An Encouraging Word
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.
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.”
Chaplain Brandon Welch
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.
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.
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
Cameron was 14.
He was a son. He was a friend.
He was just a kid, gunned down, no chance to really live his life.
It was an incident that shook the Price Hill community just a while ago.
“Everyone knew him,” said his cousin Alan. “He was a good kid. It shouldn’t have happened. No one deserves to die that young.
“But, things are different in Price Hill,” Alan said with a blank stare. “This is how things workout sometimes.”
That’s a chilling statement from a young man just four years older than Cameron. That statement, however, is proof that something has to change. The change must come now.
Lord’s Gym Chaplain, Brandon, met Cameron three years ago. He and his two brothers came to the gym several times a week.
“We built a friendship with him,” Brandon said. “When I found out it was Cameron who was shot my heart broke. I couldn’t believe this young man who had his whole life in front of him was taken from him.”
Tragedies like this, however, Brandon said, “affirms in my heart our purpose to continue reaching out to the young people of Price Hill.”
“The community, the students, the parents need places like the Lord’s Gym where they can have positive role models who speak hope and life into these young people’s lives.”
It can be a daunting task when reading or watching the news as events like this unfold. Still, Lord’s Gym is there with its doors open because there must be change. There must be change before any other life is lost. The time for change is now. You are that change.
Be the bold force that reaches into this community to share the love of God… to share a hope that speaks life. We need you. Price Hill needs you now. Visit http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving.
Brandon Welch, Lord's Gym chaplain
Brandon Welch, Lord’s Gym chaplain has stepped into a lot of dark situations in the three years he’s been with the ministry. Brandon often sees people at rock bottom.
It’s difficult. In these situations, however, he’s always reminded that “God is there.”
“God has placed me here to allow His light to shine and encourage people,” he said.
The 40-year-old Springfield Township resident has been involved in outreach work for 15 years. He came to know Christ in May ‘98. Brandon was living a party lifestyle and felt “unfulfilled,” when a friend started talking to him about the end of times.
“My interest was piqued and I began reading the Bible and praying,” he said. “For the first time I knew what I needed to do.”
God gave Brandon the mindset of a missionary and a heart to build relationships with people and allow the Lord to work in his life to show them who HE is.
“I love seeing what He’s doing and being apart of it,” Brandon said.
It isn’t always easy. Brandon has seen men and women in the pitfall of struggles like addiction, homelessness and more. He said God has used this to give him a better understanding of who he is a part from Christ and who God really is.
“Our friends are no different than me,” he said. “We all have problems with sin and we all need mercy and grace. We all need people to believe in us. We need empowerment. When I see who I am apart from the Lord I have a clear understanding of love. Love suffers long. God is with us and loves us when we’re on the mountain top and when we’re in the lowest of lowly pits.”
Brandon said one of the things he loves most about working in ministry is that he gets to see God working in people’s lives every day, in the smallest of details, even before the big decisions are made like getting clean, getting a job, getting an apartment.
"I've learned to see Him in all of it,” he said. “That’s changed my life. It’s been a powerful journey.”
For weeks I drove by this church’s marque. At first reading the sign, I smiled.
Everyday as I drove pass the message, however, I began to think more and more about its meaning… or maybe it’s misleading.
The sign read: “Don’t make me come down there.” - God
Now, when I say misleading, I don’t think the church was purposely trying to send the wrong message. They were making a joke - a play on parenthood. You know how it is, either you’ve been the one on the receiving end of this threat; or you’re the desperate parent pulling out the big threat.
Using this statement to portray the parenting techniques of our Heavenly Father, though, really brings a whole new meaning to the sentiment. Take a moment to think about the meaning of this statement, especially from a secular world point of view. This statement makes God, our loving heavenly Father, sound anything but that.
He’s portrayed here as full of frustration and tiredness to the point that He is fed up. He has to come down. He has to get out the measuring stick and bust the bottoms of us sinners.
Now, God certainly doesn’t approve of our sin and He doesn’t just let it slide by. But, He doesn’t lose patience. He’s not tired. He’s not fed up – He’s not done with us.
In fact, God came down to earth as Jesus, years ago. We didn’t make Him. He certainly didn’t do it in anger or as a last resort. Instead, He did it as an act of great love, to fulfill a beautiful plan to save humanity.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJ
Those with a secular world view don’t realize this. Certainly we as Christians do know that a statement such as: “Don’t make me come down there” is the furthest thing from our Lord’s mouth. It’s the furthest thought from His mind and it’s the furthest sentiment from His heart. It’s good to remind ourselves of this though and it’s imperative we tell and show others God’s true intentions toward humanity.
Board Member Yolanda Carter
Yolanda Carter doesn’t do boxes well.
“I’m always curious and I'm always wanting to lend a hand and learn,” she said.
And that’s just one of the things she loves about Lord’s Gym Ministries – she can think outside the box and learn new ways to share God’s love.
Yolanda, 50, of Union, has served on the Lord’s Gym Ministries Board for a year. She has volunteered with the organization about 15 years.
“At the end of the day, for me, all it took was an understanding of what this organization is about… serving the community,” she said. “It provides a safe place. A place for learning and hearing about God. I just fell in love with the mission and the work.”
Yolanda said the work “we do literally saves lives in this life and the next.” She said it never ceases to amaze her to watch the Lord “work His magic all across the tri-state area.”
In the years she’s been involved with Lord’s Gym Ministries it’s went from one gym and food pantry in Over-the-Rhine to three gyms in three different neighborhoods, a Family Activity Center in Price Hill and the STORM van that goes to women in need on the street.
“There is impact all over the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky,” she said.
Yolanda realizes too that it's often about planting a seed and waiting for growth. In a way, that's how her relationship with God came to be.
"I grew up in a Southern Baptist church," she said."My grandmother had a strong faith, but I did not have a personal relationship and didn't understand what we believed in."
The summer before her sophomore year of college, Yolanda found herself working at a plant to make submarines.
"A friend sat with me at lunch and brought her Bible," Yolanda said. "She told me: 'God wants you to make a decision for Him.' She read me a verse that countered my every objection. She spent an hour and a half with me until I walked away angry, saying: 'You can't make me.'"
A month and a half later, however, the Holy Spirit convicted her and Yolanda gave her life to Christ.
"It was the beginning of my relationship with God," she said. "He called for me and sent someone for me and He wouldn't let me go. He's oh so great."
Yolanda works as director in the regulatory affairs program management office of Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Devices Research & Development organization. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tuskegee University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Jacksonville State University.
She is Six Sigma Black Belt certified by both GE Aviation and Ethicon Endo Surgery. She resides in Union, Kentucky with her husband Kedran and son, Cordarius.
Years ago Kevin Johnson was working in ministry with a pregnancy care organization. He did and still has a heart for people.
But Kevin was certain that’d there was an area of ministry of which he would never work. One day while in the Washington Park area, before all the renovations, he told God… “You’d have to put me here to minister in a place like this.”
“Don’t ever tell God what He’s gotta do,” laughed Kevin, 46, as he sits in the Queensgate Lord’s Gym where he has served as a chaplain for 11 years.
When Kevin was first introduced to Lord’s Gym Ministries, he “immediately fell in love.”
“God changed my heart in a way that I didn’t see coming,” Kevin said.
He volunteered on his lunch break and when a position became open; He knew it’s where God was going to put him.
“God has a heart built in me for men who are broken,” he said. “I want to help them discover themselves and realize they have something to contribute.”
That’s what Kevin does at Lord’s Gym.
Jody, 41, who has been coming to the Queensgate location enjoys Kevin’s company and his daily devotionals.
“He always gives a good message,” Jody said. “He breaks down the Word for us and explains in depth what it means.”
Jody said he and others can talk to Kevin about anything.
Kevin said he enjoys his work, building relationships and encouraging the broken to never give up.
“I enjoy the journey as a whole,” Kevin said. “When I first meet someone I don’t know what challenges they are facing, but then it all unfolds. So many amazing things happen on this journey.
“For me, the greatest moments in ministry come under the greatest amount of pressure. You see men hurt. They see your genuinely care and they start to trust. And then, you see them transform.”
Lord's Gym Ministries Chaplain Kevin
Nick had relapsed.
Several months ago, he found himself back at the Queensgate Lord’s Gym with chaplain Kevin.
The two chatted for a bit.
“I appreciate you,” Nick told Kevin. “But you can’t save everybody.”
It was a heart piercing statement. Kevin’s first response was to ask if he could give Nick a hug.
As Kevin embraced his friend’s worn body Nick broke down in tears.
“You still have worth and are worth being loved,” Kevin whispered softly.
Kevin also told Nick that he is always welcome at Lord’s Gym.
Three weeks later when Nick returned to the gym, he was looking sober and seemed to be contemplating what to do next in his life. Kevin continued to affirm Nick of his value and the purpose he has in Christ.
During the gym’s devotional time Nick recommitted his life to Christ.
Mid-April, Kevin received and email from Nick. He was off the streets and living at his parents’ house. He told Kevin that his battle was just beginning but he was glad to fight another day.
“Words on this screen won’t ever be enough to tell you how truly grateful I am for you and your words of encouragement and wisdom,” Nick wrote. “Thank you brother, I love you.”
For Nick, Kevin was a source of life. Kevin looked at his situation and spoke worth and blessing over Nick in a great time of need. This is what our chaplains at Lord’s Gym Ministries do every day. Like Jesus, they speak life.
Jesus had a wonderful ability to meet and love a person wherever they were at. At the Lord’s Gym, we put into practice this beautiful action of Jesus every day to save lives – we speak and we show love.
Here’s how you can help us continue to speak life https://bit.ly/2FwRxCu.
Guest blogger Stephanie Schneider
In our last blog post, Scott Bowers mentioned encountering a woman, Ella, and the beginning of her journey to recovery. Though I had not met her when Scott drafted his post, Ella would soon impact my life. I was unexpectedly called to assist her in getting treatment for a health issue, and though I usually just sit behind a desk. I was happy to be called into action and be able to serve!
Ella was persistent in wanting to enroll in a detoxification program, but needed to be cleared by a doctor before she could participate. Forming a trusting relationship with our Chaplin Brandon, Ella promised Brandon that she would go to the doctor with him, so he and I arranged to provide transportation.
When we picked her up, Ella looked unwell and hurting. Despite how she may have been feeling at that time, she was very kind to me and Brandon. We discussed her children and it was very obvious how much she cared for them. I noticed she was wearing a pretty purple earring in one ear, and when I mentioned it to her she smiled, showing me her other ear and explaining that she had two different colors, one for her birthstone and the other her daughter’s.
I called around to local clinics and found that the Elm Street Health Center would be able to see Ella right away. The health center is a great facility with lots of great resources, so we headed there. The staff was very kind and seemed to be willing to do anything so that Ella could be seen.
As we went to fill out the paperwork, Ella started looking at brochures to give to her friend, who is expecting a child. When she came back, we tried to encourage her to complete the paperwork. However, it was obvious that she just wasn’t comfortable there. We instead took Ella to a hospital that she was familiar with. She was seen there and has been successfully enrolled in the detox program.
The very next day, I went to serve with Brandon in our street outreach ministry bus. I immediately began feeling ill and then had indescribable pain which I later found out was being caused by a kidney stone. Thankfully, our kind chaplains made sure I got to the hospital and even continued checking up on me later in the day.
It was a reminder that we all need help. At certain points in our lives, we all need someone to help us through something that we just can’t handle on our own. Ella handled her situation much better than mine. Though she was also unwell, she took the time to care about her friends and think about her children.
I’m so glad that Ella is persistent in changing her life and not afraid to reach out for help when she needs it. She reminds me that I should lean on others when I need to, but I also need to be ready to be leaned upon because we all need help at some point in our lives.
Guest blogger Executive Director Scott Bowers
I was driving the street outreach ministry bus the other night, and we had met with about five or six people. One was a young man, dressed as a woman, struggling with his identity. We encounter him/her on a regular basis offering non-judgmental love and encouragement. We provided a meal, small talk, and prayer – especially for their safety.
As we drove up and down Warsaw Ave, I saw a woman heading in the opposite direction. (It was starting out as most STORM bus encounters.)
I sensed the woman we drove past was someone who would respond to our presence, so I turned the bus around and pulled into a parking lot 50 yards past her. Joyce, who was serving on the bus with me, recognized our friend immediately and went out to greet her. Apparently, what I had been sensing was the Holy Spirit nudging me to turn the bus around.
When she got on the bus and saw me, she asked, “Where is Brandon?” I think she was disappointed. Immediately I was reminded at how effective our Lord’s Gym chaplains are at connecting with people and forming meaningful relationships. I will come back to this thought.
Upon sitting down and consuming some fine JTM cuisine (thank you JTM), our exhausted friend, Ella (not her real name) said that she was DONE! She wanted off the streets! Woohoo – music to our ears. She had been trying to call people for help; she had run out of minutes. Next thing she knew, The Lord’s Gym bus came rolling past – a direct answer to her prayers! She was not praying, but God knew; he sent us to her.
For the next hour and a half, we called different places to get her into detox. Our best option was going to be at noon the next day. That was 17 hours away since it was already 7:00 pm. My heart sank. My batting average was zero. Women just don’t return to follow up appointments the next day. She insisted that she would meet me at 11 a.m. the next day, if we promised to take her. I told her I would personally see to it, and I promised her. She then called around to make some arrangements. She told her friends that she was on the bus with the church people. I love that.
I would much rather someone believe in their heart that the church, the body of Christ, is reaching out to her. It is the church, through the power of God, showing her love. The Lord’s Gym is just the name of an organization. Indeed, it was the church in action.
A friend, Keith, came to get her. Upon leaving, I said I was looking forward to helping her tomorrow at 11. The expression on her face was blank. I sensed she had an uneasiness with me. Therefore, I asked her if she would prefer if Brandon met her tomorrow and took her to detox. That blank stare blossomed into a smile. I smiled. “Done”, I said.
The morning, I received a text from Ella saying she was planning on meeting us today at 11 at the same parking lot. Brandon reached out to BLOC Ministries’, Weightless Anchor, who also knew Ella. Andrea agreed to ride with Brandon. Having two core relational individuals taking Ella to detox would be two spirit filled individuals offering words of encouragement, prayer, and love. Wow! We all met as agreed.
Interestingly, I arrived first, and saw Ella walking toward the parking lot. She paused. When Brandon arrived, he walked toward her, and she resumed her approach to the parking lot. I told Ella how good it was to see her and how much I respected her courage. The three of them got into Brandon’s car and they left for detox. I was thrilled. I drove back to the office thanking and praising God.
PLEASE join me in praying for Ella. She is in good hands; yet, detox and rehab are journeys wrought with pitfalls. Pray that she resists the temptations and pain that will ensue. Stand firm.
At Lord’s Gym lives are changing. From miraculous instant change to change over time. Staff and volunteers, with your support, are making a difference in so many lives.
Phillip, for example, spent most of his time drunk. He’d visit Lord’s Gym on occasion, pouring out his heart and asking for prayer. Johnny, a Lord’s Gym volunteer, took an interest in Phillip. Those initial “Hey, how are you” conversations grew into a friendship. Johnny took Phillip under his wing.
Things changed drastically.
The last several weeks Phillip has shown up sober and is helping clean and organize the Price Hill gym. Phillip has found purpose, friendship, and grace to begin living a different life.
Phillip’s life isn’t perfect and he still has his ups and downs, but as Lord’s Gym Price Hill Chaplain Brandon Welch always says: “We’re in it for the long haul.”
Lord’s Gym Miniseries is more than a gym. Ministries like the gym, the Family Activity Center and the Street Outreach Ministry (STORM), are building people in our communities up. Together we are growing strong in the Lord.
God has given us the armor. We just have to make the decision to put it on. At Lord’s Gym we’re helping our friends put on the full armor of God, as well. You, our supporters, are an essential part of this process. Here’s how you can help.
1. Pray with us. First Thessolanians 5:17 (KJV) says: "Pray without ceasing." Here’s what you can pray for.
Thank God for what He has, is and will do.
2. Serve with us. Take some time to mingle and get to know our friends. Mother Teresa said that yesterday’s gone, tomorrow isn’t here yet; so, what are you going to do with today? Why not come to our Price Hill, Queens Gate or Covington locations to learn more about those we are helping. You’ll find it to be a blessing in your life. Click here for more information.
3. Share. Tell your friends, family, everyone you know about Lord’s Gym Ministries and how we’re making a difference in people’s lives and even your life.
4. Give. At Lord’s Gym Ministries we shower our friends with practical acts of love… spending time with them, giving them food, and a safe place. This is all done with heart of God.
God has blessed us with so many wonderful opportunities and gifts. Luke 12:48 (NKJV) says: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
Please, if you are able, show us your support, click here.
God bless and all our love.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV
The sun shined and children giggled. Adults sat in conversation at and around picnic tables in Olden Park in Price Hill April 24. They were gathered for the weekly cookout at the park organized by The Lord’s Gym.
It seemed like a typical evening until Johnny, a volunteer at The Lord’s Gym, spotted a car parked near the park.
I thought to myself: “Something ain’t right.”
The car eventually pulled away and the fellowship continued. About an hour later as Johnny and other volunteers were wrapping up the cookout, the car driving by.
“The guy in the backseat stuck his hand out the window like this,” Johnny said making a gun symbol and waving his hand.
The next thing Johnny knew the man in the back seat opened fire.
“Some… even parents ran, leaving their kids. Others just stood there,” Johnny said. “My first thought was the kids. ‘We’ve got to get these kids out of the way.’ I yelled, ‘Hit the ground!’”
Other volunteers pulled kids from the playground equipment to the ground and shielded them with their own bodies.
“I was in Vietnam and I saw a lot of stuff, but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen something like this,” he said. “We had so many kids there.”
Later, a bullet was pulled out of one of the pieces of playground equipment where children had been playing until volunteers pulled them to safety. Another bullet hit a young man in the ankle and he was taken to the hospital. None of the children or volunteers with the The Lord’s Gym, however, were harmed.
“God is good,” Johnny said.
Johnny knows first hand that work in ministry is a blessing. However, even in Cincinnati, it can be dangerous. The Lord’s Gym staff and volunteers are on the front line. Sometimes the battle is in the form of physical bullets, other times it’s darkness of man’s heart.
Often in battle, a soldier will sacrifice his or her own life for another. According to Jesus, in John chapter 15, there is “no greater love.” Jesus was referring to the sacrifice He would soon make on the cross, but also a sacrifice His followers are to be willing and ready to make.
It’s a sacrifice on April 24, that The Lord’s Gym volunteers were ready to make. It’s also a sacrifice they make everyday. They give of their lives… their time, their heart, their talents… to reach people for Jesus. To not only tell them of His great love, but to show them His great love.
The next afternoon, Johnny was back at the park, passing through to get to The Lord’s Gym that’s next door.
Johnny said he found the courage to come back for the kids.
“It’s all about the kids,” he said. “The Lord’s Gym has got it going on. I thank God for this place.”
Arah, 14, a regular at The Lord’s Gym in Price Hill, witnessed the shooting and called 911.
“My heart was outside of my chest,” she said. “It was scary.”
But deep down, she said, she knew she was safe. She’s been going to The Lord’s Gym for three years and it’s like home.
“They let you be you and have fun,” she said. “And they protect you.”
The Lord’s Gym is more than gym. It’s a shelter. A shelter in a swarm of bullets, a shelter in the storm of life. A shelter where you’re clothed and fed, both literally and spiritually. A shelter where “no greater love” is lived everyday.
What do you think of when you hear the word courage? A military hero? A police officer, EMS, or firefighter? Maybe it’s someone fighting a terminal illness? I ask the question, because it is on full display throughout our ministries at the Lord’s Gym.
I am most impressed with those who have come to face their drug addiction head on. I marvel at the woman who, after years of drug abuse and self-inflicted harm, turns her back to the street and receives the help so lovingly extended to her. She willingly bears the pain, trauma and shame in order to embrace the new life that is waiting for her. I see strong and courageous women who are striving to let sobriety take root in their lives. I had planned to share the story of one woman, but after thinking of the others who have graced our doors, I was reminded of the common trait they experienced and shared with us – courage! They had the courage to act, submit to those who can help, and trust God for the healing.
It’s an interesting process. We take the initiative, by faith, to receive help. Then, God shows up to provide his healing power to overcome and restore. In Matthew 12:13, Jesus tells a man with a withered hand to extend his hand. Once he takes the initiative to extend and present his hand, Jesus proceeds to heal and restore his hand. I appreciate the witness of our friends who are demonstrating such fundamental courage and faith. May we all have such courage! Blessings, Scott
As we close out 2018 and look forward to what God will do in 2019, I want you to know that all of us at FOCAS/The Lord’s Gym Ministries are thankful and grateful for your partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of sincere gratitude I offer to you the following encouraging words and prayer found in Ephesians 3:14 – 4:6 from the English Standard Version Bible. I copied this from Bible Gateway.
Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
Ephesians 4 English Standard Version (ESV)
Unity in the Body of Christ
4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Amen.
Blessings and Happy New Year. - Scott
P.O. Box 5099
Cincinnati, OH 45205
Lord’s Gym 2018 Community Awareness Fundraiser Breakfast Event
Wednesday, October 17th
Sharonville Convention Center
11355 Chester Road
Sharonville, OH 45246
Registration/Breakfast 7:00 am to 7:30 am Program 7:30 am to 8:30 am Sharp
Are you interested in another easy way to support FOCAS/The Lord's Gym? Participate in the Kroger Community Rewards program. All you have to do is enroll your Kroger Plus Card online at Kroger's secure website, www.krogercommunityrewards.com. All the details are on the website and it is very easy to do. New members can enroll by searching for FOCAS or our account #QR306