An Encouraging Word

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Thank you for reading our blog. In the coming weeks leading up to Christmas you will be reading our advent series, Who Jesus Came For. At the end of each blog post, we will present you with a challenge to share God’s love. The first in this four-part series is about Mary.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” Luke 1:26-28

Can you imagine what this must have been like? It was shocking to say the least. Mary was troubled by it herself; she wondered what this could mean.

The angel assured: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

What?! Not only was she going to be pregnant without “knowing a man,” but the Baby – God’s Son - would be the ruler of the world? For Mary this was surprising for she was just a young woman in a time where women were not considered to be of high importance.

To really put yourself in Mary’s sandles, take a moment to travel back to her time. According to www.bbc.co.uk, Jewish women in first century Palestine had “very limited legal and economic rights.”

  • A woman’s earned wages would go to the man of the household.

  • Women didn’t have the right to divorce, but the husband could. In fact, most inheritances that she received would go to her husbandand he’d keep the children.

  • Women were betrothed to marry - the choice of husband was made by the family, not by the girls themselves.

In this society, women were the lowest in their household. Yet, God chose to bring the good news of Jesus’ coming first to a woman.

It was unexpected. It was counter culture. And it was done in great love and power. God certainly cared for the women in Mary’s time period.

Centuries later, in America – the land of the free – women are considered to be equal among their male counterparts. Still, there are struggles. Women are sometimes treated as if they’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Some deal with mistreatment byturning to drugs and living on the streets. Some even fall victim to human trafficking – their bodies sold for another’s profit.

They may seem to be the lowest of the low. But just as the Lord loved women in the times before Jesus’ birth, He loves these women even more dearly.

Today He reaches out to these women… through you… to show them love in practical ways and to offer them hope for a new life in Christ Jesus. Our STORM bus ministry operates Tuesdays and Fridays, to help and care for women living on the streets in Price Hill. Visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved for more information on volunteering.

Follow Gabriel’s lead this Christmas season, bless these women with the good news of Jesus. After all, they are indeed the one’s for whom Christ came.

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“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24

Tis the season to be thankful.

Here are some tips on how to count and remember your many blessings.

    1. Scatter reminders of encouragement around you throughout the day. Simply write your blessings on a post-it note and stick them on your bathroom mirror or around your car dashboard.
    2. Keep a journal. You can be as detailed or brief as you like. Take a notebook and just write down your blessings. Work on this each day. Maybe set aside a few minutes  in the morning or before bed. If you keep a daily planner or calendar, just write something from that day.
    3. Share with your family and friends. When you break bread, take a few moments to tell those around you at least one blessing from that day or your life.
    4. Pray. Be a blessing to God’s heart and let Him know how grateful you are for all He has done for you, is doing and will continue to do.
    5. Take an old glass jar and small strips of paper. Write down your blessings form the day and put them in the jar. See how full the jar gets. At the end of the year, read all your notes.
    6. If you have kids, grab a large sheet of poster or foam board and draw a tree. Cut out a set of 30 or 31 leaves out of colored construction paper (one for each month). Encourage your children to write a blessing each day and put it on the tree.
    7. Remissness. Take some time every once in a while to reflect on your life. Remember all the good things you’ve experienced and look at how far you’ve come.

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If there’s anything you can learn from Britni Taylor’s story, it’s that it takes time.

“Consistency and longevity are critical components in the success of this ministry,” Price Hill Lord’s Gym chaplain Brandon Welch said.

According to Brandon, Britni is living proof of this. He first met Britni four years ago while he was driving the Lord’s Gym Bus, a ministry that serves women on the streets in Price Hill.

It was a rainy day when Britni caught her first glimpse of hope.

“I was so hungry I needed help and there was a bus that came to my rescue,” she said. Britni boarded, but didn’t say much. She simply grabbed a snack, drink and hygiene items.

“She had been on the streets for years,” Brandon recalled. “She was very angry, she was hard and emotionless. You see, heroin and other drugs and circumstances have a stronghold on these women. They have been beaten down. But, we know there is hope. Again, there is hope.”

Britni, for example,  took her first drink when she was 16 and “everything went downhill.”

“I started to use harder drugs,” she said. “I was looking for a way out of the trauma that I've been through in my life. When I was a little girl I was raped every day until I was 16. I felt so alone.”

Her life spiraled out of control.

“I started to mess with older guys trying to find someone to love me because I couldn't find love at home. Eventually I was out on the streets.”

Wrapped up in addiction she eventually lost her kids. She lost everything.
   
“I was so bad on drugs and running around midnight until dawn,” she said.

Brandon and the ministry team spent years building trust with Britni and speaking life over her.

“Little by little I witnessed the love of God pierce through that rough exterior and soften her heart, giving her hope for what life would look like off of the streets,” Brandon said.

About a year ago Britni showed up at the Price Hill gym and said: “I’m ready.”

She entered a recovery program and has been clean for more than a year. She’s working to get involved with her  kids and putting her life together.

“If it wasn't for Lord's Gym, I wouldn't have  had somewhere to eat somewhere to get clothes, or somewhere to find God,” Britni said. “They saved my life.”

 

*Britni's story first appeared in our end of the year newsletter.

 

 

If you'd like to be apart of lives transformed, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

 

Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

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A Price Hill dad, really appreciates Lord’s Gym Ministries’ activities for youth. the “comradery and the kids get to learn something new.”

(The activities are) a great way to get the kids off of the street and do something positive,” he said. “We absolutely appreciate the activities, comradery and that our kids get to learn something new.”

Two popular activities this past summer, were road and mountain biking. With the generous help of Wish for Wheels, a nonprofit that gives brand new bicycles and helmets to kids in low income communities, the activity of biking will be experienced by more kids.

Wish for Wheels was brought to the Cincinnati by Arington Foundation, a nonprofit organization and a private foundation, with the mission to spread the love and gospel of Jesus Christ by putting Christian values into action. The Foundation selected Lord's Gym to distribute the bikes.

A total of 100 black and yellow Huffy bikes and 100 blue helmets were given to second-grade students in Price Hill.

These bikes will provide hours of fun, exercise and adventure.

One of our parents, whose son played on the Lord’s Gym Titans’ tackle football team received a Wish for Wheels bike. (All of the second-grade football players received one of the new bikes.) The father of that player said that the football season helped his son to grow, have fun, and got him away from his video games. The bike will continue this growth.

A mother of a bike recipient said: “This is a real blessing. I really appreciate you guys.”

It has been a joy handing out the bikes,” Executive Director Scott Bowers said.

If you'd like to be apart of Lord's Gym Ministries, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

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Ryan's favorite thing about playing on the Lord's Gym Ministries football team, The Titans, was tackling.

"I like that I get to tackle," the study stout 8-year-old said. "I made friends too and my coach was really nice."

His grandmother Salina, said the football program has been a real blessing, in not only Ryan's life, but her life.

"I have loved this for him," she said. "He gets so excited playing and he loves his coach. This is really a great thing for our young people."

The Lord's Gym Titans and their families celebrated the season last week with a football banquet complete with dinner and trophies for each player and cheerleader.

Volunteer coach Erik is impressed with how the program brought the entire community together.

"I've loved working with the kids," he said. "It's been great showing them how to play, but also helping them find the right path in life. This has made a difference in their lives."

If you'd like to get involved with the Titans as a sponsor, coach, volunteer or supporter, please contact Lord's Gym at www.focas-us.org.

 

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"Let's go Titans, let's go!"

On Sunday, Oct 27, Elder High School hosted the Lord's Gym Titans, of Price Hill. The football team of children ages 6 to 7 played at the "The Pit" in their first ever championship game. They were up against the Baby Dawgs of neighboring Evanston.

It was a well fought game although the mighty Titans came up short to finish in a respectable second place for the season.

It is really a success for all of the teams, parents, and coaches in this league. The kids and coaches have been at it since the first week in June. They stayed the course for five months and did not quit or give up. You cannot learn a more valuable life lesson!

Great job!

If you'd like to get involved with the Titans as a sponsor, coach, volunteer or supporter, please contact Lord's Gym at www.focas-us.org.

 

 

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See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! John 3:1b

There once was a man walking along a road wearing a heavy jacket.

The wind whispered to the sun, "I bet I can get that jacket off of him."

The sun smiled bright. "Sure, give it a try."

So the wind took a deep breath and blew toward the man. The man lowered his head and pulled his jacket tighter around him.

The wind blew harder with all its might. The man clinched his jacket even tighter and pressed on in his walk.

"I couldn't do it," the wind said surprised.

The sun, again smiled and replied "Let me try."

The sun glowed and its warmth surrounded the man in the jacket. The man paused from his walk,  took off the jacket and slung it around his arm.

"There," said the sun. "All it took was some warmth."

This little story can be applied to real life. To get the jacket off, coldness didn't work. The harder the wind blew the more the man hung to the jacket determined to keep warm. However, some warmth and the man willingly slipped off the jacket. We need to be sunshine to others. If we want to see them shed their rough exteriors, get into recovery and change their lives... we need to show them love.

Think of how Jesus loves you. How He calls you, how we treats you. Spread the warmth.

Start by being a part of of Lord's Gym Ministries, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

 Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

 

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Price Hill second-grade students will receive more than a bicycle later this month.

According to American social reformer and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony: “She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.”

The statement is true for boys, as well.

In a short while, Lord’s Gym Ministries, with a generous donation from Wish for Wheels, will be distributing 100 black and yellow Huffy bikes and 100 blue helmets. Wish for Wheels is a nonprofit that gives brand new bicycles and helmets to kids in low income communities.

Wish for Wheels was brought to the Cincinnati by Arington Foundation, a nonprofit organization and a private foundation, with the mission to spread the love and gospel of Jesus Christ by putting Christian values into action. The Foundation selected Lord's Gym to distribute the bikes.

These bikes will provide hours of fun, exercise and adventure.

(The bikes will also) impart life lessons as our kids have will use their bike rides as a real life metaphor in their own life,” Executive Director Scott Bowers said. “If you expect to get where your destination, sometimes you just have to keep going even when you don’t feel like it.”

Many volunteers were gathered together through Arlington Foundation last weekend to build the 100 bikes. These bikes will be distributed later this month to Price Hill second-grade students at the Lord’s Gym Family Activity Center.

The special gift will bring great joy and help fulfill Lord’s Gym and Wish for Wheels’ goals to broaden these children’s scope for personal growth and a health lifestyle. The bikes will also serve as a reminder that God loves them and provides.

 

If you'd like to be apart of Lord's Gym Ministries, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved ; to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

 

Follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym) and Instagram (focas.lords.gym).

 

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You read that right. There really is a mango in Japan that was purchased for a hefty $5,000.

Japan is actually well known for its luxury fruits sold at auction for big big bucks.

According to a YouTube program, Only In Japan, in Miyazaki, mangoes sell for $5,000. That’s quite a leap from the $1 mangoes at Aldi’s. But, how can a mango be worth so much? Is it the taste? The size? The smell? The color? The farmer? Or a grand marketing scheme?

There is a deep respect for the farmers from the buyers and the stores that sell these luxury fruits. These fruits do indeed stand out from the rest, as they are grown to be the best of the best.

So, how do you grow a $5,000 mango.

You plant the seed. You wait. Once they begin to blossom, you study the vine to find the best and you prune the rest. This enables those bests to grow even bigger and tastier, ergo better, perhaps $5,000 better.

It’s interesting to think of this nurturing process involves. Think of the pruning. So many baby mangoes are cut. It can’t be easy to make such cuts, but it’s necessary to get the best of the best.

This is much like how God works in our lives. In John 15, Jesus says: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

That can be hard to swallow. Pruning can feel so cruel at times. The trials you face in life can cut deep.

So, why is a loving God pruning you? So you can grow to be the best of the best.

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There’s a two-bedroom brick ranch in Roselawn that has been “such a blessing.”

 

Lord’s Gym Chaplain Steve Peterson speaks with pride when he talks about his home – the first he’s ever owned.

 

“It’s a comfortable place,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s my last stop. I’m pretty sure she’s going to last another 30 or 40 years.”

 

Steve purchased his home in 2015.

 

“There’s a lot I like about owning my own home,” he said. “I guess I like best the freedom of being able to do what I want, how I want to my space. It’s also brought me more stability.”

 

This sense of pride and stability are the foundation of Lord’s Gym Ministries Home Ownership Initiative.

 

"Home ownership offers stabilization, security and a sense of pride," Senior Project Manager Bob Clarke, who’s heading the project said. "This initiative will allow the Lords Gym to work close with our friends and mentor them through the process - building relationship."

 

So far, about 20 individuals or families are in the program.

 

The goal, Bob said, is to work with these individuals and families and help them set a goal and plan out how to stay on task so that they can reach that goal.

 

“This helps people stay more focused,” he said. “It also issues some accountability.”

 

Best of all, “it opens the door to general life coaching.”

 

The process, Bob said, will take time.

 

“A lot of the guys we work with haven’t had the benefits we have had growing up, like a family that encourages home ownership or knows about home ownership,” Bob said. “So, we’ll be providing insight on what it means to own a home, how to go about it and how to care for it.”

 

Bob said it’s all about building a relationship like a family.

 

“In that context, I can share from my own experiences to a friend and they can understand why home ownership is a helpful investment, how it can provide stabilization and a sense pride and fun.”

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Lord's Gym Ministries' mission statement begins with the word "GO."

"GO to people in need in Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods."

If you've been keeping up with the news of late, you know that these neighborhoods are getting more and more violent and deadly every day. Domestic violence, drug use, killings and death are regular occurrences for the friend we help.

They are not alone. God is with them and so are you. With your support, we are serving the Lord by serving our friends in their time of greatest need. You are on the front lines with us. These aren't battles between husband and wife or gang against gang. These are battles of good versus evil. It's spiritual warfare.

We recently held our Community Awareness Breakfast at the Kenwood Country Club and chaplains from each Lord's Gym location - Price Hill, Queensgate and Covington - shared stories of violence they have witnessed while on the front lines. (A few clips are shared in this blog post.)

Still they GO. Still, together, God, you and us, GO. Why? Jesus tells us to in Mark 16:15.

Please, encourage others to join us in this fight. Share with them the amazing things you are a part of - the amazing things the Lord is doing in such a time of great need.

If you'd like to serve, visit www.focas-us.org/get-involved. if you'd like to give, visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving. Be sure to follow us on Facebook (FOCAS/Lord's Gym and Instagram (focas.lords.gym) for our latest news.

Our Mission Statement

GO to people in need in Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods.
CREATE safe places.
DEMONSTRATE God's love in practical ways.
DECLARE the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.
DEVELOP disciples of Jesus Christ.
ENCOURAGE self-responsibility.

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Queensgate Chaplain Steve Petersen

 

Steve Petersen, 55, can relate to many of the men who walk through the doors at the Queensgate Lord’s Gym.

 

Long before he was a part-time chaplain at the location, Steve struggled with drugs and alcohol.

 

I grew up in a God-believing family,” he said. “After I was hurt by the church, I walked away. I got into a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have.”

 

In his 40s, while in Cleveland, Steve lived across the street from a church. Church goers would visit his porch often to speak with him and pray for him.

 

They wore me down,” he laughed.

 

Their kindness and persistence changed his heart

 

I was re-baptised,” he said. “As a child I was baptised because I was told to. At age 42, I did it to show my dedication to the Lord and I knew what it meant.”

 

From there things changed in Steve’s life. He eventually came to Cincinnati and got on to his road to recovery. He since married and owns a home. He began working at Lord’s Gym, after several years of working out and volunteering in 2016.

 

I’m here because I can relate with a lot of the men because I know the paths their on,” Steve said. “I have empathy toward them. I have shared in their experience. Most importantly, I’m a living witness to the life-changing power of God.”

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Lord’s Gym Executive Director Scott Bowers recently made a 350-mile bike trek from the Covington Lord’s Gym to Cleveland, Ohio. Here are three take-a-ways from his journey…

 

1. It’s OK to put ourselves out there, pushing your limits (whatever that means to you) to grow beyond our limitations, mindsets and capacity. If you don’t, no one is going to do it for you. It can be done with reasonable risk and planning. You just don’t know how God is going to use it and how it might encourage other people. It’s OK to be scared. It won’t go perfectly. There will be some discomfort and pain. Give God a chance to show up.

2. Enjoy the journey! It’s not just about the destination. It’s what you learn and experience during the journey. Take time to take in the sights and smells. Getting lost and compensating stimulates the soul. It can make you appreciate the little things leading to a richer sense of contentment and confidence to try bigger things next.
 

3. I want to be used by God as he sees fit, and to be the best version of me I can me. That means working on my weaknesses and the things that don’t come easy to me. It’s OK to vary my pace. Keep checking in and report the waypoints. Take care of yourself and your equipment. The important thing is to persevere and keep pedaling toward the destination. Look on the horizon. Trust your map (plan). Get feedback from all possible sources.

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Melissa Reinert

Communications Coordinator

 

Last week I was given the opportunity to travel to the Great Smokey Mountains. I love visiting any area where I can view mountains towering gracefully over head. It reminds me of God’s majesty and sovereignty.

 

God’s glory is an important thing to remember as we’re here running the race. In times of trouble, in times of need; we need not fret. We have an almighty God who boldly goes before us and stands mightily beside us.

 

I Chronicals 29:11 says: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”

 

What a comfort to know that even when things are beyond our control, God is always in control. He has power over the circumstances in our lives, just as He has power over those sturdy towering mountains.

 

Isaiah 64:1: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!”

 

Spread the word of God's amazing power. Tell your friends, tell a stranger. Visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

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Living in this world is discouraging. News casts are filled with stories of unspeakable acts of violence, and destructive natural and man-made disasters.

 

It’s a very frightening time. You start to feel helpless. What can you do? How do you cope?

 

There are, however, three practical things we can do to ease our minds and bring hope to this fallen world.

 

  1. Pray. Philippians 4:6 says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Take time to speak with the Lord. Ask Him for the strength you need to get through and to be a light to the world. He’s listening.

     

  2. Be kind. Colossians 3:12 says: “As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Don’t be afraid to let your light shine. A simple smile and a friendly hello can go a long way in brightening the life of someone else. Go out of your way to be nice. Give an encouraging word. Bite your tongue when you need to. Show love. Do things to help others, especially when they can’t do anything for you in return.

     

  3. Prepare for Jesus’ return. 2 Peter 1:5-8 says: “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. By doing this you will be able to boldly share the Gospel. You’ll know why you believe and you’ll be able to share your life-changing experience with those who need to hear.

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Forgiveness may be one of the most difficult calls to action we face as Christians. Perhaps, that is because it is so important.

We live in a society that is brutal. From crude social media comments to physical violence, just for the “satisfaction” of vengeance. You offended me, I’m going to offer you a dose of your own medicine.

As children of God, we are called to a higher standard. God tells us that we should “turn the other cheek.” We are not to lash out, we are to have heart. God asks us to forgive. He’s asking us this to follow in His lead.

God “turned the other cheek,” making the ultimate sacrifice on the cross many years ago so that we could be forgiven of all our sins and live out eternity in his light and love.

It seems fit, He requires the same action from us when we are offended. High standards, however are called high because they can be difficult to reach. Forgiveness is difficult, especially when the offense is personal and cuts deep into our hearts, scarring our souls.

Still forgiving is what God asks of us, what He did for us.

Here are five moves to make on your journey to forgiveness:

  • Acknowledge the pain.

  • Be honest about how you feel.

  • Remember God forgave you.

  • Let go of the pain.

  • Pray for the one who hurt you.

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Chaplain James Duncan

 

 James was an atheist.

 

At the age of 30, however, he experienced a radical conversion.

 

I heard His voice,” he said. “I was baptized in the Holy Spirit a couple of years later.

 

James, now 44, found himself coming out of the corporate sales world to work in homeless ministry in Covington. Through a partnership with Urban Outreach, James works at the Lord’s Gym in Covington.

 

James said he enjoys having the opportunity to lead someone to Christ.

 

Other than that, I love it when someone ‘gets it’ to the point they make difficult, sacrificial choices to honor God,” he said.

 

According to James, working in ministry has made him a better person.

 

Although I still have plenty of issues the Lord is working on, I'm less selfish than I used to be,” he said. “Also, most of the negative things that come up in daily life tend to not bother me as much as they used to – this type of ministry has a way of putting things in perspective.”

 

James said his purpose is to “love the homeless in Covington, disciple them, and help them become all that the Lord would have them be.”

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Chaplain Brandon Welch

Guest Blogger

 

Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” John 5:17

I had an experience that changed the way I saw God working in and around me every day. As this verse says, the Father and the Son are working, they are working in our lives and the lives of all those around us.

I have found myself at times only giving credit to God in times when His work is manifested outwardly in obvious ways; individuals getting saved, getting delivered of drug addiction, being baptized, etc. I am learning to see God daily in the most horrific of situations and in the greatest successes and everything in between.

This transformation was initiated by one of the most gruesome things I have ever witnessed while out on our Search and Rescue bus that we take out twice a week to minister to those trapped in human trafficking and drug addiction, it was in this moment of heartache that God opened my eyes.

WARNING: This next portion will be graphic.

As she used a straw to tear open her skin of her arm which had more open flesh than skin, dripping blood, she explains that she does this because it’s the only thing that will keep her from thinking of traumatic events that has occurred in her life, she tells us a few.

Then she breaks down crying and says, “Thank you guys. I would end if it wasn’t for you all, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves me because of you all. I know I am not forgotten because of you all.”

That is the God we serve. He is there for us at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and everything in between. Even at her lowest point of life, God is present; extending love, hope, and grace.

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Director of Operations Tom Lipsey

 

I first met James Beach at the Covington Lord’s Gym in the Spring. He was a rather tall, lanky, well-mannered gentleman who frequented our facility.

 

It seemed like life had not always been kind to him, yet he was determined to be kind to others. God had touched his life.

 

Whenever I saw him, he seemed to be working and was always focused on the task at hand, determined to do excellent work. James painted the floor of our new facility with a gray non-slip paint that had colorful specks in it – and quite frankly it looked really sharp, crisp and fresh.

 

Deciding to purchase my own home in Price Hill to be near the people I serve, I ended up buying a 1915 house that had recently been flipped (remodeled for higher selling price). The only place that needed attention was the musty battered basement. I knew who I wanted to paint it because I had seen his excellent work – James Beach.

 

After hiring him, I had the privilege of picking James up each morning in Covington and driving him to Price Hill where I lived. Today I can honestly say that James Beach has helped change my life.

 

During our time together I learned that James hit the streets at age 13 when he was dismissed from his family home by his prostitute mom and alcoholic dad. For the next 30 years James was on and off the streets a victim of homelessness, in and out of jail as a breaker of the law, and on drugs. His life was about as low as you could go until one day he dropped into the Lord’s Gym and our chaplain told him he saw something in him.

 

No one had ever said that to James in a positive way. Those words helped change his life. Over time James saw himself the way God in Christ sees him – as precious to Him.

 

James studied the faith with us and gave his life to Christ, Who lived and died to pay for his sins and give him the gift of salvation. So, this is the James I got to see serving at my house as my hired painter.

 

James literally schooled me during the next week of working for and with me as he showed me what a transformed heart and life look like. I have not seen anyone work as hard as he did in a long time. His work was excellent. And my basement is beautiful – a powerful reminder of how God takes the not so pretty and makes a masterpiece of us.

 

James schooled me about life on the streets, life in prison and life on drugs. And the shining Truth through it all was the amazing conversion that happened to him through Christ.

 

James is an amazing man who knows and now lives the Gospel. The passion of his life is to help his other homeless street friends now find the higher way of living that God offers us through Christ.

 

I can honestly say, I am very enriched having met James. Thanks be to God for His amazing grace. Thank you for your support of our mission and ministry to the hurting folks of the Greater Cincinnati area. May many more be won over in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

You can help us speak hope and life to others by visiting http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.

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Ariel, 14, spends a lot of time on her cell phone.

 

Thursday afternoons, however, she sets her mobile device aside for adventure. The Price Hill teen regularly rides with the Lord’s Gym Ministry staff and volunteers in the youth bike program.

 

“I like it,” she said. “It gets me outside. On the bike, you get fresh air. You can’t be in your house all day on the phone.”

 

For T.J., 13, bike riding “makes me feel alive.”

 

He also enjoys meeting new people while on wheels.

 

Executive Director Scott Bowers, who goes on each ride, loves getting to know the young people and hearing what’s on their minds.

 

“On our last trip out, two different youth volunteered how they were experiencing bullying at their respective schools,” he said. “On another ride, one young person explained how bad heir home life is.

 

“We talk. We pray. We mentor. Honestly, it helps to keep me grounded and connected to God’s calling on my life. It’s why our ministry exists,” Scott said.

 

Scott said the kids who ride also get to see other neighborhoods, people and adventure that helps to impart vision.

 

“It also helps to impart life lessons as our kids have used the bike rides as a real life metaphor in their own life,” he said. “If you expect to get where your destination, sometimes you just have to keep going even when you don’t feel like it.”

 

Cycling, just one of our activities, is part of our Youth Resiliency program in Price Hill. We want this program to build a sense of family and belonging while nurturing habits of responsibility and team work.

 

More than 30 trail bikes have been donated and rehabbed by some very generous volunteers.

 

Now we need an enclosed trailer to store and transport them. This will allow us to be mobile, efficient, and meet the youth where they are.

 

If you'd like to help, thank you. Visit http://ow.ly/2dmj50ujGsc

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