I’ve got an extra special feeling about this Saturday in Detroit! Join us and help make it special! The picture below is of my friend Thaddeus. Thaddeus used to be a dealer and went by Pony (because of his pony tails). He encountered the risen Christ through relationships and love at the CommuniD BBQs in Detroit. He stopped selling crack and started following Christ. For Thaddeus, following Christ meant losing his income (selling crack), his friends, his home and eventually his life. People he used to work for had him killed because he stopped selling. Following Christ is not free. Sharing Christ isn’t either. Thaddeus and I talked many times before, during and after his decision as well as after people began trying to kill him. Although he often shared with me the difficulties he was facing, he never once second guessed his decision to follow Christ no matter the cost. What an amazing brother in Christ who is now worshiping in Heaven!
Here’s a link to this Saturday’s Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/154480478055957
Here’s a picture.
Here’s Bob and Dave (white homeless men) teaching Zane (4 year old son of a working single black mother) how to hit a wiffle ball at the Elevate Detroit Mt. Clemens CommuniD BBQ today.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But I think this one’s priceless.
Jesus is all over it.
Matthew 8:26 (NIV)
“He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”
Mark 4:39 (NIV)
“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
So often I’ve read this passage and pictured that night out on the water. I used to arrogantly and piously scoff at the disciples. “Look how dumb they were.” “How could they still not get it?!” “How could they not understand that they were safe with him?!”
I’ve grown since then though… a little. The verses just before this are Jesus teaching them how much it will cost them to follow him. He tells them they will be homeless. He tells them they will have to miss important, meaningful family moments. He’s teaching them it will cost them their livelihoods, possibly their families and surely their plans.
He hasn’t given them any comfort. And shortly thereafter, here they are… on a lake in a furious storm in a boat that’s about to be swamped. They’ll drown. Danger is all around. And they run to him. They wake him. They beg him.
They don’t doubt his ability to save them like I used to think. What they doubt his awareness of the situation. And they seem to have an idea of how he will save them when they ask. I’m curious to know what they were expecting. Maybe they were expecting him to raise the boat out of the water. Maybe they expected the water to suddenly be held back from over the rails of the boat, similar to Moses crossing the Red Sea and God holding the water back. Or maybe… they were expecting him to calm the storm.
Whatever their expectations of his actions, they were afraid. Stressed. Terrified. And they were begging him for help.
In five years of CommuniD BBQs, I have no idea how many times God has calmed the storms for us. I have seen clouds part, literally. I have seen rain inexplicably surround a park without falling on it. Twice. Countless times we have seen and reaped the benefits of those words, “Quiet! Be still!”
Last Saturday. It was raining. The forecast called for heavier rain as the day went on. No relief. No hope of a break in the storm. Just cold, miserable rain. We had three CommuniD BBQs scheduled for the day; Detroit, Hazel Park and Southfield. I got phone calls from all three leaders asking what to do, when to call it off, etc. Three leaders who’ve watched these storms calm in the past with me all concerned, maybe even afraid that we’ll get rained out. I talked them through it, encouraged them, reminded them of miracles of the past and God’s faithfulness in the present. At the end of the day, all three events happened. Not a drop of rain fell where it wasn’t supposed to. Not an once of falling water was left to disrupt God’s plan for the day. A miracle. Again. Amazing.
This Saturday. It’s raining again. It’s grey. It’s cold. It’s miserable weather. The rain wasn’t supposed to let up until at least 4pm. It looked like it would linger on long past then. We had two CommuniD BBQs scheduled for the day; Detroit and Pontiac. I looked outside and thought, we might get rained out today. Again, I got calls from leaders. Again, anxious, nervous, expecting the rain to continue. Again, I reassured them reminding them of God’s faithfulness in the past. What they didn’t know was that this time, I was feeling the same way as they were. I was nervous. I was afraid. I was grasping onto those memories with them. I was needing the reminders every bit as much as they did.
With the shakiness in my soul of a one year old walking, in faith I continued to encourage them (and me). I set out from living in Pontiac to drive to Detroit. Wipers on. Heat on. Cold rain. Answering calls, replying to texts and when no one else was asking me, I was still praying, hoping… no rain. “Lord, I’m trusting you against my gut instinct of fear. I will speak in confidence that you will again calm the storms; hoping you do.”
We are such forgetful people. We are so quick to lose our faith. We are so quick to be afraid. And we run to him saying, “Lord, our event will drown! Don’t you care? Won’t you help us? Aren’t you paying attention?” I don’t think he was bothered that the disciples asked him for help. They needed help. What he rebukes them for is their fear and lack of faith.
I can scoff at their lack of faith all I want. I mean, they could see Jesus right in front of them after all. But I am every bit as deserving of that scoffing myself. I may not yet have seen Jesus physically in front of me. But I have seen the fruit of his words, “Quiet! Be still!” countless times.
So today… AND last week… God held back the clouds!! In these last 2 Saturdays we’ve seen over 500 people share a meal together. There have been 5 CommuniD BBQs in 4 locations with 14 partnering groups. It’s been an incredible couple weeks!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen God work miracles with the weather on Saturday afternoons. Five years and we’ve cancelled only 4. That’s quite a track record of good weather! And yet every time I can hardly believe it! Our God still calls the storms! And He creates space for His Body to form and love at a common table.
My God… YOU ARE AMAZING!!
Shared by Mike Schmitt.
The day dawned gray, the forecast was bad…rain, followed by some more rain, then some rain.
We prayed. We went up to Kensington to meet up with Heather and hook up the trailer to her Suburban…still raining.
Heading south on John R, we looked ahead and saw brighter skies. We arrived at Green Acres Park… NO RAIN!!
It didn’t rain a drop. Not one, until we were packing up to head home!
Great day! Awesome God. Thanks to ALL, new faces and old, who braved a miserable forecast and came to be a part of the Hazel Park CommuniD BBQ!! YOU ALL ROCK!!
Shared by Jim Sterner.
We’d been blessed weather-wise for every BBQ so far…no rain in spite of bad forecasts, warmer than expected temps, very blessed. This Saturday wasn’t looking good though. No problem, God’s taken care of the weather every time. We went ahead and fired up the grill and the skies opened. Harder and harder it came down. All the pavilions were being used so we were looking hard for a plan B. One of our HP BBQ family came running up and said she’d talked with the people using one of the pavilions and we were welcome to use the end of their pavilion. Plan B had arrived and we took off, lit grill, tables and people scrambling across the park. All eyes were on us as we set up at the end of the music pavilion of the Madison Hts. F.O.E. picnic. God is good…but who is this big dude with the seriously unhappy face coming our way? As we talked (talked=did our best to be able to stay where we were) we found out that the invite didn’t come from anyone in charge of this rather BIG (all three pavilions, beer tent, 200+ people) picnic, but rather from the DJ. After a short conversation, one that went from terse to pleasant, we were given the official OK. God is good!
We talked, mingled, bought raffle tickets, watched horseshoes, got a shout out over the PA from the Madison Hts. F.O.E. president Brian, and had a chance to meet and connect with a group of people we’d have never met without the “unwanted” rain. By the way, the rain stopped as soon as we’d gotten under cover and the sun came out shortly after. Yes, God is good. His plans, not our plans!
Written by: Jim Sterner
Jim & Donna Sterner are the point leaders for the Hazel Park CommuniD BBQs
It’s amazing how God is working! I received this text today:
Remember the little foster baby we had with us at our meeting in pontiac? Well, we still have her and brought her down to Detroit today for a parenting visit with her father. Nate and I both thought he (the dad) looked familiar and after chatting with him a bit we find out he has been coming to Second and Selden BBQs for a long time now and lives right around there….how ironic!!!
Going to those BBQs is what made me want to do foster care because I saw the state of the way these people were living and knew they were having babies they couldn’t care for…little did I know we would have one of those babies in our home. 🙂
Back in July, a previously homeless elderly woman, raising 3 grandchildren under 5 years old, from the Detroit CommuniD BBQs was living in an abandoned house. She finally got approved for Section 8 and was able to move into an apartment. Through conversations and relationships built at the Detroit CommuniD BBQs, people were able to collect and give her furniture, dishes & beds for herself and the kids. Thanks SO MUCH to those who built the relationship, saw the need and did what they could!!
Immediately afterwards she cooked dinner for the people who brought over the furniture and things. Through that conversation she shared her desire and need for a fresh start in life. Everyone prayed together and she gave her life to Christ!!
God is good!!