The Van – Give thanks to God with us! All the needed funds for the van have been contributed, and a check has been given to the Cornerstone Church to purchase the van! A great big “Thank you” to all who prayed and to all who gave! The two vehicles that we have to work with will be used constantly in reaching people in west Atlanta with the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Racial Tensions – We were rocked here in west Atlanta by the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, then Dallas. Big protests were staged downtown. As you know, there have been other shootings since. Living among African-Americans for this year has challenged my sense of awareness as to how the dear people of the black culture feel about our country and what it feels like for them to live and raise their children here. Many, especially young black males, have to live with the realities of resentment and fear toward those in authority over our government’s system. That may sound like fighting words to some of you, but I’ve talked to many godly black guys who testify of being handled by the police with extra suspicion and roughness through the years of their growing up, and they believe it was simply because they were black.
The discrimination they have experienced, and continue to experience, is real. Surprisingly, they do not hate our country, nor do they hope policemen would suffer. They love America and they believe in the rule of law. They just want to be treated like all other Americans… fairly and with dignity…without automatically being viewed with suspicion when something goes wrong. Just sayin’…there are many outstanding and godly black folks who feel this way. It is a pleasure for us to “validate” our precious friends and neighbors with our very real love and respect.
I am reading quite a few books in order to try to understand what African Americans have faced living in the United States. As I sit and listen to some of the sweetest godly black people, I am grieved beyond words with what they experience still…yes, still…in our post-slavery “post-racist” country. And I am finding it disgusting to hear whites insinuate, or speak blatantly, that black folks just need to get over it…since slavery no longer exists today. There are all kinds of present brokenness and dysfunction in this culture today stemming from the evils of American slavery. I am humbled by the extraordinary privilege of living among such precious people who look quite different from me. Please pray for us as we delve more and more into the realities of race relations here in west Atlanta, and seek to bring the word of the gospel to bear in everything.
Sex-Trafficking in Georgia – The photo below is from a meeting on July 7 in downtown Atlanta where I was asked to give the devotion and opening prayer for the Georgia Public Services Commissioner’s meeting. Following that meeting, Cathi and I were invited to attend another meeting (with elected officials and administrators of various ministries) on the progress being made in Georgia in the area of sex-trafficking. Very encouraging progress! We ended up sitting next to Dr. Alveda King (Martin Luther King’s niece and a regular contributor on Fox News). She sure seems to be a good woman.
The banner in the foreground is promoting a bill to be voted on in the November general election here in Georgia, one I hope to promote in our church and around the state. It is a measure that will clamp down much more on commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution, pornography, sex-trafficking, etc) in Georgia with stricter laws and fines, and out of those fines, provide funds for victims of sex-trafficking, especially for children so abused.
Neighborhood – We continue to work on setting up a neighborhood BBQ this Sunday afternoon in Paul Bolton’s front yard (the 95-year-old Buffalo soldier and the ball cap). The menu is getting sorted out. We’ll bring the majority of the food, but some neighbors have been offering to bring dishes. Neighbors tell me that everyone knows and likes “Buffalo.” His front yard is an obvious place to hold the gathering – a safe place for all to come. We’re praying this gathering will be a further solidifying of our relationships in the neighborhood and will be the genesis of a weekly Thursday night Gospel Bible study at our house. We’ll provide a dinner each week for all comers and afterwards pass out Bibles and lovingly explain and apply the Gospel from the Word of God.
Sadly, the 6-7 gay men living just across the street from us have been evicted for falling behind in the rent. The photo below is a common scene in our neighborhood when folks and their belongings are suddenly put out of the house they are renting. They take only what they can carry of their things, but most of it is eventually taken away by a city garbage truck. We have shared the Gospel with these and the original guys (gays) who used to live there with the hope those seeds might one day spring to life in Jesus. A reality in our ministry here is the high turnover rate of people moving away… in all our venues of evangelism.
Our house is up on the left and our van is parked across the street.
Black Bucks – a restaurant in a busy area where many locals often go. We try to go once a week for breakfast. At a certain point we begin walking around to the various tables and down the counter just meeting and greeting. Everyone in there is black except for us, but everyone has been exceptionally friendly and grateful for our forwardness to approach them with big smiles and interest in them. I mean really, folks, can’t you just see Cathi Selph coming at you with her big smile?! It is going to take time to establish a genuine neighborly presence, but it is coming along. It sure helps to tell them how close we live to there…and then watch the eyebrows go straight up. We seize upon any opportunities to explain our Christ in those times (usually every week) and we are praying for more.
Gym – Before I go to work out, I pray for an opening to witness of salvation in Christ with someone. One morning last week a man named Art began to talk. You have to understand that Art, who grew up in this area, has been a work–out friend for at least 6 months. I’ve broached the subject of what we are doing in Atlanta before, but never felt an opening with him to share how precious Jesus is to me…till last week. To my surprised delight, Art began to talk, and kept talking, about all kinds of things like never before. The Lord did it…He took my friendship with Art to a deeper level. There was finally a “click” where it seemed he began to trust me with a more significant friendship. Jesus got some time with Art in that conversation, and I hope you’ll pray for more of those times, with him and with others.
City of Refuge – I taught the Saturday morning ladies’ Bible study for two Saturdays in July. It seems the Lord has also taken our relationships there to a more trusted level. Two Sundays ago we had a bunch more women and children ride our van to church for the first time, while many of our regulars did not come for various reasons. This last Sunday we invited the whole vanload to the house after church for a lunch and Gospel discussion.
A family on our van from the City of Refuge
A sweet couple the Lord gave to us to disciple
Cornerstone Church – I love this family of faith! The fellowship is such a delight. It was God who provided this body for us at the same time He called us to west Atlanta. It is a young church, so sometimes being there makes us feel old…and at other times, we feel young again. Many times in a week this old guy and gal are urging people on our side of Atlanta, Georgia, to visit there and worship God the Lord. The Gospel is wonderfully preached.
Some ladies who graced our table one Lord’s Day
The hat belongs to good ol’ Lo (front)
The Chinese girl in the above photo (right) is Fan. She came to visit us through our precious friends in Rio de Janeiro, Mauricio and Rosane Andrade. Fan was such an encouragement, and words cannot begin to describe how dear the Andrades are to us.
The college students (Morehouse, Spelman, Clark) will be coming back in a few weeks. We are working with a group in Cornerstone to minister to the students through the year. Besides giving them transportation in our vans, we’ll have them all over each month for a Sunday lunch, and maybe a discipling situation or two along the way. The discussions with these kids are rich and provide so much opportunity to give away books to young, fertile minds!
Good News Club – I mentioned this as a prayer request last month. We plan to serve Jesus with a GNClub each Tuesday afternoon at a public school nearby our house. Hopefully after a school year of doing so, we’ll start another GNClub at a public school even nearer to our house or church. Gotta reach the children! And their parents!
NightLight – I was in the locker room of a gay men’s nightclub and spoke of Christ to a number of male dancers. Dominic from the DR (his professional name) was miserable with his life. He showed me pictures of his 5 children whom he never gets to see and spoke of how empty his life is. A perfect opportunity to lay out to him the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ! “Dominic, I’ve got to tell you, man…for me to live is Christ and for me to die is gain! My life has meaning and hope and drive because of God’s great Son and what He has done in saving a sinner like me! And Dominic, that’s what you need Christ to do for you!” Several other dancers there were beginning to listen.
Such a gay club locker room (all of them dancers – some gay, some not) is the weirdest place to hear the Gospel preached, but even such a place can be transformed into a holy scene when Christ is declared in His glory! You have to experience it to be amazed by it! I am reading some books on understanding the whole homosexual thing and how to relate to such folks with “informed compassion.” Sadly, I haven’t seen Victor for several months.
- The power of the Holy Spirit to save sinners…at Black Bucks, the gym, the night clubs, our neighborhood, the City of Refuge, etc.
- Engaging in a Tuesday afternoon Good News Club at a local grade school
- Launching a Thursday night dinner/Bible study
- Relationships and ministry to college students as they begin another school year
- To know what we can do to help overcome prejudice and racism in our nation