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!

Nonprofits Summer Prayer Journey – WorkFaith Birmingham

Before we launch into learning about and praying for this week’s nonprofit, I wanted to share with you all what a tremendous blessing each of these visits have been for me. I have come away each week profoundly impacted by the heart of the staff and employees of those ministries to do what God has called them to do and by the work of grace that God is doing through them. Two weeks ago, when we visited The Lovelady Center, our prayer time ended just as their Friday morning devotion time was beginning. They started off by singing along to a recording of “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. Most of us from the prayer time were on a sort of balcony, looking down into the main meeting area, and so we could see all of these ladies who have come from very hard places singing their hearts out to that song. It was an incredible moment I won’t soon forget. That, my friends, is the power of the Gospel on display!

Today we will be praying for WorkFaith Birmingham, founded by Keith Stanley in September of 2013. WorkFaith Birmingham is a Christ-centered initiative designed to help churches join together to address urgent physical and spiritual poverty in the urban areas of Birmingham.

Vision: To create a city where all people can utilize their God-given capabilities to provide for themselves, their families, and others in need while living a life of integrity.

Mission: Helping adults in transition develop confidence and life skills to become employable.

Specialty: They specialize in helping adults in transition develop confidence and life skills to become employable – essentially helping them build a new life of work and faith. There are 4 basic keys to their process:

  • Equip the unemployed to get/keep a job.
  • Develop a biblical work ethic/worldview.
  • Connect them with potential employers.
  • Develop support systems for long-term growth and health.

In 2014, WorkFaith Birmingham graduated 67 students. 58 of those graduated are now employed, which is an 87% success rate!

Eph. 2:8-10 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Dear Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that You have a plan for each one of us. You created us for a purpose, and Job 42:2 says that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. We praise You because You are the Sovereign Lord who has ordained all of our steps. Thank You for the gift of salvation, for creating us in Christ Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for also gifting us talents and spiritual gifts to enable us to fulfill the calling You have for each of us.

Lord, this generation and this culture has largely been deceived into thinking that work is a bad thing. We have all sorts of things we’re encouraged to pursue in order to escape work. Yet, even before the Fall, when Creation was unblemished by sin, You gave Adam and Eve work to do. So work isn’t a burden, it’s a privilege. That truth, however, is getting lost. Lord God, we pray that You would open the eyes of the hearts of people to the truth that work is a privilege and a blessing to be enjoyed. Others want a job, but lack skills, knowledge, education, and other hindrances, and so we thank You, Lord, for raising up an organization like WorkFaith Birmingham to not only address those hindrances, but also to teach them the truth about Your design for work.

We pray for each person who comes into their program to have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ – to know the One who rescued them while they were yet His enemies. We pray that You would use this ministry to instill in them a biblical view of work, and to overcome the challenges that have been holding them back. We pray, Lord God, that You would break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness off of individuals and families, and even off of whole neighborhoods and communities. Establish these men and women on the path You have ordained for them.

We also pray for Keith Stanley and the leadership team and staff for WorkFaith Birmingham. Help them continue to walk in humility and grace towards every individual and situation they face. We pray for wisdom and discernment for them as they walk with their clients and make decisions on behalf of the ministry. We pray that You would also equip them with more finances, more volunteers. Lord, it was such an encouragement to me the first time Eph. 2:10 clicked for me, and to realize that I don’t have to scramble to figure out what I’m supposed to do for the Lord, because You had already chosen the works You wanted me to do. I pray that the staff and volunteers would be reminded that You have already ordained not only their “good works”, but also the good works of each person who comes into their program. Give them creative ideas, solutions, and resources to fulfill all that You have planned for this organization. Meet their every need as only You can, Lord. Amen.

Thank you for joining us for our prayer journey for the non-profits in our city and surrounding areas. Feel free to leave a comment with your own prayers, Scripture passage, or ideas/questions. God promises to hear and answer us when we pray together! Praise the Lord!