Monday, December 28, 2009


Hi All!!!

So I just realized a bunch of you who are so important to my life don't even know about this Blog! Just for a re-cap this is a blog where you can read up on what my roommates and I are doing, how you can pray for us and our lives in community with our neighbors in the South Bronx, each other and Jesus!

Right now I am writing this from Kenya and although I am enjoying the wonderful break from the winter cold I do miss the babies and my roommates incredibly! :(

In recent news, I took the 3 younger girls next door to see Princess and the Frog! Just so you know it's the best Disney movie since the DIsney classics so if you haven't seen it, leave your computer and do so immediately!!!

It truly was a blessing to take the girls and I praise God for the first black Disney Princess. I don't know to which extent the girls realized that this was a moment in history but I really believe looking back they'll see that they experienced something special. It was definitely special for me seeing their faces light up and hearing Mani say "she looks like me!".

We also got to open presents with the babies and have them read the story of Jesus before they did so. It was really an amazing and fun night doing that with them and I'm so grateful that we have some kind of hand in sharing the meaning of Christmas with them.


I would just like you to pray for our boldness in sharing the Gospel with the adults!
I'd like to pray for men to come in and mentor our young boys who really need it!
I'd like to pray for strength and encouragement of our community with each other, God and the our neighbors!

I hope your Christmas was amazing and filled with love!

Happy New Year and be blessed!

" If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:32

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Time

Greetings All,

I hope you had a great time of Thanksgiving. One of the things I am thankful for this minute is our new slow cooker (actually my mom's old one from the 80s) in which our curry for our first advent dinner has been cooking since this morning! So what is this Advent Dinner? We aren't really sure yet, but hopefully it will be a time within our house community and with those who are really instrumental in our ministry here to gather and set our eyes and hearts towards Christ's coming. How great will it be when He comes back once and for all and the Kingdom is completely fulfilled?!

We have a little advent wreath on our dinner table and we'll be lighting the first candle tonight (Churches do it on Sundays but we have church on Sundays so Tuesdays are the next best thing). We are reading from Isaiah 60, vs 1-5:

"Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.

Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

"Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the arm.

Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.

I hope that y'all are able to see the hope we have in Christ in every possible way tonight!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sisters, Sisters

Hi Friends,

I just wanted to update about a special trip we took with some of the girls last week to go ice skating in central park. Kirstin and I had promised to take one of the younger girls out a while ago and so we finally decided to take her and her older sister out ice skating. We had such a great time and the girls were really pros- by the end they were skating backwards and on one foot and even doing spins! It was also a great time for them to bond as sisters which is much needed and tough when the older/younger battles are always going. Here are some pictures:

I hope you're all doing well and getting as excited for the holidays as we are, we've got lots of great plans for how to spend them that are gonna be loads of fun and hopefully a blessing to our neighborhood too, grace and peace folks!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sharing the Gospel

Good Morning Everyone,

It's been a really exciting week here as God has been showing up pretty unexpectedly in our conversations with neighbors. As He would have it, all of those neighbors are teenaged boys and He has not in fact given us any men to mentor these boys but He has placed a curiosity in their hearts. Most of the time I don't really understand God or the way He moves but I think that is a good thing.

On Monday night
this week, Sara and Val were hanging out with two boys from the block and one of our guy friends who was staying with us for a while. One of the boys comes over all the time but is pretty wrapped up in the hood lifestyle and mostly just talks about girls, this boy brought over one of his friends who we'd never met before. Conversation of course turned to girls, and our friend Clinton who was staying with us was able to preach the gospel to them about girls, sex, being black, drugs, and life in general. Sara and Val were pretty floored and encouraged by their talk and the boys seemed to really take it to heart and be interested, one of them even mentioned it to me the next day.

Then on Thursday Kirstin and I were having dinner with the other two boys who live next door, they come over almost every night now and I make them grilled cheese. These boys have quickly become some of our favorites, for some reason they love hanging out at our house and telling us about their days. They are so respectful and smart both of them (although of course they've got their issues too). We were just having normal conversation when all of a sudden one asked me, "Who killed Jesus?" Kiki and I looked at each other stunned and I gave an explanation, ending with telling them about our own sin and that really Jesus had to die for each of us. Then they asked, "So who was Jesus?" We talked about it a bit and then dinner ended and we had promised to take some of the girls ice skating so we left. I think I'm going to give each of these boys a copy of the new testament and ask them if they want to read it, either on their own or with some of us!

I never imagined that God would ask us to be the spiritual mothers of these kids but until he provides them with more permanent men in their lives who are willing to take on the task we are happy to do it! Pray for us that we'd have the boldness and understanding to speak the gospel into these boys lives and that we would be able to find men to also do this with them!

(with more to come on the ice skating adventures as soon as Kiki puts up the pictures)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Hi Friends,

I hope Fall is treating you well, we are having a great time up here and are really enjoying spending time with our neighbors. We are all really one big family now, we don't lock our roof doors anymore so everyone from next door just comes over whenever and vice verse. We are seriously considering finding one big house for all of us!

One new thing is that all the teenagers have really been spending time here since school has started. The little kids all have afterschool programs till 6 or so and now the older kids come over as soon as they get home to get snacks and hang out. Most of them in fact are boys (ages 12-15). We love them so much and really act as stand in mothers for most of them. A typical day looks like one of them coming home from football or school and coming straight to our house to talk about the day, use the computers, and have us make them grilled cheese. It is so much fun and we love these boys like they were our own.

Because we love them so much, we want them to grow up into great men who really love God and love the people around them. Friends, it is so so hard for them to do this without the influence of other men in their lives. We can spend all the time we want with them but we aren't men so it is just not enough. They are at such a vulnerable time in their lives and face choices everyday that could make or break them. We would love for each of them to be mentored by one of our wonderful guy friends! This would ideally involve spending scheduled time with them weekly, maybe even reading the Bible with them. We would pay for you to take them out and do stuff in the city every once in a while. One of the greatest challenges for us has been the lack of male support/influence with our family here. Would you please consider committing to one of these young men, I really can't think of a more worthy investment! Thanks for praying with us for this, ,we are trusting God that he will provide for our boys!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pictures from the Last Month!

Welcome to Fall everyone! It's been so nice to be able to cook and stay inside without sweating and we've had a great time sending the kids back to school and doing lots of other fun stuff. There have been some ups and downs but it seems like everything is settling into place now.

This past weekend we even took a bunch of the kids and their Mom to go apple picking in NJ with our Navs friends. It was such a great time and we are loving being with our extended and adopted families up here! Here are a bunch of adorable shots of the darlings...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Praying for Our Enemies

Hi Friends,

The first day of school has come and Kirstin and I got to wake up this morning to see the kids off on the bus. They were so excited and their smiles were so big it was really the cutest thing ever! We snapped a couple pictures so I'll put them up a little later.

I'm really writing to let you all know about some issues we are facing with the police here. I grew up having a great impression of law enforcement and never having really dealt with them other than on TV and in the Movies. When I moved here though that began to change, within a week of moving in cops were telling me to "get the hell out of the hood" and not so nice or respectful things. Our block is certainly a dangerous one and since another shooting happened a few weeks back we have had 24 hour police surveillance and they've brought in special teams to try and deal with the "hot block."

This is all fine and we don't like shootings either but the police have begun to harass our neighbors, some deservedly so but in the last week they have detained our 13 year old neighbor simply because she was sitting outside and wouldn't leave. Of course no charges were pressed because sitting on your front step is not actually illegal but it is certainly a traumatic and unjust thing for a girl we care about deeply. Last night Kirstin was sitting out again with this girl, her brother and some other friends at around 9pm. One of the boys had pliers since he had just fixed his bike and a cop came up and asked "if he had a problem." The boy explained that he was fixing his bike, which the cop didn't believe, Kirstin vouched for him, which he still didn't believe. They were all then told that this was the worst possible place to be, and if they didn't go inside they could arrest them all.

After all the teenagers went inside, Kirstin and I went to speak with the cops about this harassment. We explained our bad experiences with the police and that we did appreciate what they were doing but would also appreciate it if they spoke with more respect to our neighbors. (In more words than that of course). We definitely had a decent conversation but it was striking how different their perspective was. These police were offended and threatened by 13 year olds who didn't respect them even though they had not respected them in the beginning. I asked them to try and show that they were in fact at least ten years older and come at the kids with a little bit more respect since they were not in fact doing anything wrong, they sort of agreed to this but then ran off on some sort of emergency. Just a few minutes later they were back just standing on the corner. Please pray with us for them that they would be given the mindset of Jesus and have a little more compassion for the people who have no choice but to live on this block that they hate so bad. We want them to do their jobs in protecting us but also in respecting and loving the community they are in. Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support and let us know if you've got any radically loving ideas for how we can deal with this situation!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School!

Tomorrow is the first day of school for NYC public school students and we can't wait! It's been an incredible summer and we've been able to really solidify and build relationships with all of our neighbors. But man are we excited for the kids to get back to school!

We get to wake up early tomorrow morning and send them all off with their fresh new uniforms and school supplies. We also all started class today which for Sara and I was our last-first day of class ever! We'll all have a lot of decisions coming up over the next few months as to what God has for us next so be praying with us for his guidance and for his protection over our kids as they go off to school, that they would be able to learn and that we and their teachers would be able to love and serve them well.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Days

Hi Everyone,

I hope you're enjoying the long summer days that we are here, they've brought with them a lot of great neighborhood bonding and a little piece of the Kingdom of God! We've continued to get to know more of our neighbors as we all sit out every night and we've especially gotten to bond more with those that we've known all year. Our next door neighbor Itza (mom of the seven kids) was able to get a day time job so we've gotten to eat dinner with her a couple times and she is so much fun to hang out with! Pray for us that we would continue to be a blessing to her physical needs and that through this Christ would begin to meet her spiritual needs as well.

Thank you to all of you have given to our camp fund, 4 children are getting to learn about Jesus for the first time because of your generosity! I got to pick them up on their first day and the excitement with which they told me about Jesus feeding the five thousand was contagious! They also said they had read it from the Holy Book of Luke which was super cute. Pray with us that they would continue to be excited by the Word and that it would sink into their hearts.

We've also started our own little Bible camp here with the Spanish church. Last week was the first week and it went fairly well, it was kind of crazy and we had to be really flexible but we got to know some more people and hopefully serve them a bit, as well as partner with the Spanish church in something they really want to do. A lot of people were just surprised to see the place open and were excited about that which makes us long even more for the larger church to be renewed and open once again. On that note pray with us that God would give us the 200,000$ it will probably take to do that and the faith to keep pursuing that which he has called us to do!

Finally, Kirstin and I have both gotten to spend some extra time with the kids who aren't going to camp everyday (too old or too young). They are in the middle of summer boredom phase and last week I got to take three of them to the Bronx Zoo (which was amazing!). It was great to see them get so excited and their minds to be opened a little bit. Kirstin is taking them to the Museum of Modern Art today, pray with us that these outings would not just be fun/cool things to do but that the girls would know of our and God's love for them through this time. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers, let us know if there is any way we can be lifting you up also!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Movin on up... to the Bronx!

So! This is my first Post on the Beekman Notes. It's crazy being the new roommate in here and it has already changed my life around! 
I moved in almost 2 weeks ago now and it already seems like I've been there quite awhile.  In the latest news, we just had the welcome/info session/community building party for camp and I think it was a great success. There were water balloons, freeze dance competitions, new friends, and most importantly Tostones. It's cray how much you can feel God move throughout this community and bring people together. I don't know what His plan is, or how long I'm meant to be in this house for but so far it's just been an honor to serve along with these lovely ladies.  In further important news, I have remembered the recipe to some amazing apple pie that could be coming to you shortly. 

That is all. 

God Bless!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The House Where Everyone Goes

Hey guys... just thought you might enjoy reading this. It was written by Kelly, the oldest girl of the 7 kids next door. Enjoy, but make sure to read the new entry below too!

Story written by: Kelly Webster
Typed by: Kenyah Francis

Beekman Avenue and 141st Street. A block where you  see people walking up and down. Wether they are big or small. All ages. Noise, music, excitement, etc. Yup! That's Beekman Ave. 

One place where many people go is to the house down the block. The one all the way down the block. You know what I'm talking about? Right? The house where everyone goes. 

Let me tell you about that house! Well 321 Beekman Avenue, Apt. #2. There's many things to do up there. From cooking to watching movies and all. That's the house where everyone goes!

People from everywhere. Texas, Maryland, Manhattan, and even Beekman Ave. 

Help a Child Know Jesus!

We have recently been made aware of a camp at a local church!  We believe our neighbors, children aged 5 to 13, would benefit from spending their days in such a camp.  Not only would this fill their idle time, so too would they be presented with the love and truth of Jesus Christ.  Someone has offered to pay for the kids to go to camp for one full week, praise God!  However, looking to the rest of the summer, we are eager to provide these kids with productive activites.  The camp, already paid for one full ,is actually three weeks long and costs $25 per kid. We would love to send these children there for the entirety of the program and are praying hard for the funds.  If you are able and willing, we would love for you to take part, to sponser a child for a week and to become a pen pal of one of our beautiful children!  

God Bless,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Difficult Times

Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,

Last night we were made aware of some dire financial needs on our block.  Although we are not comfortable explaining the details in this venue, know that it involves a family with whom we are very close.  We believe that God wants to provide for this family in an amazing way, and calls us to be a part of it. Please begin to pray hard and earnestly for this cause and if you are inclined, please don't hesitate to contact us about any way in which you might be able to help.  All of our contact information is listed below:

Meredith Janke - 262 389 8386 -
Kirstin Edwards - 215 651 1938 -
Sara Frazier - 817 980 1288 -
Jillian Roche - 484 354 5289 -
Valerie Prosper - 2404816011 -

Thank you and God bless,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Faces

Hi Y'all!

I hope you're having a blessed summer so far! Despite the rainy weather here on the east coast we've actually been spending a lot of time outside and have had some really exciting times with the people in the neighborhood. In other really we had a new roommate move in this past Sunday. One of our good friends Valerie just got back from studying abroad and was willing to take DeWanda's spot in the house. Its been so energizing for us to have her here these last few days and we're really looking forward to out community growing!

Also we've gotten to meet a ton of new people this last month, I think there are about 30 new people we've met and spent time with in some capacity. A few times we've had over twelve kids running around the house, most of whom continuously ask if we are a school or if we are "open" on Saturdays. We've also gotten to spend a lot of quality time with a few of our neighbors who are closer to our age (in their twenties) and have begun to have some really good conversations with them that have allowed us to share our faith and here their beliefs and needs. Pray for these brothers and sisters and our witness to them as we continue to look for these conversations and show them love. Thank you all so much for your encouraging thoughts and prayers!

Peace! (really)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jesus is in the details.

There's so much to say and not much time to say it, but I imagine I best just bite the bullet and get it out there, so here it goes!
First of all, hello!  This is my first post on the Beekman Notes and going on my fourth week in the house (wow--I can't believe its only my fourth week).  My life has been completely consumed these past few weeks and has quite honestly, been turned on its head.  I am in continual amazement at the works my roommates and sisters-in-Christ have already accomplished on this block.  I see Christ in their every interaction and their hearts vying for the love of Jesus to be shown to our neighbors.  I admire their undeniable passion for life and intense love of the one and only King.  I am excited to be joining in their mission to serve and love the people of the South Bronx.
Let me give you a quick update as to the happenings of the house, our dreams and vision for the nearby future.  As some of you may know, and as others of you may not, there is a vacant church that sits at the end of Beekman--Iglesia Evangelica Metodista Unida.  Both as a house and amongst friends we have been discussing the possibility of such a piece of property, excited about the ventures we could accomplish within the infrastructure and eager to start some type of community project for the summer.   We have spoken of and prayed about implementing such things as a structured tutoring program for individuals of all ages, providing food for the hungry, healthcare services and provision for young mothers.  
Since these initial discussions, we have met with various groups of authority over the church and it looks like this just might be a possibility! While all the stages are intermediate at best, we hope and pray to see the community re-build itself, through infrastructure and through services and most importantly through Jesus Christ.  Thus far, we have met a wide variety of individuals, all passionate about what the Lord is doing/promises to do in the South Bronx.  Pray with us that individuals will continue to see and understand the vast potential of this neighborhood and the urgency of its cry for help.  
In the next few weeks we will continue to go through the bureaucracy of renovating a building and of helping to provide the community with the agency they deserve. We will simultaneously be working to find and write grants appropriate to this type of aid and trying our best to encourage our neighbors to take part in the project and to express their personal needs.
I ask that you pray for our humility, in that what we are doing is to no esteem of our own.  Pray that the ventures both within the project of the church and outside of, are only to His will and testament.  We know that the Lord is present here and now are trying our best to listen intently to His call.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Goin' to Church

Greetings Folks,

God is answering so many of our prayers for our neighbors right now I almost can't believe it. The most exciting thing is that He is beginning to meet their greatest need, Himself. Two weeks ago one of our friends, S, asked if she could come to church with us. We brought her to Trinity Grace and she came back this past week again! We have all invested a lot of time in this relationship and she is really so close to our hearts. Pray with us that God would really speak to her and meet her where she is at, that he would give us wisdom to ask the right questions and protect her from the lies of the world that would take her away from Him!

We are also looking for a church to bring the kids from next door to, they pretty much want to do whatever we do so they've been wanting to go for a long time. It's too much though to take them to our service at TGC downtown and we'd really like to bring them someplace that is kid friendly. Pray with us that we'd have wisdom in this and that God would make it clear the place He has for them. Explaining Jesus to an 8 year old in a genuine way is about the hardest thing there is we've found out so we really need the spirit to move in them! Thanks for partnering with us in these needs,


We Need Men!

We really do! If there is anything our neighborhood is really lacking it is good male role models, men who will stand up for what is right, protect, lead and provide for their families. A friend who attends a church a few block away from us told me a story of the Mother's day service. The pastor mentioned that it was time to celebrate the moms and everybody cheered, he then said that soon they would be honoring their dads and everyone booed. When my friend looked around the room he saw that there were no fathers in the room. It is a shame but this is the relationship most people in our community have with the men in their lives. It is the exception not the rule for a child to have a man who loves them well and is present in their life here on the block.

It is one of our hopes that the boys we are spending time with now, from the teenagers right on down to the babies would grow up to be men of God who will break this cycle of generational sin. But it's nearly impossible for them to do this without the help of some good men to show them how to be! We can care for them and play with them and feed them everyday but until they see how a man is supposed to treat the women around him they won't get it. It is also difficult because for liability issues we can't spend all our time with the teenage boys. They are so lonely and bored but the other day I was the only one home and one of them came to the door, I was able to give him a snack but had to send him away because it's just not alright for us to be alone with them.

On this note, we've been praying for some Guys to join us here for over a year now, Gos has provided good examples as some of our friends do spend a lot of time here but we believe the block needs some men to move in! We've asked some of our friends to consider moving into one of the other houses but it doesn't look like that will be happening in the near future. We are trusting God for this but would you pray with us also for some men to be convicted to move to our block, and for the youth to grow up and break the cycle. Also if you're a man and have nothing else to do, come move to the Bronx- you will change some lives and you'll have a house full of girls who spend all their time cooking right next to you!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Message from Sunday

Hi Everyone,

Here is the message from Trinity Grace Church this past Sunday when Sara and I spoke. I hope it blesses you and that you experience God today!

Grace and Peace

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Roomate!

Hi Everyone,

We are all done (or almost done) with finals now and are so blessed my having some more free time to spend in the 'hood! Another thing we've been so blessed by is our new roommate Kirstin moving in this week! Kirstin and I met last August at NYU during a navs pizza table recruiting event and she came up to our house just a few weeks later, and she was just a freshman! She loves kids probably more than the rest of us combined which is so exciting and I've been so impressed with her maturity and servant heart just in the last few days, God is going to do big things through her presence here. Pray with us for our in-house community to grow and that we would challenge and strengthen one another this summer especially as we all have more time to commit.

Also Sara and I spoke at our church in the city (Trinity Grace Church) this last weekend and shared our story of moving to the Bronx with everyone. These believers are really taking following Christ to new levels and their encouragement was such a blessing, as soon as the sermon is posted online we'll post it here. Also stay tuned for a very late but very exciting post on our Easter celebrations!

Grace and Peace, and let us know how we can be lifting you up in prayer!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer Shootings

Dear Friends please pray for our block tonight. There was a shooting a bit earlier around 9 and an innocent boy was hit. None of us were home and all of the neighbors we know well are fine as well but it is a sad thing when people are afraid for their children to play on a summer night.

It is also sad that we could feel this coming, the other night talking with one of our neighbors we remarked that it felt like something like this was bound to happen soon. That should not be the case! Pray that as it gets warmer people would be filled with peace from the Holy Spirit and that Beekman Ave would not see another shooting this summer. Pray for wisdom for parents and us as we decide when and where to play outside with the kids. Also please pray for the boy and his family, we're unsure of his status right now. Most importantly pray for those who would use guns to solve their issues that the bullets would be stopped in mid-air and that they'd find peaceful solutions to disagreements.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Your Kingdom Come?

Hi Friends,

It has certainly been a while and we have so much to update you one, including our Easter celebrations! Keep an eye out for that post, hopefully the lovely Sara Frazier will be writing it;) This weekend I got a chance to take a group from the NYU Navs back to my parents house in PA which was great. It was a warm and sunny weekend and a great time to relax and fellowship.

I was filled with such joy the whole time which carried over into our church service at Trinity Grace last night. There is usually some sort of call and response liturgy at the end of the sermon and last nights was a little unusual. It was combination baptist gospel/old time episcopalian liturgy. We basically shouted back our response as a reminder to ourselves of Jesus' call to action at the end of the sermon on the mount. Sara and I were both so excited afterward that we really couldn't contain it. Which got me to thinking about the Kingdom of God.

We say that we are trying to bring the Kingdom of God to earth, to the here and now to live as though we are under God's rule and not the worlds. This we say is the way to draw people to a relationship with Jesus, by inviting them to live in the Kingdom. But what kind of Kingdom are we preaching? We walk around plagued by worry and fear, we let the insignificant things bring us down and we are constantly battling to stay above the rising tide of issues being thrown at us. We are cynical and pessimistic and rarely filled with joy or excitement, we even tend to think that those who do constantly have a bright smile on their face are faking it.

Friends, this is not what the kingdom of Jesus Christ the living God looks like! I'm pretty sure when we are reunited with Him face to face, standing in His glory in heaven, we will be so overcome that we'll just turn to the brother or sister next to us and scream. Have you ever watched one of the those America's Funniest Home videos where a kid gets exactly what they wanted for Christmas and they just flip? Like they scream at the top of their lungs for so long that they can't breathe? We look at those and laugh, thinking "oh children, they've got nothing to worry about and get so excited over the small things. How cute."

Now pause, think about that for 5 seconds and scream, I don't care where you are or what you're doing. It'll be good for you, trust me. If someone asks you why you're so excited/crazy, tell them. Invite them into this kingdom where instead of worry and stress the streets resound with singing and dancing and celebrating, all commanded by God. Why is it that the commandments of God we choose not to follow are those telling us not to fear or be anxious? We're willing to do everything else but we still want to live with fear and anxiety? That's crazy. Let's give it up right now, together and display ourselves as a people so redeemed that they have complete freedom to be joyful and celebrate the glorious work of our God!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Moroccan Adventures

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
Phillipians 2:5-11

I just returned from a missions trip to Morocco with the Navigators at NYU and this passage so deeply explains the hearts of those I worked alongside at the Village of Hope, a childrens home in rural Morocco. The home is not an orphanage but a place where moms who can't take care of their babies (it is nearly impossible for a single mom there) can drop them off. Instead of being crammed into dorms and waiting for someone to come along and adopt them, the children are placed in a family with loving parents and other children. These parents are people from all over, Morocco, Great Britain, The Netherlands and the States who have given up their lives to parent these children. It is a lifelong commitment they make to the Village and their families and they do the work of God with such humility and bold joy that it is impossible to not see Him moving in this place.

The land was incredible, I think its safe to say it was the most beautiful and majestic place I've ever been. I couldn't help but be reminded that the Kingdom of God was reigning there. God created that land before he even created us, before Christianity or Islam were, God was and one day every tongue will declare His glory because of the work these servants are doing there.

The Muslim world is deeply in need of Jesus and to see them bring His love in an unassuming and culturally relevant way was just beautiful. Please pray for them at the Village of Hope ( that people would see Jesus in their work, that more Moroccans would follow him and that God would raise up more workers to dedicate their lives to serving families there. Also pray for me that I would not forget the examples of true servants I saw there and that we would find the simple and overwhelming Joy of the Lord provided for us here in the Bronx too!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Love to Live

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered correctly ; do this, and you will live."

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." -Luke 10:25-37

A few days ago I came home to find a memorial set up by one of our neighborhoods’ local cliques. (Yes, CLIQUE…I detest the loaded alternative.) It upset me a little, and I wondered when the man who was to be remembered had taken his last breath. How did he die? Was it a recent event? Was it a result of a violent crime or was it an accident of some sort? Was justice administered if anyone was to blame? All these and other things rushed through my mind as I quickly scanned the block before retreating through my double-locked door.

I was about to head out for the evening when two of my neighbors came over. Jillian, Sara, and Meredith had all just left for Spring Break, and I would be alone for the next couple of days. When I opened the door, I was embraced by Wifey & Nyah. (Nicknames.) I had not substantially seen either of them in a while, but almost immediately my fears were assuaged. I’m usually very comfortable in solitude, but at that very moment I felt great comfort in their company. It gave me an immediate reminder of how we need each other. At least for me, it’s never necessarily been in tangible or physical ways, but through spiritual, emotional, and experiential means.

Wifey, Nyah, and I reconvened a few times over the last week along with the remainder of what has become our common crew. One of those days was quite a marathon: After a small snack time we went to the park to play, climb rocks, talk about crushes, met new friends, and generally enjoyed the beautiful day God blessed us with. That particular day I was having a tough time, and once again the gift of their company reminded me what it means to love and therefore what it means to live.

When I first moved in, I was so intimidated with the prospect of being so available. I would hear children ringing the door bell and I’d have to take a deep breath before I opened it. I praise God that through the work and fellowship we are constructing here, that he is building the gifts of the love of Christ in me. I think of how even when He would go off to be alone, Christ was always available to the people who called His name. I think of how He has always made Himself available to me, and Heaven forbid I deny anyone an ounce of that kind of love. More importantly, I’ve discovered that I had it completely wrong! To love, as Christ loves us, is to live the most abundant life possible. I thought Christ-like love was entirely martyr-based. But I testify today that I have never felt so great a level of satisfaction as to make my heart burst through my rib cage.

In this house, on this small block in the South Bronx, there is so much love. We are conditioned to believe that happiness comes from what we receive, but I challenge you today that it comes from what we give, and God’s greatest command is to give the gift of love. God wills that we experience life in great abundance, and I suspect that when the lawyer in Luke asked about eternal life, Jesus replied not only in reference to an abundant life after this one, but one in our very own Earthly lifetime.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eat Pray Love (...not the book, what we do)

Tonight the four of us got together for a house meeting, after numerous failed attempts in the weeks past. After going over some of the logistics of who cleans what when, we settled into the juicy stuff. Mainly, we renewed our vision and commitment to our household and neighborhood. We want to be more than just people who live together, and decided to re-commit to fostering our love and relationship for and with each other, by intentionally carving out time to spend together in fellowship. Specifically, praying and studying the Word after making dinner together once a week. Then we spent a very long time praying together about our neighbors & neighborhood, our friends, each other, and praising God for the wonderful ways he has provided for our community. We called down the kingdom to reign on Beekman Ave.

Lately God has been teaching me about the power of prayer. Crazy as it sounds, PEOPLE-- broken, fallible, messed up people-- are the instruments he chose for doing his work on earth. He actually makes our prayers influence history, influence his decisions. There are so many times when God was pissed off at the Israelites and wanted to give up on them, but Moses prayed for mercy and forgiveness, and God lead them through the desert. He "stood in the gap" for Israel.

I didn't actually know what that phrase meant until this weekend when I went to a workshop on intercessory prayer through Trinity Grace Church. It's from Ezekiel 20:33

30 "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."

Freaky, right? When God sees evil, his divine justice demands judgment. But we, through our prayers, can call upon his divine love and grace. It matters when we pray. When we pray we break bondage and free the Holy Spirit to come in and take over. We allow God to implement his will. There are so many things he wants to give us, tell us, show us! If only we should ask.

Another cool text, James 5:13-20:

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

I especially like verse 16. Our prayers are powerful and effective, for we have all been made righteous by Jesus' blood. And so, I invite you to pray with us on the following things:

PRAISE! for lots of stuff, they shouldn't be hard to think of.
That each of us--me, Dewanda, Sara, and Jillian--would grow in deeper intimacy with God and with each other.
That we could begin to dream creatively for ways to bless those around us with God's love through the resources we have been given
For the security guards on our street
For the children of our neighborhood, that God would take away their boredom and apathy and give them dreams to dream, that they would graduate high school and go even farther, and above all that they would meet the Lord and be transformed by him
For the gang members in our neighborhood, the Bloods, that they would be able to find love and acceptance in the arms of the Father and turn away from the myth of redemptive violence
That God would provide employment for many, especially ex-cons who have recently been released from jail, and either see no other life than the one they had before, or have hopes for change but are faced with so many difficulties along the way
For families, that God would teach the men how to be fathers and the women how to be mothers, that children would begin to be trained up in righteousness from birth
For churches and organizations already here, pursuing God's vision for the South Bronx
That God would provide people with new eyes and new hope, to see beyond the death and decay all around to the new world that God is bringing about even as we speak
To break bonds of spiritual oppression and generational sin


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reppin' the Block

Hi Folks,

I hope you're all having a great February. For all of you in the north, it's almost spring! If you are in the south we are so so jealous of the warmth you are experiencing. It's been a different neighborhood since the winter started, everyone has moved inside and we often go weeks without seeing some of our favorite neighbors on the corners.

Last Sunday though it was a pretty warm night (about 45 degrees) and a lot of people were outside when we got home from church. We had all been planning on crashing as soon as we got home but after we saw some of the security guards and our other friends on the way back I told them all I would make cookies and they could come over and get some.

One of our neighbors who we love so dearly is actually one of the guys around here who is a "Blood." This isn't how we know him though and we've come to love him as he was one of the first people to welcome us to the block and often refers to us as "his favorite neighbors." He has opened up to us a little bit more about life on Beekman and on Sunday he brought his cousin over to hang out with us.

They both grew up on the block, spending their childhood summers during the worst days of the South Bronx watching friends and family getting shot all the time and even more people arrested or addicted. Hearing some of their experiences makes it easier to understand the cycle of poverty and violence that affects our streets. No wonder these guys have done serious time and never graduated from high school, when they were little they saw shootings right outside their windows on a regular basis and the bullets even burst into their own apartments on more than one occasion.

For them and so many others joining a gang is not only the expected way of life it's the only way to gain protection and a sense of control over their environment. For these people the Bloods provide all the family and opportunities that the world didn't give them. As they've begun to open up more to us it has really been on my heart to pray for the Bloods on our block. Jesus can break even the ties of gangs on our block and these people can be free from their prisons- both literal and metaphorical. I beg you to pray with us for these dear friends, I can see the binds of Satan breaking as these young men begin to hope for jobs and school rather than drugs and drive bys. It is a hard road though as most have felonies and no education to speak of, so pray with us that we could help them find work and most of all that they would come to know Jesus and be restored by Him. Love, Peace, and Blessings Abundantly from Beekman!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Well kids, I'm here!

I pulled up to 321 Beekman Ave in a cab coming from La Guardia Airport about 3 weeks ago, and even then I knew I was home. I’ve spent my time painting and decorating my room, doing way too much homework, and getting to know the neighborhood. I’ve played with the kids next door a ton, but almost every time they’re over one of them will say, “Wait, you live here?”
And I say, “Yes, silly.”
“For how long? A week? Or forever?”
They have watch a cycle of people come through since Jillian and Sara struggled to find permanent roommates. It is nice to know I’ll be here for a while, at least a couple of years—which seems like forever to the kids. They are SO MUCH fun but also a lot to handle. Even when we have 3 of the roommates home they keep us super busy. All 7 of them need lots of love and attention, which I am glad to give, even if they do tire me out.
Here’s a cute little story: The youngest of the group, age 5, was staring at me kind of funny when she came over one day. I asked her what she was looking at and she said “nothing.” She kept looking so I covered her eyes and tickled her. Later the two of us were playing Candyland, and I looked up from shuffling the deck to see her staring quizzically again.
“Why do you have polka dots on your face?”
Jillian, who was making some mac and cheese, and I shared a confused look and then burst out laughing.
“These are called freckles, sweetie.”

Really, all I have to say is that I am so blessed to be here. It is wonderful to be in a community of strong, beautiful women who are passionate about living the way Jesus did. We pray together every morning and it is a wonderful way to start the day. I am constantly amazed by the awesome spirits of these women. And I am growing closer to each of them as we get to know each other in new ways. I hadn’t met DeWanda before moving in, and spending time with her has been a blast. Sara and I knew each other last year but obviously living together adds a new dimension to our relationship. This is the second time I’ve lived with Jillian and it is great to see how Christ has grown us over the last two years.
One thing I’ve been convicted about since coming back is in regards to spending more time in prayer with Jesus. James 5:16 says that “the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective.” God chose to give us the power to change history through our prayers. What we pray for comes before the throne of God and he listens and considers the words of our hearts. The Lord of the Universe cares about what we have to say. This is comforting and challenging, for if prayer is powerful and effective, we should examine our prayer lives. How much time to we spend praying about ourselves and our friends? Certainly these things should not be ignored, but I was challenged to remember more than just my intimate circle when I am talking to Jesus, but also to pray globally.
Returning to New York brought all the joys I thought it would, from reconnecting with old friends to revisiting my favorite haunts like Think, Joe’s, Esperanto, and Tea Spot. It has also been fun to run into friends from Florence in a different context.
Yeah, I think that’s it. I am so excited to see God continue to flow through our lives, our neighborhood, our city, our country, our world. Amen!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, to the One who gives victory to kings, who delivers his servant David from the deadly sword.

Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.

Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.

Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.

Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.

Psalm 144:9-15 (bold added)

I’d forgotten how to play Candyland. Apparently you draw a card with a color-square on it and move to the next square with the corresponding shade. If there are two color-squares you move twice. Once you add in the candy cane card (and maybe a peanut card or two) you move forward or backwards with the luck of a draw.

I played a few days ago with two of our repeating visitors, and the game disintegrated as the 7-year old boy started arbitrarily jumping blocks. I tried {inserting-a-message-on-cheating,} but I’m sure my attempts to build character fell on distracted ears. While the older girl designed her own Barbie Fashion line on my lap top, our 7-year old friend and I:

1) Danced

2) Played aforementioned game

3) Played “swing”

4) Drew flowers…& portraits…& then rolled up the paper and hit me with it…

5) Ate snacks

It made me remember that most little boys require a lot of physical energy whilst their female counterparts usually require more visual attention. (Sorry if generalizations make you uncomfortable.) He challenged me to be constructively creative, attentive, firm, and physically strong all at once. Most of all, as children do, he called me to be fully present with him in every way possible.

All this occurred as Sara tutored an older girl through an extensive chemistry workbook.

We are back in full force in the South Bronx, with a beautiful new addition in Meredith, and a renewed commitment to community through the love of Christ. We met for breakfast last week to build community inside our walls as we continue to welcome others in.

Today Meredith and I welcomed five of the kids to an afterschool snack and homework session. It was Meredith’s first time with most of the crew, and I’ll let her give her own account. ;) It took a lot of energy, but within a few hours we had five young scholars with completed homework and apple w/ peanut butter filled bellies.

I often find myself playing disciplinarian, but I pray to continue to do so with grace, patience, and the love of God. I admittedly have an agenda: I hope to instill good character so that our time spent here is not self-contained, but proves fruitful for many generations to come.

And yes, an unforeseen candy-cane card might pull us a couple paces back once in a while, but we all keep our eyes on the finish line of victory.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Our Epistle

Hey Friends,

Sara and I spoke at our Navigators large group tonight. We wrote an epistle to our community and since that includes you I though we'd post it here. Its 9 pages long though so it won't actually let me. Maybe we'll do installments or something but if you'd like to read the whole thing just comment and I'll email it to you!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

We're Full!

Hi Friends and Family,

I just heard a fantastic message on the authority that Jesus has won for us in his defeat of death. It's blowing my mind once again that Satan has no power over us nor do the lies of the world because we are claimed under the Kingdom of Jesus! That's not exactly why I'm writing this though. I am writing to let you all know of our final addition to our community...

The lovely Meredith Janke! She'll be joining us on Tuesday fresh from a semester abroad in Florence and I am so beyond thrilled for her unique presence here. She has been such a vehicle of growth and the heart of Jesus to me in the last year and I think she is going to fit in and grow with us in an incredible way.

I am also so thrilled to have a full house finally! I can't believe that we had planned on beginning with four people but its taken us this long to get that, but I know God has determined our comings and goings and I'm so so excited to see what He has in store for us now that he's got us all here! It is really encouraging to see His provision here. Our own community within our home has always been a huge priority for us but with there being only two of us for so long it has not been the way we'd envisioned.

Would you pray with us along the lines of Phillipians 1:9 that our love for each other would grow with knowledge and depth of insight. True community and living with other people is always something to work at and I know God only grows us here so I can't wait! Pray with us also for Meredith as she reintegrates into New York and becomes a part of our community that God would strengthen her and not overwhelm her. Sara will be back from a month away also on Wednesday so it'll be the first time in a while back for us all to be together. Praise the Lord folks, He is good!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Praise the Lord O my soul

Hi Fam,

I hope you all are enjoying peace these days! With the new year I decided to start doing the daily lectionary from the book of common prayer. A bunch of people at Trinity Grace all read the Bible this way and it has been such a blessing these last few days. Just click the title of this post for the link to the website if you want to do it with me!

Also this morning the first Psalm to read was 103 and it just gave me such joy as I started off my rainy day so I thought I'd share it with you all...

1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-

18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

There's really nothing more I could ever say!