Hot dog lunch fundraising

On Friday May 15th, I shared with you the simple fundraising sponsored by Marsh Supermarket store in d’town Indy and Boar’s Head Brand.

Simple but excellent fundraiser

Simple but excellent fundraiser

Tagging along with their first year anniversary

It was a year ago, when this new Marsh store opened and as a part of the celebration, they did a fundraising to benefit Faith Hope and Love Community. It was their goal to raise $500 in 4 days by selling hot dog sandwich for a dollar. All the proceeds would go to our organization. My wife, my son and I bought 3 sandwiches; they were very delicious and only for a dollar!  After just 2 hours, they sold 93 sandwiches!

$663 in a day!

$663 in a day!

Their biggest in one day!

Last Saturday the 23rd of May, I went back to the store to receive the fundraising money. I was greeted by Debbie, the Store Manager and she was so happy to tell me that they raised $663 in one day! She said that she has done this kind of fundraiser many times through the other stores that she managed in the past and this was the biggest ever in one day.

I would like to thank Debbie of Marsh Supermarket, Boar’s Head, those who bought hot dog sandwiches and my son Andrew for a magnificent but simple fundraising! Hundreds of families will be well fed through this incredible fundraising!

You can also help feed those in need

And one more thing, you can also be a part of providing food for those in need through you financial contribution. It’s easy and safe to give a one-time or a regular donation through FHL’s online giving. Please consider to be a part of providing food for those in need.

I thank God for your continued prayers and support!

God bless,

Merlin

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Countless ways to help the hungry

Last Saturday morning, I visited the Pantry of Love at Iglesia Lirio de Los Valles (Lily of the Valleys church) at 1805 W. Wilkins St., Indianapolis.

Because of limited space, they bag the food ahead of time. One of the recipients came smiling and was thankful to being able to receive food from the pantry. He received a few bags of food. We blessed him as he was heading out. I saw him pushed a jogger’s baby cart on the sidewalk with the groceries he received. Obviously, he does not have a place to stay but he should have enough food for several days.

Later as I was taking a lunch break, I received a phone call from the founder of a ministry that FHL incubated. He said that the only reason why he called me was to thank me for helping them get started.


Their pantry, A Giving Tree is now independent of FHL. From Spring to Fall, they set up their pantry at a parking lot in Westfield In (corner of Carey Rd and SR. 32). Since it was a rainy day, they were delivering the food to the clients who call. However, for the clients who stop by their office, they are able to spend more time with them. Don Stilts, the founder of the organization, said that occasionally, they receive offers from previous clients to assist their pantry.


My last stop for the day was at Keenan-Stahl Boys and Girls Club on 1949 Troy Ave. It was good to see some of the regular volunteers and clients. This is a combination of pre-bagged groceries and choice pantry. The clients receive a bag/s of groceries and also have the privilege to choose from available items on the last tables.  One person received the Lord!

There are countless ways to serve those in need. It varies due to many factors such as geographic and social location, spiritual climate of the neighborhood and space available.

More than 10 years ago, The Lord had me start a food delivery at the nearby apartment. I started to deliver a bag of groceries to 3 families. After a year, the volunteer team grew to 3-5 person who deliver to 3-5 families on a monthly basis. Last week, I had the chance to visit the pantry and it now grew to a monthly community night with food/clothing pantry, family dinner, prayers, ESL and other family assistance.

FHL incubates Missional pantries that is flexible as long as the 3 Pillars are in the procedure:

God bless,

Merlin

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Getting to the root of the problem

In my last Blog, I shared with you some  exciting things that are happening lately. Many of our food pantries are located in the 6 hot spots for crime in Indianapolis. This complement what the city is doing to address the increasing crime in our neighborhoods.  Read more…

I like gardening. It relaxes me while punishing my back (not all the time). I actually bought a “tiny” greenhouse for my mother on Mother’s Day. Yes, I got to have fun with it as well.

A revelation

Last Wednesday, while drinking my coffee, I started pulling weeds on my flower garden beds. It’s hard to believe that the same gardens were almost weed-free last year. With my spade, shovel and pick ax, I pulled the weeds with one hand while digging the root system with the other hand. Some roots were on the sub surface but others were few inches deep.
Get to the root of it?

The “missional” aspect of the FHL food pantry concept while furiously pulling the weeds.

  • Although we help the food insecure with food, we realize that in many instances, there are deeper roots in our lives that result in hunger.
  • Pulling weeds and leaving the root system would not get rid of the weeds. Similarly, giving food to people can tentatively help them but if the root cause/s are not dealt with, we are not really helping them in the long run.
  • I also noticed that different tools are needed to pull different weeds, correspondingly, missional food pantries have ministers, prayer teams, ushers and pastors with different gifts and talents to assist every recipients or to share contacts who would be able to help them.
  • Weeds come back and so are the weeds in our lives. FHL is continuing to find ways how we can help in any way toward holistic approach to hunger.

Thanking God for you

This is why I always thank God for you. You know that the most important thing in a food pantry is not food but people. You see that relationship with God and others is the key to uproot the weeds in our lives. You recognize that the “missional” approach to hunger is an effective way to get to the root of the “hunger” problem.

Call to Action:

1. Volunteer are one of the FHL-incubated food pantries
2. Sacrificially support FHL financially to improve the training and discipleship and to establish more missional food pantries in central Indiana. 1 Chro. 21:24, “But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

PS. Today, Marsh Superstore located at 227 W. Michigan St. in d’town Indy is sponsoring a Hot dog lunch with Boar’s Head starting at 2p.  All proceeds will go the FHL.

MarshMap

God bless,

Merlin

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‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit’ in Central Indiana

FoodBankVolunteers960

FHL Volunteers loading food pallets for delivery to our missional food pantries.

Spiritual Progression in Dangerous Neighborhoods

I was about to compose a blog about something that has been on my mind in the past several weeks. However, when one of FHL’s board members sent me newspaper article article, I sensed that the Lord would want me to share it right away.

However, before I share yesterday’s article, I’d like to encourage you to read my post about Spiritual Progression in Dangerous Neighborhoods.  It was something the Lord revealed back in February (2015).

God’s hand is all over FHL. He is showing us ahead of time what is to happen. Similar to time of Joseph, God shown the strategy to Joseph after Pharaoh was given a revelation of what was to come. It was not through the wealth and the power of Egypt that saved the people from starvation but from the Spirit of God. Here’s the newspaper article from yesterday. ( 5/13/2015)

Getting It Accomplished by Man’s Power or God’s Spirit?

(Zechariah 4:6) So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

FHL was birthed in the Spirit and operates by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for being obedient to expand the Kingdom of God through the ministry of Faith Hope and Love. It is through our intimacy with God that He reveals His plan. Let’s continue to ask the Lord for wisdom similar to King Solomon before he administered the resources from heaven.

What  FHL is doing in Central Indiana About Those 6 Hot Crime Spots

Did you know: Most of FHL’s food pantries are within a 5 mile radius of the 6 hot crime spots in Indianapolis.  FHL is currently incubating 6 food pantries for the following locations:

  • 3965 Boulevard Place
  • 5244 E. 32nd St
  • 1805 W. Wilkins
  • 3801 Forest Manor
  • 3363 Central Ave. (expected opening next month)
  • 20854 Lamong Rd. Sheridan, IN

Some of the food pantries that FHL has already  incubated and are now operating on their own in the following locations in Central Indiana:

  • Westfield
  • Castleton
  • Beech Grove
  • Fountain Sq (downtown)

MAP

What Can You Do To Help Fight Hunger and Crime In Central Indiana?

Call to Action:

  1. Continue to intercede for wisdom through prayer for FHL to expand the Kingdom of God through missional food pantries. Acts 6:1-7
  2. Sacrificially support FHL financially to improve the training and discipleship and to establish more missional food pantries 1 Chro. 21:24, “But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

God bless,
Merlin Gonzales

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Lessons in assembling a greenhouse

Traditionally, during Mother’s Day, people fills the nurseries, department & hardware stores, churches and restaurants. It is celebrated in countless different ways. Because of her stroke, my mother was not able to go out this year.

A few weeks ago, my wife had an idea to purchase a surprise gift of small raised green house for my mother. With the help of a few friends, we were able to assemble it; it took the 3 of us 4 hours but we got it done.

It take a team with different strength to assemble this beautiful gift.

It take a team with different strength to assemble this beautiful gift.

Some things I learned while assembling:

It takes planning to get things right

The little greenhouse came with instruction book full of pictures but with minimal texts and dozens of parts. If you are like me, I hate looking at instructions and get intimated by illustrations. Since I don’t like reading “assembly” instructions, I just try to figure it out myself and consequently, there are times that I find extra nuts and bolts after I finish the assembly. Of course, I have to disassemble again and then painfully read the manual to get things right.

Similarly, we need to seek the ministry strategy through the life’s manual that God has given us – the Bible. If we seek and ask for wisdom, He will give it to us. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our every action. God cannot be contained by few methods and procedures. In the OT, Joshua and King David have to ask God what to do every time they are about to go in a battle. They learned that God would provide them strategies that work at the right time. They found out that the same plan that worked in the past does not necessarily work in other situations.

It takes a team with different gifts and talents to implement the plan

As I was assisting my friend in assembling the greenhouse, I noticed that as soon as he look at the instruction, he would work fast as if we have to finish it right away. I found out that he likes doing puzzles. In piecing pieces together, there are times that you tap in your zone and things just fit together; you work faster and with enthusiams. It actually energizes him when things are just happening.

A great team starts with great relationships

A great team starts with great relationships

His brother also came with him to help us out. I’m glad he came because he is a strong man with strong back. He took care of shaving the grass where we will place the greenhouse. Of course, he has to rest regularly to cool down and stretch his back. He was also good in using the electric saw and building the base for the greenhouse.

It’s a journey

As we were on the last stages of the assembly, we bonded closer together. We all have learned together and gained more insights in assembling complicated stuff. In ministry, God would take us on a journey. Sometimes it’s long, sometimes it’s short. There are times that the journey is hard and painful. The journey helps us to learn from God and from others. The journey is necessary to know each other and to bond together. We cannot shorten the journey or we will miss other things, or parts when assembling things. The journey should be welcomed and enjoyed. The journey could also be our pit stop or our destination (we will take a look at this paradox in the Kingdom in the future).

Merlin, Rudy and Ray

Merlin, Rudy and Ray

After assembling the greenhouse, we made sure that all the parts were working and they all did! We walked around it and appreciated each other as we admired our work. We shake hands and congratulated one another for a job well done. We all realized that each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses.  We recognized our contributions but all of us got the credit for the finished product. We knew that by ourselves, the greenhouse will not be completed (in 4 hours).

So, you’re wondering what I did. I assisted in some assembly, in constructing the base, provided drinks and food. Later that day, I put the compost and planted several vegetables.

My mom Norma had a stroke but she is now able to tender her own garden.

My mom Norma had a stroke but she is now able to tender her own garden.

My mother was very happy upon seeing the completed project. She was all smiles as she sat near her garden. I gave her the water hose and she proceeded to water the young plants. The next morning, she woke up early and visited her brand new garden.

God teaches us all the time. We just need to be mindful of His presence and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We can find God even in assembling a “tiny” greenhouse.

God bless,

Merlin

 

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Events or a lifestyle

Since my last Blog, many things have transpired.

  • Kindness Day at the Inglewood community East side of Indy. FHL have worked with IUPUI students and members of the congregation for Southport Presbyterian Church.
Missional Community at Inglewood

Missional Community at Inglewood

  • Liberty Christian School invited me to deliver a message of Easter to 300+ students and faculty. The message: Liberty in Christ
300+ students and faculty heard the message of Easter.

300+ students and faculty heard the message of Easter.

  • FHL’s food drive at IU Health Hospitals in late March. This was led and coordinated by Donna Cherry, a board member of FHL. We collected more $2000 worth of non perishable food items
Hemodialysis and Renal depts. of IU Health spearheaded the food drive

Hemodialysis and Renal depts. of IU Health spearheaded the food drive

  • FHL’ food drive by Mr. Quik mid April. Mr. Quik has been a ministry partner of FHL for 4 years now. They do their Annual Food drive in the Spring.
Thanks to Mr. Quik for the recent food drive

Thanks to Mr. Quik for the recent food drive

  • Completion of food pantry class at Spiritual Awakening in Indy. They have completed the 5-series class and is now in process for the final preparation of their site for the expected launching in June.
Spiritual Awakening has completed their missional food pantry classes

Spiritual Awakening has completed their missional food pantry classes

  • Visited and toured the Asbury Theological Seminary. FHL has an M. Div. Intern from Asbury Theological this Spring. After the tour, I was able to sit in at one of their 4-hr Intensive class.
Toured and attended an Intensive class.

Toured and attended an Intensive class.

  • Started the New Leadership Series last Monday: Hosting the Presence, Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda by Bill Johnson.
Unveiling Heaven's Agenda

Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda

The activities listed above were events, however, for me, it’s a lifestyle of living out my heritage. As Christians, we tend to forget that we have a rich heritage. This heritage include living with dignity and also dying with dignity. Our witnessing for Christ should reflect more than just giving a tract or casually talking about Him. A Christian lifestyle mirrors the way we treat others because our lives are a part of the story of God’s actions in the world.

As Christians, we are living to give up everything. We came from the Heritage of the King. Live it out everyday. Christian life is not going from one event to another but it’s about living out our birthright.

God bless you!

Merlin

 

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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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Moving out Hunger

  
Last month, I received a call from my former Pastor who now owns Senior Life Transitions, a family owned business that specializes in relocations of seniors. 

Sean, one of the owners said that he would like to do a food drive for FHL, utilizing his contacts and even the seniors that they will help move. 

Last Wednesday May 27th, his son Jon stopped by to deliver several boxes of groceries. Here’s a message from  Jon: 

 

Just in the past few weeks, God has been sending FHL new partners. Your prayers are being answered; keep praying because I believe that greater things are yet to come. 

Call to Action:

  • Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities specially those who are moving or are planning to move because together, we can move out hunger. 
  • Keep http://srlifetransitions.com in mind whenever you know of seniors who would like to downsize or move; they are the best in the business and they are great people. 
  • You can also help us financially: http://www.fhlcommunity.org/donate/donate-form/

God bless,

Merlin

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Simple principle

Simple ideas can change the world in your own backyard

Simple ideas can change the world in your own backyard

In 2005, God inspired Faith Hope and Love (FHL) about the concept of  a “mission trip in your own backyard” (FHL Week- a week of local missions) with the cooperation of several churches. In 2006, God blessed the vision with 5 FHL areas and 50+ organizations including 1,200+ volunteers.

A training ministry for churches and organizations

Since then, through prayers and seeking God’s will, FHL is progressively becoming a training ministry for churches and other organizations. It includes training to collaborate, network, conceptualize projects, recruit volunteers, and much more. FHL now specializes in incubating missional food pantries.

One of  FHL’s outreach areas was spun off a few years ago and has now become their own organization. On June 24th – 27th of this year,  several churches, non profits and government institutions will be working on several projects together with us such as building two homes, repair of 10-12 houses, nursing home projects, VBS, health screening and many more.

Testimonies from those who have worked with FHL

Great to hear from you and I’m not surprised to hear you encouraging once again. Thanks again for being the spark to get it all going. God is good and I pray He blesses you in all you do, my friend.” – a leader of Serve Noblesville

Here’s another testimonial from a church leader that FHL helped in March, 2015:

I cannot thank you enough for helping to shape our vision moving forward as we feel called to serve as a local church body…This was a great first event to launch our vision of seeing families going on mission together.”  – a Director at a church in Southport, Indiana

A simple principle

God started FHL with simple principle – learn and then teach others to multiply the impact in the Kingdom. This same simple principle is now impacting metro Indy neighborhoods through missional food pantries – reaching out to people through compassion, sharing the Gospel and discipling people.

Be encouraged to start simple things with simple principles; you never know how God would use your idea to bless others in the future.

God bless,

Merlin

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