gift certificates, layettes and other infant needs, utility assistance, and referrals to other ministries, they received care and prayer.  That says a lot about the continuing state of our economy and the physical and spiritual needs of our fellow Montgomerians.  We are thrilled to report that two guests of the center prayed to receive Christ.  It has been a real blessing to have Jennifer Foster, Minister to Children at Heritage, each Wednesday afternoon to serve as a volunteer chaplain for guests with special needs.  We look forward to future months when we will be able to offer Christian based counseling and chaplaincy to guests who have such deeper needs.
           As the first M&M Bible Study CafĂ© comes to a close in 2011, we look forward to resuming in January with a new study.  So far, J. and L., along with three mentors, have explored and studied how young women today – and in the Bible – are able to reach into God’s resources for discernment and good judgment to be the godly women that He designed them to be.  We discuss general life style, the influence of mothers and grandmothers, the absence of fathers, and even specifics like the 1,2,3’s of getting ready for church on Sunday morning with a baby!  Please pray for J. and L. and for A. who is finishing the New Mom’s class and hopes to join us for M&M’s in January.   We also are saying a big thank you to Madeline, one of the mentors and a faithful volunteer missionary, who is moving to Texas to be near her son and his family.  We will miss her!
           The holidays are approaching, and we are so excited about the 3rd Annual Ministry Center Toy Sale!  Please be in prayer for the 300 families who are invited to participate, and for the many volunteers who will be giving of their time and energies on December 10 and in the days leading up to it.  We are anticipating God’s Grace and Blessings to flow through this ministry on that day!!
Joyfully serving,
Donna McCullough, Director
Forest Park Ministry Center

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Seasons of Ministry

         As fall is upon us and I feel the bright fall sun and the cool air, I can't help but feel God's goodness in how he sustains us through seasons of life.  In our case at the ministry center, it is as if there are also seasons of ministry.  Times when one area blossoms and grows, needing nurture and care, then as that ministry is in place, another area requires more attention and nurture.  We continue to ask for your prayerful support as our ministry to young moms and young families in the neighborhood deepens, relationships are forming, and mentoring is happening.  Pray for open hearts and minds for all involved.
        For over a year, "Juanita" has been coming with her children to the center on Thursday mornings to learn English.  Oddly, one of the first things she learned was to identify and say names of fast foods, and before too long, she had a job at one of the fast food restaurants!  This quiet, unassuming, precious mom had a challenge, though.  Because she did not know English and was furthermore illiterate even in her own native tongue, she could not prepare her preschooler for Kindergarten.  "Oliver" was 5, and still did not know his alphabet, sounds, or anything basic that is needed for today's kindergarteners.  So while Carol was teaching his mom and the other ladies on Thursdays, Sherry began working intensively with him, and then with his younger siblings to prep him for school.  At first, Oliver resisted.  He did not want to go to school.  But they persevered, and when school began in August, Oliver was ready.  On the first day of school, he walked into his classroom, found his cubby already labeled with his name, then sat at his own space at the table to commence working.  Recently, he shared his progress report with me - all E'S (EXCELLENT)! Thanks to volunteer missionaries who took an interest in this one boy's life.
        Today, my heart is a little heavy.  Oliver and his family have left Montgomery, and he, his young siblings, and their mom are traveling alone all the way to Mexico to join his dad who lives there.  Personally, I am concerned for safety in their travel, and for the extreme adjustments that these children will need to make.  Please pray for such families in our city who are leaving and do not really know what awaits them.
         September has been another busy month - at least 357 family members represented by 131 guests, 1.5 tons of food distributed, the M&M's Bible Cafe is meeting on Tuesdays, and the new MOMs class is meeting on Thursday afternoons.  We appreciate your prayers and your faithful support!  God bless your journey.
In Him,
Donna McCullough, Director
Forest Park Ministry Center

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sharing Hope In the Midst of Despair

       Praise the Lord for ministries in our city who have common goals - enlarging Christ's kingdom!  This month, we learned that a young woman who accepted Christ when His love and plan of salvation was shared with her at the center proclaimed it publicly and was baptized at Church at the Barrel, the church started in West Montgomery by the McFarlands and UrbanTREC Ministry.  God is so good!
       161 families served, for a total of 376 family members.  That's a whole lot of people coming through the doors at the little blue house.  A lot of food distributed - nearly 2 tons.  But most of all - a lot of opportunities to share the love and hope that comes only from a relationship with Jesus Christ. 
       August was one of the busiest months this year.  As families prepared to send their children back to school, they were inundated with expenses - school supplies, uniforms, high utility bills from an oppressively hot summer - and more need for food, since local schools started later in August than usual, meaning those free or reduced healthy lunches available at school were NOT available, meaning that the family food budget was taxed even more.  Thanks to all of the churches and friends who donated food, school supplies, finances for assistance, clothes, and so much more!  At a time when our food supply has been as low as ever, many stepped up to the plate and helped with an extra gift.  We enter the fall months with people returning to
their work and school routines, and pray with confidence, knowing that God will continue to provide through His people!
       "Callie" called the center in distress recently.  As we spoke on the phone, she expressed her despair and asked if she could just come in to the center to talk.  When she came in, she proceeded to describe what was going on in her life - events that, each one desperate in its own right, but accumulated, would drive many people to the brink of desperation and perhaps even suicide.  Gratefully, we were able to refer her to a licensed counselor.  In addition, she was assisted with food, eventually was helped with utility assistance, and encouraged to put together a resume to give to a prospective employer.  Likewise, "Lem" was in a desperate situation, had been unemployed for nearly a year.  Timely assistance, encouraging words, prayerful support, and Lem saw things in a whole new light.  Today, he is employed, catching up, and praising God for bringing him through the storm.
       Each one of these, and so many more, are examples of how sharing Christ's hope and love help people in crisis to reframe their experience.  Hopelessness becomes hope, helplessness becomes strength, because "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".  Please pray for the guests who visit Forest Park Ministry Center, that in the midst of life's storms, they will experience, above all, the presence of Almighty God at work in their lives.  Pray for the new moms who are beginning the New Moms' class this month on Thursday afternoons, and pray for the moms who graduated from the previous class as they and other mentoring women study the Bible together during M&M's Bible Cafe each Tuesday. Pray too, for the Mixtec families in our neighborhood and throughout our city, as we continue to reach out to them in the midst of a time of uncertainty and fear for many of them.  As always, we thank you for your faithful support and pray God's blessings on your journey with Him.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Looking Ahead: M&M's Bible Cafe

     Wow - even though we were closed for construction and maintenance for nearly half of July, we still saw almost as many guests at the center as we do in normal months.  It just shows you how much need there is, and especially during the summer when children (who are often fed their only healthy meals through the free or reduced cost breakfasts and lunches at school) are home all the time.  In addition to the food assistance, our summer missionaries, Allison and Victoria, did a great job planning, recruiting volunteers, and implementing all kinds of activities from Bible studies and corresponding movie times for children, assisting with reading programs, sports and devotionals at targeted at-risk apartment complexes, and forging friendships with moms and their children.
     One of the most exciting things to happen this summer is the extension of the original Layette Ministry.  A booklet has been written and is being used during the Layette visit that encourages the moms to think deeply about life goals and life style choices.  As a result, the first Moms class met beginning in May, and concluded at the end of July.  The next class begins in September.
     Those moms who have completed the initial class are wanting more - thus the inaugural session of M&M's Bible Study Cafe.  Each Tuesday, beginning in September, these moms will meet at Forest Park Ministry Center with Christian women who have a desire to be an example and a friend - a mentor - to them.  We will begin with "Life After Birth", a Bible study written expressly for teen moms and those who are mentoring them.  In this study, Biblical truth is taught in a way that is relevant and lovingly forthright for the new moms.  We ask for your prayers for both the mentors and for the moms as they seek to know Christ in a more intimate way, and in doing so, become the young women, mothers, and role models that God intends them to be.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Missions, Summer Fun, Summer's Busy!

For those who are in community ministries, you know that summer is not a time for being laid back!  It is a time to plant lots of spiritual seed, to reach into neighborhoods through Backyard Bible Studies, to find new and creative ways to foster healthy entertainment and fun for children when out of school, and to reach their families with Christ's hope.  This summer, our two summer missionaries, Allison Poole and Victoria Bye, have done just that.  In addition to assisting on food and clothing distribution days (which during June saw 120 families, distributed over 3,200 pounds of food, and even saw a family finally able to be cooled by an air conditioner graciously donated by an MBA church member),  these young women have planned and implemented both Bible studies for children and supplemental Bible activies for the Reading on Wheels sessions at the center and have recruited coaches and formed Flag Football teams at a West Montgomery apartment complex, during which a motivational and inspirational time is held while taking their water break (last week, Philippians 4:13 was the theme, and appropriate it was, as many of these 9 - 13 year old boys had just faced a big hurdle when one of their "older friends" had been shot and killed just the day before.)  I felt it appropriate that each one of our summer missionaries speak to you specifically about how God has moved in them and through their work at Forest Park Ministry Center.

Allison's thoughts:
            "Every Thursday morning Victoria and I teach Mixtec children a Bible lesson and we do a craft with them. Jessica also helps us with the children. We have ten children that come, and their ages range from two to ten years old. At first, I was a little nervous about teaching these children, because I was not sure how well they understood English. However, the older kids can actually speak English really well. Our lessons started with the Creation story in Genesis and we went through some Old Testament stories. The day we learned about Jonah, they made fish and we went fishing. The kids really enjoyed doing that. Last week we learned about Jesus, that He came to earth to be our Savior.
            At the beginning of the summer I was asked what was one thing I wanted to see happen this summer. I said I wanted the children to remember the Bible lessons we are teaching them. I want them to know they can always rely on God and that Jesus is our Savior. When I leave Montgomery I’m not sure if I will ever see these children again, but I hope we are planting seeds that will continue to grow in their lives.
            I encourage everyone to pray for these Mixtec children and families. The children have to grow up really fast. Once they learn English, they become translators for their parents. Many of the parents only speak the    Mixtec language. Sometimes it is hard to work with people who don’t speak our same language, but I have learned that we are called to be kind to everyone and God will take care of the rest."

Victoria's thoughts: (In addition to Montgomery community ministries, Victoria just returned from a week's mission trip with her church to Nicaragua.)
            "Hopelessness. Although they are thousands of miles apart, their eyes tell the same story. They live everyday wondering what they will eat, where they will sleep, and why no one seems to care. The sweet little children in La Chureca (the city dump in Managua, Nicaragua) and those in the projects of west Montgomery live the life of “the least of these.” Whether it’s the seven year old girl in the dump whose mother will prostitute her to a truck driver tonight in order to receive the best trash off of his garbage truck or the nine year old boy in the projects who is forced to care for his younger siblings because his mom is an alcoholic and his dad has abandoned the family, they need to feel the love of Jesus. They need to know that there is a better life than the cycle of desolation that they are stuck in. They need to know that there is a God who is bigger than all of their pain and suffering. Will you show them? Will you step outside of your home and venture to the other side of town? Will you give up a week of work to go overseas? Will you set aside your pride and step out of your comfort zone? Will you take love to the ends of the earth? Will you go?"
And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:40

How gracious is our Heavenly Father to move these two faithful young women to reach those in need in the city of Montgomery this summer through Forest Park Ministry Center.  Other volunteer missionaries including Mission Serve and several church youth ministries have also plugged into the missions opportunities at the center. To God be the glory!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer's Here!

            “When my child looks at me, who does he see?  What kind of person do I want him to see?”  These are the kinds of questions that the new moms are pondering as we meet on Thursday afternoons for our MOMS group.  These mothers of newborns have one thing in common – they want their children to have a more productive and joyful childhood than they have had, but they are stumped as to how to accomplish it.  On May 19, 2011, we began meeting, babies in tow, to discuss and work through a new tool being used called “My Baby’s Milestones: Goals for Life”.  The first milestone, the baby recognizing his or her parent, is the basis for this first discussion, and it has been fodder for very fruitful and insightful revelations.  Learning to model respect so that the child himself learns through experience, realizing that the teaching the value of education begins with valuing it oneself, and most of all, realizing that the bond between parent and child is the first example of our “Heavenly Father” their child will experience – some of these concepts are new to these moms, so they are thinking more deeply and planning accordingly, one step at a time, to accomplish goals that had before seemed “out there somewhere”.  Would you please pray for these young families?  After all, they are an important part of the future of our community and precious daughters and sons of our Creator.
            Summer is upon us!  As I write this, the Memorial Day holiday is just before us, bringing a promise of sunny days, lots of children in the Forest Park neighborhood, summer missionaries to help with ministry, and construction projects down the pike.  Here are some tangible ways that you can plug into the ministries this summer at Forest Park Ministry Center:
  • Pray:
    • for Allison and Victoria (summer missionaries), and for Donna and the volunteer missionaries at the center during a wonderfully hectic summer!
    • for the children who will attend functions, and for the Reading on Wheels staff as they visit the center every Thursday for the benefit of the Forest Park neighborhood.
    • for classes both for Mixtecan families and for the moms of newborns.
    • for the mission teams coming to assist with construction and ministry.
  • Give:
    • fans for families who do not have sufficient air conditioning this hot summer.
    • lumber – need 10 ▪ 2x4x8 to construct the closet for audiovisual equipment and storage in the new classroom.
    • sheetrock – need 4 – 6 sheets for the closet wall being constructed.
    • trim – need shoe moulding and 2 thresholds.
    • doors for the closet – double doors or bifold, preferred.  Size of doors donated will determine size of opening when constructing the closet wall!
    • a new shredder for the center– the old one has bit the dust, literally!!!!!

In May, we saw a 20% increase in guest traffic over April, and saw many more large families, so the number of pounds of food nearly doubled.  We are so grateful for partnering churches and their members who faithfully donate food for the food pantry, and we are excited about receiving fresh produce from Heritage’s container garden this summer!  Thanks to all; may God bless your walk with Him.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Increased Opportunities for Ministry!

Dear Faithful Friends:
     In Matthew, the 18th chapter, Jesus called a child to His side as an example and told His disciples, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.  Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.  What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”   Childlike faith seems simple; yet for adults who are busy going about the complexities of life, how do we do it?  Recently, a friend related a true story to me that illustrates this beautifully.
     My friend described to me that she had had a very “down” day.  Ever have one of those?  The checkbook looks bleak.  An unexpected phone call with bad news.  A bill that is unusually high.  Or maybe just no energy – can’t really put your finger on it – but no matter, your “joy meter” is not registering very high on that day.  My friend was having one of those days.  So after dragging herself through another work day, she needed to stop at WalMart for some things that she needed at home.  Not exactly your “pick me up” place to go – especially if there are long lines and little assistance, but go she must; so she battled the parking lot, parked, made her way into the store and exhaustedly plopped into one of the battery operated cars.  She
could not take another step on her own.
     As she found her needed items and made her way to the cash register, she must have looked tired, weary, and worn.  Nearby, a young boy was helping his mom with her shopping.  Without warning, he approached my friend from behind, wrapped his arms around her, gave her a huge hug, and walked away.  She describes the next moments as if the Holy Spirit moved her in a most palpable way.  This child, who she had never seen before, and who could not even see her face at the time, was moved to express such care for her.  Almost immediately, she felt awash with God’s spirit of encouragement, knowing full well that He had brought the touch of a child with a willing spirit to show her His love.
    We talked about her experience a few days later, and we marveled at God’s way of using children.  Reminded of Christ’s words to His disciples in Matthew 18, it seems poignant to note that when a person’s childlike faith is totally dependent on the Lord, he or she does not even see evidence of a need; the Lord’s eyes are more than adequate.  We just need to allow Him to do the leading.
    We have been praying collectively at the center and privately as well for God’s leading to “expand the territory” and show us in what manner He would desire it done.  He has answered our prayers in some unexpected ways.  The recent storm events in our state and needed disaster relief, a young man in the neighborhood who has come to ask for help to overcome his drug addiction, the young mothers in the neighborhood who are eager to begin a “group” to talk about ways to become the family and home that will be healthy for their children, the increased number of guests just in this first week of May, all point to a direct answer from God to the question, “Where, when, and how, Lord?”  Already in May, we have seen a third of
the number of families seen the entire month of April. 
    The territory is indeed expanding.  As of May 1, Forest Park Ministry Center is serving zip codes 36104, 36105, 36106, 36107, 36108, and 36109, and guests are eligible for services if needed every three months instead of four.  We look forward to what God has in store for ministry as we approach the summer months.  Please pray for Victoria Bye, our summer missionary who will be joining us in the coming weeks.  (By the way, a huge congratulations to her – she is the 2011 Jimmy Hitchcock Award recipient – and we are so excited to see what God is doing in her life!)  Children’s activities, reading programs, gardening (a huge thank you to Heritage – their herb and vegetable garden is going to be a fantastic learning tool
for the Child Development Center and a harvest of blessing in fresh produce for the center’s guests!), another Mission Serve project at the center in July, and so much more!  We praise the Lord for His provision, for your faithful prayers and support, and for His leading.  May we put our own agenda
aside and allow Him to lead us in ministering in the neighborhood.  May you experience the Lord’s  leading and blessings as you walk in fellowship with Him.
Joyfully serving,
Donna McCullough, Director
Forest Park Ministry Center
2026 East 4th Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36106

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Living an Investment Lifestyle

Investment into the lives of others is the method that we desire to use through the ministries at Forest Park Ministry Center. Ultimately, that kind of investment will allow us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Hope that faith in Him will bring to this lost world. Fifteen years ago, “Bill and Brenda” befriended a family that needed assistance in their church. Although a loving family, there were challenges that both parents faced that prevented their being able to provide for their children some of the basic needs that most of us take for granted. Bill and Brenda befriended the family, and through the years, they have provided transportation, advocated when needed, and mentored both parents and children. Several years ago, when Bill and Brenda found it necessary to move their membership to a sister church, they assured the family that they would not leave them and the friendship that they had developed. And they kept their promise. Today, Bill and Brenda continue to invest in the lives of these family members and have received the blessing of seeing children grow and develop, take on responsibility, and being considered “adopted grandparents”.
Through the ministry center, we continue to visit new mothers through the layette ministry. Please be in prayer for us as we implement a new way to encourage moms to reflect on and actively pursue direction in their own lives and the lives of their children.
In the past month we have rejoiced over answered prayers and over a new believer, and we pray fervently for those who have
thoughtlessly stolen manhole covers near the center, creating a danger for the children who play in the neighborhood. We have wept over illnesses and job losses among our guests, and we have sought to show en-
couragement and hope to those who are discouraged. One hundred & five families received food assistance, clothing, and a touch of Christ’s love.
Spring break has brought exciting participation from youth both here in the Montgomery area and, just this past week, from Newnan, Georgia, to help with much needed work at the center. We are thrilled with the fresh paint and the beautiful flowers at the center, and hope that all who visit will not only feel the warmth of Christ’s love, but also the evidence of His beautiful creation. We look forward to other students who will be investing time and talents through community ministries.
Thanks for your prayerful support for the ministry through Forest Park. May God enrich your walk with Him during this season of remembrance of His powerful and loving sacrifice on the cross; and may we all glory in the Hope of His Resurrection!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Observations on a Lifestyle Apart from God's Will

In recent days, my heart and mind have been drawn repeatedly to homes being torn apart, families in crisis because of decisions made with ramifications that resonate to all members of the family. I know that this is nothing new, and I have no claim to righteousness of my own, for sure – cleansing because of Christ’s blood is our only Hope! But increasingly, the attitude of going about life in ways that honor only personal satisfaction seems to be the norm. I was struck in the face with this very thing during a recent home visit to a new mom.
“Lora”, an attractive and seemingly mature 30 year old, had just given birth to a new baby. The mother of a grade-school-aged child already, Lora was explaining to me that she was not certain of her wisdom in having another child “at her age”. (Already, my mind’s wheels are turning – I think 30 is still very young!) Never in her conversation was there a sign of regret for not having a father in the home for her children. In fact, she told me that this child was really for her mom who wanted another grandchild to help raise. Furthermore, the family seemed grounded in their church and extended family, so family values did appear to be important to them in many regards. Needless to say, I was confused by the dichotomy of views and values that this young woman lived by.
I visit single moms often. Many times, there are fathers who are in the picture, but not married to the mother of their children; sometimes there are fathers who have been unhealthy or dangerous influences, so they are no longer in the picture. Often, women are just not concerned about the need to be married to the father of their children. So why are so many young women purposely choosing to have families with no father in the home for their children? I turned to mentors who have worked with people in poverty for many years for some insight, and learned several things:
1. When a woman has children in her teens, she is generally not mature enough to raise them on her own. That is where grandmothers step in to help raise the children. By the time the mother herself is more mature and responsible, her own children are becoming mothers themselves, and the cycle continues – grandmothers raising grandchildren. I remember stories of my own grandmothers marrying in their teens and beginning their families early in life, but there is a different element – the planning of a family in God’s way, with a mother and father committed to one another in marriage prior to having children. This demonstrates a responsible maturity that we are not seeing among many of today’s families.
2. Girls today are being encouraged to pursue education. One statistic shows that for every one minority male in college, there are five females. It does not appear that education is being stressed as diligently for males, perhaps because the emphasis is placed upon working as soon as possible. This often means that males will pursue jobs that require physical labor suitable more for the young than for older men – jobs that do not have long term promise for income suitable to support families. Young educated women want committed relationships with young men who have their same goals and values.
3. Therefore, many homes in today’s society are matriarchal. In many cases, the young men growing up in such homes have never had a male role model at all in their home. They are learning by example that the norm is for the woman to be the leader in the home – negating the need for a strong father leader.
4. Finally, our current system of governmental assistance perpetuates this issue. I don’t need to get into a tirade over social justice issues or politics, but it is a fact that a man and a woman living together unmarried will draw more income and benefits individually that can be pooled together than will be the case should they marry. That is why we sometimes find couples who do want to marry, but feel that they cannot because their benefits will be cut.

Would you join me to commit to pray for these families and for our own families, that we will be faithful to apply God’s principles to our homes? Would you join me in praying for God to open our eyes to discover His way to reach people in this day and time, to promote Godly principles, to raise men and women of Godly integrity? Would you pray for us at Forest Park Ministry Center as we seek to reach out to people in need, meeting physical needs in order to earn the right to talk to them about these deep spiritual needs?
In February, we saw a slightly smaller number of families due to the shorter month and also due to tax credits and instant refunds that provided resources not available in other months. Nearly one ton of food was distributed to the families that were seen, and among the 72 families that we worked with, there was a middle aged mother who, with the generous assistance of a sponsoring church, was reunited with her adult children who could help her both with medical needs and reestablishing her life after a tumultuous relationship. Another older woman is battling cancer and having a very difficult time making ends meet, so the members of a supporting church and its Ladies’ Prayer group assisted her to catch up on her utility payments. One family is frightened and worried because the father is not able to be with them or to work for many weeks, leaving a mom who has no job and several children wondering what the future holds, so volunteers have reached out to assist this mom and her children. Please continue to lift all of the guests of our center who struggle with daily life and who desperately need the Hope of Jesus.
A huge shout out to the men of Thorington Road Baptist Church! Thanks for cleaning the grounds this week – what a blessing to have all of the debris removed, making way for a safe environment for Backyard Bible Clubs this spring and summer! Also, welcome to our newest volunteers at the center – Carol Sorrells and Sherry White, who are teaching Conversational English to a Mixtecan mom and tutoring her children, respectively, each Thursday; and to Martha Dempsey, who is our newest intake volunteer on Wednesday afternoons. Each of these women is a valuable asset to the ministry, along with all of the other volunteer missionaries who give of their time and talents to God’s kingdom work. We look forward to other individuals and groups who will be joining us in ministry and missions projects in the coming weeks and months.
I am praying that each of you experiences the beauty of God’s creation, His blessings, and His power in your lives.
Joyfully serving,
Donna McCullough, Director
Forest Park Ministry Center

Friday, February 4, 2011

Praises to Our Jehovah-jireh; God Is Our Provision

God never fails to amaze me; frankly, I pray that I never become so blasĂ© that I am not amazed and overwhelmed at His grace and goodness. It’s times of panic and uncertainty that He reminds me of His provision. Just recently, I was about to release an “all points bulletin” to everyone concerning our layette ministry. During the latter part of 2010 and in early 2011, we were depleting our layette supplies. We were running out of many basics! In the process of making an assessment of the specific needs, I received a phone call from one of our supporting churches; the women in the church had hosted a baby shower the previous Sunday after church, and the gifts were bountiful! They did not know of our dire need – I had not yet communicated it to anyone, but God did. Now the shelves are well-stocked, and new moms and their babies will be blessed by these gifts.
“Tiara”, one of the most recent new moms, invited me to her home recently to visit. Armed with a beautiful layette, I arrived to meet her, her precious two week old infant, her foster mom and foster sister who she considered her only close family. We had a lovely visit, took pictures, talked about the future and about her plans; it was encouraging to hear of her desire to make a better life and provide a better example for her children, and especially that she was planning to reconnect with the church and strengthen her relationship with Christ. When she and I were alone, we were praying together, and as we completed our prayer, she began weeping. Through her tears, she asked if I could give her some advice.
In the month previous to the birth of her child, she had not been able to work very many hours because of complications with the pregnancy, and now her power bill payments had fallen behind. With a two week old baby and in the midst of brutally cold weather, she was in danger of losing electrical service. Her family had just paid some on the bill for her, but it was not enough to keep the service on. I felt so helpless; we had already depleted the utility assistance funds through the center for that month.
So we called the power company, and I talked with the customer service representative. We learned that the payment made by the family member had not gone through and what would be further necessary to maintain service. Then we prayed again like never before, claiming God’s promise that He already knows the needs and He has an answer. I left Tiara with hope but no concrete answer as to how this was to be reconciled.
The next day, an unexpected benevolence resource surfaced, so with Tiara’s plight still on my heart, I called the power company again to see if we could settle enough to maintain service. To my delight, the family’s payment had not only finally gone through, but it was a much larger amount than we had previously thought; no longer was there a danger of discontinuing electrical service for Tiara and her baby. Praise the Lord! Later that day, we discovered a phenomenal buy on corn flour needed for our Mixtecan families to make tortillas, and the new resource was put to great use. God already new exactly how that would happen!
Over the course of just a few weeks, layette needs, financial needs, food needs specific to other cultures and diets, and spiritual needs – all are being met in God’s timing and in His ways. I ask especially for your prayers for all of our volunteer missionaries at the center. Many are stepping out of their comfort zones to invest themselves in the lives of those they meet at the center. Invitations to church, offering transportation, witnessing and answering questions, and praying with people are all ways that they show Christ’s love to these new friends. Watching God reveal Himself through their words and actions touches my heart and humbles me to follow such examples, too! Many of our missionary volunteers are older and wiser and have followed Christ’s leading for their entire lives; I am humbled to work alongside such godly examples. “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7). Thank you, friends, for your partnership in Kingdom work.

Ways You Can Partner with Forest Park Ministry Center

* Have a food drive in your church
(get list from Donna)There is a dire shortage!
* Hold a Baby Shower for new moms who come to

the center; we need supplies for 12 layettes by October!
* Be a prayer partner and pray for our guests needs
* Need larger sized mens and womens clothing

must be in very good condition
*Hold a Paper supplies shower for the center

*Need a data entry volunteer once a week
*Need a small desk for the receptionist in the waiting area