Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Nehemiah  13:14, 22, 31         Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services. Show mercy to me according to your great love.  Remember me with favor, O my God.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the Road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worse,
That you must not quit.

By  Edgar A. Guest

Sunday, December 29, 2013

More Than Conquerors

Romans 8:28-30         And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Why are we “more than conquerors”?

The work of Christ is sufficient to pardon the worst of sinners. For the Christian who loves Christ, their life will find final fulfillment according to God’s plan. This occurs as the Christian conforms to the likeness of Christ and proclaims Him as Lord of their life. The process of fulfillment ends with our glorification in heaven. The journey is certain because our God has certainly sent Christ for us and has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us.

Paul outlines several evils that Christians will face in their lives. Trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, poverty, danger, and affliction may threaten to separate you from God. None of these will win out in the end. The circumstances of life will never permanently derail the Christian from the track God has you on. Nothing in all of creation can separate you from the love of God.

In light of the trouble we face and overcome daily, to call us merely “conquerors” is too weak a word for Paul. We are more than that. In light of the victory Christ snatched away from Satan at the Resurrection, we are more. Because we confess His name, we face afflictions daily. Yet, victory is ours because we are given the strength to endure through Him who loved us first.

 Jesus loved us on the way to His death on the cross. He loves us still. Therefore, we stand fast in our faith through his matchless grace and Spirit. This is why we are “more than conquerors”.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

An Out Of This World Love

Romans 5:6-8              You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We have all known people who were impossible to dislike. They are the people who are there when you need someone. Words of encouragement and hope were offered at just the right times. They loved in word but most importantly they loved us by their actions. This kind of person is very easy to love because they have loved us.

There are other people we know that are just difficult to love. They are people who do not like us. Some are people who think they are above us because of wealth, position, intelligence or some other standard. Some of these people are complainers, liars or foul mouthed in their persons. Bad moods and pessimism seem to follow them wherever they go. People like this are difficult to love and require more of an effort from us.

Christ did not come into the world to establish a club for good people. He came to die for sinners. He already loved the most wretched sinners we could ever know. Paul is commenting on the fact that when we were blind to our sinfulness and far, far from God, Christ died for us. His love is such that even the most foul and hideous human being is not beyond His mercy, grace and love.

For people struggling to understand the world in which they find themselves, this is good news. It is great news to know that God loves them before they get themselves all cleaned up. It is this kind of love that God calls all Christians to extend to the world around us. In sharing this love with others, the world will see us as we Christians were meant to be seen.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Jesus Opens Doors

Romans 3:22-24         This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

There are many movies with this scene: A man approaches a dark warehouse on the waterfront late at night, amid the fog. Seeing the door marked with a golden crest he walks up the steps to it. He looks around to be sure he has not been followed and then knocks on the door. A small peep hole opens and a gravel voice is heard saying: “Who’s there?” The cloaked figure replies, “Joe sent me.” At his reply the door opens and the man is given permission to enter the warehouse.

 The thing about this scene is that the cloaked man does not relply: “It’s me, Frankie.” No, he replies that Joe sent him. This is a simple and humorous, way of describing our faith in Christ. We do not enter the Kingdom of God by saying, “It’s me Lord, open up.” No we say: “Jesus sent me.”

We cannot merit entry into God’s Kingdom by our own efforts. Jesus is the perfect Son of God who has free and total access to God and to the Kingdom. The gravel voice said, “Come in. Any friend of Joe’s is a friend of mine.” God responds to our knock saying, “Because my son has loved you and forgiven you and accepted you, so will I, and I will view you as justified before me. Enter.”

As sinners we are cut off from fellowship with God. The door is closed for us to enter into his company. But when we accept Christ’s work for us personally and place our trusting faith in Him, we are forgiven and made acceptable to God as His child. Then, the door is opened and we enter into the Kingdom now and forever.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Romans 8:5-8     Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.  

            As Christians we don’t seem to spend enough time cultivating our minds. Many churches experience low attendance in Bible study classes during the average week. Some do not have any such classes. What you will find in other churches are dance classes, bingo, meditation, exercise sessions and other such classes. We seem to worry more about what to wear to church, how much weight we have gained or what is the latest novel or movie everyone else is tending to. The mind’s education about Christ, God and our eternal destiny seem to find a back seat to other temporal concerns.

            “The mind is a terrible thing to waste” is an anti-drug slogan. It is also an important theme in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Our mind sorts through all that we hear, see, speak and do. The mind controls our daily routines. Our mind is affected by sin and by the Holy Spirit. One leads us into despair, the other frees us to follow Christ.

            How are you forming your “mind”. What do you read? What type of music plays in your head? Are your eyes exposed to sexually explicit movies or graphically violent internet games? Christians who read only the latest novels, watch only the cable networks, and socialize with only unbelievers are not going to formulate the mind of Christ. Having your minds filled with only worldly information will lead you further from the Spirit of God. Your mind become conditioned and filled with  only “fleshly” morals, beliefs and motivations.

            If you are serious about growing in the Christian life, begin to seek every day to feed your minds the Word of God. Find Christian friends to socialize among. Learn to pick and choose the literature and movies that you all to inform or entertain you. Allow yourself times of quiet to pray and ponder God’s presence in your life. Engage your mind in the things of God and then experience the life He intends for you.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Real Faith Trusts

Romans 4:20-24         [Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

            We talk a lot about the meaning of the words believe and faith. It seems that most people think the words faith and belief are the same thing. They are not. Belief, as it is used today, is not synonymous with faith.

            Years ago a man was preparing to cross the Niagara Falls on a tight rope. Turning to the crowd he asked them, “Who believes that I will make it across the falls safely?” One man said that he was confident that the stunt man would succeed. Then came the challenge of faith. The stuntman said to the man, “Then come sit on my shoulders while I do it.”

            There are many things which we believe but in which we do not have faith. Many people who believe that a jet will fly do not have the faith to get on board. Faith is not just the intellectual agreement on a fact but is the action of relying on the truth of that fact. They act upon that fact with faith, in a tangible way. That is, we may believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. But we may not do what He commanded us to do. We are only justified by God, accepted by Him as genuine, when we are willing to put that faith in Christ into action by relying on Him.

            A person who believes the truth of the Gospel, that we are justified or accepted by God only through faith in Jesus, yet relies on his good works or moral actions to earn eternal life, does not have faith but merely an intellectual ascent to a fact. Saving faith is a faith that trusts in Jesus. It believes and acts upon that belief by trusting Jesus at His word.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Joy In Suffering

Romans 5:3-4              Let us also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Unless someone has a severe emotional or cognitive problem, now one enjoys suffering for the sake of pain alone. There is no magical effect from the pain for the Christian who suffers. Some religions in the world do teach that pain cleanses the soul and brings about a change in people. The Bible teaches Christians to view suffering in a different way.

Runners of long distances experience a great deal of pain as muscles begin to ache and lungs burn from the effect of rapid breathing. But runners continue to run long after the pain begins. They do this to prepare themselves for even longer runs. This practice prepares their bodies  in making them stronger and enables greater endurance. They do not enjoy the pain, but they recognize that pain is a sign of growing endurance and stronger muscles. With such pain they increase their chances of winning the race.

Christians are called to rejoice when their faith brings them pain. Like the runner, we are in a race against time, the influence of a fallen world and the power of sin. It is not easy to be a Christian because such a race entails experiencing pain in order to grow stronger and endure longer in a fallen world. The pain of rejection, ridicule, temptation or acceptance by others we are to rejoice in the suffering to do what God expects of us. Such suffering brings us perseverance in facing the daily struggle. It develops our character for responding as Christ would respond. Suffering leads to our hope that God will call us home and bestow a crown of victory on our heads.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Why Me?

Romans 9:16-18         It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Many of our clients have survived life threatening activities. Some were not killed while driving drunk for the 5th or 6th time. Men came home from war and fell into drug use, main-lining heroin for years. They never over-dosed or contracted Hepatitis C, nor HIV. Women have lived on the streets as prostitutes for years. A young mom lived with an abusive husband since she was sixteen years old. All of these clients share a common event, they survived long enough to come to the Mission.

The sad side of these events is that there are many men and women, young and old, who died under the same circumstances. Each day we read in the news of such deaths. Many more people are trapped in these lifestyles each day. Some survive to find help, others die along the way.

“Why me?” is a question heard from these clients when they get to the Mission. It is a wonderful question from which to talk about God’s love for each of them. I cannot answer them with details as to why a close friend died and they survived. Only God knows that answer. But the good news for them is that they have the opportunity to ask God that question now that they are here.

They survived because God wanted them to ask us that question. He wanted these clients at the Mission so we could invite them to hear of God’s love for them in Christ. They now have a unique opportunity to repent of their sins and draw close to God, seek His face and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Now that they are here, the Mission prays for God to heal, help and restore them for His glory. That’s why. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Psalm 2:7-9        I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

 A psalm of kingship

          This psalm is special because it points the reader to a time when the Anointed One will come into the world. He will reign over all the nations and peoples of the earth. He is Jesus, the Christ. It is frequently quoted in the New Testament, where it is applied to Jesus as the great Son of David and God’s Anointed.
The psalm's theology establishes God as sovereign of the world's kings. His will is accomplished in spite of those who may oppose Him. His anointed Son takes hold of his position with warnings to those who would oppose him. The psalm's use in Acts 13:33 reflects the nature of God's will fulfilled in the person of Christ. In Acts we read:

“…God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm…”

He is the Anointed one promised to our forefathers and revealed to us even today. He was given sovereignty over the entire world from his heavenly Father. He reigns over all the people of the earth.

We are warned to exercise wisdom in reading this psalm. Those who serve the Son are blessed. Those who do not, are opposing his will in their disobedience. They should fear his wrath for He will reward them for their disobedience.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Test Of Faith

Romans 10:9-11         If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

The prior verse is a quote from Deuteronomy 30:14, “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” This refers to God’s word found in the Law of Moses. Paul uses it here as an application for the gospel, the word of faith. Paul is revealing that the gospel is readily accessible to all people. Our acceptance by God is not based on our good deeds or actions. It is based on our faith in Jesus Christ, freely available to anyone who will receive it.

This passage is a good barometer for the Christian. Do you believe in Christ, the Gospel? Is your belief a living trust from day to day? Besides believing in your heart, do you communicate your faith? Can you explain to others your actions with your faith as the reason? Does all of your living and speaking reveal a heart set on Him?

            “Open confession of [Jesus] name before men is an indispensable condition for all authentic discipleship. ‘Those who are ashamed or afraid to acknowledge Christ before men, cannot expect to be saved. The [lack] of courage to confess, is decisive evidence of the [lack] of heart to believe.’” (G. Wilson, p. 178)

Paul is teaching us that salvation involves inward belief, with your heart and outward confession, with your mouth. Belief entails trusting faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit. Confession here is not the acknowledgement of sin per se, but the affirmation of faith in Christ, proclamation of the gospel. Confessing that you believe in Him.

Friday, December 20, 2013

God's Will For You

Romans 12:2               Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Again Paul speaks about the renewal of our minds. From our mind comes the information and logical analysis of the decisions we make and the choices that we live out each day. If your mind is filled with Scripture verses, teachings of Christ and the wisdom of Solomon, then you will find the will of God and His direction for living.

People want to know what God’s will is for their life. Yet, they refuse to spend the necessary time in reading His Word. They see that as an academic exercise for which they have little interest or motivation. They want direction but refuse to read the map.

God’s Word provides our need in two ways. First, for the unbeliever, it is the witness to God’s love and reality in life. Scripture answers the questions of who is God, what is his character and how can he be known. With help from a friend, the unbeliever can be led into a personal relationship with God. The friend becomes the Holy Spirit’s instrument for renewal. Together the unbeliever is led to repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. The Holy Spirit takes up residence and the unbeliever becomes a follower of Christ.

The Word of God is also intended for the believer. Once transformed by the Holy Spirit, the Word of God becomes the guide, the map for understanding God’s will. His Word leads us in how we are to live in relationship to Him and to other people. Wisdom to live is provided in detail in Proverbs and the Psalms. If these books are never read then the believer is left to his or her own wisdom.

If the principles taught by people Moses, Joshua, David, Paul, Matthew, Peter and others are ignored then you  will never grow in faith. You will fail to be move deeper into a relationship with God. The purpose of your study is to teach, rebuke, correct and train you in His isHrighteousness, so that you may be thoroughly equipped for His will in your life.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Love Defined

Romans 12:9-10         Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Love is a wonderful attribute. Love is an attribute that must be cultivated in all Christians. It is not our natural tendency to love others as Scripture defines love. Twice in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13 and here, Paul speaks of the nature of Godly love. Jesus says that we are to love one another as He has loved us. So again Paul gives us a description of that kind of love.

Paul says you can fake love. You can pretend to love but in your heart harbor envy, malice or greed towards others. Love should be sincere, God knows what you are really thinking.

Love despises it’s antithesis, evil. Love works to remove evil and the wrong that we find in ourselves and others. Love becomes a barrier to prevent evil from harming others. If we exhibit love then we become the barrier for others when evil approaches. Loving our family and friends teaches us to be a protective influence in their lives. The marketing slogan says: “Real friends don’t let friends do drugs”. That is the type of love that protects us from evil.

Love looks for the good in others. Evil or malice or hatred may be present but the loving brother or sister is insistent on finding the good that is surely in others. God does not make junk. Find the good and nurture that in the other person. You can find common ground in the good that others exhibit. The good becomes the bond and basis for your relationship. From this perspective you can begin influence the other person for God’s glory.

Love makes us devoted to finding the good in others and bringing the best of God’s world to bear on that other person. Love enables us to think more highly of others and their needs than ourselves. Love becomes less selfish and more devoted to God’s will for your friends.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Don't Be Stumbling Blocks

Romans 14:14-15                   As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.

We all have certain traditions we maintain that serve to link us with past generations of family. They bind us tightly with other people in our own social or religious groups. Often times we do not even know how the traditions came to be.

The story is told of a family where a ham always had an inch or so sliced off from one side before it was put in the oven. A guest asked why this was done and the woman cooking said “My mother always prepared ham that way.” With her interest stimulated, she in turn asked her mother about the ham. Her mother said, “Because my mother always prepared ham that way.” When she then asked her great-grandmother about it, she laughed and explained: “The oven in our first home was so small that a whole ham would not fit into it. So I had to cut off part of it.”

Traditions affect modern people as much as those in Paul’s day. To understand this passage we  ought to take modern and ancient traditions into account. We must realize that people in our day who accept the good news are embedded in cultures and religions with their own traditions and that those traditions will not always be easy to give up. Traditions are never and excuse for sin. Paul encourages us to turn away from any traditions contrary to God’s revealed will. But many traditions are not clearly sinful, and when this is the case, we are to take a slow and loving approach to them and to the people who hold to them.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why does Jericho Road Ministries bother to help people who are so “messed up”? Didn’t they bring this on themselves and are merely experiencing the consequences of their sin?

           In the Old Testament book of Hosea we read:  “When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.’ So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.” (1:2-3)
Christians would not expect to read this passage from Hosea during the Advent or Christmas season. But this passage speaks to the reason Christ came into the world. Christmas season is an exhibition of God’s way of dealing with the world and the sin that so enslaves mankind. It is no surprise to God that people sink as low as they do into addiction, pornography, war, abuse, homosexuality, embezzlement, and the likes. God is not caught off guard by terrorists, pedophiles and mass murderers. The Christmas Story is about the beginning of God’s work in this scandal ridden world. The birth of baby Jesus occurs in a town far away in time but identical to us today in terms of need, poverty, war and sin. Nothing has changed. Sin still infects the people around us.
The scandal is not that a preacher would choose this passage for a Christmas message. The scandal is that there exists a God who so loves us that He would stoop down and meet us where we are in the midst of our sin and depravity. God is a scandalous God. His love is scandalous to the senses of the immoral minds of those whose lives are an affront to their Creator.

God’s ways are not our ways. As Christians, as God’s children our love is to be equally as scandalous. We are to love the immoral, depraved and sinful people who ignore God. Our ministry is to bring light into the darkness of their world. The world’s expectation for us is that we would join with them. God’s expectation for us is that we would love them. To love them is to enter into a relationship with them. Our duty is to exhibit a scandalous love and to love the unlovable. It will be a scandal if we act in the opposite of the world’s expectation.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I want to help the clients. Can I bring them gifts of clothing or food, mail their letter or allow them to use my cell phone?

Your assistance of our clients is limited to your role work description as a staff or volunteer. As you work obediently and live among our clients your behavior and interaction encourages clients and reinforces the teachings and lessons they receive from shelter staff and their counselors. You play a supporting role in the clients transition and program life.
Clients have volunteered to submit themselves to the New Life Program requirements and responsibilities administered by the Shelter Staff. Clients have agreed to submit themselves to the immediate oversight of the Shelter Staff, with the assistance of the Ministry Chaplain, in regards to their spiritual, emotional, mental and material needs. This means that they look to these staff people, only, for guidance, recommendations and permission in all areas of their program while residing at our Rescue Mission.
While in their Programs, these clients are not to be directly offered any material assistance or help of any kind. Clients must complete their programs without your assistance and within the strict guidelines established by this Mission and agreed to by the client.  If clients approach you with any request for anything, you are to turn down the request and notify the Shelter Staff of such a request, so that corrective steps can be taken with the client as needed.
Clients in Phase II still require permission to be off site when not working. They are required to get permission to accept or change jobs, visit family or others and be off site at church or other activities. Any assistance you wish to provide clients must first be approved by the Shelter Staff. This will ensure clients are maintaining their program agreement and moving in the direction they have communicated to Staff. It is their responsibility to determine the client's need and whether your assistance will be beneficial and consistent with the clients program goals.

Assistance that relates to this memo is to be broad enough to cover everything. Examples include: jobs, visits to your home, housing, money, food, clothing, advise, etc. The purpose of this policy is to maintain a healthy environment in which the client can make wise, responsible and personally healthy decisions as they move from our Mission toward independent living and self-sufficiency.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I don’t see myself as a counselor or great Bible scholar. How can I be a part of God’s plan for helping the clients?

Christians are not perfect. Christians do not all experience a sense of peace in their lives. The truth is that many Christians are as miserable and empty as their unbelieving friends and neighbors. They feel as if a great weight is hanging around their necks and it is keeping them from moving forward in life and enjoying the life God is giving them. These Christians think that because God loves them and they believe in Jesus Christ that they should be free of the struggles that weigh them down or that these struggles should be easier to overcome.
            The reality of life is that the same things that hurt the unbelieving world equally hurt Christians. Christians grow up with an alcoholic parent, experience the trauma of incest and other unspeakable abuses from those who are responsible for their well-being. None of us are immune from the attitudes and behaviors that scar our hearts and souls. These struggles do not have to be of such tragic proportions to have a lasting negative affect on our lives.
            Broken people raise broken children. The sense of personal inadequacy may come from a father who was home but never had a word of encouragement or time to play with their children. Bitter memories could be linked to a mother who demanded perfection and controlled every thought or movement of her little boy or girl. There exist other homes that foster cynicism, permissiveness, harshness or manipulation to such an extreme that the child never senses true love.

God uses relationships and processes to change people. The sin we commit and the sin committed against us is known to God. He has a plan to address both. The plan is a life of transformation one day at a time. It is not normally a change that occurs instantly. God works to make us into the people He desires us to be. He does this in a way that allows us to then minister to the world of hurting people around us. He even makes us the instruments of change for others. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Does Jericho Road Ministries have regular emergency drills, i.e., fire, terrorist, hurricane?

           Regular emergency drills or practices do not occur here at the Mission. We do however have several items that will help facilitate safety throughout the Mission.
            First, we have an emergency plan for severe weather for all our shelter buildings. This is found in the Shelter Policy Manuals. This policy was enacted several years ago. The purpose is to maintain the safety of our clinets during a severe weather event. Local emergency shelters designed for such events will be utilized according to the policies in place.
            Next, we have the Jericho Road Emergency Plan that covers natural disasters, fires, floods, etc. This plan is quite comprehensive and was completed in conjunction with the Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition. This plan is available to all staff directors, managers and coordinators for use and periodic review.
          Each building is all provided an emergency evacuation diagram for people to utilize in the event of an emergency. The Human Resource Department has a complete set of these documents for review and future training for staff and volunteers.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What do you see as the biggest challenge in the future for the mission?

           Ministry work is a challenge every day. That is due to the fact that we work with needy people and the ravages that sin creates in their lives. This alone is challenging work. But we are reminded that God will never leave us to fend for ourselves. This work is guided each day by Him. We are reminded, however, by Scripture that we must not forget to work at the administrative side of our ministry. The clients come first, second to them is remaining diligent in the areas I believe are critical to our future faithfulness to God.
Remaining Christ centered in our approach to providing services to the homeless and poor can never be relaxed. It is because of Him that we are in ministry to begin with. He has saved us in order that we might be used by Him to reach back to minister to others. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
In Matthew 9 we read that Jesus “saw the crowds; he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”(9:36-38) The goal of ministry has not changed since Jesus’s times on earth. It is critical that the Mission enlists workers (paid or volunteer) who are committed to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and who all see evangelism as their primary goal in the work they do at the Mission.
Since the beginning, Jericho Road Ministries has been blessed with faithful and God-fearing men and women. As we look to the future it will be important to further develop our Board of Directors for telling the story of Jericho Road Ministries in the community and the Churches. To further this work of communications they will be drawn into a greater oversight of the operations through the executive leadership at the Mission. In this way the Lord will guide them in receiving greater resources to provide our shelter programs to more of the homeless and needy among us.

Lastly, the work of the staff and the Board will continue to be seen and judged by the community. To date we have had wonderful community support and cooperation. For this to continue we will need to remain faithful to our Mission Statement. The community respects our diligence and truth in sharing our goals openly and honestly. Trustworthiness in doing and being what Christ has called us to as His followers will always find favor with God. To receive similar favor from mankind will be a blessing from God, too.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What percentage of the Mission’s income is from the thrift stores? Grants? Donations?

           God must receive all the glory for the support we receive to operate Jericho Road Ministries. In the beginning, we had no funds to operate. All we utilized was our faith in God and the knowledge of His Spirit leading us to begin a ministry to the least and the lost among us. A vision for a Rescue Mission for reaching out to the homeless was shared with people throughout the county. In God’s time, He moved people to begin supporting this vision for Rescue Ministry with money and in-kind donations. Since then we continue to pray for God to raise up His people to support this Gospel Rescue Mission that we call Jericho Road Ministries.
The Mission is supported by several thousand individuals, businesses, civic groups and churches in Hernando County and beyond. Without their support of financial and in-kind donations Jericho Road Ministries would not exist. With their support we have been able to establish homes for men, women and families who find themselves in need of temporary emergency shelter or longer term programs of recovery. Nearly half of our support comes from these gracious and faithful supporters.
            Our Thrift Stores contribute over half of our operating support. Currently our four stores are able to receive the in-kind donations from the community and turn them into funds used for our shelters. In addition, we are able to give some of this merchandise to needy families and individuals who are being served by Jericho Road or one of the many other local social service agencies or churches within our community. The stores also provide a place for our New Life Program Clients to participate in our Work Therapy Program that helps to equip them for employment beyond the walls of Jericho. Lastly, the stores are also able to offer community service workers a place to earn credit towards their probation requirements, students a place to gain experience and credit for school graduation requirements. Our stores provide tremendous support for all the programs offered by Jericho Road and support for other residents in the community.

            Lastly, we receive some federal and state grants for our Emergency Shelter Programs. Foundations and other private funding sources are available to us as well. These sources account for approximately 10% of our total operating needs. These donors are a blessing to Jericho Road in rounding out our financial needs. These groups, by their support, affirm the integrity and dedication of our staff to providing quality and consistent program services to the least and the lost in our community.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Where did the idea of opening thrift stores come from? Are there plans for any more in the near future?

           In early 2000 we were renovating the Men’s Shelter building on Mondon Hill Road. The funds for the work came from donations and from yard sales we had on the property monthly. People in the community were excited about helping get things ready to begin sheltering our clients. Those who could not give money gave us all kinds of items: clothes, furniture, freezers, beds, dishes, toys and more. We began storing these items in the garage area which is the office rooms today. Once a month several of the women volunteers, with their spouses, ran a yard sale with all the donated merchandise. The sales helped pay for the work being done in the shelter building.
            By late summer we realized we could not keep having yard sales once the clients arrived. So we located a small retail space on Cortez Boulevard in the plaza that houses the Hernando Today newspaper. We signed the lease and opened the store on October 1, 2000. The volunteers were excited to have an air conditioned space to work and sell the merchandise. Over the years the profits from the store helped to pay for the Men’s Shelter programs and expenses. We kept that store until September 2009 when it was finally closed.
            In 2004 we purchased vacant land on Wiscon Road with the plan to one day build our own Thrift Store. That happened in February 2006 with the opening of our second store. We kept the first store opened as a book store. This decision went well until the down turn in 2009. The Wiscon Store has grown and remains a vital resource for the ministry and the programs we offer to our clients and the community.
In November 2007 we opened our third store in Ridge Manor. The plan for this store was to provide added funds for our Women’s Shelter that opened in February 2008. In August 2008 we opened another store on U.S. 19 at Winchester Plaza. This store made our retail coverage complete for Hernando County. In May 2010 we opened a store in Hudson. This store began our first steps to expand our Shelter Ministry outside Hernando County.

As each store opened the community responded with more and more donations. The increasing expansion of shelter beds required more funding and the community helped tremendously along the way. Each store provides funds, merchandise and jobs for our clients and the shelter operations. As the ministry programs grow, our need for additional stores may grow, but not as quickly as it had in the past. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

So other than offering donations, what could someone do to really help Jericho Road Ministries?

           While giving clothes and financial gifts are important, the giving of someone’s time and talents are sometimes more important. Volunteering at one of our stores, shelters or Food Barn is an opportunity for those who cannot give financially. Giving of your time is a great way to see the ministry up close and personal. It is a blessing for those who volunteer to be able to know the many clients we serve. Relationship building is a part of our volunteer program.
Volunteering as a chapel or class instructor is a way to bring encouragement and hope to our clients. They spend much of their waking hours with staff and only occasionally see people from outside the Mission coming to help. Your presence as a volunteer helps them to see and know that the greater community cares and is personally interested in their recovery to wholeness.
Volunteers at our Food Barn benefit from meeting those in our community that struggle each week to feed themselves and/or their families. We are still in a rough economic climate that is keeping many unemployed and others under-employed. Being able to pay for gas to get to part time jobs and still put food on the table is a great challenge for many families in our community.

Volunteers come from all walks of life and reflect every age group. We have children and students who volunteer at our stores and Food Barn. They are able to see the value of giving as a character trait they can develop further as they mature. Senior citizens are able to meet new friends and find fellowship as they share their time with other like-minded people. Some of our tutors and chapel speakers give of their evening hours to teach and encourage clients working their way through our New Life Programs. Teachers, pastors, mechanics, craftsmen, students, business men, bankers, and others from different vocations represent the talent God provides to our operations. Together these people can impact our clients and make a difference, no matter the age, no matter their life backgrounds.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shifting just a bit: as a donor, how exactly would my monetary donation or material donation to the thrift store benefit the homeless and my community?

           Giving your used material possessions helps us to financially support our shelters. Merchandise is cleaned and priced for sale in our stores. The abundance of material gifts allows us to operate four thrift stores, fund all five of our shelter buildings, provide 20 full and part time jobs, enable clients to learn job skills, recycle community goods, provide people needing to complete Community Service Hours a safe place to volunteer and enables us to give merchandise to those not able to afford some of life’s basic necessities.
            The furnishings in our shelter buildings and offices are predominately from the merchandise that is donated to our stores. These gifts allow us to use our financial resources for other needs such as salaries, utility bills, pest control, food, etc. The store sales generate a sufficient cash flow for us to maintain all the costs associated with our five shelter buildings. These shelters provide bed space for up to 48 men, women and children on a nightly basis, year-round.
            In addition to our funding from the thrift stores, we receive cash donations, grants and foundation gifts from people, churches and businesses in Hernando, Pasco, Citrus, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. These donations complete our financial needs and provide for future expansion. Currently, we are working to remodel a vacant church building in Hernando County into a 30 bed New Life Recovery Program shelter for men. The need for this shelter is great and would not be possible without the support we receive in cash or in-kind donations.
            The shelter buildings that are funded by the community provide both short term and long term care. Clients can come in for a few nights if they so choose. Other clients choose to enroll in our New Life Recovery Programs and stay with us for a year or longer. While with us, these individuals have opportunity for immediate life changing experiences, can finish their high school diplomas or enroll in college. Biblical based life skill classes, weekly worship services and prayer meetings help to facilitate permanent life changes for our clients. 

            Our community is served by the work we accomplish with our clients. Men and women who were without hope or a productive role in the community are now giving in a positive way to Hernando County. Taking responsibility for their lives helps the community reap the benefit of positive and productive living rather than seeing these people fall into criminal, immoral and unproductive lifestyles. As the least among us are raised higher, the entire community is raised to a higher standard of living. As Christians, we seek to serve rather than to be served. This principle is paramount to our teachings and to the client’s full recovery here at Jericho Road Ministries.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How long can a family stay in the Family Emergency Shelters?

           Our duplex and the 5-bedroom house are both used for family emergency shelter. These locations have a stove, refrigerator and food supplies for the families to use. Linens are also provided. The costs to operate these shelters are provided by Jericho Road Ministries. No emergency shelter clients pay any program fee or rent to stay in these locations.
Families entering these locations may stay up to 30 nights per year in these shelters. These shelters do not provide program classes for the residents. Families staying with us are required to adhere to specific levels of cleanliness in the shelter and maintain basic orderliness within the units. Most of these clients are unemployed and may or may not own a vehicle. Our staff works with these families to provide referrals to program shelters for families outside our area. We also determine if there is a way for them to reconnect with family where ever they may be. Transportation to family or another shelter is provided when resources are available.
Families entering these shelters know in advance that they are only promised one night at a time. This is to ensure they are performing the duties they need to while residing in the shelter. We have had some families that have “trashed” the unit within two or three days, leaving dirty pots and dishes throughout the unit, allowed animals into the home, left doors and windows open (without screens), and more. As a result, we now monitor the units daily to determine the clients intentions and sincerity for receiving the assistance they have asked for.

Sometimes we receive families into shelter where the parent(s) has a job and transportation. In these cases we will allow them to stay beyond the 30 nights if they are willing to show proof that they are saving their money in order to pay for deposits to move into their own apartment. In these cases, the clients prepare a financial plan in the first few days at the shelter. This agreed to by the client and staff, along with other program matters, and they stay as long as they are working to fulfill their program.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What about people who are believers, but are just being released from incarceration? Does your program help to reintroduce them back into society? Is there a program strictly for that transition? If not, are there plans for such in the future?

           The Jericho Road New Life Program is designed for both believing and unbelieving clients. For the former, the program will lead them into a deeper faith and trust in God. For the latter group, the program will introduce them to the Christian faith and exhort them to repent of their sins and turn to Christ for God’s mercy. The New Life Program is designed to equip the clients for living responsibly within the community and to find the needed resources to live independent and productive lives.
            We receive clients from all backgrounds and varying life problems. Men and women who have been living on the streets or woods, those coming out of prison or jail and others are equally provided the opportunity to volunteer for this eleven month program. Participation in the life skill classes, bible studies, worship and chapel services, educational programs (GED, trade school, college) and work therapy programs all contribute to the clients attaining self-sufficiency and responsibility for their lives and future success.
            Future program plans include a Family Life Program, similar to the current program for men and women, targeting women with children. This, too, would be a minimum nine month program designed to equipment mothers for working and providing their children’s needs. Parenting skills, educational training, job placement and family management classes would be provided for this client group. The goal here would be to assist these single mothers in finding employment, safe housing and child care services (as needed) sufficient to enable the family to live a productive, independent and self-sufficient life. This program would also be Christ-centered and designed to help them know Him as their Lord and Savior.
We hope to build this facility on our Howell Avenue property in the next few years. The plan would call for housing up to 48 women and children. Construction of the new facility would include: 10 bedrooms with toilet, sink and shower, two bunk beds and a twin bed; a meeting room, play room and front porch. In addition, the current Women’s Shelter building would be expanded to include: commercial kitchen, dining hall and laundry room for serving clients of both shelter buildings. The current Food Barn ministry would be moved to another location within the county. The barn would be removed to make room for a play area for children and an outdoor picnic area for residents and visitors.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"So, what does a successful, graduated client look like? Where do they go after they leave the shelter?"

            A client who successfully graduates our program looks like you and I. They have made decisions that are morally sound, informed by the truth and guided by wisdom. Graduates are people who have made the necessary progress and changes to be working full time, living in their own apartment, attending church and surrounded by friends and family. Our program is rigorous but it is transformational.
Graduates have accepted full responsibility for their past decisions and for the future course of their lives. They have developed life skills that have fostered healthy relationships with our staff, volunteers and the community. Acknowledging their faults and past mistakes, they have chosen to learn from the past and to seek greater accountability in their lives as they pursue career objectives.
            There are many individuals that have graduated our New Life Program. I will share a few snap shots of their lives. First, Nelson came into our program in the summer of 2005. A year later he graduated and chose to remain at the Mission. Nelson worked in our Thrift Stores and Men’s Shelter for the next two years. He was promoted to store manager in his third year with us and later was promoted to Thrift Store Director for all four of our stores. Over the years he stayed in touch with his former wife, children and family. In the summer of 2012 he was remarried to Marlene and reunited with his family. His final step in recovery was to move back home to North Carolina in March 2013. Today he is the proud father and husband that God had graciously made him. He is now employed by Habit For Humanity in one of their Thrift Stores in his town.
            Jeremy graduated our New Life Program and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior while at the Mission. Today, he is enrolled in undergraduate studies at the Baptist Bible College in Graceville, Florida. Another graduate, Tiffany finished her New Life Program and chose to enter our one year graduate program, Jericho Road Advanced Recovery Servant Program (JARS). While in this program she enrolled in the online undergraduate program at City Vision College. She is working towards her bachelor’s degree in Rescue Ministry. John, another JARS program graduate works for the Mission at our Thrift Store. He was recently promoted to Production Manager at the store. Denise and Oliver both graduated the New Life Program, left the mission to pursue other work but have come back to work in our thrift store and food pantry locations.

            These are only a few of the men and women who have come through Jericho Road Ministries and today are productive citizens in our community and beyond.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Just how successful is the program? What percentages of clients revert back to their former lifestyle?"

I asked one of my mentors at the Waterfront Rescue Mission how successful his program was and he replied that he had a 100% success rate.  That was an astonishing response. I asked how that was possible and he explained to me what I hope to explain to you.
We measure our success by how consistently we offer each client hope for their future. Our life skill classes, chapel speakers, worship services, work therapy program, spiritual counseling, meals, recreation and clean clothes all contribute to the new life we offer every client. Each person is given the same opportunity to learn, respond, speak, confess, plan and achieve their goals. Our staff strives to be loving, truthful, consistent, disciplined, honest and Christ-like.
Each client arrives with unique needs and shares problems similar to others. Many have spent years destroying their physical, emotional and spiritual abilities. Some have spent years or decades in prison. Some have lived in the woods or on the streets for the same amount of time. Many have destroyed their relationships with family, spouses and friends. They have become islands adrift in a community that has all but given up hope on them. As a result, when they finally come to their senses or are released from prison, they have no one to turn to for help.
In the Gospel of Mark we read that …a man ran up and knelt before him and asked [Jesus], “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him… You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, [etc.] …’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions…. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words… and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”   (Mark 10: 17-27)

For every ten clients that come to our shelter, two or three want to stay for our eleven month New Life Recovery Program. This program offers all the services mentioned above and more. For every ten men who enter the New Life Program, six will diligently work and complete the program. Every person that comes to our door is offered help to the degree that they choose. We force no one to stay if they do not want to be in our facility. We offer them the same opportunity and information for them to decide. By their own choosing and their own behavior they stay or the leave. The choice is theirs completely to follow the Program and God’s leading or to choose to walk away. It may seem impossible for such people to have success and hope in their lives but with God all things are possible.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"When someone comes to Jericho what are the guidelines that determine if they are a transient or if they will participate in the New Life Program?"

            The term “transient” is used to identify individuals that come to us for shelter but not for our New Life Program. Transients stay in our shelter for only a few nights and move on to other locations. These individuals are not desiring to enter a program or seek assistance beyond a nights lodging and meals. Although they only stay for a short period of time, we do offer them information about our programs and the opportunities available to them at our Mission.
            Transients will come to us needing services that are not offered at Jericho Road Ministries. In these cases, we attempt to provide them a vital referral to an agency that can provide assistance or further guidance in finding the resources they are seeking. We can assist these people by providing them  the nights lodging and meals they need until they can get to the agency that will help them further.
            Those who enter our New Life Program are choosing of their own free will to receive the program as offered by Jericho Road. While staying with us or by referral from another agency, individuals voluntarily choose to commit themselves to the program and the responsibilities that go along with the program. The willingness of the individual to be in our program is primary in their entry to the New Life Program.

            Clients also are required to be free of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of their entry to the shelter. If they are on probation, they are required to show evidence that the parole officer has given permission for them to enter our program. Legal issues, financial problems and other personal matter will be discussed with the potential client to ensure that they are able to be on-site for the program without these matters becoming an interruption of their program requirements and responsibilities.

Ministry Scenes

Have The Homeless Become Invisible?