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).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Community Missions Goes Global

Community Missions to Global Missions – Not Just a Theory Anymore!
By Sherry White and Donna McCullough

I have heard repeatedly from the pulpit, from missionaries at home and abroad, that missions do not have to happen far away, nor do they happen exclusively at home.  I have even been told – and have witnessed first-hand, that the world is coming to our back yard.  That seemed for so long to be the experiences of others – friends in community ministries in melting pot cities like New York City or even Atlanta.  But through ministry to the neighborhood at Forest Park Ministry Center, this reality has been borne out in the flesh – and has become a global mission – literally!
            Over three years ago, my friend and colleague, Lou Ann, introduced me to a new family in the Forest Park neighborhood.  These were people who appeared Hispanic but spoke a very different language that we could not understand – even those of us with a little knowledge of Spanish.  This opened the door to realize that there are large pockets of families living in the Montgomery area who are Mixtec, an indigenous Indian race of people from the mountainous regions of Southern Mexico and Guatemala.  Lou Ann had learned that the children in these families were having difficulty in school; their parents had no way of reading the papers sent home for them, and even if a Spanish interpretation was provided, it did no good for them.  She had begun tutoring these children, assisting them with explaining the instructions and even filling out various forms and papers necessary for school.
            Convicted about the need for Mixtec parents to learn English, we prayed for the way that God would have us to do it.  The Conversational English school at First Baptist was our first choice, but the cultural barriers that had kept these families sequestered into their own subcommunities had fostered some misunderstanding, maybe even a lack of trust coupled with fear of authority because of immigration issues, and the socioeconomic differences between these families and the internationals in our community associated with the military and with industries were tremendous.
            So we embarked upon an effort to teach Conversational English to a small group of Mixtec women, some of whom were illiterate even in their own language – they had oral language skills only!  Participation of many of the women was sporadic, as their duties at home took precedence over any outside activities.  But one young mother, “Joselina”, became extremely consistent – and she brought with her three preschool and toddler children who needed help, too.  Their two older siblings were learning English in school, but these children, especially five-year-old “Omar” knew only the Mixtec heard at home and were ill prepared for the kindergarten class which he would enter the following school year.
            Enter Sherry.  She had been on numerous medical missions trips to Mexico, and had developed a love for the people of the mountainous regions of that country.  When Donna and Carol, who had been teaching English to Joselina, introduced Sherry to these children, she had the same heartstring pull toward this family – and poured herself into tutoring the young ones, especially concentrating on prepping Omar for kindergarten.  He went from knowing NOTHING ENGLISH to learning ABCs, and even reading – and when school started, he fit it beautifully, earning excellent marks even the first reporting term!
            Others reached out to this family.  Greg and his family visited their home numerous times to assist the older children with homework and other needs.  Those of us at the ministry center visited, assisted, provided rides to doctor and WIC appointments.  And as Christmas approached, Raoul, Joselina’s husband, was so thrilled to be able to purchase his children’s gifts from the Ministry Center Toy Sale,
            Then tragedy struck.  Raoul, an otherwise loving family man, had an affinity for drinking with the guys.  One night in February, Raoul was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct.  While most who are arrested for such are fined, perhaps allowed to sleep it off or maybe serve a small amount of time, Raoul was the exception.  He had in his possession a gun, which we believe had been purchased only for his and his family’s protection.  But the right to bear arms is only a right if you are an American citizen.  Otherwise, it is a felony.  So Raoul, after several months in detention, was deported back to Mexico.
            Joselina was heart broken, but she knew that she had to care for her children.  With her limited knowledge of the English language (we had begun with learning fast foods from flash cards), Joselina found a job frying potatoes at a fast food restaurant!  And we taught her how to navigate the MATS bus route to work each day.  The children were doing great in school, Joselina was earning money for rent and food, but they missed Raoul terribly, and he missed them.  Joselina had learned, about the time that Raoul was arrested, that she was expecting another child, and Raoul wanted to see his new daughter, too.  So with heavy hearts, and fearing for their safety on the journey, we said goodbye to this brave young woman and her beautiful children, and they returned to Mexico.  Sherry vowed that on her next mission trip, she would try to locate this family.
            Anna, Joselina’s cousin, remained in Montgomery.  Anna continues to learn English, does know Spanish, and continues to be a great help in interpreting Mixtec to Spanish and even to English.  When Sherry’s mission trip agenda had been set, she asked Anna for the location and phone information for Joselina and her family.  Oscar, our missionary friend who now lives in Puebla, was able to phone Joselina and learned that they are living in poor conditions, there are no job opportunities for Rauol, the children had been ill, and there was no money for them to travel to Puebla for a visit with Sherry while she was working at the medical mission in Soto Y Gama, a village near Puebla.

In Sherry’s words:
In 1998, I went on my first mission trip to Mexico with my church and was overwhelmed at the level of poverty and need to just have someone look at them with concern and love. I know that anyone who has been involved with mission work  or even just helped someone in need would say that they got way more out of the experience than the person or persons they helped and I feel that way every single time. I have returned to Mexico every year that God has opened the door for me to go and will continue to travel back there or anywhere God leads!
In the spring of 2010, I spoke to Donna about wanting to help at Forest Park and would she let me know what I might could do and she told me that she had the perfect job for me, if I was interested. Once she told me I was very excited and very scared about how I was to teach a young boy how to read and write in English when I cannot speak Spanish and certainly could not speak Mixtec, but when God is in control nothing is impossible. I worked with Omar all through the spring and summer of that year and he was ready for kindergarten. His 2 younger sisters would also learn with us each week and I fell in love with all of them.
When the family started to talk to us about going back to Mexico we were so scared for them, because we knew of the danger and the limited resources in the country. Donna and I both knew that, since the children had all been born and raised in Alabama that this move was going to be a complete shock to them.
 I told Donna that, if God sent me on a trip to Mexico I would find them and make sure they were ok.
When the opportunity came for me to go on a mission trip to Mexico I reached out to my friend, Oscar there and shared the story about this family from Alabama and that I would like to try and visit them, if possible. The report back was that they were living in the mountains about 6 hours away from where we would be working and they had no way to come and visit and we probably would not be able to see them.   I was sad but still thought maybe I will figure it out when we are there and can talk more, but I never had the chance.
The second day our group was in Mexico, Oscar had been asked to find a birthday cake for one of the ladies on the trip with us and he had heard of a man in the church that owned a bakery. Oscar spoke to this man, Herbert and called me over to meet him and Oscar says to me this man Herbert owns a bakery in Clapa, which is only 3 hours from your family and he is willing to take you and your husband with him to visit your family. I was completely shocked in that I had made an assumption I would not be able to see the family, but with God nothing is impossible. The only other thing that would need to happen is the family would need to be willing to travel the other 3 hours for our visit and they were. We contacted the family and set up a day and time to meet.
Once we arrived to meet the family I was shocked by the weight loss and look of despair in the children that had once been so full of life and happiness. We offered to take them to eat lunch and they were starving. We found out during our visit the Dad had not been able to find any work and they were living with the clothes on their back and day to day with finding food for everyone. My heart was broken!
God had plans for this family! I knew that God had not brought me on this journey to find the family in this situation and not help, so I started trying to find out how much would it cost to pay for housing and utilities. Oscar was able to locate a house that would cost very little in a town where we have a connection with a church. We decided to offer the family to move to this town, if they were willing to have the children in school, go to church and find local work. We called the family up and they wanted to move that day!
One important lesson to me I think was more of a way to answer a question that is asked many times and understandably, Why travel to Mexico when there are many needs right here. Many will have an immediate answer and many will agree with the question. The answer is very simple go where God leads.
This story has taught me many other lessons that I have to remind myself of daily.
Nothing is impossible with God.
Follow God’s plan and it will not fail.
Love and care for God’s people.
God speaks to us daily; we just have to listen.

            Friends, we feel that God has shown us – and this true story is proof positive – that He is working, whether in our neighborhood or in another country, and we must be willing to surrender to the call to go – where He leads.  Only an omniscient God could orchestrate the events and God-moments that brought us together initially, and brought us back together, along with fellow Christians in another country, to continue the discipleship.  You never know – a simple trip into the neighborhood could lead you to the mountains of Mexico – “For man makes his plans, but God directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Still needing uniforms and school supplies!

TOOLS FOR SCHOOL Montgomery Baptist Association                                                                                                                        Summer 2012

We would like to take this time to thank you for your contributions of school supplies and  financial support that were received for Tools for School last year.  So many students benefited from your generosity.  It is that time again!
If you remember, we are alternating elementary and jr/sr high schools.  We still have many requests from teachers of older students.  The list below details items needed this year in order to supply the junior high and high schools.   Please check these lists, as although not as lengthy, some needs are very specific.  Thank you ahead of time for your help in supplying our children with adequate school supplies.
The ministry center is located at 2026 East 4th Street, Montgomery, 36106.  Please bring all donations to the ministry center on either Monday or Wednesday (or another day by appointment) beginning now, and continuing until August 20.  The deadline for donated school supplies is August 20.  All supplies will be delivered to the schools during the week following August 20.  If you cannot purchase school supplies but would like to make a financial donation, please make checks out to: MBA Church and Community Ministries (for: Tools for School) and mail to 20 Interstate Park Drive, Montgomery, AL 36109.
Again, thank you for your prayerful support of those in need in Montgomery. May God bless your walk with Him.

Junior High Supply List

· Clear/mesh book bag
· College rule notebook paper
· Subject dividers
· #2 pencils
· Black, blue & red pens
· Hand-held pencil sharpener
· Colored pencils
· Calculator (scientific)
· Hand sanitizer
· Liquid hand soap
· Student planner
· 1:” binder
· Ream of copy paper

Senior High School
· Clear/mesh bookbag
· College rule notebook paper
· Pocket folders
· #2 pencils
· All colors of  pens
· Hand-held pencil sharpener
· Colored pencils
· Calculator (scientific & regular)
· Wire bound notebooks
· Binders and trappers
· Ream of copy paper

School Uniforms Needed, Too!

· Khaki pants or skirts
· Polo shirts: red, navy, green, black, white, or gray

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit

     The fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut - or a banana, or a watermelon, or a strawberry, or a grape - what a fun way for Charlotte and Jordan to explain what God's Holy Spirit through belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior can do for each one of us!  Today, Charlotte took a bright yellow banana, and as the children told her about all of the "bad things" that we tend to do (lie, disobey, cheat, etc.), she wrote each sin on the banana.  Afterward - yuch - the banana was so nasty looking!  But as she explained what God's forgiveness through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection does to cleanse our hearts, she slowly peeled the banana to reveal a beautiful, white piece of fruit.  That was such a great and vivid illustration of what God can do in the life of a repentant sinner!  And THREE CHILDREN PRAYED TO RECEIVE CHRIST.
      Hey, God shows up in miraculous ways.  Its no secret that the food pantry has been in dire need for many weeks.  July was the largest month of need in recent history, and each week, as the end of the final food distribution day approached, the cupboard was literally bare.  But each week, someone or some church group has been impressed upon by the Holy Spirit to provide - and we have had just what was needed.  Never once did a family come for food when there was not any for them.
     Then yesterday happened.  Once again, a sponsoring church came through with a lot of food - enough for next week and maybe even more.  But last night, I received a call.  A person who wishes to remain anonymous has directed a friend of the ministry to purchase a bounty of food, and has donated the funds to do so - well, just look at the shelves now!  And that's just a small portion of what he has directed to be purchased.  So...... never doubt that our God is faithful to provide JUST IN TIME!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ramenria Recipes from M&M's Bible Cafe

1. Ramlette
1 pkg chicken ramen noodles
1 egg

Boil noodles according to package instructions.  Scramble egg until nearly finished cooking.  Add noodles to egg and cook until egg is finished.  Add flavor packet.

2. Cheesy Nacho Ramen
2 pkgs beef flavored ramen noodles
1 can of Hormel chili
Nacho Doritos
1/4 cup diced pepper, any kind you want
1 TBS chili powder
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Boil noodles according to package instructions.  Drain water, set noodles aside.  Heat chili in small sauce pan, add peppers and add chili powder.  Add flavor packet to noodles.  Crush some Doritos to cover the borrow of a pie pan.  Layer all ingredients.  Top with Doritos and cheese.  Bake at 350º for 10 minutes until cheese melts.

3. Ramen and Cheese with Ham
1 pkg of ramen, any flavor
3 - 4 slices of ham
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Boil noodles according to package instructions.  Drain water.  Add ham and cheese.  Allow cheese to melt.

4. Ramen Spaghetti
4 pkgs of beef ramen
1 block of mozzarella cheese
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Boil noodles according to package directions.  Add 2 packages of flavoring.  Brown hamburger meat.  Drain.  Add spaghetti sauce to meat.  Simmer.  Combine noodles and sauce.  Add cheese to top.  Bake at 350º until cheese melts.

These recipes were created and enjoyed by the participants of M&M's Bible Cafe.  Very cost effective dishes, and lots of fun had by the young women putting it all together!

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