Praying for The Dannon Project

So here’s a new post – on a Monday! I’m going to start posting these on Mondays, giving me the weekend to finish them and get them ready to send out. Trying to do it at the end of the work week as I have been doing has not proven to be altogether successful.

The Dannon Project was founded by Jeh Jeh Pruitt and his wife, Kerri, in 1999, following his youngest brother’s murder by a man who had recently been released from prison on a non-violent offense. According to their website bio, Kerri believed that if that man had had a strong support system upon his release, he would have made better choices and perhaps Jeh Jeh’s brother’s death could have been prevented. The Dannon Project (named for Jeh Jeh’s brother) became an official non-profit in October 2003.

Their mission is to “insure maximum utilization of resources in the metro-B’ham area by employing all of the resources in this area, including but not limited to, resources from private charitable sources and from local, state, and federal governments to assist in the development of healthy communities and lifestyles, thereby preventing violence and other at-risk behaviors that lead to unemployment, disease, incarceration, recidivism, premature death and generational cycles of poverty and economic exclusion.” The Dannon Project functions as the “point of contact” within the community to provide supportive services, case management, and referrals. They work youth and adults, male and female, who are considered part of the at-risk population, and those who are non-violent ex-offenders.

Matthew 25: 37-40 – 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Heavenly Father, Your grace and mercy are inexhaustible. “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (I can’t pinpoint the exact reference to that verse at the moment. It’s also a line from a Third Day song.) We praise You because there is no one on earth who is beyond Your love and salvation. You are strong and mighty to save. No one and nothing can thwart your purposes (see Job 42:2).

We pray for the people The Dannon Project seeks to reach. You have a plan for them that includes hope and a future. The enemy has a plan for them that includes destruction and death. We pray that You would rescue them from the kingdom of darkness and set them in the heavenly places in Christ. God, we confess that YOU are the ONLY ONE who can save a life. We ask that You would pour out Your Spirit on this at-risk population. Set them free from generational cycles of poverty and violence. We pray the Truth of Your Word would triumph over the lies they have been raised on.

Lord we pray that You would forgive us, Your Church, for desiring our own comfort over the needs of the least and the lost. Forgive us for writing them off as those beyond Your grace and undeserving of our time and attention – of only thinking about them in terms of the negative impact poor choices make on our society. Cause us to repent of that atrocious attitude that is not what Christ calls us to. Change our hearts and our minds. Move us with Your compassion to reach those who are currently the least and the lost. They are potentially our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are image-bearers of the Most High God. How dare we cast them aside? Oh Lord, make us uncomfortable in our comfy pews until we dare to love those who seem beyond anyone’s love.

Finally, we pray for the Pruitts and the ministry of The Dannon Project. What a testimony of Your forgiveness and grace that they would take such a tragedy and turn it into hope for so many! Bless this ministry, Lord God. Grant them all the provision they need to accomplish their mission. Give them wisdom to know how best to steward their resources and to keep them always focused on You. We pray the Spirit of the Lord GOD would be upon those involved in The Dannon Project, that You would anoint them to bring good news to the afflicted; send them to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners. (from Is.61:1) We pray for all these things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Share with me in the comments how you are being led to pray for the least and the lost or for The Dannon Project.

 

 

Displaying the Works of God

AMBUCS Birmingham was originally founded as a service organization for young business men in 1922 by William L. White. It was the first American Business Club in Birmingham. In 2007, Dave Upton reestablished the Birmingham chapter of AMBUCS to assist individuals with disabilities through providing AmTrykes, which are therapeutic tricycles,  designed by Sue Haywood, PT, in 1989. Today, this organization exists as a non-profit, which, “in the name of Christ, reaches out to children and others with disabilities to create mobility and independence through AmTryke therapeutic tricycles and wheelchair ramps”.

As I was prayerfully considering how to pray, I found this article that I thought was very insightful and encouraging to anyone who has ever dealt with disability of any kind. I recommend you take a minute or two to read it. It’s called “The Top 7 Bible Verses About Disabilities”.

John 9:1-3 – “1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Heavenly Father, You are a good father full of compassion and mercy. You do not deal harshly with us when we are weak. Your glory is not limited by us in any way, and You choose to glorify Yourself when we are at our weakest. What a great, great God You are!

I’m so thankful, Lord, that our society and culture are far more accepting and accommodating to people with disabilities than we used to be, but we still have a ways to go. You have good plans and a purpose for every life You create (Jer. 29:11). Your work in us and through us is not limited by our physical abilities or disabilities. I pray for the children in our communities who are growing up with physical challenges – that they would be valued and loved for who they are by everyone in their lives and who cross their paths. Let them know You as their Savior and Lord, even if they don’t appear to have that capability. Your love and salvation are not limited by our physical or mental capacities. Praise the Lord!

For these children and individuals, and for their parents and caregivers, we pray that You would grant them, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith; and that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled up with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19)

We lift up AMBUCS Birmingham to You, Father, and ask that You would continue to give them the funds and provision they need to serve the disabled community around Birmingham. Raise up partners and volunteers for their bike fairs, advertising, and to help identify those in need of their services. We pray that You would encourage Dave Upton and his team to continue the work You have called them to do. Strengthen them “with power through Your Spirit in the inner man.” (Eph. 3:16) We pray that “the works of God would be displayed in him” (John 9:3), in his team, and in the lives of those they serve. May You receive all the honor and glory for these lives and this ministry. Amen.

If you are a parent or loved one of someone with a disability, I would love to hear how you are led to pray for them. Would you let us know in the comments?

 

 

Praying for New Start Ministries

I apologize for being MIA the last several weeks. March is an incredibly difficult month for me, as it marks my brother’s suicide (5 years ago) and my dad’s stroke (11 years ago). This year those dates fell on the days of the week that they originally happened, and it made it even harder for me because of the way my mind processes these things. I tend to go into a cocoon as much as possible as I honor my brother’s memory and give myself permission to grieve. The farther out from the initial tragedy we get, the harder it is to find permission to grieve from others who don’t understand or who handle grief differently, and that’s okay – hard, but okay. I’m so thankful, though, that God’s grace and strength are sufficient. His compassion is everlasting, and our tears are so important to Him that He keeps them in a bottle and makes a record of them in His book. (Ps. 56:8)

This week we are going to pray for New Start Ministries, directed by Walt Valentine. This organization connects adjudicated youth with a local, faith-based ministry for mentoring, faith enrichment, and a new start in life. They work with the Alabama Dept. of Youth Services to meet with any youth who volunteers for assistance in finding a church in their local community to help them. NSM is a participating mentoring organization with Mentor Alabama.

New Start Ministries give Alabama churches opportunities to make a difference in the lives of youth who want their help to make a new start in life. One of the key ways they do this is through their pen-pal program, in which Christian adults can sign up to communicate to a youth of the same gender in the NSM program through written letters/cards, after going through a screening and training process. If I understand correctly, there are currently only girls involved in this aspect of the program, so they need Christian women to become pen-pals. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, mentored teens are 46% less likely to get into drugs, 59% more likely to get better grades, 73% more likely to raise their goals, and according to a Prison Fellowship study, being mentored reduces recidivism up to 80%! To find out more about the pen-pal program, click here.

Hebrews 12:1-2 – 1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Lord God, there are not enough words to express our awe and delight in You, nor to express our gratitude for sending Your Son to die for us. We praise the One who paid our debt and raised us up to be seated with Him in the heavenly places. You are worthy of all honor and glory and power and blessing! You have redeemed us with Your blood, Lord Jesus, and You are redeeming everything in our lives so that they are for our good and for Your glory. What power! What Sovereignty! What grace! Hallelujah to the Lamb!!

We lift up Walt Valentine and New Start Ministries to You, Lord, and we ask that You would increase their capacity to reach the youth who are involved in Alabama’s Justice System. Give them Your vision for what You have called New Start Ministries to be and to do, and we pray You would also provide them with the funds, the strength, the wisdom, and the volunteers they need to accomplish Your vision. Give them the strength and grace they need to run the race with endurance. Protect their hearts from the many heart-breaking stories and lives they encounter. Keep their eyes fixed on You. If there is anything hindering this ministry, we pray that by Your grace You would reveal those hindrances so that they can be laid aside. Bless New Start Ministries, Lord God, and every life it touches.

We also lift up before You the girls and young ladies who are involved in the mentoring program through New Start Ministries. Most of them have face harder things than we can possibly imagine. All of them carry the scars of the choices they’ve made and the circumstances that led them to those choices. God, You are the Redeemer. We pray that You would turn their scars into stories of redemption, of forgiveness, of amazing grace. Let their identities go from that of “adjudicated youth” to “daughter of the King of Kings”. May the power of the Holy Spirit breath on them through every letter they receive from their mentors. The enemy came to steal these girls’ futures, to kill them, and to destroy any hope they had, but You, Lord Jesus, came to give them abundant life! (Jn. 10:10) In Jesus’ name, we ask that You would cause every encumbrance to their life in You to be laid aside. Destroy every stronghold of fear, of hate, of shame, of addiction, of poverty in Jesus’ name! Deliver them out of the kingdom of darkness and into Your kingdom of Eternal light! Even after becoming Your child, many of these ladies have hard lives waiting on them outside “the system”, and so we pray that You would clothe them by Your Spirit with grace, strength, and endurance to run the race You have set before them. Let them fix their eyes on Jesus as their example and as the One whom their soul loves.

Raise up churches and individuals in our churches to reach out and mentor these youth. Forgive us, Lord, for our complacency and our fear of getting involved in hard things. Fill us with Your compassion that moves us out of our comfort zones and into the battle zone. For those who are already involved, we pray that You would give them Your words to communicate to the young ladies they are mentoring. Give them Your prayers to pray. Equip them to fight for these girls as You call them to. We pray all of these things for Your name’s sake. Amen.

How is the Lord leading you to pray? Feel free to contribute to the “prayer conversation” by leaving a comment.