Posts tagged ‘winfield house’

September 29, 2012

Winfield House: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

At Winfield House this month and October, we are collecting new or gently used outer wear for men. Those items include: coats, vests, sweatshirts, gloves, hats, and boots.

To all of the knitters and crocheter’s out there, we need handmade scarves and hats. If you are inclined, blankets, too. All items are collected and given in love to the men who live under the bridges in Cincinnati.

Why?

Because they need you!

Have you ever driven a car and accidently lost control? It can be likened to the downward spiral of homelessness or poverty. Sometimes we are driving through life without a care, all of the sudden something comes at us, or perhaps we were not paying attention, and we need to move the wheel quickly to avoid an accident. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Life is that way, hard to predict. If, when driving, we are startled, we jerk the wheel, and over-correct ourselves, as our adrenaline is heightened; we either miss the object or we are hit from the oncoming car.

If we swerve and still hit the object, we are now off the road and perhaps in an undesirable position. The car is tilted to one side, half on rock and half in the dirt.  Last night’s rain has made the dirt mud, so our tires are quickly sinking. We are somewhat immobilized by the shock of the accident, wondering if we have killed a person or animal we hit. Afraid of the tilt of the car, we try to examine our options. There don’t seem to be very many. We try to call for help, but find we have no phone service.

Seeing that the tilt of the car could be dangerous, rather than abandon the vehicle, we try to restart and maneuver the car into a better position.  In doing so, we have now sunk the tires deeper into the mud. The spinning noise is bringing us to hopelessness, and we realize the vehicle is truly stuck.  To leave the vehicle may not be safe as we are in now unfamiliar territory. Worried about the other vehicle, we pray, try 911 again, and are wracked with fear.

It might occur to us to now look for our own wounds, as we feel a sharp pain in our side, and see the oozing of blood on our forehead. The dizziness of the whole event has now brought us to a paralyzed state. We need assistance!

So, it can be with life circumstances. We sometimes need assistance. Whether we are brought to a low place by another, our own decisions, or a pervasive lifestyle, we have spun out the tires in exhaustion and cannot find hope for our circumstance. There seems to be no one to help us dig out from the accident.

At Winfield House, we are dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Poverty is defined as a state of mind or financial situation where there is lack to sustain life and/or a healthy emotional condition.

Anyone can be affected at any time of their lives by poverty. Either one is born into it, or somehow brought low by circumstance.

For 20 years, Winfield House has helped individuals and families strive to become independent, self-reliant, and successful in both public and personal life.

Here is a three-pronged approach to helping:

Dignity- helping with basic needs, food, clothing, and life-sustaining supplies.
Discipline-helping with life skills to help avoid future problems, and to create a new life.
Direction-spiritual help to bring richness to our souls.

Regarding the poor, I hear this all the time, “Why don’t they just get a job?”
In responding, I have to have as much mercy on the giver as the receiver. Understanding poverty and homelessness is not as easy as it seems. The dynamics are as diverse as the people. In the Bible, we are mandated to take care of the widows, orphans and the poor, so I am especially honored to be part of the restoration team.

Please open your hearts to our friends under the bridge. You, too, may swerve off the road one day and need assistance. You never know.

 
by Karyn Alexander

Voice of the Nations column for RED!
Executive Director, Winfieldhouse.org

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, bringing hope to God’s people.
Voice of the Nations, Rev.5:19 “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, language, and nation.”

July 30, 2012

HEARTBEAT

Something awesome happened to me very recently.

It began with this remark: “Karyn, I could feel your heart beating so fast!”

What a comment!  How many of us are close enough to someone who could have that said?

How many of us can feel another person’s heartbeat?

If given the chance, who would you choose to  “feel” your heartbeat?

I was at dance class.  I agreed to do a spotlight with my teacher. A spotlight is when the entire studio stops dancing, everyone sits down, and only you, the dancer, are on stage.

Gulp!  For a chicken like me, this is a big deal.

My teacher led me to the floor. All eyes were on us. My heart began to beat quickly. My mind was racing. I was thinking about the potential for dance calamity.

Jeff offered his left hand. I took it. We entered our “frame.”  Arms wide, chest meeting chest, my hips joined to his thigh.

Tango! Off we went, around the floor.

“Huh!”  It’s a loud grunt Jeff makes to punctuate the staccato of the move. Heads tilted back, angled body movements, we made it.  No calamity.  Applause from the crowd; we bowed and gracefully moved from the floor.

Jeff hugged me and said, “Karyn, I could feel your heart beating so fast.”

I got home and thought it so remarkable that we were close enough in movement to feel one another’s heartbeat.
I thought about the Bible scripture in Psalm 37: 4 in which God tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your “heart.” It seemed awesome that, if God offers this great gift, He must know what is beating in our hearts.  I thought it beautiful, just like the dance, that our God would hold me close enough to feel and understand my heart beat.

Take a dance lesson with the Lord. Do a spotlight and allow Him to feel your heartbeat.

Tango!

Karyn Alexander
Executive Director, Winfield House
Winfieldhouse.org
Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, giving hope to God’s people.
Voice of the Nations:  Rev.5:9 “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, people, language and nation.”

July 3, 2012

Point Man – by Karyn B. Alexander

I have a friend who was in the military for many years. His position was “point man.” The point man is the tip of the triangle with the company of soldiers spread out behind in a triangular shape. The point man needs to be agile, small, quick, and obedient unto death.

The point man is not the commander, but the leader of troops for a directive operation. He is the first to scope out the enemy, and the first to be picked off if he fails to stay hidden or obey.

My friend was a successful point man. He could obey, lead and stay alive. He remained calm and quick in the face of the unknown.

Staying alive meant hearing the commanding officer, doing exactly as told-no matter what, and then leading the way through either a very tough terrain or challenging situation. The point man is a little like a spy and a warrior all at one time. This position takes immense trust; that is, trust in the commander (C.O.) and trust in the troops. A very precarious situation emerges if either is not in cooperation with one another. The point man can be caught between a bad plan or an unwilling company of soldiers. This could mean certain death for all. On the other hand, what a powerful fighting machine if executed properly; all flowing with the same mission, using their training and skills at the same time.

My friend is now a pastor. He is much like the warrior of old. He is out in front, listening and moving in obedience as he hears the commander speak.

The agility to avoid the enemy is important, as it is in tough fighting territory where the enemy can be disguised or hidden.

I would imagine leading a congregation would be almost more difficult than a company of soldiers, due to many Christians’ self -perception. Most do not see themselves as warriors or part of a larger vision.

They can miss their purpose by not understanding the commander’s mission.

Think about it: if we all listened to the commander and chief, and we were humble enough to follow the point man, what a beautiful army we would make, all flowing with the same vision using our gifts and talents to achieve the ultimate goal—Eternal life for so many.

Onward Christian Soldiers!

Karyn B. Alexander

Executive Director, Winfield House.org

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in practical ways to God’s people.

Voice of the Nations, Rev. 5: 11,”With your blood you purchased men from God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

May 27, 2011

The Language of Gardens – by Karyn B. Alexander

“Be a fruitful garden” is the claim I want to make this week in my column, Voices of the Nation.

What you plant will surely grow. In fact, I might be a very fruitful garden.

The old saying, “What you sow you will reap,” is a definite truth.

The spring rains are finally here and I am considering what to grow on my farm and in my garden. I ordered scores of trees to screen the strong winds from my house. I want to plant fruit and nut trees along the drive as well.

I started a small vineyard last year, and will continue to add to it. I love the idea of being self-sufficient, not depending on society to provide for my family. I am gainfully embracing the thought of becoming a real farmer-gardener this year.

Last year’s attempt to farm was pretty funny. My land is mostly forest, with a portion of fields of hay not prepared for crops. I had a farmer friend plow a small area for a vineyard last year. I bought and mixed just the right fertilizer to ready the land for my vines. I asked the county environmental worker to come and take a soil sample to make sure I added all the right fertilizers in just the right order.

We spent the better part of a day, hauling rocks from the site and watching the farmer till the land. He had to go over it several times to break up the packed and unused dirt. It was very exciting and I took a lot of pictures of him on his tractor, of my dogs jumping into the freshly plowed dirt, and of myself wearing my straw hat.

As the tractor left, I was on my own to plant and care for the vineyard. I don’t know if I had been that excited in a long time. I put each plant in with care, watering and patting them into place.

After finishing, I took a shower, made a country dinner, and felt as though I ruled the world. I even shared a glass of champagne with my daughter that night. It was a true celebration.

Over the next few mornings, I was surprised that even though I watered and tended my vineyard, birds, animals and even insects had arrived to ruin my utopia.

What was I to do? Each morning, I woke up to plants missing, some uprooted, and even lifeless wilted sticks that had not rooted.

Earlier, I said it was “funny,” but not really; it was just an unexpected failure. I had tried so hard. The summer brought such a drought that I finally pulled all my vines and put the survivors in pots. They are now in my hallway awaiting another go-of-it for this spring.

As I thought about my failed attempt at farming, I likened the process of plowing, planting, tending and failure, to some of our patterns of communication.

Being an observer of relationships, I find that reaping and sowing is surely not just for gardens.

I know we all try our best to provide fertile ground for words we convey, but sometimes the birds of anger or resentment fill our sentences. We sometimes plant ideas or suggestions with others, either tending or not tending to our tone, cadence, and volume. We often allow weeds to come and choke the healthy meaning out of our words, and we do not nurture or even notice the environment that we provide for the most precious plants we own: our loved ones.

This spring I am going to try harder with my garden. My vegetables and fruits will be guarded from pests and insects, while my words and actions will be nurturing and fertile.

I will work hard to provide a healthy environment for much fruit to grow, both real and relational.

What is that nursery rhyme?

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”  I say, “With tender loving care.” This year I will bear much fruit.

Be a fruitful garden!

 _________________________________________

Karyn Alexander

Executive Director, Winfield House

KarynBAlexander@aol.com

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, bringing hope to God’s people.

Voice of the Nations, Rev.5:19, “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, language, and nation.”

May 4, 2011

VOICE OF THE NATIONS – A Column by Karyn Alexander

Today, as I write in my Voice of the Nations column, it is someone’s birthday! It may be yours or someone you know. So I say, “Happy Birthday!”

Every year, when we are children, we stretch the truth about our age. Eight and a half years old, not just eight. Of course, as we pass the “over-the-hill,” forty-year mark, we all say we are twenty-nine again. It seems we are either looking forward to being older or wishing we were younger again.

This spring, I spent three solid days with women of different ages, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds to talk about birthdays. Not our birthdays, but strangers’ birthdays we have never met. How unusual. Never heard of it? We are all birth Doulas.

A Doula is a professional, loving woman who takes care of a woman in labor. Doulas have a common thread that knit us together. We all love to help moms have their babies. What better gift could we give our children on their day of birth than a person who creates an environment of peace and safety for their arrival?

The birth Doula is an encourager, a knowledgeable helper, and coach.

I am also another kind of Doula. I am a Spiritual Doula. I help people find God. The Rabbi, Jesus, tells us in the gospel of John, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.” There, you have it: birth.  How can that be? As a Doula, I help the mother bring the child into the tangible world. How can a person become born again? Once seems to be enough doesn’t it?

The same question was asked of the first century Rabbi at the time he spoke those words.  Jesus’ answer was this: “I tell you the truth; no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”
Just like a natural birth, the intangible birth of spiritual awakening is just as real. It has been exciting and fun to be an encourager, knowledgeable helper and spiritual coach to many “babies!”

                                                   A Beautiful Delivery

I was at Winfield House when two little children I did not know seemed to just appear. They showed up at the back of the chapel. I found them alone, swinging on the playground. I was cleaning that day, not holding kids’ programs or counseling, but monitoring a man who was “doing time” at Winfield. This man was given community service for a minor legal infraction; so, not being a threat to me, I allowed him to fulfill his hours cleaning at the church.

I gathered some sidewalk chalk, coloring books, and crayons and went outside to greet the two children. I asked their names and asked where they were from. They were brother and sister, ages five and six, from just down the road. Amanda and Billy were eager to talk and wanted me to push them on the swings. They kept yelling, “Lady, lady, push us!” Instead of accommodating them with their wishes, I showed them how to pump and push themselves. They were happy I brought gifts for them, so they used the chalk and coloring books to occupy themselves.

After an hour or so, the kids came into Winfield and wanted snacks and drinks. I asked where their mother was, and I was told she did not live with them. They were now living with an aunt and other extended family members. They said they were hungry and had no food. Just then the aunt appeared. She told a tragic story of drugs, alcohol abuse, and now a destroyed family. I gave them all the food we had at Winfield, household supplies, and even furniture. The kids were sleeping on the floor and had no furniture in the house to speak of.

As the aunt and my helper carried the furniture and supplies to their house, I pulled Amanda and Billy aside.

It was Easter time so I asked them if they knew Jesus. They stared blankly in to my face and shook their heads saying, “No.”

 I asked again, “You have never heard of Jesus?” 

They again said no.

I asked if they had heard of Easter. Again, I received blank looks.

Surprised, I asked if they had at least heard of the Easter Bunny.

They both nodded their heads yes. Whew! You know, it’s all about the bunny.

So, I proceeded to tell them that all they received that day had come from God.

I told them God knew they would be at Winfield House that day and provided what they had needed. They were surprised. I told them the Easter story and asked if they would like to follow Jesus, who died on the cross for them and rose from the dead to ensure they would go heaven when it was time. They could be “born again,” not from their mother, but through Jesus gift on the cross and promise for heaven.

Billy immediately said yes. He said his grandpa was in heaven. Amanda shook her head to say no. I said that was okay. I asked Billy if I could pray with him and he eagerly agreed. We said a little prayer that assured he would be one of God’s children and made a commitment to follow God for his whole life. Ta da! Birth-easy and safe delivery!

As the day went on, the kids looked tired, so I suggested they go home for dinner. I again approached Amanda and asked if she wanted to become a child of God. She looked at me with a half smile, tipping her head to the side in a coy way and said, “I already did it outside in the parking lot.”
We hugged and laughed, as she apparently just needed a private moment.

I gave Amanda a bible to read. I told her that all the red letters were things Jesus himself said. She opened the Bible and immediately showed me a line written in red, “Let the little children come to me.” Jesus.  The gospel of Luke 18:16.

Remarkably, God showed her that she was now a child of His and that He and the bible were trustworthy.

It was Amanda and Billy’s spiritual birthday that day. They had been delivered into the family of God in a beautiful easy way.

The Bible tells us that all of the angels rejoice when just ONE person comes to God. What a celebration it must have been that day in heaven with two little children. It was the ultimate Birthday party.

If you haven’t had a spiritual birthday yet, it is a simple and worthy experience. Just tell God that you would like Him to lead your life, turn from your old ways, and then follow Him.

Let Him show you His way and all of heaven will rejoice on your Birthday, too!

Happy Birthday!

Karyn Alexander

Executive Director, Winfield House

KarynBAlexander@aol.com

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, bringing God’s people hope.

Voice of the Nations: Rev. 5:9 “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, people, language, and nation.”

KarynBAlexander@aol.com

April 6, 2011

Voice of the Nations – A Column by Karyn Alexander

Love and Reckless living: What do they have in common? My Voice of the Nations column addresses this today.

Remember the parable of the prodigal son? He had a good home, good family, impending inheritance, and a future with his father’s business.

He apparently didn’t think it was such a great life, so he demanded that his father give him his full inheritance before his death. Just one day he demanded the money; it seems bold on the son’s part, but the father agreed. He gave him all he desired.

The young man in the story took the money and began to live a degraded life. He spent all his inherited money and lived without standards until he found himself eating with pigs.

At this juncture, the story tells of how the low and reckless living caused him to come back to his right mind. He ran back home to his father in great humility and embarrassment. He asked for forgiveness and received it. The father, in fact, came running out to meet him. The father loved his son so much he was willing to forgive all that had been done.

What did the prodigal do to become reinstated to the father? Just come home and say he was sorry? That seems unlikely. Why in the world did the son make such crazy life choices that led to his estrangement from all he knew? Why would the father forgive him?

We can guess that the son thought there was a better way to live and he was going to find it; of course, with someone else’s money. Live it up…whoopee, life’s a party! He was a prodigal.

It must have caused incredible embarrassment to the father, as I am sure it was rumored all through the town that the son had gone berserk. It caused estrangement between his siblings and even provoked anger and jealousy throughout the family.

Why would a father welcome home, with love, a son like this? The answer is contained in one word: Agape. “Agape” is a Greek word meaning unconditional love. A translation can be: “No matter the condition of the person, I love them.”

It is a different kind of love than you and I know. It is a love without boundaries, even in a situation where a son can live his life recklessly, hurting others, without regard to the father’s rules; A love that accepts a person just for the sake of love.

I had a friend who recently died. He, too, was a prodigal. He initially led an upstanding life, until one day he decided to just throw it all away and live recklessly too.

Why?

I don’t know.

Any of us can choose this at anytime, I guess that is why the prodigal story is an important one. The man in the story came from a wealthy family, one with a business, pride, and the father was an upstanding member of the community. Like the story, my friend came from such a family.

He was married, had fine children, owned his own business, and lived a good life. I think that the syndrome, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” hit him, too.

He began his descent with a slow decline in his relationship with friends and family. Then he simply ran away like the prodigal in the story. He slid into a false belief of, “There are no real life standards.”

As we well know, the universe has its standards. We will all leave this planet at one time or another; so, finding peace with our maker is important. The “Maker” establishes the standards. He is the father in our own life story, and his rules are the law of the land.

In my friend’s life, the reckless living began as he walked away from everything he knew. He walked away from his wife, responsibility, home, kids, and God. He too demanded to use the money given him in life for himself and his pleasures only.

It seemed as though a bit of insanity ran through him as he sought to find a better, more “fun” life somewhere else. He spent all his inheritance on frivolous living. Party on! Just like the young man in the story above, he lived low, thinking it was high, degrading himself, and then out of despair took his own life. Unlike the prodigal, he couldn’t humble himself to his family, so ended “the party,” alone.

What kind of person does this? A prodigal, of course.

You are probably wondering, did my friend, the modern day prodigal, meet the Father? Did the father run to him, too?
I would suppose and hope so. God does judge our actions, and allows the natural consequences of a low life, which could mean self-ruin and despair.  But, in the end, He knows our hearts and rules from there.

My friend left a note saying he was sorry to those he hurt, and he asked for forgiveness, but apparently could not say it in person. He confessed it all to God.

Just like the prodigal in the story, the repentance of the offense was given. Forgiveness and Mercy applied.

It seemed a shame for both men. They each wasted their lives, searching for something they had all along.

The prodigal in the story came back home, realizing that he had a much better life to begin with than what he wasted his money on. In the end, my friend felt the same way, too.

I believe that two things were missing from both men’s lives; perspective and gratefulness. If they had looked around with gratefulness, thanking God for His unconditional love, they could have seen their world in a different way. In doing so, they could have saved themselves and their families a lot of heartache. Instead of running away, they could have been thankful for what they were given. They could have realized before their unnecessary escapades that, “There is no place like home.”

Love and reckless living.

Well, to answer the original question, “What do they have in common?”  Love…God loves us and wants us to live a life of sanity and decency, making moral choices. He wants us to be humble, careful in our decisions and live within his law.

He loves us so much that He will allow consequences for our reckless living, but Loves us enough to bring  us home or at least meet us as we arrive in our regret.

Are you a prodigal? If so, be wise-be grateful- Come home!

Karyn Alexander

Executive Director, Winfield House (Winfieldhouse.org)

KarynBAlexander@aol.com

 Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, giving hope to God’s people.

Voice of the Nations: Rev.5:9 “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, people, language and nation.”

March 15, 2011

Jailhouse Conversion – by Karyn Alexander

From Disco Dude to a Divine Destiny

It started like any normal weekend night for Mike. The year was 1980.

A freshman in college, Mike donned his best disco outfit to prepare for an evening with his drinking buddies. The event of the evening was a date with “drink and drown” at the dance club.

Sporting his best white silk pants, black silk shirt, and large gold chain, Mike looked like a good facsimile of John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever.

Mike’s stature at 6’2” tall, with slim and dark hair, revealed a man of the town. Swaggering from his bright orange Pinto, Mike entered the bar with great enthusiasm for a big night of drunkenness.

A good Catholic boy, Mike was raised in the church. He was an altar boy, knew the Ten Commandments, and was water baptized as a baby. In the “God Club,” so he thought, he led a life of duplicity.

Drinking with the priest on weekends, his religion was nothing but a social obligation.

During his high school days, he had begun a life of stealing and lying. Stealing was a hobby he knew was wrong, yet the convictions he lacked could not reprimand or restrain his behavior. Having a moral compass of sorts, he saw the error of his way, but witnessed in his elders a contradiction of values.

Mike’s home life was one of ridicule and verbal abuse. Mike’s father drank heavily; he was abusive and toxic to all of the family members. He was cruel when addressing the kids, Mike being one of four children. His father’s mean spirit and dissatisfaction with his own life spilled to his frightened wife, and even played out in sadistic suggestions to Mike.

On one occasion, Mike’s father asked him to strike a match and hold it to his father’s arm, burning him on purpose. He was only a child and knew he should obey, but his father’s request bread a chronic pattern of people-pleasing out of fear of being rejected and severely scolded. Mike’s makeup was one of chaos from the confusion of his father’s drunken and unloving encounters. The love that should have been a father’s was absent and replaced with unpredictable angry outbursts, and with wild hateful comments that ruled Mike’s mind and life.

During an escapade at the local Sears store, Mike was caught shoplifting. This was his second offense. He had lied about the first, calling his neighbor to bail him out. She had pretended to be his mother.

This time, however, security called directly to his home and contacted his father. The response was devastating as his father said, “I love you conditionally,” meaning, I no longer love you because you are a thief. At that juncture, Mike was thrown out of the house. Still a minor, he was sleeping in his car until he was able to move in with his older sister. Love had been cruel, and his worst nightmare had come true. “I am rejected because I am not worthy to be in my father’s life. He will only love me when I meet his expectations; that is, when I am good.”

Mike’s insecurities intensified at this time. He went so far as to fake a burglary at his apartment to show he was unsafe, and, therefore, able to regain access to his home and father. One would ask, why would anyone want to go back to an abusive person? We all know how much a parent’s love means to us, so any of us might have responded similarly.

Mike was allowed home again, which answered our question as to “why?” “I guess I missed the abuse,” he said.

Mike was looking for the love and acceptance that he thought needed to come from Dear ol’Dad; bad attention was better than no attention.

During Mike’s tumultuous years, his two brothers began attending a non-denominational church. They asked if he would attend. He thought it sounded boring. They were talking about something called “being saved.”

Mike felt something was missing in his heart, but didn’t feel the church was his “thing.”
Ironically, though, out of the blue one day, a thought came into mike’s head: “Oh, My God, I need to go to confession.” Strangely enough, he did. Nothing seemed to happen, except that he had obeyed his conscience.

Back to our eventful disco night. Mike was a suave guy. He was big, bad, and beautiful. He danced the night away, drinking wildly. He said he danced with everyone in the place. His stylish ensemble, along with his personality, was the hit of the show. “Give me the hose” – a call for more alcohol – left our disco dancer more than full of fun.

As the night wound down, Mike left the bar alone, got into his car and promptly ran a red light. Not a second after his infraction, he was pulled over and arrested. He had 12 previous points on his record, so he was arrested for driving on a suspended license. He was placed in the front seat of the cruiser, and told, “You are going to jail.”

Thoughts of self-admonishment ran through Mike’s mind. “I’m a criminal, I suck, I’m obviously not doing things right.”

Mike was handcuffed and taken to jail. All he could think was how surreal it all felt. “Where are my friends now?” he thought.

“You have one phone call,” explained the sheriff. Mike thought it was all so surreal~ perhaps he was on a TV show. Not so. He was booked, photographed, and walked to a cell.

Placed in a cement cell with an L shaped concrete bench, Mike entered the already occupied holding tank. Two men were lying on the benches. Mike decided to sit on the floor. His first thought was, “My white silk pants are going to be filthy!” He sat down anyway. His attitude had been one of apathy, and even flippant until the door of the cell closed. Mike decided to take the only spot left in the tank, and he sat next to the toilet and dozed off.

What awoke Mike was a loud clanking noise. A metal pole was being raked across the cell bars by the uniformed guard. Mike woke, startled, seeing a much different landscape than his original entrance to the cell.

Sitting on the toilet next to his head, “taking a crap,” was a new resident of the cell.

Mike looked around and thought to himself, “Lucky me, I am the only white guy in here.”

Surrounding Mike were men bragging about their offenses. They called out things like, grand theft, robbing a bank, beating up mom. Far from his mind was the filth on his silk trousers; more so, it was the reality that he was not safe. Being surrounded by 13 men who gave off the “I’m not moving for whitie” vibe made for a very uncomfortable evening. All Mike could think was, “They are criminals with guns who could give a shit about me or anyone. I was freaked,” he said.

At that very moment, the light went on. “What have I done that has brought me to this place?” He felt he had no other choice but to say, “All right, God, I give this all to you. I am sorry for my sins. Whatever my brothers have, I want it too [salvation]. I am asking you to come into my life.”

A calm feeling came over Mike, as he slipped off to sleep again.

The sound of metal hitting the cell bars awoke him for a second time. Sugar donuts were being passed around; his name was called, and he was taken off to a court room.

Mike was released that morning. He hitchhiked home in his soiled evening Disco-wear, and found himself wondering where his life would go from here. He attended church that week with his brothers and went to the altar for prayer. Mike expressed his gratefulness to God, and wept as he felt the Holy Spirit come into his life. He asked Jesus to be the Lord over everything in his life. He finally felt the love of God. He knew God would be the father he needed, filling the void his own father had left years before.

Over the next few months, Mike knew there was more to life than what he had been doing before his arrest. He had been working, drinking; going no-where.

 As he was re-baptized, he asked the Lord, “What do you want me to do?”

Strangely enough, a sign came. Sitting on his desk the very next day was a sticky note that said, “Go into all the Earth and preach the good news.” Matthew 28
Mike knew he was being called to spread the Gospel- The love of God.

Fast forward–Thirty years later: I asked Mike how the scripture and calling had impacted his life. Where was he now? How had the jailhouse conversion and subsequent call been fulfilled?

Mike had gone into ministry training, but had not completed it. He still struggled with the old inferiority feelings and unworthiness from his father’s abuse. He married and had three, grown Christian children. He felt his role as a father was fulfilled in raising Christian children and breaking an ungodly curse of abuse.

His commitment is now renewed to serve, as his station in life has changed. He is now able to give himself to others, as his “nest” is empty. I asked Mike if he could share any wisdom about his experience. He responded with the thought that many. like himself, might view their heavenly father with the same eyes they view their earthly father. It is easy to confuse our emotions when we have suffered rejection and pain. We may imprint our natural father’s behavior onto our relationship to God, which causes us to see Him wrongly.

Mike expressed that there is hope for us because God came to him at his worst hour. He was not abandoned or set aside, rejected or unworthy. It was the hour when a human had failed; his own father had abandoned him. In the same hour, his true and loving heavenly father stepped in to save and love him in a more profound and eternal way.

I asked if he was in ministry now, and he said, “I don’t have that story to tell yet. I am still working out what that really means.”

So, for this Disco dancer, a date with Destiny was waiting in a jail cell so many years ago; not in a Church, but patiently waiting upon Mike for a place to open in his heart.

God bless,

 

Karyn Alexander

Executive Director, Winfield House

Winfieldhouse.org

Karynbalexander@aol.com

 

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, giving hope to God’s people.

Voice of the Nations: Rev. 5:9 “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, people, language, and nation.”

 

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