Friday, February 23, 2007

FEBRUARY REPORT

Baptism,
New Orleans trip, and a
New Housing project.

Also: Michael Melendrez and his miracle (see comment section). An update is over here .



Exciting News: Rev. Deacon Rolin Bruno of the CEEC conducts baptism at God's Katrina Kitchen, for the Church Army Gulf Coast life transformation program!

This month in our spiritual transformation program we have been presenting the video series “Forty Days of Purpose” and reading Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life.” Participants in this included “Choo-choo” and our new volunteer, Samuel. After reading Rick’s chapter on being “Formed for God’s Family”, Samuel was led by the Holy Spirit to seek to be baptized. Samuel and I spent some time together the next 2 weeks praying and exploring the depths of the meaning of baptism.

Last Saturday it was chilly (50 degrees F), and when the appointed hour arrived the sun hid its face from us. Nevertheless, Samuel was undaunted. Taking a break from remodeling a nearby house, he came to the beach to recite his baptismal vows and wade with us into the brisk wind sweeping across the Gulf of Mexico. It was low tide, so by the time we reached deep-enough water we were over 50 yards from shore. James assisted me in immersing Samuel into the Gulf, and bestowed a blessing on him when we returned to shore, where he was greeted and hugged by all. Samuel's baptism will be permanently recorded with the Gulf Coast Resurrection Community and the Missionary Diocese of St. Aidan Lindisfarne.

Samuel is struggling with issues in his personal life and in the dysfunctional lives of his family members. Day by day—sometimes less, sometimes more—he is learning what it means to give up one’s own life and turn it over to Jesus. He is digging into the Bible, and revisiting the 12-step program. Sometimes he will notice a change in himself, saying “Normally, I would have [done such-and-such] when someone did [or said] that to me, but that was the old Samuel. I’m not going back to doing things my old way.” Please pray for Samuel, and for his family members.


BAPTISM PHOTOS (thanks to Mary Giles and Lezlie Anderson).
1: Rolin and Samuel.
2. Preparing for baptismal vows.
3: Video by Ray of the Kitchen.
4: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
5: Back to shore with a new member of God’s family.
6: Welcome into the Body of Christ!
7: A hug from Steve Anderson.
8: A hug from Gulfport resident Thurmon.

New Orleans Trip:


Last Sunday I traveled to New Orleans to attend Church of the Annunciation, taking with me three men from Church Army and one from the Kitchen. We got there just in time for Holy Communion, because the service time had been moved up to 9am to avoid the onslaught of Mardi Gras parades that close down much of the city. Fr. Jerry Kramer greeted us, and was pleased that we would be returning once a month to visit him. He insisted that I bring my deacon’s stole next time, so that I could participate at the altar. They are making good progress on refurbishing their Katrina-flooded sanctuary, and Samuel is enthusiastic about helping to retile their floor when they are ready to do that.

Housing Search:

We have begun searching for more permanent (and more house-like) housing here in Gulfport, to provide a sober living home for those who complete the first phase of our Spiritual Transformation program. Rental (and all other) housing is in short supply along the Gulf Coast and is at inflated prices. Our preference, rather than to use up some of the available housing, is to restore one of the hundreds of Katrina-ruined homes sitting vacant all around us. This should not only give us some “sweat equity” in paying for a new residence, but also will help give the men a bond with it and a sense of self-worth.

Whether this project will take the form of a purchase, lease, or simply a rental we do not yet know. We also have no idea at this time how God plans to pay for all this. Next month, with the help of the leadership of Church Army USA, we will begin to formulate a potential funding plan. Please pray for the Spirit to guide us into the right house, the right plan, and those donors that God has already selected to provide this blessing for the hurting people of the Gulf Coast.

Thank you for your prayers and your other gifts for the Gulf Coast, and may the God of Hope bless each of you richly.

….In Love and Peace,
Rolin

3 comments:

Rev. Rolin said...

MICHAEL'S MIRACLE:
I received the following reply from my sister Lucy:
Hi Rolin,
We will pray for the needs of the people under your guidance,and also for a new place to call home so you can continue your ministry in the gulf coast. You look very distinguished in your deacon's [garb], most fitting for the first baptism. Congratulations! ...
My grandson Michael is 33 now, has been in prison for 1 year in Georgia with 7 months to go before release. He had been a meth user for most of his adult life and has 3 children, and a wife that he infected with HIV. He has had the HIV virus since 1997 and his t-cell count was so low that he was expected to die many times from the continued use of meth, and abusing himself with every substance he could get. When he finally was sent to prison they sent him to the prison hospital for a couple of weeks.
There is a group doing a prison ministry and he was receptive to the Lord's word he heard every week. He ended up doing study courses on the Bible, and sent us the certificates he completed. He accepted Jesus as his Savior, and his Mother Sally could not believe the change in every aspect of his self. He has been given supervised work duty outside the prison, a big privilege.
He was tested for his HIV Levels about 7 months ago, and it had dropped from the time he entered prison. He was tested again last month and they could not find any trace of HIV. They double tested him again, and still found no trace of HIV. A group of HIV doctors and researchers from Atlanta came to the prison to interview him and wanted to know what he was doing that made the HIV go away and be so healthy after all those years.
He answered that "it began in 2005 when I turned my life over to the care of God, and no longer live for me, myself and I, only for our Father in heaven" He also gave credit to the Church, family and his personal prayers. Michael said "I have received the ultimate blessing of a lifetime, the power of God's healing hand is resting upon my soul."
Please share Michael's testimony as it is proof that the Lord blesses us even in the most dire situations.
Love, Lucy

Fr. Alan said...

Thank you Lucy for the encouraging testimony. Only Jesus can truely transform a life. We thank you Lord Jesus for your healing of Michael. We pray for him your abundant provision of all that he needs in each day to continue in the will of his Father.

Rolin said...

Michael Melendrez II rose to be with the Lord February 28, 2010. For the latest news, follow the link in the post above.