Tag Archives: Jesus

The Devil’s Foothold

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The devil can get a foothold in each of our lives in many different ways. It does not matter your age, your race, your living conditions, or your income: he will at some point, and in some way, attempt to become the king of your life.

Last week we met with a man named Daniel who has suffered from being an alcoholic for about 10 years. This man has lost his wife, his job, tens of thousands of dollars, and most importantly his dignity and self-respect. One of the main things that stuck out to us was what he said when asked why he began to drink in the first place:

“When I was younger, I never felt like I fit in and all I wanted to do was fit in. Alcohol seemed to help me do this.”

In Daniel’s life, Satan made him feel different, left out, and alone. By doing this, he separated Daniel from people that could love, care, and support him but also discipline him when he needed it.

With many people we work with, the devil has made a way to leave an empty spot in their life. They are then choosing to fill this emptiness with something else, something of this world. This creates a foothold that the devil gets on their life and refuses to let go. Whether this is drugs, alcohol, women, or money, nothing will fulfill what only Christ can fill. Our hope is that by surrounding Daniel with Christ-following community and support he can begin to feel God release the hold that the devil has had on him.

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Did You Know: Drug Poisoning in Alabama

A very common but devastating outcome of significant drug use is drug poisoning (the scientific name for a drug overdose). Sometimes a drug overdose can cause death but other times it causes a state of unconsciousness that the user may come out of.

This detailed map on drug poisoning mortality shows the rates in which people in the United States have experienced drug overdose deaths based on race, geographic location, and age through 2002-2014. [Full map found at http://blogs.cdc.gov/nchs-data-visualization/drug-poisoning-mortality/]

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Did you know that in 2002, the state of Alabama experienced one of the lowest amounts of calculated deaths, which was about 5 per 100,000 people? In 2014, less than 15 years later, that number rose to an average 15 deaths per 100,000 residents. Jefferson County was found to have one of the highest death rates in our state. We have been able to see this statistic first hand over the past few years.

What we have realized is that the city of Birmingham is seeing a drastic shift in drug usage and location. Typically, people would assume to find drugs in inner city Birmingham, but in recent years we have consistently worked with addicts from Over the Mountain areas such as Mountain Brook, Homewood, Hoover, Pelham and Vestavia. Now, the drug scene is more spread out than ever throughout our city and we cannot ignore this fact. We’ve seen that drug use is not always based off of where you grow up or how you grow up- it’s because all people are broken and in search of healing; some of our pursuits of healing just manifest themselves in more outwardly destructive ways.

Over the next few weeks we will further dig into the demographics behind drug use in our city and how it has affected the men and women we’re working with.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Emily Herring

We are so thankful for the investment that many of our volunteers have made with the people we see on a weekly basis. Emily Herring, a graduate from Auburn University, is one of those. Over the past year, we have seen Emily love people well and build deep relationships with those people that allow them to trust her a great deal! Urban Purpose has been extremely blessed by the role she now plays in this ministry.  Read below to hear more about why she chooses to take time out of her week to love on the people we serve downtown!


 

 

Name: Emily Herring  mily

Hometown: Austin, Texas
Occupation: Social Worker with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham
How did you find out about Urban Purpose:          I found out about Urban Purpose through Rachel Coleman. Rachel and I had become close friends, and I was looking for a ministry to serve with soon after moving to Birmingham. Rachel told me all about Urban Purpose, and I started serving weekly at the downtown meal.
How long have you been serving with UP: I have been serving with Urban Purpose for just over a year.
Why do you continue to serve downtown: I love to see the way that the Lord uses the mealtime downtown each week. God has brought about some precious friendships with some of the people downtown over the past year, and I want to serve and love these friends just as Jesus has done for us. Serving downtown each week has become one of my very favorite parts of the week, and I love to bring along my family members, friends, small group, and other members of my church to be a part of serving through this ministry.

Tell us about your most memorable moment of the Sunday meals: My most memorable moments while serving downtown have been with a friend named Melissa. Melissa and I met a couple of months after I started serving downtown, and she began sharing with me the many difficult things in her life. As we were together nearly every Sunday, we grew closer and she began calling me her sister. I walked through many hard things with Melissa in the months that followed, and God brought about many opportunities to share about the hope we have through Christ in these times. Melissa had seen love that was twisted by addiction and domestic violence, so I was overjoyed that the Lord provided the opportunity to love her with His love!

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One for the Books

Sunday was a great day. It was a day full of surprises, excitement, hopefulness, encouragement, and rejoicing. Sunday was a day to remember.

You see, since the spring of 2014 we have been closely walking with a man in his 20s who struggled with a severe heroin addiction. Throughout our time together we were able to provide him with housing, medical assistance, financial budgeting and loans, steady counseling, transportation, employment… and pretty much anything else you can think of. Even after failing over and over again, we chose to show him grace (but trust me, this was not always our first choice).

Eventually, things got to a point where we did not have any other healthy options to offer him. He had been given many chances- from jobs, to housing, to failed drug tests- he had run through them all and we were at our ropes end. We realized that at that point he needed much more intensive 24-hour care than we could give him. So now he was left with a choice. He could either choose to admit himself into at least a 3 month recovery program, having us walk with him during that time, and continue to move forward with him upon completion of the program or he could choose to completely part ways with us. Of course, the latter  is what none of us wanted, but it was the only way to help him see that a drastic change had to be made in his life.

Over the next couple of weeks, we saw everything take a dramatic shift in this man’s life. He went from having a fairly stable life to having the walls of that life come crashing down around him. Overtime he saw the necessity that was for a guy like himself, and became willing and wanting to get into a program. With the help of our ministry partners, we were able to get in touch with a great rehab program in town and after just one week, he was in. For the first month he was in, he was visited by a number of people and we were encouraged by the progress he had already made and the direction he seemed to be heading.

But then this past Sunday happened. As we drove into the Terracon parking like we do every single week, we saw him standing to the side with a few of our volunteers. Needless to say, we were all holding our breath waiting to figure out why exactly he was here. The first thought that came to my mind was- he’s been kicked out. But man was I wrong!

For the rest of the afternoon we were able to hear stories of confession, repentance, asking for forgiveness, and thankfulness for what all had been done for him this past year. He talked about having a relationship with Jesus and spending time with other believers. All of this coming from a man who just a few months ago made the comment: “I’m just an addict and that is never going to change.”

Sometimes it’s easy to get going in our normal routine and forget that we serve a God who is anything but normal.

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Day 11: Open Doors

open-door-2On Friday, we were able to sit down with a man who has known of and supported Urban Purpose in many different ways throughout the years. But recently, the Lord has laid it on his heart to partner with us in more ways than he ever has in the past. This man manages a company and is willing to hire on someone we work with from time to time and give them a chance in the work force. This is a BIG DEAL.

For any business owner to knowingly hire someone who has past drug addiction and felonies, this would typically be considered “shooting yourself in the foot”. But thankfully- this particular business man knows Jesus. And we all know that if Jesus didn’t give us a second chance when we least deserved it, then none of us would be standing where we are today. It is only by His grace that we have accomplished anything worthwhile.

That is exactly what we want for the many, many people who have made (and still make) some pretty rough mistakes throughout their life. We desire for them to be given second and third chance when they definitely do not deserve them. We are constantly blown away by how God provides these open doors for our folks to walk through, baggage and all.

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Day 4: What A Sunday

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Yesterday at our weekly downtown meal, we were blown away by God’s goodness in bringing many people from all over the city to help serve. There were people of all different ages helping in whatever ways they could. We had families with young children to high schoolers and college students. This is such a great reminder for us that we are not in this alone and that there are so many people that God has given a heart for the broken, poor and needy in Birmingham. Jesus makes known that his church, the body of Christ, is made up of people with all  different kinds of spiritual gifts. Yesterday was a beautiful picture of Christ loving on and caring for a group of folks who get very little love

Urban Purpose has been extremely blessed with partnerships and support by many different people. We are always looking for new ways to bring more people into what God is doing in the lives of the homeless people we see on a weekly basis.  If you know of any churches, clubs, businesses, organizations, sports teams or anyone other groups who might be interested in volunteering, please send them our direction!

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Caring for the Careless

We have learned many things over the years when it comes to helping people. And not just any people, but people that have been hardened overtime and developed severe trust issues. The other day someone reminded me of this quote:

“People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.”

This couldn’t describe our method, goal, task or whatever else you would like to call it, any clearer. We want people to ultimately come to know who Jesus is in their lives, but we understand this is a process (and at times, an extremely slow one). A process that sometimes involves caring for someone who doesn’t care for themselves.

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