Here is a copy of an email I received from Brandt yesterday….. God is true to his word and really shows up when we reach out to those who hold a special place is his heart – the poor, the homeless, the vulnerable, the weak, the rejected, the lost and the un-acceptable. Brandt was recently arrested out side the church at Lakeland as he ministered to the homeless and poor who weren’t allowed inside…….
‘Something has happened here in Lakeland Florida that is a little difficult to explain. After my arrest and trying to continue not just to minister to, but befriend and meet the needs of the beautiful folk we have met here, our little potluck community parties started to get a little too big to hold in my bus in the walmart parking lot (which is conveniently located across the street from Ignited Church). The night I got arrested, some kids from Tampa drove down and worshiped with Max and James in the bus, and slowly every night it got bigger.
Pastor Adam Mayfield of Journey Church, and Rev. Fr. Wade Fahnestock of First Christian Church joined our little shindig on the friday night after my release, along with some of our homeless brothers and sisters and a few kids we met at the “outpouring”. It was amazing to see all of these different personalities come together in union. It truly started to look like the Kingdom of God. Pastor Adam then told us that we could park the bus at his church office. Journey Church rents the office from a local baptist so he told me that he wasnt sure if they would take issue with us being here, but we could park and meet until they did lol. We eventually met the youth pastor and pastor of the local baptist church and they loved what we were doing and reassured us that our being there was ok. Then it just started to get chaotic.
People would just show up. The homeless in the camps near Ignited came alive. God started to truly work on their hearts and they began to come around every day. Its started with three smelly kids on a bus, and now I just cant even explain what its beginning to become. After the we made the front page of The Ledger explaining where we were meeting every night, people started to show up. Tons of people, driving hours and even flying in to be a part of this, whatever “this” is.
Just yesterday I was being interviewed by a fellow and he was asking how we get funded for what we do. It just so happens some guy drove up to the church office, told me that God was on our side and he told him to give me this (this being a wad of cash). James told the guy asking us about our finances, “It just shows up, thats how”. And its been like that every since. About twenty minutes after that happened, an elderly couple walked up asking everyone for me. They told me that they were from Lexington Kentucky and have been walking around from church to church asking for help with a hotel room and the churches told them to ask me. These big churches sending them to ole homeless brandt; luckily God knows our needs and continues to supply them. Needless to say, there has been small but beautiful miracles everyday.
Stories of great injustice, stories of wonderful acts of God, stories from the rich and the poor and everyone in between are to be found in this little office. Firemen and college students, middle age and middle class folks, families with five kids; they all are just showing up due to the urge of the spirit and a newspaper article. We are family. In Matthew 12 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Then He pointed at His disciples and said, “These are my mothers and brothers. Anyone who does the will of My father in Heaven is My brother and sister and brother.” We truly are family. People are bring all they have to be shared among everyone. When the spirit moves, there is no rich, poor, homeless, etc. God see no class lines, nationality, race, economic status. He sees right into the heart of the broken and recognizes a child; a reflection of Himself, made in His image and likeness, fearfully and wonderfully made.
Everyone is welcomed to come and everyone is welcomed to share, whether that be a tuna casserole (homemade or “rescued” from the trash), or a story, whether beautiful or heartbreaking. We have been having wonderful community potlucks at six, and then amazing spontaneous worship after (because we have no music that we don’t make up from the songs of our hearts), and then candlelight bible studies. Its lead by no man, and everyone’s input is just as valuable and encouraged. We just talk and discuss and laugh and sing and love for hours. The Spirit of God is our only leader. The “homeless” call me pastor and I chuckle at such ridiculous claims 😉
This morning the City of Lakeland showed up knocking on the door of the office and told of a complaint that they received about the bus being parked. They insisted that it was a commercial vehicle (which in reality its a registered and insured mobile home), and that I was breaking zoning laws. What we found out is that a nearby church has a daycare and the homeless that spend their time became a concern, which we completely understand. Hate, but understand. That last few hours we have been telling our wood dwelling brothers and sisters not to come to the office, and that we were seeking God and looking into a place to move the bus and our amazing community shindigs that God has continually attended faithfully. To be quite honest, I cant expect this sort of thing not to happen, and its pretty amusing because we truly are starting to see a resemblance to the “early church”. We have no place to rest our heads. God is moving, yet we are continually on the run. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6 – “We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. Our hearts ache, but we ALWAYS have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything“. Welcome to the ridiculously offbeat family of God.
I continue to thank you for your prayers and support. There are a million things that we could use to continue to minister to the needs of this community and the broken people in it, but mainly and most importantly, your prayers are most valuable. God has been leading us from the beginning, and this is just a part of the plan. If you feel God calling you to come and be a part of “this”, we would love nothing more.
As I mentioned earlier, there was a beautiful family with five adorable kids that showed up two nights ago with beans and rice and more smiles then we thought we would be able to contain. It seemed like what we were missing, after all Jesus had a thing for children. As they ate in the hallway, the kids continued to spill rice onto the carpet and then on top of it all, step on the rice accidentally and smush it into the carpet. Being the ridiculous clean freak I am, I spazzed. It was then that God showed me that this “revival of sorts” was a “dirty carpet revival”. That He is not only spilling rice on the carpets of the comfortable, but smushing it in. Carpets aren’t for good looks, their for foot traffic. Forget the hot burning coal, we want smushed ricey carpets. Thank you Lord for all of your love. Become a part of what God is doing, in spirit and in truth.’