Monday, October 13, 2008

Visiting Jesus in Prison

On Sunday, October 5, a group of ACF children and their parents had the great privilege of "visiting Jesus" in prison through the Kairos Prison Ministry. Kiddos baked over 200 dozen cookies and made around 100 encouraging placemats for incarcerated men needing a touch from God. Here is what Kairos volunteer, Pete Inman said about the day...
"Although the Kairos (Ki-Ros) Prison Ministry is accustomed to sharing God's light, experiencing the love of God through the kids and parents at ACF was a truly unique joy. At ACF, after sharing how, why, and where the Kairos Ministry works, it was inspirational to see how the young audience immediately grasped the importance of "visiting" Jesus in prison. Without question, it is a key obligation of the church (after all, WE are the church!)"
If you are interested in taking the love of Jesus into prisons, there are numerous ways to get involved! Please contact Pete Inman for more information ( or 826-8229).
Personally, my favorite moment of the serving event came when the kiddos prayed over the cookies and placemats and believed in faith that God was going to move among their drawings and encouraging words! I noticed one placemat, from a sweet eight year old, reading, "Love has found you. Don't give up."
Thank You, Father that you are already stirring the hearts of our kids at ACF and helping them to see men and women in prison as you see them rather than how our society sees them. May they continue to have sensitive, fragile, pure hearts that love as You love.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quick Trip...Eternal Impact

Bob, Greg, and Jason piled into Patrick's truck for the trek to Slidell, LA and the hope to help those in need. The trip started off with a bang - the air conditioning went out in Patrick's truck! Not too bad but it was July in Texas and Louisiana. On our trip down, we picked the brain of Greg, who had previously been to Chalmette.

Upon our arrival in Slidell, we checked into our rooms and met to discuss logistics. There were approximately 15 guys, ranging in age from 14 to those a little older! All of us were looking forward to the adventure to come.

The first morning we all met at the church in Chalmette. We were greeted by Pastor Derek and team, who divided up the teams to best accomplish as much work as possible. I was lucky enough to be put on a crew to work on the house of Dave and Amy Roberts, a young couple trying to rebuild their home and their lives.

On the drive to the Roberts' home the first thing apparent was the absolute devastation that Hurricane Katrina left almost 3 years ago. MANY homes were completely gone, with nothing but the slabs left. There were homes that were standing but barely. And there were also homes rebuilt. Quite the strange mix.

As we pulled up to the Roberts' home site, we were greeted by the site of a trailer in the front yard. Dave, Amy, and their young son had been living in a 500 sq. ft. trailer for 8 months. This was not a FEMA trailer, but one that Dave had purchased. It was not a great place. Their home was beginning to take shape and hopefully we were going to help make a dent. The big part of what we were going to do was help put the siding on their home. Over the 2 1/2 days, we did exactly that. With absolutely no experience with Hardy board, we put siding on 3 sides of the Roberts' home. Also, with much help from the younger guys, we got all of the old electric boxes pulled out and new wires strung for the electrician to come in and connect.

Each day, our work was rewarded with food! And what food is was!!! Brother Ray, one of the church leaders was designated the Chief Chef! Amazing is the only word to use. BBQ, crabs, shrimp - AMAZING! We were tired after working but never too tired to eat!

All of us attended the church service Sunday morning at World Prayer Tabernacle South. Prior to the service, we attended a private service of the church leadership. It was an amazing time together, to see the faith of those still there even after everything that happened to them. I had
tears in my eyes the entire time. I found a great friend as well. The first day, the young baby son of the youth pastor and his wife (Tim and Melanie) starting fussing a bit. I went over to him in his chair and started talking to him. His name was Micah and I picked him up. Immediately, he started smiling and playing with me. What a joy that little boy was! So during the private service, Pastor Derek asked if anyone wanted to speak. Of course, being shy and introverted as I am, I stood up. I picked Micah up and went up front. This is what I said:

"I was wondering, after all that happened to all of you, why would anyone want to stay here. Maybe you would think about relocating somewhere else and start over. But I see why you want to stay. This is your home. And we from ACF are honored to be a small part in helping you stay home." Of course, I was crying!

At the end of the private service, all of the ACF'ers were asked to come forward and all of the WPT leaders placed their hands on us and prayed. Before we left, I was told to watch and listen for God moments. Well, there it was! Those 20-30 voices sounded like the voices of thousands! It sent chills up my back and I knew God was there with us!

The second God moment came when Patrick and I had a great honor. The last evening we were all there we decided to take a collection from the guys to purchase gift cards from Home Depot for Dave and Amy. They were making multiple trips each day to Home Depot for supplies. Patrick and I went over to their home and presented them the gift cards. At that moment, I saw Dave's face just soften. He realized that God was providing for him and his family. Dave had just started going back to church and he realized that a strong man can also follow God and do His bidding! We hugged them and told them we loved them and God loved them.

Our trip back went quick but we cannot wait to go back. We all must keep our brothers and sisters in Chalmette in our prayers. Thank you to ACF for the opportunity to serve.

By Bob Du Charme

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What God can do with $800.

An ACF 242 group applied to receive $800 from ACF 242 Impact. We knew of an urgent need in the nearby Apache Shores trailer park community. They required 40 pairs of shoes as well as clothing items for their school age children, yet we were in the application process for the money. We prayed for a solution to this problem and God provided $1500 to one of our 242 group members. He donated $800 to our small group and sent the rest to relief efforts in Louisiana. We bought the shoes and organized a clothing drive. When woman helped deliver the shoes and clothing she was overwhelmed by what she saw. These were desperately poor families, some kids living in cars, others piled too many to a room, on an old mattress. Yet, there was great love in these families! As she and her team delivered the various items, many families praised God, and expressed how they had just prayed that God would help them. One mother said that she couldn't send her son to school because he literally has NO shoes to wear. One boy who had to sleep in the family car, had no blanket, and his mother cried when a warm fleece blanket was delivered with his shoes. God is so good!

So, when we did receive our $800 from ACF, we prayed again for God to work in BIG ways. We got a list from the relief coordinator for the Apache Shores and went to work. With the church's money we purchased the following items:

40 backpacks
6 pairs of shoes
10 cases of bottled H20 (no running water in many of these homes)
5 5 gallon bottles of water
Newborn clothing
Baby blankets
9 packages of baby wipes
4 giant boxes of diapers
4 jumbo newborn packs of diapers
8 complete back to school outfits for 2 brothers who had nothing to wear

The trunk of the SUV was loaded!!

Thank you God for financial support. We will continue to love and help these families in the name of Jesus our great Lord!!!

Laura Nickens

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nicaragua - Courtney & Kathryn Skinn

Every time I return from Nicaragua my heart becomes more and more wrecked. In the beginning it was so easy to see the beauty and the joy of the people and think that “they get it and have it all”. I think God has taken the long approach with my heart. He reveals a little more to me each time I go to serve the people of Nicaragua. This trip I received the gift of truth. Yes they are beautiful people and they love their families but that does not answer the real question of how they are going to get their next meal. It is very easy to believe that because the people are so loving and joyful that they don’t suffer. It is easy to overlook the poverty when you see their souls, but the poverty is real! I asked Kathryn what was the most surprising thing to her about our trip and she replied “Aaron, I can’t believe he didn’t have a bed growing up!” Aaron is one the dear translators we are blessed to work with who exudes JOY and LOVE. He loves the Lord with all his heart and lets you know it! When you meet these loving people you are easily seduced into believing that they are ok with their impoverished situations. Not true! The truth I received is that the poverty is REAL but that does not take away from the beauty of the people.

This trip I also had a special treat as my daughter Kathryn went with me. We worked with a medical team of 14 helping run a Health Fair and community clinic for each of the schools. It was very cool to get to see the beginning of Gods work in Kathryn’s young heart being wrecked!!!

Zambia - Kristin Davis

Hi :) Okay, so my name is Kristin Davis. I just graduated high school and had the awesome opportunity of going to Lusaka, Zambia this summer with an organization named Global Expeditions, and would love to share a little bit with you.
I am a total scenery person and people watcher, so the two hour drive to our site from the airport to where we slept, I just soaked Africa in. I was so pumped to be in Africa (and actually accidently started screaming for joy in my sleep on the plane because I was so excited) that I didn't know what to do with myself. The landscape on the outskirts of Lusaka is beautiful with trees and hills, but the poverty took all focus off of landscape. If you have ever been to or seen pictures of the poorest places in Managua, Nicaragua, that is basically what Lusaka looks like, except multiply the number of people in one area by a tremendous amount. Tiny mud and scrap wood huts held families of seven and were situated back to back.
The first day in Zambia, the seventy teenagers and leaders on the project split into eleven groups and headed to church. Haha! When I first heard we were going to ELEVEN different churches made me laugh because I thought, "Eleven! First of all, I haven't even seen one," and then sadly I asked myself, "How can Zambians afford to build eleven different churches?"

I soon learned never to put limitations of God.
I hope this isn't seen as a generalization, but from what I experienced, Zambian Christ followers are great worshipers. At church they sang their hearts out and bowed down unashamed of the people around them. Another example: The first week of ministry we slept in the same house as the 300 orphans who we were teaching at Vacation Bible School. The women that kept the house woke-up at 4 AM to pray over these children every morning. The way these ladies devote their lives to God makes it evident they know how much He delights in them. They love life!
Our God is such an awesome God, and I learned there is always a deeper way to experience Him; so keep pressing into Him. :) And remember that you are free! And that thankfulness isn't about realizing how much we have, but praising God for it.

I have one last thing to mention. There were sixteen girls in my group and three missionaries. We were each asked to find sponsors for specific girls. Basically this entails a $35/month donation; which pays for school, uniforms, food, school supplies, and medical expenses. Please pray about this. If you feel led and are interested in sponsorship e-mail me, Kristin Davis, at Sponsorship is more of a relationship than anything. You will have the chance to write and send gifts, so please remember this when making your decision.
Remember to pray about your dreams!
Kristin Davis

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Student Ministry/Reynosa, Mexico

The picture of us sitting with Jacinto on a log in front of their tiny flower garden is the screen saver for our computer. It is a reminder of so many of the things we encountered on our recent trip to Reynosa, Mexico, that we could never have prepared for or imagined. Jacinto, his wife Francisca, and their daughter and grandchildren are the family that our group built a home for. While the women and children interacted with us throughout the week, Jacinto kept a quiet distance most of the time. On our last day there, however, he seemed eager to be near us and to try to communicate with us. When we sat down to pose for the picture, he joined us, first at a distance, then finally, right next to us on the log. Afterward, he told us how much he wanted a copy of that photo, and another one of our entire group, framed on the wall of his new home. He said every time he looked at the pictures, he would remember what we had done for him. He told us not to give pictures to just everyone we met there, but instead to save them only for the people who would cherish them, like himself. It was such an encouragement to us to have a glimpse into Jacinto’s heart and know that we were able to do something that made a difference in his life.

The week was filled with surprises. We weren’t sure what to expect other than hot weather and hard work, but when we think about our time in Reynosa, neither of those things stand out in our minds. What we remember most is that people who have nothing by our standards gave abundantly. Francisca cooked lunch—delicious chicken and rice dishes—for our entire group, not once, but twice. We have no idea of the cost of those meals for their family, but we know it was huge. We were there to serve them, but instead, they served us. Children who live in shacks with no electricity or running water laughed and played in the dirt streets of the colonia and seemed genuinely joyful. There were little pockets of beauty in an otherwise bleak surrounding, like Francisca’s rose garden.

One of the biggest surprises for both of us was watching God work in and through our group as teenagers and adults worked together with one heart and one purpose. We could never have imagined that our group would leave behind all previous social boundaries and bond with one another, or that some of the most privileged among us would work the hardest and pour out the most love and compassion for the people we were there to serve.

We had no idea what to expect from our first mission trip to Mexico, but as we reflect on our experience, we are pretty sure God had a lot of things to teach us that week, and not many of them had anything to do with building a house.

Sydney and Tracy Ramirez

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Just got back from Uganda yesterday, late afternoon. By 5:30, I was dipping chips in salsa at Chuy's with friends, and trying to stay awake so I wouldn't do a face plant in my tortilla soup. Due to jet lag, I woke up wide eyed, but not so bushy tailed about 3:30am. I eventually got up and headed to the office around 6:30 ready to conquer the day. Now, I sit at my laptop, weepy and so heavy hearted it feels as if something is literally sitting on my chest. My challenge already this morning has been to try to figure out why all the tears, why the heavy heart, and why the desire for isolation from everything and everyone except for the Lord? One would think after years of mission trips, re-entry to the American culture wouldn't be so difficult and that experience would ease the blow a bit. But it's just not so. Time and time again, the sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch of poverty ruins and wrecks my heart, and coming back to America only makes me more mindful of it. I find myself today living with a disturbing tension that I can't figure out, and it causes me to go to God and ask questions like, "How should I live differently? How do I make choices that reveal that the brokenness of my heart is real and not just emotional? Anyone can cry when they see a malnourished baby dying of AIDS, but how does my life reflect a heart that has been changed by that? How can I vividly see pictures of children's shoeless, dirty feet in my mind one minute, and desire to make an appointment for a pedicure the next minute? A pedicure that would cost as much as a month's food for a family in Nicaragua, or school fees and a uniform for a little girl in Uganda. The new iPhone comes out this, in the world, can I want one after just walking the slums of Jinja, Uganda three days ago? Such shame and embarrassment accompany those thoughts and numerous ones that resemble them. As Psalm 73 says, "my heart and my flesh have failed..." Fortunately, the words following say that HE is the strength of my heart and portion forever.

I'm definitely not going to be able to resolve the inner conflict presently taking place in me any time soon, but I can seek the Lord and ask for His grace, wisdom, and sweet conviction with every decision I make. As I prayed Psalm 86:4 this morning, "Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul," He reminded me of a verse in Job that says, "So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth."

I apologize for my rambling thoughts this morning and that this blog served more as a processing tool for myself than a source of information for readers, but hopefully if you've recently returned from a mission trip and are experiencing similar emotions, you are comforted by learning of someone else who is weepy and wrecked. Please know that there was much to celebrate during my time in Uganda -- salvations were springing up from the ground, children received medicine that would prolong their lives, women were learning skills that would bring good hygiene and nutrition into their villages and perhaps most importantly, the name of Jesus was shouted at the top of our lungs, we danced in His name and He was glorified!

I want to leave you with a few precious promises that will sustain me today as I see everything through a new set of eyes...

Psalm 112
Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who finds great delight in his commands.
His children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.
He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked man will see and be vexed,
he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.