Even though it has been nearly two years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, calls still come in to the office nearly every day for relief, whether they are from evacuees who live in Houston now and need assistance or from churches and ministries who are working in the area to rebuild. We also minister weekly to senior citizen evacuees living in a seniors apartment complex, where they are using my book Born to Die for their Bible study. Many of them are still struggling through a time of transition and dealing with their loss, so we also have times just for fellowship and celebrations with them on Christmas and Easter. In addition, we have been conducting disaster preparedness seminars at locations throughout the U.S. Still, the needs are greater than the resources not only because the focus of the general public has shifted elsewhere, but also because we as a ministry are involved in so many other projects locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Like so many ministries, we often find ourselves sacrificing in one area so we can meet needs in another and wrestling with a conflict between needs and resources.
Last month, we were facing not only this daily dilemma but also an increasing shortfall in income coupled ironically with an increase in opportunity! Who’s Your Daddy Now? was coming off the presses, so I made a substantial loan to the ministry from my personal line of credit so we could receive our initial shipment of books. Because the royalties from all my books go directly to Turning Point Ministries, our Board of Directors committed that the ministry would reimburse me as the funds come in.
In the midst of it all, I remembered my vow 25 years ago that I never wanted to spend more of my time and energy raising money than doing ministry and meeting needs, so I asked God to intervene. All of a sudden, it appeared as if He began speaking to various individuals and, over the course of a few days, the gifts began coming in-from the widow’s mite (literally) to faithful friends who gave more generous donations than usual. We also got donations from business people and small churches giving sacrificially, and online donations as well. All we had done was send out our normal newsletter, and the rest was unsolicited! The books arrived, the monthly bills were paid, and we began to be encouraged.
And then, I was so blessed when-out of the blue-another church that has been a long-time ministry partner and friend to us called to find out if we were doing any hurricane relief. They still had $100,000 in funds designated for Katrina assistance, and they honored us by entrusting it to Somebody Cares America. We immediately began to assess how we can disburse the funds to their best use. Although we are limited in how we can use this donation, God used it to encourage us and to enable us to meet our hurricane relief requests without sacrificing in other areas of the ministry. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are reminded that God can do anything! And over the next few months, He has set before us an incredible potential to reach the nations.
I just returned from a trip to Florida, where Somebody Cares is flourishing! I went one day from speaking to businessmen and officials at Somebody Cares Plant City to ministering to the homeless in Pasco County, one of our new SCA locations. I was hosted by Dan Bernard, director of Somebody Cares Tampa Bay, which began in 1997 as our first official SCA chapter. They have done a great work in that entire region, where they are now in the process of opening a thrift store to provide jobs for the needy and income for the ministry. From there I went across the state to the kick-off celebration for Somebody Cares St. Augustine, where the mayor is a believer and wants to work with us. Then I was off to Jacksonville to minister at The Potter’s House for Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin. I was amazed with the ministry of The Potter’s House and the high level of excellence to which they are committed. They have just purchased an entire mall which is part of a community development program that creates jobs to bring community transformation. They also have a soul food restaurant and a bowling alley, and a stadium that is under construction-and they’re doing it all with no funding from government agencies! All the finances come from their own body of believers.When I left Florida, I headed directly to Boston to minister with Somebody Cares New England. Upon my arrival I was invited by Bethany Yeo, daughter of our SC New England director Marlene Yeo, to pray with her team at the Justice House of Prayer, an intercessory ministry started by Lou Engle. I also spoke at the Massachusetts Prayer Network, at three church services, and as the guest on the SC New England television program. I’m home now for a week then off to Brazil where I will speak-along with George Otis Jr.-at the Transform Brazil Conference in Rio de Janeiro, then at Rio’s Global Day of Prayer celebration. Both of these ministry times are being coordinated by James and Andrea Alvarez, medical doctors who gave up their practices to work with the homeless in the garbage dumps. They are now our representatives forSomebody Cares Brazil, and I will have some time following my speaking commitments for an on-site visit to their ministry.
In addition to all of this, I began getting calls a few weeks ago from Iranian ministry leader who was telling me about the tremendous need for discipling Christians in Iran. Reports say that over ½ million Iranians have come to Christ in the past two years-half of that number in the last six months alone! “I really believe we’re supposed to tape some of your teachings to be translated into Farsi,” he kept saying. So we scheduled three days in June for me to travel to San Jose to tape 12 teachings that will be telecast into Iran and other parts of the Middle East. I’m especially looking forward to this time because of long-term relationships and friendships I’ve had with Iranian believers. One of my neighbors escaped from Iran during the revolution in order to have religious freedom. She reports how even her own family members who still live there are rising up in boldness, no longer speaking in secret codes about their faith but openly declaring the name of Jesus! I remember, too, when I went to Japan in 1995 following the Kobe earthquake and my interpreter was an Iranian who had been living in Japan. What confusion it caused when people would speak to me-the one who was Japanese-and the Iranian would answer for me!
Our ministries are also reaching the generations. In St. Augustine, I was speaking to a man who works in a center where 185 kids are in youth lock-up. “Your new book would be perfect for them!” he said, so we are donating 185 copies of Who’s Your Daddy Now? to the center. One of our friends in the ministry who was recently widowed has given out four cases through her prison ministry. And we shipped out 2000 copies to the International Urban Youth Workers Convention, knowing that by empowering these front line laborers we can minister to thousands!
As you can see, God has given us open doors to impact a multitude of lives! We are literally fulfilling our mission statement: from Houston, Texas, to the four corners of the world, from urban to foreign missions, from the inner city to unreached people groups.preparing a people for the coming of the Lord with a message of consecration, commitment, and action. Many of these trips and projects come at our own expense and do not generate any income for the ministry, yet we go where God calls to invest in His people.
In Jeremiah 8:20, the Lord speaks to us about missed opportunities: “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.” It reminds me of something my friend Steve Hill said in his book Time to Weep: “With one ear, listen to the sweet music of heaven. With the other ear, listen to the cries.” We must take advantage of the opportunities God gives us now to be bridge-builders to those who are perishing on the sea of death! Our staff, chapters, and missionaries are all making incredible sacrifices. I am humbled by their commitment, dedication, and faithfulness to the calling of God to love people and to rescue lives.
We live in a time of great celebration, yet it’s also a pivotal time for eternity. Would you stand with us and agree to walk with us on this journey to reach the nations and to reach the generations? We need a total of $50,000 each month for the rest of the year to go beyond our normal operations and adequately answer the critical Macedonia calls He has placed before us. In addition to that, we have a year-to-date shortfall of approximately $70,000, including $25,000 of my own expenses that have not yet been reimbursed. Your gift to our parent ministry, Turning Point Ministries International, covers the administrative costs for TPMI as well as Somebody Cares America, and also supports our missionaries working in the states and abroad and our local outreaches in Houston. Your gift to Somebody Cares America/International helps us facilitate the development of our chapters and allows us to invest in leaders, emerging leaders, marketplace ministers, and pastors around the globe who reach out in compassion as a tangible expression of Christ.
How incredibly blessed we have been already by your support. We know God is always faithful, but we also know He chooses to let us work together for His glory. Thank you for laboring with us as a mended net, bringing in the harvest during these challenging times in which we live! Thank you for caring!