Not a Blind Faith

As a young person, say 11 or 12, I began reading my Bible voraciously. But I had no idea how to understand it. Thankfully, the Lord put people in my life who would and could guide me into a right perspective of His Word. One of those people is the father of my childhood friend Amy. Frank Bains, and his wife Mary Margaret, led independent adult Bible studies for a group of interested neighborhood friends. They invited me to sit in on their studies if I wished. I wished. Those three or four years of soaking in the Word stoked my faith and drove me, eventually, to seminary and the ministry I enjoy today.

A few years ago, in the midst of a new ministry endeavor, Frank began experiencing vision problems. I kept up with him from afar through Amy’s updates. He has since lost most of his vision and endured a drastic lifestyle change. Yet he continues to minister.

Read for yourself how Frank lived out Romans 5:3-4.

…we also rejoice in sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance, character,
and character, hope.

Thanks, Mr. Frank!

Offering Hope

I recently learned of a place that offers a particular kind of hope to women who want out of the pit of life. The Water Street Rescue Mission in Lancaster, PA, recently opened a home for women called the Lydia Center. Through a long-term process of rehabilitation, counseling, Bible study and community, women move from addiction to freedom, from hopeless to hopeful, from wandering to purposeful, from death to life. They learn what it means to live as a daughter of God, with sisters in Christ, while gaining valuable life lessons and guidance for their future.

Read an excerpt from one woman’s testimony:

…when I arrived at the Lydia Center, I was homeless, a drug addict, labeled with a mental illness, and nowhere to go but up. I had heard about Jesus in jail, but it wasn’t until I got to the Lydia Center that I started to realize that I could have a relationship with him. The Lydia Center staff and volunteers have taken a broken, and desperate woman and showed Who could change me, Who could offer me rest, Who will always love me, never leave me and best of all give me freedom and hope and a new life with him. I choose life today… life in Christ.

These women have made the choice to turn around their lives in the context of a Christian worldview. Not every one of them is a committed believer when she arrives, nor necessarily when she leaves, but each agrees to sit under teaching and guidance that adheres to biblical principles. I hear that it is a fairly rigorous program. They are at the beginning of life on the other side, and many do not have outside support, loving relationships to which they will return. They could use a little encouragement, a lot of laughter, a few giggles, and loads of love.

Enter Spark Ministry. For one weekend in April, Spark will bring a group of women from North Texas and beyond to the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania to provide a retreat for the Lydia Center ladies. Bible teaching, small group discussions, skits, treats, laughter and hugs…it all comes together to share Christ’s love in a uniquely female way. True to the ministry’s name, this sort of retreat will provide a spark, a highlight, an awakening of hope for the women–that they will understand that they are lovable, they are accepted, they have value. If you’ve ever been on a retreat (women), maybe you can understand the way those experiences fill an indefinable gap in your spirit. We hope the Lydia ladies gain the same sort of encouragement from our weekend together.

Our? Did I say “our”? Why yes! I get to be a part of this retreat in April. The team is still being gathered, so if any of you readers are interested in joining, or just want more information, there is still time. Go to the Spark Ministry web site for more details and/or email me for details. This trip, as are all Spark retreats, is open to women from any church.

Whether you join physically or not, please take a moment to pray for the Lydia ladies and for the success of the retreat.