Monday, March 6, 2017

Latest report from my wife on making disciples wherever she goes...

I am always pleased to read, and also share, my wife's reports on her amazing ministry. As I write this, she is traveling to Colorado to speak to a gathering of over 100 people interested in housing justice and policies to help end homelessness and promote affordable housing. Underlying all of Jill's work is a deep love for Jesus, for people,  and for God's incredibly Good News: God loves the poor and wants everyone to be decently housed, as well as fed and cared for. That's God's intention, and it's beautiful to serve such a God. Jill reminds me of an old saying attributed to St Francis: "Always preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words." Or as the Quakers say, "Let your life preach." That's what this report is all about.

Discipling and Authority.

At a recent Bible study I attended, it hit me how consistently Mathew and Luke portray Jesus as giving away authority. He sends out his disciples and gives them authority to heal (Matthew 10) He send out 72 other disciples and gives them authority to over the enemy (Luke 10:19) and Matthew ends his book with Jesus parting words: “All authority has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples.”

Making disciples….wherever we go. On the ministry report that Missions Door asked us to submit, they ask how many disciples we are pouring our lives into. I struggle with this question.

Do I list my students in my Housing Justice course this semester at APU? Do I count those who
Jill with her APU class 
attend the housing justice workshops I led in Denver last year, and again this March? Do I include my neighbors and those I work with in the community, with all those I have conversvations with about Jesus, justice and faith? Or those on the Palm Sunday Peace Parade planning team or the Bible study that Anthony and I help lead? Or those in local affordable housing group I’ve been part of for 20 years? Or the N. Fair Oaks Empowerment team committed to transforming that street? If we are truly following Christ, is there a time when we as Christians are not making disciples?

Discipling a young woman in transition. Jesus poured his life out not only for the whole world but also for a few key people in his inner circle, namely Peter, James and John. Similarly, God also gives us certain people with whom we have a special, more intimate relationship.  For me that has been Maria. This young Latina woman has struggled with many personal challenges, including finding housing that she can afford. Thanks to an African American pastor named Juanita Edwards, I was able to get Maria into a women’s discipleship home.  We have become very close. Please pray for Maria and me, as we grow together to become more Christ-like. Pray for all those “disciples” being touched with my unique ministry as an Urban Catalyst.

Making rents stable and affordable: teaching a Gospel perspective. I was shocked to learn recently that the rent was raised by $575 per month in an apartment building down the street from our home. Such arbitrary and outrageous rent increases are happening more frequently in our city, and there is no ordinance to prevent it. That’s why I’m so grateful that God has brought Nicole Hodgson to Pasadena to spear-head a rent stabilization initiative. I do all I can to nurture Nicole,  meeting one-on-one, and sharing my contacts and faith in Christ.

"Marv's Place": Affordable housing for formerly
homeless families that just opened up in Pasadena
Discipling Churches on How to End Homelessness. Thanks in part to the Pasadena Affordable Housing Group that I have been part of for the last twenty years, Pasadena has made significantly strides in ending homelessness. Our group advocated for a Housing Department for our city that has been very effective. Under the leadership of its stellar director, Bill Huang, Pasadena has won a number of state and national awards and recently recognized across the country for reducing our homeless count by 54%. We’ve housed 220 of the chronically homeless people and virtually ended homelessness for families. But to end homelessness, churches need to play a more active and effective role. That’s why I am helping to organize a Homeless to Housed Bus Tour. This tour will help church leaders learn what the city is doing to end homelessness and how the city and churches can work more closely together. God has given me a fabulous planning team, representing the major churches, to plan this Homeless to Housed bus tour for faith leaders of our city, as well as adjacent cities. We plan to initiate an ongoing learning lab to explore what it will take to house our most vulnerable. Please pray for us as we plan.

Jill with pastors and community leaders in North Fair Oaks.
Janet Randolf is the woman with the bright pink blouse.
Discipling through service to the community. One way that we learn how to become more Christ-like is through service. The Damascus Road College Church from Tucson, AZ will be coming March 13-15 to bless the N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative. They will be tutoring children at the Harambee Christian Center, painting an unsightly building, cleaning gum off the streets and in the gym floor of the Boys and Girls Club, sharing meals with homeless folk at the Pasadena Church, visiting the infirm at convalescent homes, picking up trash, and gathering signatures for the city to allocate to slow traffic and beautify this forgotten corner of Pasadena. Pray for Janet Randolf as she plans for their coming—her first time to plan for a team. In additional to prayer, please consider giving to support her efforts. See:

Janet is a gifted leader and learner, truly a teachable disciple of Christ, always quoting the Bible and keenly aware of her need and dependence on the God.

I can’t thank you enough for your part in this work of vision casting, developing leaders equipped to house and transform our community. Recently one new donor began contributing $100 per month. It is encouraging to see how God is raising up partners like you to keep this important work going. Please consider giving if you are not already.  See:

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