Summer Prayer Journey – The Lovelady Center

This is our third week in Mission Birmingham‘s Summer Prayer Journey for Nonprofits. We had a wonderful time in the Lord last week as we prayed at The Foundry in Bessemer. I’m noticing one problem though: the Lord is convicting me and changing my heart towards those that our society has cast aside. I’m guilty of being too comfortable in my pew at church to put much thought into those whose lives have been shattered by addiction, abuse, and poverty. At most, I think when I did think about those men and women, I would think that someone else was called to do something about it. Well, that’s a lie. The Lord has called you and me to be His hands and feet to the lost, the hurting, and the dying. They are not beyond the Father’s love, and so He calls us to rescue them. I don’t know what that is supposed to look like for me just yet, but I know it starts with praying for them.

This week, we are visiting The Lovelady Center, which was founded in 2002 by Brenda Spahn in her own home. Brenda felt a call on her life to help women leaving the prison system to successfully re-enter society. The ministry was originally called Freedom Rain Ministries. In 2004, the ministry was able to move into the East Lake Memorial hospital property, and the name was changed to The Lovelady Center, after Brenda’s father, James Lovelady. According to their website, this ministry empowers women, though faith-based initiatives, so they can return to society as well-equipped women of God. They strive to ensure each woman is taught how to overcome barriers to success by providing access to needed services.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 – “14 Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You will fear disaster no more. 16 In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. 17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (That last verse is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible.)

Lord, we rejoice in You! You are our salvation and our Deliverer. It says in Col. 2:14 that You have canceled out the debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us. You have taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Hallelujah! Worthy is the Lamb!

Lord Jesus, I pray that every woman and child who comes to The Lovelady Center would come to know You. Thank You that every one of Your judgments against them You have taken away through Your blood. May they know that they are redeemed. Silence the lies of the enemy that would try to convince them they can never change or don’t deserve redemption. Set them free from the enemy of their souls and from every chain he has entangled them in. I pray that every lady in this ministry, and every employee and volunteer, would see You, Jesus, in their midst. These ladies need a hero, and You are the True Hero. You are the Victorious Warrior. Hallelujah!!! Let these ladies and their children know that You exult over them with joy. Quiet them, give them peace, in Your love. Let them hear You rejoicing over them with joyful shouting. May Your joy over them break every yoke that has them bound. Set them free to dance with You, Jesus.

Lord, we also pray for the leadership and staff of The Lovelady Center. Their jobs can be so rewarding, but also so challenging at times, I’m sure. Let them also know that You are rejoicing over them, and that it is You who fight their battles. We pray that they would seek You first in all things, and that by Your Spirit, You would use them to display Your quiet love and Your exuberant joy for the ladies in the program. Lord, we recognize that programs and plans can only get a person so far, but for true and lasting change, it has to be done by Your Spirit. We also know that it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of that truth when we’re in the trenches. So we pray that the leadership and staff would keep their eyes on You, not only letting You fight their battles, but also trusting Your work in the lives of each lady there. We pray for fruit that remains.

Jesus, we pray that You would raise up Kingdom resources for The Lovelady Center. Be their vision and their provision. Be their guide and protection. Let them not fear disaster or hindrance from the past. Clear away every effort of the enemy to come against them. Do not let their hands fall limp in fear or exhaustion or lack. Be their strength and their warrior. Let them see the salvation of the Lord on their behalf. (2 Chron. 20:17, another one of my favorites) King of Israel, be in the midst of this place – the physical building, the ministry operations, the finances, and the hearts and lives of each person connected to this ministry. Amen.

We would love it if you would like to join in with our prayers by leaving your own in the comments section. It could just be a verse or a thought as well. We won’t be visiting a non-profit next Friday. Join us the following Friday, July 10, as we pray for WorkFaith Birmingham.

The Foundry Ministries – The Next Stop on Mission Birmingham’s Summer Prayer Journey

Welcome back to the Summer Prayer Journey for Nonprofits, facilitated by Mission Birmingham. We encourage you, if you can, to join us in person each Friday at 7am at a different nonprofit. To find out which nonprofits are coming up, follow Mission Birmingham on Facebook. Last week, we had a wonderful time together at Jimmie Hale Mission, as we prayed out of Psalm 107. Next week, June 26, we will be meeting and praying at The Lovelady Center.

This week, we are visiting and praying for The Foundry Ministries. Founded in 1971 as the Bessemer Rescue Mission by Sam Reynolds, the vision for The Foundry Ministries is “permanently transformed lives through Christ-centered ministries.” Their mission is “to restore hope and rebuild lives the of the addict, the ex-inmate and the destitute through Christ-centered Recovery, Re-Entry, and Rescue.”

This ministry was founded in 1971 as the Bessemer Rescue Mission by Sam Reynolds. Rev. Bob Bell, himself a recovered alcoholic, was the first executive director. Below is a brief timeline of their recent history. I didn’t include all of it from their website because of time, I encourage you to take time to read through the whole amazing timeline on their website when you get a chance, and marvel over how much the Lord has done on behalf of what society would consider “the least of these”.

  • 1992 – Bessemer Rescue Mission opens shelter for homeless women
  • 1996 – Rev. Bill Heintz becomes the executive director. Acknowledging one of the reasons for homelessness is drug and alcohol abuse, they desired to provide more than warm beds and hot meals. They wanted to offer those in the grip of addiction the tools to permanently transform their lives.
  • 1997 – In the first of many miracles, the ministry purchased First Alliance Church, which was renovated for their long-term Recovery program. This first miracle of many helped pave the way for tremendous growth in the coming years. Bessemer Rescue Mission becomes The City of Hope.
  • 2004 – City of Hope changes its name to The Foundry Rescue Mission and Recovery Center. The ministry’s SuperThrift Outlet becomes the largest thrift store in Alabama, generating funds for the ministry and providing training opportunity for residents.
  • 2005 – The Foundry takes over Re-Entry Ministries to provide men leaving the prison system a safe haven and opportunity to transition back into society as productive citizens.
  • 2014 – The name is updated to The Foundry Ministries to better reflect the vast scope of their programs and services. A collaboration is formed with Changed Lives Christian Center (CLCC) in Birmingham to enhance services to residents and expand outreach to that area’s homeless and near-homeles.

To find out more about this incredible ministry and how you can be involved through prayer support, giving, or volunteering your time, please visit The Foundry Ministries website. I read through the bios on the leadership team on their site, and Leslie Freeman, the Senior Director of Operations and Development, said her study of Isaiah 58 helped shape her life’s calling. I thought it would be fitting to pray out of that passage ourselves for this ministry. Instead of typing it all out for you (or copying and pasting it), I will simply include the verse reference where needed.

Lord, You are the God of mercy. You call Your people to care for the broken, the hungry, the homeless, the hurting and hopeless. You have compassion on those whom society has thrown away. You adopt them and set them with Christ in the heavenly places, so that You can show the riches of Your grace to them. (Eph. 2:6-7) Apart from You, we were all children of wrath, and You died for us while we were yet sinners – Your enemies. What amazing compassion! What love! What amazing grace!

Isaiah 58:6 says that the fast which You choose is to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke. Forgive us for our religious fasts and outward acts of righteousness even while we neglect those who are slowly starving to death around us, or who are being choked to death by the bonds of their addictions. Thank You, Lord, for raising up ministries like The Foundry to be Your hands and feet to these men and women. We praise You for the incredible growth You have blessed them with over the years, not for their own prestige, but because it increased their capacity to serve the ones You’ve called them to serve. We pray You would mobilize Your Church in and around Bessemer to come along-side this ministry, filling the volunteer positions, and giving Kingdom resources. Cause us to have Your compassion towards the men and women who are struggling through addictions or poverty or homelessness.

We pray Isaiah 58:10-11 for The Foundry Ministries – that as they give themselves to the hungry and satisfy the desires of the wicked, You would cause their light to shine in the darkness, and their gloom to become like midday. We pray that You would continually guide Rev. Heintz, his wife, their leadership team and staff in Your wisdom and counsel. Satisfy their desire in the scorched places, whether they are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual places. May the Living Water from Your Word and by Your Spirit flood into every dry place in their lives and ministry. Give them strength by Your might and power, and let them see much fruit from their labors. For every life that comes into their ministry, we pray for fruit that remains.

Lord God, we pray Is. 58:8 for the men and women The Foundry serves. Let the light of Your truth set them free from the darkness and deception of their bonds. We pray that their recovery and restoration would speedily break forth. Let them exchange their filthy rags for garments of salvation and robes of righteousness. Go before them, Lord, and make their path straight and clear. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to see the path You have ordained for them after being on paths of such pain and destruction. Give them strength by Your Spirit in their inner man to walk that path of righteousness. We pray the glory of the Lord would be their rear guard.

We also pray that the work that is being done at The Foundry would impact the city of Bessemer and surrounding areas. We pray that as You restore lives at The Foundry, it would in turn cause the city to be restored. Restore the streets to be safe and pleasant places in which to dwell. Let the breaches in families, in neighborhoods, and in the city itself be repaired through the work The Foundry is doing. (from Is. 58:12)  We pray that You would also remove the yoke of oppression from the midst of Bessemer, the pointing finger and speaking wickedness. (Is. 58:9) Establish this city in righteousness, truth, and freedom, and use the ministry of The Foundry, and others like them, to that end.

Because You are the God who can do all this and so much more, we thank You and praise You. Because You alone are worthy, we worship You with our lives. Show us how to pour ourselves out for You. For Your glory and for Your kingdom, Amen.

Birmingham NonProfits Summer Prayer Journey – The Jimmie Hale Mission

Remember last week I talked about God’s perfect timing with this blog, and how His timing worked out what I thought was my delay so that we prayed for Aspire Movement at the same time they were the highlighted ministry of the month at The Garage in Pelham AND when their director, Jason Williams, is recovering from a bicycle accident? Well, there’s more! Mission Birmingham is helping to organize a summer prayer tour of our non-profits. Every Friday morning, at 7am, everyone who loves to pray is invited to join them at a different non-profit location each week to pray for that ministry, its staff, and clients. In conjunction with that, City on its Knees will be praying for that week’s non-profit here on the blog. You can join us in person and/or on the blog here! How cool is that?!

The first ministry on our journey is The Jimmie Hale Mission. (Yes, it’s “Jimmie”, not “Jimmy”.) Jimmie Hale was known as the town drunk until he received Jesus as his Savior, and it turned his life around. He had a desire to share God’s life-changing love and to open a mission where homeless men could receive help and hope. In March 1944, Jimmie and his wife, Jessie, founded The Jimmie Hale Mission. Sadly, in November of that year, Jimmie died from health complications. Jessie worked for the next ten years to keep the mission opened. Then, in 1954, the Lord brought Leo Shepura to help lead the ministry, and they worked together for the next 36 years. In 1990, Tony Cooper became the executive director, and still is today.

The Jimmie Hale Mission has seen thousands of lives transformed by the Gospel over the years, and has grown to include many components to their mission, such as Shepura Men’s Center, Jessie’s Place (for women and children), Regal Pines Centers, Stewart Learning Centers, Discovery Clubs, and Mission Possible Bargain Centers. Find out more, including how you can get involved, by visiting their website.

Heavenly Father, the verse that comes to mind right now is Job 42:2, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” When Mr. Hale died just a few short months after starting this mission, no one would have blamed his wife for closing up shop, so to speak. After all, she as expecting their first child when he died. Instead, You have allowed this mission to continue for 71 years now(!), and have grown it to be so much more than it was in the beginning. Your purposes for The Jimmie Hale Mission, and for all those whose lives have been touched by it, were not thwarted. Praise the Lord!

We pray for Tony Cooper and the leadership team at the Jimmie Hale Mission to continue to be humble men and women led by Your Spirit in all that they do. Give them grace and capacity to minister to each person that comes into their mission. Protect them, Lord, and strengthen them so that they do not become weary in doing good. Encourage them with the eternal fruit they see harvested in the lives of the people they are investing in. Give them wisdom, counsel, and discernment to know and do Your will in the operation of this ministry and in their own personal lives. Show Yourself faithful on their behalf. Please continue to bless and prosper this ministry.

Father, we lift up the men, women, and children who come to the Jimmie Hale Mission for help and hope. Lord, we know You have a good plan for their lives, because Jeremiah 29:11 says You do, but the enemy has tried to steal, kill, and destroy those plans and even their very lives. (John 10:10) Father, because of the blood of Jesus Christ, tear down the strongholds in their lives and bring them into relationship with You. Give them grace for all their sin, and let them know that they are wrapped in righteousness and dignity. We pray that You would restore fathers to their children. Restore children to their parents. Restore women to places of dignity and safety. Restore mothers to their families. We declare, in Jesus name, that the Lord’s plan for them will not be thwarted, because He can do all things. (Job 42:2)

Heavenly Father, You can do all this and so much more, and so we trust how You are going to answer, and how You are already working through this ministry. We give You all the honor and praise for it. Amen.

 

Praying for Aspire Movement

When I get behind on blogging, it’s easy for me to beat myself up about it. However, most of the time, the Lord shows me that somehow, by His grace, it’s still on His timetable. This is one of those times. This ministry we are praying for today was the next in the order on my list. It “just so happens” that The Garage in Pelham is highlighting the Aspire Movement this month, donating a portion of their proceeds to that ministry. Today, I found out that the founder and director of Aspire Movement was in a serious bicycle wreck a couple of weeks ago, crashing while going 35-40mph downhill. He is recovering from fractured bones in his back, neck and ribs, a punctured lung, and over 50 stitches on his face from multiple cuts. It is a miracle he was not killed or paralyzed! He needs our prayers for quick and complete healing.

Founded and launched in 2010 by Jason Williams, the Aspire Movement is a ministry that mentors urban youth, helping them make good choices and developing them into tomorrow’s leaders. I love the way they sum up part of their mentoring goals on their website, “to (help the youth) minimize poor choices and maximize good choices.” It’s such a great focus on not being perfect, but responsible. They currently have mentors at CJ Donald and Robinson Elementary, Restoration Academy and Cornerstone. They have also added an after school component of a Bible and Tutoring Club where they promote reading enrichment through Christian books and resources. The people at Aspire desire to see God glorified and lives impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while helping to develop the next generation of urban leaders. Find out more by checking out their website.

Father, first of all, I want to thank You for Your grace that allows these posts to go up when You want them to. By Your grace, You choose to use my blogging delays to line things up according to Your plan and purpose, which is so humbling and amazing. You are such a gracious God, who is worthy of all of our praise. Psalm 145 has been on my mind and heart a lot lately, and I love the way it praises the Lord, “I will extol You, My God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable……on the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works I will meditate.” (There is SO much more I would love to type out, but it’s 21 verses long, so I will simply strongly encourage you to read it and pray through it.)

Verse 4 says, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” That is exactly what the men and women at Aspire are doing. The urban culture tends to be locked into cycles of poverty, fear, and anger. Lord, we pray that You would empower these mentors to declare Your mighty acts to the boys and girls they mentor, and in so doing, Your Spirit would enable these young people to see beyond their current circumstances to the plans You have for them. Give them faith to trust that those plans are “to prosper them and not to harm them, to give them a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11) Father, use these men and women to reveal Yourself to the young people they minister to, and cause that revelation to transform them.

I love Aspire’s focus on making more good choices and fewer bad choices, as it is such a great reminder of Your grace. Let these young people see that You, Lord, are “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.” (Ps. 145:8) It’s counter-cultural to what they see and hear around them, but let that powerful truth wash over them, and let them see it in action through their relationship with their mentors at Aspire. May Your grace for them and to them bind up whatever wounds they carry in their hearts, so that they can live lives that are healed and whole.

Lord, we pray that You would raise up the funds, the volunteers, and open doors into schools and communities so that Aspire can advance the calling You’ve put on them. We pray that You would continue to motivate and encourage the people who have chosen to invest their lives into these young people. While it is mutually rewarding/beneficial/transformational, it can at times be hard, I would imagine. We pray that You would be a shield about them, Lord, and the lifter of their heads (Ps. 3:3), especially when things get hard. Let them walk in Your wisdom and understanding, in Your counsel and strength, and in knowledge and fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2), and in turn, Lord, teach these young people how to do the same.

We lift up Jason Williams, as he recovers from this bad bicycle wreck. We thank You and praise You that there were not more serious injuries. Sustain him, Lord, as he is on the long road to recovery. Give his wife strength and grace as she takes care of him while also carrying an extra load of responsibilities. Give them both wisdom as there are so many details in getting through each day that need to be taken care of right now. (These are specific requests he had on his Facebook page.) We pray that You would use this to minister to them, for their good and for the good of Aspire Movement, and especially for Your glory and the advancement of Your kingdom. We are grateful for Your promise in Ps. 145:18 that says You are near to those who call upon You in truth, and we pray that the Williams family would know the truth of that promise right now, and we pray that You would destroy every effort of the enemy to take advantage of this season of recovery. (from Ps. 145:20)

We thank You for Your Word, Lord God, and for being able to pray Your words back to You. We will bless Your name forever and ever. (Ps. 145:21). Amen.