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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where's Home?

Stretch your imagination with me. Let us say you have come home from a long day of work. Your feet are swollen, your eyes are heavy, you hear the pillow calling your name, and you know it is time to rest. Your child greets you when you arrive to your home. You share thoughts of the day with each other but you both are ready to repose. As you lay your head down, you reflect on the day and all that has come to pass. As your child sits near playing a game, you give them one last glance before your eyes start to shut. You then pray, give thanks for the day, and dose off. Just moments before you enter a deep slumber, there are noises and yells. You haven’t opened your eyes yet because it’s probably a dream, but you feel lights flashing. As everything comes into focus and the muffled noises become clearer you notice a person standing over you, armed with several weapons saying, “You can’t be here! Get up, get your things together, and leave!” You first grab your child’s hand to make sure of their safety then you quickly sit up. You want to disagree with the individual because you have laid your head to sleep in the same place for so long. But, he is holding a weapon and he looks very anxious to use it. You keep your child close because their safety is priority. You pack your things, making sure not to leave anything. The armed individual continues to yell at you to hurry. You feel humiliated in front of your child, you feel like a failure. As the two of you walk down the street, exhausted, you hope to find another place. You look for a place that is warm, dry, and lacking danger. The mission would be nice but it is full. So, you carry on, with your child as close as possible, holding tight to every prayer you have.

This happened last night. As we looked for people on the streets to give supplies to, the Memphis Police Department was looking as well. They were not giving out supplies they were taking them. There are some places are brothers and sister who are affected with homelessness can go to rest. There is, of course, the Mission. Though, it charges seven dollars per person and it fills up fast. Some churches have been gracious enough to join Room in the Inn by housing and providing food to people once a week but there are very few. Many churches don’t like to host “those people”; they don’t want to get their hands dirty.

When studying the bible, I like to give myself a contextual interpretation. I believe exegetical work is insufficient unless you supply a historical analysis of the context. Usually, after digging around, I find realization that many biblical principals are difficult to apply to my own context. However, one does apply. A principal that you find resting on the foundations of the synoptic gospels is Jesus’ love and compassion for the poor. This context has changed very little.

Luke 4:18
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Channel 5 News

By the way, if you haven't seen it, here is the link to the channel 5 story.

The Public Eye

Greetings UBFM!

So, we’ve had an interesting week. Joe Birch sent me an email Tuesday night, asking if we would allow a camera crew to do some interviews and take some footage. Of course, I was delighted! As many of you know it was a great night. We made the news Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. Thirteen people showed up on bikes to deliver food and supplies. For all of you who were present, thank you for creating a good experience. We delivered 130 burritos, a bunch of cookies, several jackets and coats, blankets, and several packets of peanut butter and crackers. God is good.

We have officially made the public eye. I have noticed that the word is spreading fast. This is very exciting to me but it is essential that we are mindful of our growth. This is a small ministry but the growth is inevitable. With that being said, we need to make the best attempt to be organized. This is something that we have to do together. This is not my ministry; this is our ministry. If you are involved, you are part of it. If you pray for us, you donate, you ride with us, or you spread the word, you are part of this ministry. I am open for any suggestions or recommendations from anybody involved. The ministry is possible because of the people involved.

If you are new to the group, I beg you to keep in mind; this is a new thing for us all. It is a learning experience. The biggest part of it is we are serving God, building relationships, and we are doing it together. If we maintain that, we will continue to grow in love. That is the main idea. We call it church in action but, actually, it is love in action.   

I know I have said this in previous posts but this is one thing that keeps coming back to me. Every Wednesday night I am given the privilege to see the reflection of God on our city from my friends. I stand in humility to have this honor. What makes it even better is we are using bicycles. Thanks be to god!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Face in the Crowd?

Last week, in one of my classes, I was able to share information about UBFM. The class is Media in Ministry and one of the first assignments was to create a video about our ministry context. Of course, most of the people in the class had a video about their church. Mine was a bit different. The UBFM video is the product of that assignment. When my professor, Dr. Chris Davis, learned of the ministry he became curious. He is the senior pastor for St. Paul Baptist Church in Memphis. This is a large, African American church near Orange Mound. He asked me if I needed any jackets to distribute to the people we meet with on the streets. I said, “Of course, we can always use jackets.” “How many?” He asked. “How many would you like to donate” I replied. “How many do you want?” He asked in a louder voice. I said, “Ten?” “How about two cases of brand new Nike jackets, 24 of them?” “Yes!” I replied ecstatically. The Nike factory outlet sponsors St. Paul and they donate items to the church for ministry. Dr. Davis was gracious enough to involve UBFM in this ministry.

After I confirmed that we did need these jackets, I asked my professor when I could retrieve them. He said, “Come on Sunday, come to worship!” How could I refuse? I showed up to the church at 10:15 AM; worship started at 10:30. I walked in the door and was immediately greeted with a handshake. I told the gentleman that I was one of Davis’ students and I was visiting, as if he needed a tip that I was not a member… He said, “Yes sir, so glad to have you! Go take a seat on the front row.” I did, on the front row. As I suspected, I was the only white person in the sanctuary. Lets face it, I’m not just white, I’m very white. There I was, on the front row, white freckled skin, long spiked hair, and a long red beard. I can only imagine how many people were wondering if I were lost. Nevertheless, when the music started I fell into place. When in Rome, right? I started, clapping, singing, and shaking my ass. When the speaker spoke I nodded, looked at my neighbor, and gave an “Amen!” like I was a member. When Davis walked out he immediately pointed at me and shook his head. That little acknowledgement by the leader allowed the people to get a little warmer. I received several smiles after that. It was as if the nod was a queue for the people to know, “He’s with me.”

Davis’ message brought the house down. Everybody in that sanctuary was involved and it certainly felt like the spirit of Christ was present. I had to keep reminding myself that he not only does this every Sunday, but he does this twice, early morning and late morning, Sunday. Now, let me add, I was aware of how proficient of a rhetorician Davis was before this. He has been my professor for three classes and I have grown significantly from all of them. By this worship experience I learned that he is not only a skillful teacher, he is a celebrity in his community.

I have to say that Dr. Chris Davis has been a blessing in my life. This small donation simply reiterates how compassionate this man is. It is a blessing that I’ve had the opportunity to learn under him. I will also say, if you want a church encounter unlike anything you’ve experienced, go to St. Paul Baptist Church. You will find a large church with open arms regardless of your appearance.   


Thursday, February 14, 2013


Greetings UBFM and Happy Valentines Day!

Last night was another for the books. It was a little cold but very tolerable. I think if it had been a shade colder I would have complained a little bit. Last night we had some discussion about the change of weather in regard to how the ministry would adjust. When we started last summer there were many more people on the streets. Of course we were not handing out coats, jackets, gloves, and hand warmers but one hundred burritos would disappear rapidly. As the weather starts to change I think it would be a good idea to start think about new ideas to implement into our Wednesday night meetings. I am open to any suggestions. In addition to seeing more people on the streets, I suspect we will have more participation. With that being said I hope to expand into different areas of the city. We have been confined to one small area but with more bikes on the road we can cover more ground. I’m eager to see what God’s plans are for this ministry in 2013. When it first began I had no idea it would turn into this. Here it is, six months later, growing fast and solid. Every Wednesday night I am humbled to see how everything manifests. There are some mornings when I wake up wondering how everything is going to display. How will I get time to pick up burritos? How will I have time and/or money to pick up ingredients? I’ve got a flat tire on my bike and no time to fix it. My house is a wreck. I have homework to do and no time for it. Saint-dog just pissed on the floor and I’m out of paper towels. It never fails. By 7:00 PM I’m greeting people, everything is finished and caught up, people are in the kitchen making burritos, and I’m apologizing to God for the doubts. Then, to enhance the experience, I get the pleasure of seeing God work through people on bicycles. No complaints here.

I would like to offer much thanks to all the people who helped out last night. We had some new comers who were essential in delivering a successful experience. Rick Prince, Matthew Magbee, and Brice Short were a great addition to the group. A big thanks goes to the group for showing them how everything works. Thanks to Matthew for the great pictures. I also want to thank Emily and Angela Conley and family for the load of burritos. I don’t know what we would do without those gals. A major appreciation goes to Frank Fournier and the burritos and his great dedication. And, cheers to Isaac, Rosa, Owen, and Anders. You all are great. I also want to thank those of you who have donated to FundRzr. That money proceeds directly to supplies and needs for the ministry.

A big favor, if you have not already: Share the video and the FundRzr page on your Facebook, Twitter page, or blog. The more we are out there, the more we can do. is up but we are still working on it. I’ll let you know when it is closer to completion. I have a common thought that I continue to often share. If we persist to grow and raise funds, I want to search for a location to meet in rather than my house. I would like to find a place we can meet, make burritos, have fellowship, and possibly extend the ministry out to more than one day a week. This is a long-term goal but it gives us something to think about. Help me pray about it a little bit and we’ll see what happens.

Thank you all! Thanks again to those who rode with us last night and thanks to EVERYONE for the thoughts, prayers, love, support, donations, and contributions. This is all possible because of you. Thanks be to God!

Now, the sun is shining on my face through the window. If I don’t get outside and on my bike I am going to explode.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Sunday

Happy Sunday UBFM,

I hope you are all having a great week. Before we enter into a new one I want to provide a little recap from last Wednesday's meeting. It was actually quite nice out. I was able to go without gloves and ear warmers for the first time in months. Big thanks to my cooks,Emily Hendrix Conley and Angela Williford Conley and their families for the load of burritos. Also big thanks to Frank Fournier,Tommy James, and the All About Bikes gang for the burritos and the dedication. Thanks to Maria-Rosa Padilla for the food supplies. We were super happy to have her back on the bike and recovered from an ankle injury. Also big thanks to Isaac Wade's sister for making a bunch of brownies to hand out. Our friends on the streets loved those things. Dave, a friend of ours who stays atHandy park, recalled a number of times, "I could eat these brownies all day!" It has been coined as my catch phrase for the week. I also want to give a big thanks to my friend Donna Winfreyfor the kind donation.

I think we delivered almost 100 burritos and nearly half that many cookies, brownies, moon pies, and oatmeal cookies. It was possible due to all of the help and the eleven people on bikes. Wednesday has become one of my favorite days of the week. On this day I get to see a bright reflection of Christ, here in our own community, displayed by my friends. It is always humbling to experience God in some way. To experience God through your friends, in your community is ambition for the spirit. Glory be to God.

I will be in touch before our next meeting. I know I have said this before but soon, very soon we are placing an order for UBFM t-shirts. I do believe Matt Nason has placed an order for some cool UBFM patches. The website is still in progress. I know it has hit some hiccups but it is happening. My friend Shirley Ostrander is working on it. Send some prayers out to her because she is dedicating time to it amidst a strenuous schedule.

One more thing, if you think about it, share our UBFM video and fundraiser page on your profile. The more we are out there, the more we can do. Thank you all for the help and dedication. Hope you have a great weekend!

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