* Beauty From Ashes – “I have been to the bottom before, widows are effectively in quarantine and social distancing for weeks and even months after losing their spouse. We’ve been through this before and we are unafraid. Jesus was our hope then, and will be our hope now.” – Lori B., Mission Leader for Beauty from Ashes.
Rather than simply postpone or reschedule the Widows growth and support meetings during the crisis. Lori is using carefully crafted communication tools to unite and support widows through this Crisis.
What is she doing?
* Zoom trainings – she wrote a wonderful step by step encouragement for the widows God has placed in her care for how to gain access to digital video meetings. Read the text of the email for some insight into how gifted she is at shepherding those the Lord has given her. Here is an excerpt from her masterfully and pastorally crafted message:
"I have decided to "relocate" the meeting this Saturday. I think it's wise for us all to be safe and
prevent the spread of the coronavirus. I want to be responsible and cautious. I know this time is difficult to have such uncertainty; however, we can look at what we have learned from what we have been through and apply all that to today's circumstances. There is not too much that rattles me and I am sure that is the same with most of you. Worry and fear never got me anywhere, and I have learned to trust and rest in Him. "
* Prayer and counsel through digital communication
* Creating hand made cards with her kids to mail to widows for a hands on encouragement.
* Providing meaningful content – she has coordinated with a local handyman who provided video home maintenance training specifically tailored to the needs of the widows in the BFA group. If you have any skills or services that you think may be of service to the widows group - reach out to Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org
* She launched a social media group to help provide encouragement and tips from her years of experience in homeschooling.
* She is working with Light the World productions to produce a professional quality video to tell the untold story of a day in the life of a widow - and provide a window into the power of the hope of Jesus at work through the Beauty from Ashes ministry.
Wildfire Network is working behind the scenes to support Beauty from Ashes by providing encouragement and support, through coaching and intersession, and currently working to build out a website for Beauty From Ashes at this time, to multiply the platform for Lori and her team to produce and share resources with widows who need it.
We praise the Lord for the amazing ways He is bringing hope to widows even right now in this crisis.
March 25th was the first day of San Antonio’s Shelter in place restrictions. On that same day, God used the T.H.U.G.G.I.N. for Christ team to find a place for 2 of God’s lost sheep to shelter. God is close to the broken hearted. While everyone who is part of our Network (including TFC) is seeking to follow the recommended procedures for slowing the spread of this crisis, God has used Mashaun to provide a way out of the streets for not one, but 2 separate men.
A couple days before, Mashaun went out to do street ministry with the T.H.U.G.G.I.N. for Christ team, literally looking for lost sheep. He found Ryan. He shared the gospel with him and offered him a way out of the streets. Ryan, who had already tried 3 different recovery programs, had found himself back on drugs, back on the streets, separated from his wife and kids, jobless, and feeling alone and hopeless. Mashaun, and the TFC team reassured him that they had all been there at some point, and pointed to their own lives (imperfect, but in recovery) as evidence of the miracles that Jesus can do with a truly repentant heart and just a little bit of faith.
A little faith is exactly what Ryan had – and enough of a desire to change that he got up from the street, and got in the car with Mashaun to head to a detox/recovery program. As a street ministry comprised of men and women who once lived on the same streets, they know the locations, hours, and services of nearly every halfway house, recovery program, and shelter in the area – so he drove him straight to the nearest one. “Didn’t you hear about the shelter in place rules? We got slammed and are overfilled already. Sorry, better luck somewhere else” – the somber yet firm response of the shelter manager responded to Mashaun plea for Ryan. One by one, all 6 of the shelters he tried sent them away.
They might as well have said “no room in the inn...” as their journey seemed to echo the desperate attempt of Joseph to find shelter for Mary. Mashaun reached out to a friend of his at a large shelter downtown and advocated for Ryan, based on the sincerity in his eyes and the earnest desire to change and truly enter the hard work of recovery. Not finding an open door, even with connections, Mashaun allowed Ryan to stay with him for the night at his apartment.
The next morning Mashaun reached out to some friends on the inside at the city's largest shelter and recovery center, and they said they could get him in if a pastor was willing to write a recommendation for him. He called Taylor and they arranged a meeting for a prayer time with Ryan, and he gladly printed and signed the recommendation upon seeing firsthand the genuine desire for repentance and renewal in Ryan. By the time they got back to the shelter it had closed for the night, Mashaun extended the risky hospitality one more time.
The next morning, March 25th, the effective date for San Antonio's shelter in place restrictions, Mashaun was able to get Ryan successfully into the recovery program. As he was leaving the shelter, two things happened: first, his emergency gas light came on (with no regular income as a result of the COVID19 situation, he was relieved to be close enough to home to probably make it). The second thing that happened was a phone call from a T.H.U.G.G.I.N. for Christ prayer partner and team member who lives out in Bulverde, nearly 45 minutes from where Mashaun was at - "HEy there, Ive met a guy who was living on the streets, and after praying with him, he is ready to go into recovery! Can you come pick him up, get him some help, and find a shelter/recovery program?". While his heart burned to help the guy, he was running out of gas - literally. Just then Mashaun remembered that Wildfire Network had given him a grant of $100 in petty cash to be used for emergency ministry expenses. He used those funds to provide transportation, supplies, and admission into a recovery center for the second man within 24 hours who reached out for help.
At a time when the needs of the homeless in our community are so great, yet most ministries are restricting their assistance or shutting down entirely because of the COVID crisis. The situation is so serious that the city of San Antonio is reaching out to churches and ministries begging them to reopen or provide some sort of help to people experiencing homelessness. It seems evident that God has called a ministry like T.H.U.G.G.I.N. for Christ into existence for such a time as this.
Please pray for Mashaun and his team as they walk hand in hand with these two new brothers in Christ to train them on the long road of recovery and teach them to be disciples of Jesus. You can give to support T.H.U.G.G.I.N. for Christ as a designated mission on the Wildfire giving page. Your continued financial support of Wildfire helps us to empower start up ministries. Through your giving, you are a real part of helping moments like this happen. Thanks.
John Garland, the Mission Leader of Semillas, was able to witness first-hand the miracle of freedom as he responded to the call of a Honduran woman who reached out from a detention center where she had been separated from her family for over 8months. She grew up harvesting coffee from the hills surrounding her town, until the pervasive oppression of gang violence sent her and her family seeking a place where they could live in freedom. Upon arriving at the US border and willingly turning themselves in to officially seek asylum, she was separated from her minor younger brother who had escaped with her from Honduras. She was brave and continued to seek help until she was given the number of a pastor who had been known to help families in her situation: John Garland of Semillas, pastor of the SA Mennonite Church.
The foggy car ride down to the detention center drop off began before 3am in San Antonio, in the early days of the COVID crises, just days before the President restricted travel from Europe. Thanks to the kindness of a Brownsville bus stop employee who allowed the use of his cell phone to confirm that John was on his way, Flora courageously got in the car with the 2 pastors from San Antonio who had come to help out. The drive from Brownsville to San Antonio was filled with tears as she spoke with her family for the first time in over 8 months (the call was punctuated with tearful pleas of ‘No Llores, mama, no LLores’). She also learned of the status of her little brother in the Texas foster system, and made contact with an attorney who could begin the reunification process. John was attentive to her need to stop several times on the drive as she adjusted to the motion sickness of the vehicle after so many months of confinement.
John was overwhelmed at her strong and sincere faith as she sang praises to the Lord, who had removed her chains – she literally prayed and confessed to the Lord that she had been in chains in the morning, and now felt like her soul was free and filled with hope and gratitude to the Lord for hearing her prayer and sending help. After safely arriving back to the shelter in downtown SA, she is now receiving trauma healing prayer using an innovative and artistic approach to understanding how the Gospel of Christ speaks to the deepest places of her pain. Through the Lord at work in answering her diligent and faithful and tearful prayers, the process of reuniting with her family has begun.
Wildfire Staff, Mission Leaders, and contributors