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Monday, February 24, 2014

Reaching the Poor

A question which I am often asked and weighs heavily on my heart is how to reach the poor. I have given this topic much thought and I take it to God every day, seeking for the answer. Here is what He has given me.

The answer, as I see it, begins with asking a deep soul searching question. How dirty are you willing to get your hands? Seriously, look at what Jesus did. When Jesus began His “war on poverty,” if I may borrow President Johnson’s phrase, He was completely intentional in all He did. By this I mean that it was no mistake that when He was born there was “no place” for Him or His parents. It was no coincidence that his parents were so poor they paid the beggars tax of two turtle doves when they went to the temple. It was not mere happenstance that Jesus became a homeless man that had “no place to lay his head.” It was not because of a wrong turn that Jesus ended up in Samaria with a woman the world shunned. It was not by chance that Jesus befriended the prostitute, tax collector, sinner, leper, thief, and outcast.

Jesus fully embraced the poor and their world. He walked in their shoes, he felt their pain, their hunger, their rejection, their sorrow and their loneliness. He didn’t judge, but instead saw the humanity, the value, the person He created, deep within the sinner. He did know “what sort of woman” washed His feet, and He looked at her with love, not disgust. Seeing the lost and lonely state of man, knowing what it was to have no place in this world, He called out to them, He showed them that they were valuable, He created a place for them by making them His community, His family, He gave them hope, He made them His life, and then He gave His life for them. Nothing that He did was not intentional. And He didn’t do this so we wouldn’t have to, He did it to show us how.
 So, I ask again, how dirty are you willing to get your hands? Are you prepared to step out of your comfort zone and into another world? Are you prepared to make room in your life, to prepare a place for those who have no place? Can you forget everything you think you know about the poor and see their precious souls?

Our goal at River City Ministry is to serve in the spirit of Matthew 25, while seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10). We believe that the work that Jesus said he came to do in Luke 4:18-19 is the same work we are here to continue. We thank you for your concern, support and love. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to learn firsthand how to reach the poor. Please continue to pray for us and for the poor and homeless. God bless you all.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-21).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Look Back at 2013

A lot has changed since I came to River City Ministry in July; mostly me. I was pretty unsure of myself when I came. It took time to earn my right to speak in this community. I feared that the cultural differences would make it difficult for me to relate to the people I encountered. Fear and uncertainty had a hold on me that I had yet to acknowledge. 
The time I spend processing with Anthony, my mentor, the time I spend alone with God, and the time I spend with the people who frequent River City Ministry, both clients and staff, drive me to deep soul searching.

I realized that many of my wounds of my past have yet to heal. I thought I put behind me, many things that I actually only buried. Sitting with broken people made me realize that my own wounds are not that different. I realized that it’s the human element of brokenness that allows us to be empathetic and draws us together. Hope is all the more beautiful when viewed from a point of desperation. It puts us in a wonderful place to acknowledge our need for a savior.
As I become more confident of who I am in Christ, I grow stronger and more courageous in reaching out to others.
More than ever before, here now burns in me a strong and urgent evangelistic spirit. It’s such a privilege to be an instrument of God’s will to play a part in someone coming to know Him!

2013 was a banner year for restorations. Our combined total was 192 people who renewed their walk with the Lord. There were also 93 people who were baptized last year. This is the most baptisms in a year at RCM since 2009. We have immersed 602 people since Anthony began leading the evangelistic outreach in 2007.

Last year I was blessed to have 125 Bible studies which lead to 76 restorations and 21 baptisms. I was able to speak with over 600 people about God and I look forward to the opportunities that God allows me in 2014. Thank you for your constant support and prayer and for making our ministry your ministry. God bless you all.


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Following Christ: Into the Streets
Steven Morris, RCM Apprentice