Faith in the midst of uncertainties

Thousands of years ago, a nation of more than 2 million people was freed from 400 years of slavery. They were given a promise that they will inhabit a rich and fertile land. Their charge was to subdue it and conquer it in order for them to settle there.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.

Although the promise to receive the land was for sure, it would not be easy. Since the people were born to slavery, they did not know how to make critical decisions and they doubted easily. So step by step, God taught the people how to live as free men and how to invade and inhabit the promised land.

The Book of Numbers recorded the instructions from God in order for them to obtain the promise. First, was to count the soldiers, organize by tribes, assign (priestly) duties and celebrate their new life (Passover).

  • The soldiers totaled 603,000! However, all these men but 2 did not pass the training. So the next generation of men were trained. They counted them again and they totaled 601,730.
  • Part of the organization of the tribes was to assign different leaders. Twelve leaders were assigned to find out (spy the land) about the promise. After they were given directions how to get there, they were instructed to see what the land was like, were people weak or strong, few or many, was it surrounded by walls, was the land fertile and also to bring samples of crops of the land.
  • Duties were assigned and instructions were given. Those who did not follow the instructions were punished or terminated. Although the promise was certain, the majority of the leaders doubted and even convinced the rest of the people to go back to slavery rather than moving forward to receive the promise.
  • The celebration in the wilderness to remember their past and to anticipate the fruition of the promise. Those who did not join the celebration were also terminated.

The stories in the Book of Numbers instruct us to trust God in the midst of uncertainties where doubts are abundant and where skeptical people are everywhere. We need to remember especially when we are in the wilderness that all the promises of God is certain and whatever He started, He will complete.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20

God bless you,

Merlin

 

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Spiritual progression in dangerous neighborhoods

Something is happening in the 6 dangerous neighborhoods in Indy..
Six dangerous Indy neighborhoods

Six dangerous Indy neighborhoods

God has been changing the spiritual climate of the Crown Hill neighborhood in Indianapolis in the past few years:
  • Based on my numerous conversations with the local residents and volunteers, I found that many people have been praying for transformation in this area since 20+ years ago. 
  • Since Five years ago, FHL has been providing hundreds of volunteers in this area on a regular basis, mostly neighborhood clean ups.
  • Three years ago our volunteers started to pray for a church in the area so that we can come along side them in the continued work of the Lord.
  • Two years ago, on separate occasions, FHL got connected with Tree of Life Ministries who was planting a church in the area (40th/Boulevard).
  • Last year, FHL trained and opened a food pantry at Tree of Life Ministries. Since then, the church has been growing and the immediate neighborhood is changing for the better!
  • Because of the impact of the food pantry in Crown Hill neighborhood, the pastor of Tree of Life Ministries has sponsored Spiritual Awakening Tabernacle (located just 1.5 miles away from Tree of Life) to the “Missional” Food Pantry School.
Here’s an interesting article on Indianapolis Star, a leading newspaper in Indianapolis. It included maps of dangerous neighborhoods in Indianapolis.
If you will look at the maps provided in this Article,
http://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2014/10/09/mayor-ballard-and-impd-to-focus-on-crime-prevention-in-six-indianapolis-area-neighborhoods/16979317/ , 5 out of 6 of the dangerous Indy neighborhoods are within 5+ miles radius of 40th & Boulevard. Both churches are within walking distance from the 34th & Illinois neighborhood, which is one of the dangerous neighborhoods! The article stated, Rather than more police, Mayor Greg Ballard says the approach is about finding ways to provide more mental health resources and more food for needy kids in the targeted areas. He says it’s a “more holistic” way to address crime. 
Several of the food pantries that FHL has trained are located in those 6 neighborhoods. I think the Lord is sending us a message to be a part of the transformation of these neighborhoods. Through food pantries, we have demystified the word missions and we are setting up “Kingdom Hubs” in central Indiana. Read more about this…
My sense is that FHL will be adding at least 2 more food pantries within the 6 Indy neighborhoods in the next 2 years. What if we develop Missional Communities through planting more missional food pantries strategically located in these neighborhoods? Or, what if we turn the existing food pantries into missional communities having the 3 Pillars of being missional, namely, Acts 6 – Outreach, Mark 16 – Evangelism and Matthew 28 – Discipleship
Every night 80,000+ kids go to bed hungry

Every night 80,000+ kids in Metro Indy go to bed hungry

Last night (2/25/15) was the start of Winter “Missional” Food Pantry classes at Spiritual Awakening Tabernacle, 3363 Central Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46205. It’s a 4-week course every Wednesday from 5:30p-7:00p. In case you may be wondering what we learn together in the classes, here’s the…

Table of Contents
SESSION ONE: Missional Community
The History of Faith Hope and Love Food Pantries
SESSION TWO: Food Pantry Operation
Overall Organization of a Faith Hope and Love Food Pantry
Regulations of a Faith Hope and Love Food Pantry
Requirements and Agreement
Physical Layout of a Faith Hope and Love Food Pantry
Team Roles and Assignments of an FHL Food Pantry
SESSION THREE: Prayer Team
Focus on His Presence
Prayer Team Roles and Assignments
Ministry Cards and Instructions
SESSION FOUR: Community Relations
Developing Community Relations
Marketing of Food Pantry
SESSION FIVE: Food Safety
Permanent Safe Site or Mobile Site
Food Storage, Safety and Handling Certificate
SESSION SIX: Food Pantry Planning
Monthly Schedule for Food Pantries
SAMPLE of Monthly Schedule
Calendar for Food Pantry
Forms for Volunteers and Recipients
SESSION SEVEN: Accountability
Reporting
Being Self-Sufficient
Giving Back
FHL Food Pantry Network
Reports for Evaluation of Pantries
Review and Exam
SESSION EIGHT: Field Trip
Resources
Visit existing Food Pantry
Process of Receiving Food from FHL
Summary
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A road that seems endless

It’s dark but you can see a glimmer of light. You feel alone although you are surrounded by people. You try to find your way for an ideal destination but you always end up in the same place. The atmosphere of detention hover over you despite the fact that the road looks wide open.

In this road, people get confused, judged and the sense of desperation is ever present. Whereas people want to help but you still feel trapped and helpless. There seems to be an invisible wall that you cannot breakthrough.

At Shiloh MBC

Groceries to help those in need

Millions of Americans have been on this road or are still confined in it. I know of a person who tries her best to get out of it but after trying for many years to get out, she still felt trapped. The government offers help but it seems like the system makes it difficult to receive assistance. Although some people know how to work the system and receive help, they become so dependent on it that they are still imprisoned in the same road.

I have been on this road a few times in the past. I lived with one of my uncles in Manila. He has 5 children and 2 are special needs ki

ds. He and his wife have big hearts so several of my cousins lived with them for a few years while I was going to college. They had less than 1000 sq. ft apartment, 2 bedrooms and a bath. There are times when 12 to 15 people lived in this small home. Sometimes, we don’t have enough finances that our regular dinner are steamed rice, tomatoes and soy sauce or little dried fish.

All of us have been in this road. It may not be about physical poverty but emotional or spiritual hunger. This morning, I heard a song by Third Day and it embodies what I am writing about:

“Well no matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done
There will come a time when you can’t make it on your own
And in your hour of desperation
Know you’re not the only one
Prayin’,’Lord above, I need a miracle
I need a miracle'”

All of us can help others in many ways. We need community. However, the ultimate help come from our Father in heaven. I love the lyrics of Hillsong, “Mighty to Save”

Saviour he can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave.

Relationship-building means earning the trust

Relationship-building means earning the trust

The road I am talking about can be a saving grace for us as well. It’s a place where we realize that there’s another reality. It’s a zone where we can hear the voice of God clearer. Then suddenly, our perspective in life changes and we are able to shatter that invisible wall that is bounding us for many years. The chain and the shackles that pull us back break and we grasp that all we need is to fully surrender to the Almighty God.

Last Saturday, I had a meeting with 2 godly men. As the waitress came, we asked her if she has any prayer request since we are about to bless our food. She requested to pray for her young daughter who was just diagnosed with mental deficiency. At the end of our lunch, she agreed that our group can come to her house to lay hands on her daughter.photo (9)

Yesterday, I had a lunch with a person who wanted me to be her mentor so she can finish her Master degree from a Christian university. As the waitress came to serve our food, I asked her, “We are just about to bless our food, ‘Do you have any prayer request?'” She was startled and immediately said to pray for her uncle’s health. Then she turned her back on us. However, she came back immediately and said that she was touched and thanked us. She came back a few times while we were eating to thank us. When we were about to leave, she said with teary eyes, that she appreciated the prayers and she felt different. She said that even her co-workers noticed that she changed from being short with them to being joyful.

Today, many people need a miracle from God. Would you consider being a miracle for others by offering them some assistance or to pray with them because God can change the road that they are on.

God bless you,

Merlin

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Have you been on this road?

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FHL launching its latest food pantry

The 20th food pantry that FHL has trained is opening its doors this Saturday, January 31st from 4pm to 6pm!

Iglesia Pentecostal Divino Salvador started their training in early fall. They had several field trainings that include serving at other existing pantries, visiting Midwest Food Bank and the FHL warehouse, received their food handling certificate and had been attending the FHL Pantry Network meetings.

At Iglesia Divino Salvador

At Iglesia Divino Salvador

As a part of their preparation, they had a prayer walk, a 24-hr prayer chain, prayer and worship celebration. They have been inviting potential clients as a part of the FHL pantry operation, they will be passing out invitation flyers to 3 neighborhoods and will be putting their directional signs and banner just a few days before the pantry opens. Here is a quick scoop of their pantry launching.

Because of moving to a new location, the opening was postponed for a couple of months. They received their food and have stocked the shelves properly. They had their volunteer orientation, t-shirts were ordered, name tags were prepared and they did served the servants through foot washing. Finally, they have been approved by MFB and FHL and will open their doors to the public this Saturday!

We are all excited for them and for the surrounding neighborhoods. I would like to invite you to join us for the launching of the Pantry of Faith in Sheridan, Indiana. Please pray that people will realize that we are not only interested in distributing food but also to create a transformational atmosphere in the community.

God bless,

Merlin

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Everyone understands this language

KindnessAssistedLiving640

Last Monday, January 19, FHL mobilized 35 IUPUI students and 10 other volunteers to serve at 3 project sites. This was also in conjunction with the MLK Day of Service. Throughout the years, FHL mobilizes hundreds of volunteers from churches, schools and community organizations for a “plug-and-play” kind of outreaches to connect our neighborhoods through service projects. FHL calls it Kindness Day.

The short video below will give you more insight how to reach out to the volunteers and to the recipients of services. www.fhlcommunity.org

Kindness Days start with relating with our volunteers and we hope that they would be more inspired to help others, not to mention that we just need to be kind to others. The Bible teaches us to treat others the way we want to be treated. At FHL food pantries, our first customers are our volunteers because the face of our pantries reflect the way our volunteers behave toward others.

Although projects need to be accomplished, we can see bigger impact in people’s lives when we become conscious of others. We can actually accomplish more! We have a saying at FHL, “it’s not about food; it’s about people.” Many times, people will appreciate us more than the food we give them and the projects we accomplished for them.

I grew up in the Philippines. English is my second language. I have been and still being misunderstood in many occasions. I need help in the use of preposition and grammar. However, I can communicate with others without my English and they can understand me precisely.

It’s true that action speaks louder than voice. Our kindness to others can be understood by others through our action and the way we treat them. I am talking not only about volunteers but also about our employees, employers and customers. Businesses and organizations can save millions of dollars of training and team building expenses if they speak more of this language – KINDNESS.

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Food is not the answer…

Food is not the answer…

Previously, I shared with you the baptism of 5 individuals at Tree of Life Christian Ministries inspired by missional food pantry. This time, I am going to share with you the next step of building a missional community.

More than 10 years ago, I completed a 2-year advanced training in church leadership while I was the Outreach Pastor at the Vineyard Community Church Northside. I started several ministries in the church and one of them being a food pantry. It has now grown to be a Community Night that provides not only food but other social and spiritual services.

Since 2006, FHL has been involved in many aspects of developing food pantries. Here are some of my observations:
EVERY food pantry gives food but not everyone offers ways towards community transformation
SOME food pantries offer prayer but not every pantry shares the Gospel
MOST food pantries are sponsored or housed in a church

What if we move from the basics to building missional community?

Here’s a 40-second video explaining what FHL food pantries are doing ~
Everybody gets to play and everyone can contribute something. Rather than serving simply as a place of food distribution to those who are in need, FHL is transforming food pantries into community hubs where spiritual and social needs are fulfilled, along with the sharing of food. The neighborhood is engaged and relationship is strengthened.

And one more thing, our government has been highlighting a similar concept based on an article from Indy Star .
The answer to hunger is not food, although it is needed, the answer to reducing crime is not more police, although they are vital for a healthy society and the answer to poverty is not money. Everything boils down to this, Matthew 22:35-40 “Loving God and loving others” – all of man’s problems will be solved…, not just for this life but for eternity.

Thank you for your continued support to bring transformation to our communities.

Food is not the most important thing in an FHL food pantry, it’s the people!

God bless,
Merlin

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Greatest Gift

The lady with a cancer was looking for you?

Those were the words relayed by Maxine when she called me last Sunday night. Maxine has been serving the Prayer Team at B&G Pantry of Hope since we started it a few years ago. I wrote about some of the amazing stories that has been happening at this pantry.

Read more about the stories at Boys and Girls Club..

FHL’s “missional” food pantries in Metro Indy truly are gifts to our neighborhoods. Jude 1:2, “May mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you” is becoming reality. Through engaging the community, the “have and the have nots” are giving and receiving to multiply the awareness of God’s Kingdom. Whether giving food, money or sharing the greatest gift – the Good News of Jesus Christ, and through your help, the love of God is being experienced everywhere.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the greatest gift ever, “we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” and “an eternal life.” That is why we take every opportunity to share the Gospel. There’s no greater gift that we can ever give.

The lady who asked about me last Saturday, has the eternity in heart heart. She did not remember me because of the food (although she is grateful for it) but because of sharing God’s love with her. Everyday, we have the same opportunity, especially this Christmas Season.

Thank you Jesus!

Thank you Jesus!

I pray that you have a Christ filled Christmas Season and remember to share the Greatest Gift ever – Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Merlin

 

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Thank you for your partnership!

As I looked back in the past week, your friendship and your support is making a difference in hundreds of families. From the Christmas outreach by one of the ministries that FHL is incubating to food pantries scattered around greater Indianapolis, countless blessings are distributed to those in need.

Think of the 2 souls that were transformed from the kingdom of this world to the eternal Kingdom through the food pantry at Tree of Life last Saturday. Their eternal future was changed in a twinkle of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52),… “for the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal, with immortality.” These blessings are literally out of this world, and you are a part of it!

Although you may or may not be directly involved in the front line (you can, if you wish to), you are a part of the bigger picture that God has called the ministry of Faith Hope and Love. It is impossible for me to comprehend the impact that you are providing for the community! I cannot even quantify it since it involves the eternal.

It has been said “…even for just one soul…”, is more than enough. Through the plan that I believe that God has given FHL, we are seeing at least 3-7 persons accept Jesus in their heart every month. On the first Sunday of the New Year, we will be baptizing the people who accepted Jesus in their heart at Tree of Life Ministries from May thru Dec. Please stay tuned for the final details of this historical event in the Crown Hill Neighborhood.

Last night, I received a message that donors are donating before the year-end totaling $7,500 and all if it will be matched the employers. If you haven’t finalized your Year-End giving, please consider donating to FHL. You can donate online  or mail your check to FHL, 8383 Craig St. Ste. 335, Indianapolis, IN 46250.

Donate3Ways

God bless you,
Merlin

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Partnership is a good thing

In my book, “The Kingdom On Our Midst“, I wrote, “The world has never been so connected yet it is growing to be disconnected.”

The world of communication has been evolving faster than anyone could comprehend. I am sure you asked this question, “What would I do without mobile phones?” and lately, “What would I do without smart phones?”

Technology is a part of the ministry of Faith Hope and Love, from data organizing and storage to social media. Currently, I’m in Florida for my vacation with my wife and my son.

At John's Pass inSt. Petersburg, Florida

Boardwalk at John’s Pass in St. Petersburg, Florida

 

Although I am a thousand miles away, through our ministry partners and through the use of technology, the ministry has been doing great things:

  • The ministry that FHL is incubating, Momentum Kingdom Ministry just finished their annual Christmas outreach last Saturday, Dec. 13th with 400 volunteers and 130+ families were served in various ways.
  • That same day 2 people receive Jesus in their heart at one of the pantries that FHL is incubating – CNTR Missional Food Pantry (at Tree of Life Ministries). Through our leaders, the required experiential training was also conducted at the same place.
  • Today, FHL received 8+ pallets of non perishable donations from a Fortune 100 company.

With technology, I am able to communicate and coordinate some of the activities from a thousand miles away. Yes, the Internet could make the communications impersonal, however, we can also use it as a tool in building relationships (and getting things done).

This Saturday, we will have 2 pantries, one at Monte de Sion at 3305 Lowry Rd and at Lirio de los Valles at 1805 W. Wilkins St both at 11am. Please consider visiting them if you are able to; you’ll be blessed.

As you are thinking of your Year-End donations, please keep FHL in mind. Here’s the link to Donate Online or you can mail your donation to FHL, 8383 Craig St. Ste 335, Indianapolis, IN 46250. Yes, partnership is a good thing. We can get things done together and see the Kingdom of God expand in our midst.

God bless you and thank you for your partnership!

Merlin

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