Back to Writing – and Praying for East Lake

I thoroughly enjoyed making the video for last week and being able to pray out loud instead of in my head and out through my fingers/keyboard. What I did not enjoy was the face I’m making in the frame the video decided to use as the screen-shot thingy. (My brain is not coming up with the right word.) Clearly, I am a novice with the whole video-making thing. If any of you have any helpful hints, feel free to share them! I hope to do more videos from time-to-time in the future – IF my boss approves. Ha!

As you know, these past few months we have been focusing our prayers on the East Lake community in Birmingham. This coming Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7pm, New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting a city-wide prayer gathering for East Lake. Their worship team will be leading us in musical worship, and our prayer times will be facilitated by Pastor Thomas Beavers, pastor of the host church, Pastor Keith Stanley of WorkFaith Birmingham, and Pastor Kevin Moore of Mission Birmingham. Most, if not all, of the ministries we have prayed for this summer will be there. As I keep saying, it will be an incredible evening of prayer, and I hope you will be able to join us!

If you keep track of the local news at all, you probably have heard about the recent shootings in Gate City, which is located in East Lake. One was killed and five were wounded. This community desperately needs our prayers. They need the Lord.

The passage we will be praying out of Wednesday evening is Colossians 1:15-29:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Lord Jesus, You are the Creator, the Ruler, the Sovereign One over every. single. thing in existence. Every nation, every city, every community, every person exists through You and for You. Our eyes are on You because You are our Head. You are the Beginning; You are the One who sustains; in You are “the fullness of the times” (Eph. 1:10). You gave everything to reconcile us to the Father even while we were full of every evil thing. You do not wait for us to clean up before You save us; You save us so that You can set us free from our rotting graveclothes and chains, and so that You receive all the glory that is due Your great name. We praise You, Lord! Hallelujah to the Lamb! You are worthy!

We lift up East Lake, and especially Gate City, this week to You, Lord. We know it grieves Your heart when violence and hate have their way. Yet, in Your Sovereignty, You allow it. In Your power, You are more than able to cause these tragedies to turn to good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. You can take what man meant for evil and turn it for good. So that’s what we’re asking for today, God. Take these shootings and the fear, and the anger, and the grief they bring to this community and turn it into the very things that bring people to trust in the Lord with all their heart, and to stop leaning on their own understanding. Cause them to acknowledge You in all their ways so that You can direct their paths. (from Prov. 3:5,6)

We pray for the ones who are caught up in committing acts of violence. You’ve created them for more than this. You know their stories and what brought to that place of hate, fear, and apathy for life. You know that some of them feel they are too far gone into darkness to ever be received by the Light. God, we beg You to rescue them. Do not let the enemy have his way with them any longer. Cause the power of the Gospel to come fully to bear in their lives. This is not too hard for You. Your arm CAN save. Your mercy IS that deep and wide. Gun-control policies cannot save lives, rallies can’t change people, not even well-meaning charities can change someone; ONLY YOU CAN GOD! Do what only You can do for these men and women, for Gate City, and for the East Lake community. IN YOUR ALMIGHTY and GLORIOUS NAME we ask this, Jesus. AMEN!

Instead of a blog post….

I made a video! Actually, I made two. One is a Facebook Live video that you can see on our City on its Knees page on Facebook. I like this one better. It is by no means of great quality, and I did it “as is” – no make-up, hair not really fixed. In it, I invite you to the city-wide prayer rally on Sept. 21 at 7pm at New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church. I also share some things God has been reminding me of this past week or so, and I invite you to pray with me for a couple of minutes. I hope it ministers to you.

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.