Friday, April 1, 2016

"Dreams come true": an update on our joint ministry

My dear wife Jill just sent out this letter to her supporters, which I'd like to share with you.  I am deeply grateful to the Prince of Peace who brought us together so we could help bring God's beloved community "on earth as it is in heaven." As you can see, we're having fun as we seek to do our part to make God's dreams come true.

Jill’s update: Dreams do come true: APU, Flo, Brother Wesley and wide open doors to share the Good News of Christ and witness to the resurrection all around us.

Dear friends,
Anthony, my sweet and godly husband likes to learn and recite biblical passages by heart. Since we married on 9/10/11, when we first awaken, Anthony often quotes these prayers:

O Lord, open my lips; and my mouth shall proclaim thy praise.  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore in me the joy of your salvation; and sustain me with your bountiful spirit.  (Psalm 51)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  1 Peter 1:3

God is indeed renewing, restoring and sustaining Anthony and me to a living hope and witness to the resurrection.  (see about this year’s Palm Sunday Peace Parade where we met five years ago—it explains the boat!)

I am awed at how God puts within us dreams, how they seem to die, and then how God quietly causes them to be reborn, like a blade of grass or a tiny flower coming up between uneven sidewalk cracks. Here are some examples:
I am always overflowing with hundreds of ways to address our nation’s housing crisis, so four years ago I asked God for a classroom of students where these ideas could flow. After two attempts of offering such a course at my alma mater, Denver Seminary, an unexpected opportunity presented itself at Azusa Pacific University to teach one evening a week eight Social Work grad students. I am not only teaching, I am learning tons. 
Another long-standing dream: for an admin assistant and ministry partner to join my mission, and God is answering! Florence Annang, a godly woman from Ghana, Africa, deeply in love with Jesus and full of God’s word, whom I’ve known for 12 years, felt God telling her to reach out to me. She runs an afterschool program for children and youth (in which I have years of experience), is now helping me part time with admin and has applied to Missions Door!  Pray for God’s leading and provision. 
photoThe N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative—with a goal to resurrect hope and transform a neglected corner of Pasadena—voted last week to partner with the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition (CSC). When our team met with CSC Brother Wesley started us off with an original gospel hip hop number (this 6’ man calls himself our son in Christ!). And Renee, an emerging leader below, led the agenda. It became obvious how the goals of CSC aligned with a least half of the stated concerns and dreams of the 150 people we surveyed last year: to minimize and slow traffic, to create safety, less crime, and more parking. CSC has successfully changed parallel parking to angled parking, added pocket parks and bike lanes—all serving to address these concerns, and resurrect this neglected area. CSC resonated with our theme verse:

Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”  Zechariah 8:4

In my last update, I mentioned how we would be praying at the February Pasadena Unified School District board meeting. God send us seven key spiritual leaders and pastors stood and prayed during their three minutes allotted to speak.  It felt like a true worship experience as we sensed the hearts of some board members entering into prayer with us. But before resurrection comes come crucifixion.  The drama at this month’s board meeting reminded me of all the confusion and hopelessness that Jesus’s disciples felt during Holy Week, with teachers impatiently chanting “Settle now” and a team of Harleys revving up their motor cycles to get the attention of board members. Like prophets of old, who warned the kings and leaders to do justice and love mercy, and prayed for Israel’s leaders, we keep praying. Right now it feels like a boxing ring, with folks lining up and taking sides. I’m praying for a safe place to be created with fair ground rules so folks can feel heard and taken seriously. But as Tony Compolo says, it’s still Friday and I believe that resurrection Sunday is coming for our school district.

Every day we are a witness God’s resurrection and a renewal of hope. Anthony and I have been given the opportunity to multiply that hope through many workshops and speaking engagements, (including speaking at a retreat on Easter weekend in San Diego—see below—where we shared about the world conference of Quakers in Peru in January, how we share our home with an ex-homeless friend and how Mark is helping us to green our home—lowering our carbon footprint by 80% and cutting our water use in half, we grow food—while sharing our abundance with friends and neighbors.) We are also on various committees and teams. For example, our local congressman has asked me to be on his advisory committee for housing. I think folks are amazed to see this missionary with such an expertise in affordable housing. I even surprise myself. The doors for beautiful ministry are wide open for us, we daily rejoice and give thanks for opportunities to share the good news of Christ with neighbors and friends and wherever we go.   

For those of you who have faithfully given to my work over the years, thank you!  Please continue. Honorariums and income as an adjunct faculty member help, but this only meets a small portion of our need now that Flo is coming on board. If you feel moved to give and you haven’t yet had a chance to partner with us in this way, below is the information on how to give.

With much joy, Jill

Jill Shook and Anthony Manousos, 1628 N. Garfield Ave. Pasadena, CA 91104  :626)
Send Support to: Missions Door, 2530 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80205  To set up direct debit and other convenient financial plans call: (303)308-1818 or go to:

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