Summer Prayer Journey – New Rising Star Community Support Corporation

Welcome to our second week of the Nonprofits Summer Prayer Journey! This week, we are praying for New Rising Star Community Support Corporation. It was founded in 2005 through New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church. I love their motto, which is: “Serving our community with love, loving our community through service.” From their website: Our mission is to enrich the quality of life in the East Lake Community. With loving service we provide education, affordable home ownership, workforce development, and free transportation for seniors. Our aim is to develop a community of choice.” Thomas Beavers, the pastor of New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, is also the director of NRS Community Support.

Matthew 9:35-38
35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He *said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Lord, we praise You because You are gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. You are good to all, and Your mercies are over all Your works. (from Ps. 145:8-9) We are grateful that You have shown us what compassion looks like, not only to be recipients of it, but also how to extend it to those around us. We are Your workers whom You are sending into Your harvest.

The needs in our cities, and particularly in the East Lake area, can seem impossible to overcome. Society in a lot of ways helps perpetuate the cycles of poverty and all the conditions it creates. For too long, the Church, for the most part, sat back and expected the government to be the solution. We confess that a lot of us accepted that thought because it made it easier on us to ignore the problems, and to deny Your calling us into Your fields. Thank You, Lord, for raising up churches like New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, who have taken seriously Your call to be Your hands and feet to the least, the lost, and the lonely.

We pray for their organization, New Rising Star Community Support Corporation, as they continue to serve their community in all their various capacities. Continue to provide them with the volunteers and resources they need to serve. Keep their eyes fixed on You, and arm them with the truth that they are not dependent on themselves to meet the needs around them, but they are simply being the conduits through which You are meeting the needs. May You receive all the honor and glory for what You are doing through this ministry. Protect them from those who would speak against them and their work. We praise You, God, that You are bigger, stronger, and greater than anything that would stand against Your work and Your kingdom.

We pray for the people NRS Community are ministering to. We pray that You would heal them physically, mentally, and emotionally, reveal peace and truth (Jer. 33:6), free them from addiction, provide jobs and a livable income, restore families, cause the elderly in the community to be treated with honor and respect and not like burdens and inconveniences. Set the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6). Shepherd them, Lord, through godly pastors in the community like Thomas Beavers. Most of all, we ask that You would bring people to know You as their Savior and Lord, and we pray that You would use the ministry of NRS Community to that end.

Lord, we also ask You to send more laborers. Raise up more churches. Wake us up, Lord, and open our eyes to see the needs around us, and move us with compassion so that we step out of our comfort zones to meet those needs. We pray for revival in East Lake and revival in Your Church. For Your glory. Amen.

Thank you for praying with me/us. The Nonprofit Summer Prayer Journey won’t meet next week, July 1. You can join us the next Friday, July 8, as we pray for East Lake Initiative.

 

 

 

Praying for Ministry Ventures – A Ministry to Ministries

It’s one thing to have a God-given passion and calling to start up a nonprofit organization. But to figure out how to get it established, how to advertise, how to find your target audience, how to build accountability and an effective board, how to raise  money and/or apply for grants, etc, all while making sure you don’t lose your focus and priority on the One who called you into this adventure in the first place can be overwhelming, to say the least. That is why Ministry Ventures exists. Founded in 1999 by Boyd Bailey, their calling is “Empowering ministries to thrive”. They provide training and coaching around five key areas that help enable ministries to become sustainable organizations. Known as the Five Best Practices, they are: Ministry Model, Fundraising, Board Development, Administration, and Prayer. They are based in Alpharetta, GA, but their National Partnership Director, Mike Flink is based here in Birmingham, and he has worked with nonprofits in our area for a while now.

Psalm 20
1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!
2 May He send you help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion!
3 May He remember all your meal offerings and find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah.
4 May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel!
5 We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.
7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
8 They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright.
9 Save, O LORD; may the King answer us in the day we call.

Lord God, You are faithful and true and merciful over all You have made (Ps. 145:9). You are mighty, all-powerful, and Your strength never fails. You do not abandon us when You call us to step out in faith. As we walk on the water, You are always on the water with us. You send us help when we call on You. You set us securely on high. Lord, we thank You and praise Your name!

We thank You for raising up an organization like Ministry Ventures, to help other ministries and nonprofits become all that You called them to be. Thank You for their record of integrity and for the various experiences You’ve given Boyd Bailey and each of the team members that they can use to help other ministries. We pray that You would give this ministry their hearts’ desire to empower nonprofits to become sustainable ministries that have the tools and knowledge to advance the Kingdom of God in their communities with integrity. We pray that You would “fulfill all (their) counsel” (v.4) through their “Five Best Practices” training so that it would even become an industry standard for nonprofits.

We specifically pray for Boyd and those who help lead this organization. Not just in relation to their ministry, but also in their personal lives, we pray that they would see Your victory. Let them boast in the name of the Lord our God. When the enemy comes against them, set them securely on high, Lord. I’ve seen enough glimpses into the world of ministry leadership that I know it can at times be extremely difficult. Even in those times, Lord, let them keep their eyes on You. Hear and answer them when they call on You, we pray. Let Your steadfast love be their shield and strength.

Lord, we also pray for the ministries here in Birmingham that Ministry Ventures has been helping. Show Yourself strong on their behalf. Encourage and strengthen the leadership and the team members of those ministries. Let them look to You and boast in You alone. God, the enemy is a roaring lion, and I know of ministries that are under attack simply for doing what You’ve called them to do, and some that are struggling with not enough resources, and others who seem to have lost their vision. We plead the blood of Jesus over them and ask You to be their Defense, their Jehoveh Jireh, their Vision. Send them help when they call on You. Cause Your Church to come along-side these ministries to partner with them and to be a source of Your provision and help. Lord, bless the sacrifices these men and women have made in order to pursue Your will for them and for the communities they serve.

We boast in You alone, O God, for to You belongs the Kingdom, all the power, and all the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Praying for Christian Service Mission

This week we are praying for Christian Service Mission. It was founded in 1971 by a man named Johnny Lynch. From the 1980s through 2000, CSM operated Food Source, which networked resources and distributed food every month to 60,000 families across 6 states. In 2006-2009, the ministry went through some organizational and leadership changes and refocused its purpose and ministry. Today, under the leadership of the executive director Tracy Hipps, Christian Service Mission uses an asset-based community development strategy. (You should take a look at that link. I found the explanation and model quite fascinating.) Through relationships with local churches and ministries, they bring together people and resources to change the lives of those in need, using their 80,000 sq. ft. warehouse as a tool in their strategy.

I had the privilege of praying with a small group of intercessors through their facilities just as Tracy Hipps came on as the executive director. It was a powerful time together. That warehouse is impressive. The Lord has used Tracy and his team to do amazing things in our city for the underserved in the last few years. You can sign up to receive their e-newsletter on their website. I’m continually encouraged and impressed with all that this ministry is doing to serve our city.

We’re going to use the Lord’s Prayer as it’s found in Matthew 6:9-13 to help us pray for Christian Services Mission today:
‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

Heavenly Father, there is no one like You. You reign in utter glory and splendor over all of Creation, yet You were so determined to have a relationship with us that You sent Your Son to die for us. You bring salvation by Your own hand, and You uphold it with Your own righteousness. (Is. 59:16) Your purpose cannot be thwarted. (Job 42:2) We give You all the honor, glory, blessing, and praise, because You alone are worthy of it.

We thank You for Christian Service Mission, and their commitment to work to see Your kingdom come in this city. Thank You for the resources You have given them and for the relationships You’ve allowed them to build between communities of resource and communities of need. We pray that You would continue to keep their eyes on You and the vision and mission You have called them to. We pray for unity among their leadership team, their staff, and their volunteers. Empower them to continue to be faithful ambassadors of Your kingdom in our city.

Use them to accomplish Your will for both the communities of resource and of need. We pray that You would protect them from becoming distracted with ideas or goals that are only man-made, and not part of Your will for their ministry, as we are all so prone to do at times. Thank You that Your plan is not to leave these communities in poverty, and that You have called the Church to be Your hands and feet to the least of these. We pray not only for CSM, but also that the Church here in Birmingham would rise up in humility and unity to answer Your call to be a light in the dark places. Use us, Lord, to intercede, to serve, to give, to submit to Your will for us and for our city.

We pray that You would continue to provide CSM with the resources they need to accomplish Your will. Thank You for the huge warehouse You have provided for them. Raise up more partners, more resources, more opportunities. Thank You that we do not have to strive and worry about anything we need, because You are our Faithful Father who loves to give us what we need even before we ask. Because a huge part of their mission is about relationships, we pray for the health of these relationships. Let forgiveness flow freely, and give Tracy and his team humility, discernment, and wisdom to navigate through conflict. We also pray that You would strengthen them and encourage them. Help them to stand firm against the schemes of the evil one. Cover them under Your wings. Be their Strong Tower. Do not let them stumble into any snare of the enemy.

We thank You for hearing our prayers, and we give You all the honor and glory for who You are and what You are doing and for what You will do. In the days we live in, we shout, “Hallelujah!”, to the One who has established His kingdom and His purpose for eternity. Amen.

Praying for Safe Harbor

Even though our summer prayer journey of nonprofits in Birmingham is over, there are still so many great ministries out there that we want to continue “visiting” them and praying for them here. This week, we’re visiting Safe Harbor. As their website states, Safe Harbor is “dedicated to educating communities and restoring families who have youth involved in rebellious behaviors.” It was founded in 1998 by parents who were dealing with the stress, concern, and pain caused by the poor personal choices their own adolescent children. Safe Harbor doesn’t just counsel teens; they work with the whole family, recognizing that the adolescent’s choices affect everyone in the home. Sean Hannon is the executive director.

I feel like we’ve used this same passage before, but I really felt the Lord leading me to this passage to pray out of for Safe Harbor and the families they serve.

Romans 8:37-39 – 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Heavenly Father, You are the glorious One who reigns over all created things. You have dominion over all. When You chose us before the beginning of the world, You determined that no one and no thing could keep us from You. By Your own hand, You have saved us and kept us for Yourself. Yet, You do not do it with an iron fist and hardness of heart. You do it with a heart of compassion, mercy, long-suffering, grace, forgiveness, and faithfulness. Your love is constant, unchanging, unfailing, unfathomable.

We lift up the teenagers who are being served through Safe Harbor. The enemy would do everything in his power to convince them that You do not love them and that You aren’t even real. We pray that the truth would prevail in their hearts over all the lies of the evil one. The devil would also convince them that they have messed up too much, made too many mistakes, for You to ever want them. We thank You that that is also not the truth, and we pray that they would fully realize that truly nothing at all can separate them from Your love for them, because Your love has never been based on ourselves or on our behavior. Your love has always been based on the fact that You choose to love us, and You will not change Your mind. Hallelujah! Father, we pray that You would cast down every thought and imagination, every stronghold in their minds, that is attempting to keep them deceived and without hope.

We also pray for the parents and the siblings of these teenagers who are hurting, confused, and perhaps even feeling like they’ve failed – and maybe some of them have. Thank You, Lord, that failure is not forever. Failure is a chance to start over with more knowledge and insight than we had the first time we tried. We pray that these parents would also know the truth that nothing separates them from Your love, and that nothing separates their children from Your love. Give them strength to love their wayward children with Your love. Give them wisdom to know what that looks like and how to live it out in practical ways. Encourage them. Strengthen them with power through Your Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in them. (Eph. 3:16-17)

You established families. Ephesians 3:15 tells us that every family gets its name from You. It is Your will for them to stay intact and prosper and to be a picture of righteous alignment, and yet we see increasingly that they don’t turn out that way at all. We pray that You would use the ministry of Safe Harbor to help reverse that trend in Birmingham, Alabama. Raise up the mentors and encouragers that work with the families in their Refuge program. Provide the funds they need to continue their work and to expand as needed. Protect their hearts as they see and hear difficult stories and situations, and as not every family walks out of there with a happy ending. Strengthen them to love these families as You love them. Give them continued wisdom, insight, discernment and knowledge into how best to help the teenagers and families that come to them. We also pray for unity among the leadership, the staff, and the volunteers at Safe Harbor. Give them grace toward more unity, more praying together, more of the things that expand their impact for Your kingdom and Your purposes in a supernatural capacity.

We specifically pray for their executive director Sean Hannon as he seeks You and submits to Your will for this ministry. Protect him and his own family as they stand in the gap for others. Give him grace to trust You to fight the battles for him and the ministry, and for all the families that come through there, knowing that You are the Victorious Warrior and through You we are more than conquerors. Give him courage to think God-sized ideas and plans that You give him, and give him patience and faith to watch Your plan unfold in Your perfect timing. Help him keep his eyes on You no matter what.

Thank You for You Word, and thank You for letting it fuel our prayers. Amen.

Non-Profits Summer Prayer Journey – Festival of Hope

Unless your head has been buried in the sand, you know that a huge evangelistic outreach event is happening this weekend. The Greater Birmingham Festival of Hope is being conducted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Franklin Graham has been speaking at these events since 1989, following in the footsteps of his father and his crusades. Each night will feature music by well-known artists and a Gospel presentation by Franklin Graham. Several church and ministry leaders have been working with the BGEA people for over a year to make this event happen The free event will be held at Bartow Arena tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday night. Visit www.greaterbirminghamfestival.org for more details.

Phil. 2:1-11 – 1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Lord God, we humbly and gladly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the only begotten Son of God, the very Word of God who existed before time with the Father. Words cannot express our awe and our gratitude for His obedience, humility, and love which He displayed when He laid aside everything that was rightfully His to become like us and to die for us. We love You, Lord, and we praise Your great name.

Father, our fallen nature makes it so easy to get excited for big events like this festival for all the wrong reasons – reasons that are rooted in pride and selfish interests. We pray that You would rid every leader, planner, employee, and volunteer involved in this festival of those sinful motives. Cause their eyes to be fixed on You. Thank You that through this planning process, the men who have been part of the leadership planning team have sought Your will at every step, even when it could have cost a great deal. We thank You that this event has already been bathed in prayer at every step. We pray that You would honor the intentions of their heart to make this event one that would glorify Christ and further the Gospel in the Greater Birmingham area.

We pray for Your divine protection over every single person who will be involved and/or attending the festival this weekend. We ask that You would not allow the enemy to hinder even one person from getting there. If there are some who plan to be in attendance in order to cause disruption or even harm of some kind, we ask that You would instead set them free from darkness and bring them into Your kingdom of Light through the event this weekend.

We pray for the continued and increasing fellowship of the Spirit among the leadership and among all those who come bearing the name of Christ. Cause us all to be of the same mind, maintaing the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose of magnifying You and bringing lost people to You. Cause every Christian there, from the leaders, the planners, the volunteers to the attendees, to humbly regard others before ourselves. And Lord, even beyond this weekend, cause this event to change our mindsets and perspectives. Lord, compel and convict Your Church in Birmingham to be like Christ – being so radically in love for the lost that we lay aside every right and privilege we have in order to become obedient to whatever You call us to do, to lay down our politics, our dogma, our traditions, our comforts, even our very lives for the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God, for Jesus. God, we pray that our city would never be the same, and that Your Church in this city would never be the same after this weekend.

We pray that in the Greater Birmingham area, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In the name of Jesus and for His glory we pray all of this. Amen.

Favor and Blessing for Birmingham

On New Year’s Day, al.com posted an article by Carol Robinson stating that the homicide rate in Birmingham for 2014 was one of the lowest in decades, at 59 killings, which is 7 less than the year before. Our lowest homicide rate since 1966 was in 2011, with 57. Of those 59, 8 were ruled justifiable so far. While we understand that for the family and loved ones of these victims even one homicide is too many, we rejoice that the rate continues to trend downward in recent years.

They mentioned a few of the other cities we’ve been praying for in the article:

. Bessemer – 2 homicides, down from 5 the previous year

. Hoover – 2 homicides, down from 4 the previous year

. Fairfield – 4 homicides, same as in 2013

. Brighton, Homewood, Hueytown, Pleasant Grove and Warrior – 1 homicide each

In other news, an article on Yellowhammer said that Birmingham was named Best City in America by Movoto, a real-estate website known for making research-based city rankings.

Lord God of Heaven, we know there are still a lot of things that need to be improved on and prayed for around the metro-Birmingham area, but we are so encouraged by these reports. Our prayers have made and are making a difference! You, Lord God, hear and answer us as we seek You for our cities! I think that as intercessors, or those who have a heart to pray for their city, we tend to think that until we have the men and women we like in office, and all the homeless are taken care of and all the crime is gone, then our prayers haven’t been effective. But those are the lies of Satan because it keeps us discouraged, overwhelmed, and really puts too much focus on our prayers and our ability to change anything because we pray. The truth is, as we pray, we are coming before You, the Sovereign Creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Almighty, the Great I AM. You are stepping in and changing things; You are dispatching Your angels on behalf of our towns and cities. You are saving lives and affecting change for our good and Your glory. Hallelujah! Glory to You, Lord!

Lord, I confess that I sometimes grow weary in praying, or I let myself get distracted by being busy. I pray that in this new year, You would give us grace to be more faithful and constant in prayer, keeping our eyes on You and not on the circumstances we hear and read about in the news. Protect us from feeling overwhelmed by evil, by trusting Your perfect plan for us and for the places You have ordained for us to live in and pray for.

Like Paul said in Acts 17:24-28, we acknowledge that You are God of heaven and earth, and You are not served by human hands as though You needed anything, since You are the One who gives to all people life and breath and all things. You ordained the times we should live and “the boundaries of our habitation” so that we would seek You and find You. In You we live and move and have our being. Continue to give us grace to realize how utterly dependent we are on You, so that we would be even more diligent to seek You in all things, and to give You the honor, praise, glory and thanksgiving of which You alone are so worthy.

So thank You, Father, for hearing and answering our prayers on behalf of the metro-Birmingham area. We praise You for the lives that were saved in 2014. We praise You for the favor that is continuing to increase toward Birmingham. It seems that Isaiah 62:4 is coming to pass for this city; it is no longer being called Forsaken or Desolate; instead it is being called a delight and a covenant of righteousness with the Lord is being and will continue to be established. We pray that the entire metro-Birmingham area, all 7 counties and 90 municipalities, will be established in a covenant of righteousness with You. For Your glory. Amen.

What Praying Did

We did it! We prayed for all 90 municipalities in the metro-Birmingham area! It took 100 posts over a year-and-a-half. I was looking back through some of the first posts, and was surprised to see how much the posts changed over time. It was interesting to also notice how one of our smaller towns, Eldridge easily got the most visits – with over 200 in one day! That was amazing!

Kevin, the executive director of Mission Birmingham, of which this blog is an initiative, often reminded me that the goal of this blog wasn’t about readership, follows and comments, but about simply praying for the entire metro-B’ham area, one municipality at a time. As I focused on just praying, I saw how God really gave me His prayers to pray, and we even got to see God working in some of these towns and cities. My prayers also changed. I noticed they became much more evangelistic in nature, which is not my normal “prayer-default”, if you will. It made me wonder what ministries and evangelistic efforts we were coming along-side of through prayer in those cities and towns. We may never know this side of Heaven how God used those prayers, but we can be confident that He heard and answered. As we wrapped up praying through all 90 municipalities, the Lord suddenly started reminding me of His Scriptural promises regarding prayer. Nearly every day over the that week, it seemed I “happened across” another one. I think one of my current favorites is I John 5:14-15 – “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” If you keep that in mind as you look over the posts, and all the things we’ve prayed for the metro-Birmingham area, you should get pretty excited at what God is up to. At least, I do.

I have always loved the City of Birmingham, even from the time I was a little girl. We lived in Bessemer at the time, and whenever we had to drive into Birmingham, I would be in awe at the huge, old buildings, the straight streets laid out in a grid, the parks, all of it, really. I’ve also loved Bessemer, because it was my hometown, and even back then I could “feel” the history emanating from the buildings and streets, even if I was too young to understand it. For instance, I used to think DeBardeleben Park (I think I spelled that right. I hope.) was named for a Spanish explorer, not the man who basically founded the city and contributed so much to the development of the area and the steel industry. But then as I started looking into the history of the towns and cities – with the help of our awesome researcher, Ginny – I became so fascinated by how so many of them in this area were tied together by the steel-making industry or other common denominators. I also fell in love with each one we prayed for. I have long believed that you cannot pray regularly for someone without a them becoming knit to your heart. Apparently, it is also true for places you pray for. I feel so connected to all 90 of municipalities. I would love to have the time to go and explore each of these places in person. Maybe someday….

So as we turn the page of this blog, and start focusing our prayers more on current events and needs in the metro-Birmingham area, my heart is full of thanksgiving to God for allowing us to play a part in His plan for each town and city. I’m grateful to know He has heard our prayers, and will accomplish His will in them as it already is in Heaven. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Is there a particular city or post that stuck with you? If you were with us for most of the journey, did it change your perspective in any way as well? I would love to hear about it if it did!