Kingdom of the Poor | Mobile, AL

Today’s post comes from two of our talented ‘Lord’s Lens’ photographers, John and Brooke Davis who are based out of Mobile, AL. With their heart set on doing God’s work these two have started their own ministry, reaching out to those who need it most in their community. Not only would we love to share their mission for God’s glory (along with their amazing images), but we also hope that it might inspire you to find ways you can help others as well.

Isaiah 58:7 says “…to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out.  When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh.”  To Brooke and I, the starters of Kingdom of the Poor, that means exactly what it says.  Our goal with Kingdom of the Poor is everything that Isaiah 58:7 says.  To feed the hungry, to give people our house to stay at, to give clothes to the naked, and really just to restore dignity to those whom society have taken it away.  In doing this, our main goal is to please the heart of God.

So many people just create ministries and take time out of their days to serve people and help someone, and though that is a good thing, we are trying to do even more than that.  We don’t want to just create a ministry, our heart is to live a lifestyle of Jesus Christ and in that we do serve the homeless and help the needy.  If Kingdom of the Poor serves as an outlet to help others get involved every once and a while that is okay, but we want to be something that shows people how Jesus wants us to live our lives on a daily, 24/7 basis.

One of the main things we do is serve our friends in Tent City. This is a place in the woods where about 30 homeless folks live and have camps in which they live in tents made up of tarps and umbrellas and string.  We have been starting a church down there in the woods and really just trying to become best friends with these guys and being Jesus to them. So far we have seen 5 people get out of the woods and into homes and get jobs.  We are super excited to see what God is going to continue doing through us and others that believe in living like Jesus, no matter what that means.  – -John Martin Davis, starter of Kingdom of the Poor.

This is a picture of our friend Detroit. He has been living out in Tent City for about 4 years, been to jail 3 times during his stay out there, and has been hospitalized 2 times. This is our main picture that we use for Kingdom of the Poor. In this picture Detroit is laying on his bed made of two shopping carts that are on their sides pushed together with blankets on top of them. He was pretty knocked out here because his had just gotten back from the hospital for a cut on his side that got infected. Detroit is 35.

This is another picture of Detroit standing up. If you notice the massive scares on his side, that is the cut I was talking about on the previous picture. He had 30 or more staples in his side after he was cut with a box opener while breaking up a fight in Tent City between his best friend or “street brother” and Otis, husband of Ms. Fea, a couple who also live in Tent City. This was the second time Detroit had been cut with a box opener, the first stretched from his chest to his back.

This is Curly. They call him curly because of his curly hair. The first time I met curly he had a beard that went down to his stomach, it was super legit, but then he was arrested for walking the streets at night, which is a new ordinance in Mobile for the homeless, and they cut it off in jail. Curly is the best friend of Detroit, and wherever you find Detroit, you will find Curly. Curly is 34.

In Tent City dogs are everything to everyone. What I mean by that is that since they have no material items they take care of their dogs like they are their children. In this picture you see Bruiser standing by those boots and legs, which is Mike, his owner. Bruiser is probably the most loyal dog I have ever met, he follows Mike around everywhere and is very protective of their camp. Mike will feed Bruiser before he feeds himself.

This is Mike; he is 41 and is literally always joking. Most likely he will not be wearing a shirt just because of the heat and is always looking out for everyone in Tent City. Mike is the first person I met in Tent City and whenever we go out there he never lets us leave with him praying for us and thanking God for “angels” to come help them.

This is our friend Daniel who lives in Hattiesburg, MS who comes down often to help us out, in this picture we are all walking into Tent City through the trail that comes out at the road. Everyone has on a back pack because we were giving away backpacks full of stuff that day.

This is a site you see all over Tent City. Random chairs that people sit in to chill or even call their beds. This chair was sitting at an abandoned camp probably because the person was arrested and hasn’t been let out yet.

This is Mr. Robert and I. I am giving him a new backpack with a lot of stuff that he will need on the day that we did our Mobile Backpack Drive. Mr. Robert is around 50 but he won’t tell us his real age he just says “I’m over the hill”. Mr. Robert is a loaner, and is always just riding around on his bike, but goes to church every Sunday and is always talking about how God is blessing him, even in the mist of poverty.

Be Still | Erie, CO

Today’s scripture comes from Heather Lilly, a “Lord’s Lens’ photographer based out of Erie, CO…

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” – Psalm 46:10

Kaylyn & Ryan | Huntsville, AL

This morning we are asking for your much needed prayers for Kaylyn and Ryan, married just 3 short months ago. On Sunday, January 15 2012, they were both in an extremely serious car accident in Hunstville, AL. Kalyn suffered a broken collar bone and many bruises, Ryan was ejected from the car leaving him in a coma with serious head trauma.  We learned of their story from their wedding photographer, Amy Paulson. She shared with us a very personal plea on their behalf accompanied by a few photos of Kaylyn and Ryan. If you are interested in following their specific prayer requests or getting updates on their situation please visit the Facebook page their friends and family have created. Amy’s words…

“yesterday I held her hand.  there was nothing else I could do.

one of my precious couples had their worlds turned upside down.

they were in a car accident.

precious Kalyn has a broken collar bone and lots of bruises.

Ryan was ejected from the car and is currently in the ICU with serious head injuries.

please pray for them, they were married only 3 months ago.

pray for a miracle for Ryan.  God isn’t bound by any medical issues and oh how we pray that He shows that vividly in Ryan.

pray for my sweet Kalyn’s heart.  for her strength.  for her to feel God’s arms wrapped around her, steadying her, holding her, crying with her and comforting her…

and that God would write a story so beautiful from all this pain.”

For His Kingdom | Loveland, CO

Today’s post comes from Becky Young, one of our ‘Lord’s Lens’ photographers based out of Colorado. Becky was our very first member. Here she tells us more about why she wanted to be a part of the organization and how she hopes to be able to give God glory…

For the longest time, I thought helping others meant I had to solve their problems. I even went as far as to get a Master’s Degree in counseling so I could learn how to “fix” problems for people. As always, the Lord had bigger plans for me. He lead me to photography. Photography is such an incredible way to minister to people’s souls, by helping them to see the Lord’s hand working in their lives. I am so incredibly excited God lead me to be a part of The Lord’s Lens, an amazing community of Christian photographers. Whether it’s documenting a mission trip or taking head shots of a local church’s staff, I am humbled and honored to allow God’s hand help me sow seeds for His Kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” Matthew 13:24

Substitution | Eagan, MN

Today’s blog post comes from one of our talented ‘Lord’s Lens’ photographers, Gina Zeidler out of Eagan, MN. It features the touching story of her own substitution (baptism) and comes with the valuable offer for anyone interested to hear more about her story and the gospel itself…

In May of this year I was substituted aka. baptized. Now going backwards. I grew up in a wonderful Christian home. Went to private school till high school and attended an amazing on fire for God, Catholic church. My grandma spoke of Jesus like her dear friend and often told my sister and I to yell at the devil in the Lords name if we felt him near. I knew God. I knew who he was and what he did for me. I remember in 2nd grade I had my first communion and at that age I understood what Jesus did to wipe my heart clean and make it white as snow.

I went on my schooling years going to chapel every morning and youth group on Wednesday nights. I remember all the retreats and the worship. I love worship. Music speaks to my soul like no other medium. I remember singing in youth group and being so on fire for God especially during 9th and 10th grade. Yet, at that time it was pretty constricted to my church friends and my Wednesday nights. When I was at school I had different agendas. I tried SO hard to fit in, which in reality never happened. I didn’t understand why I didn’t. Then I got to college thinking it might change now,  yet  it was still a world of trying to fit in. Parties, dancing and just the typical college experience. While there are great memories there, yet there are also lots of years of drama, hurt and mistakes searching for something to fill that void in my heart.  I guess I thought that this was next  chapter in life and God would be something I would do every once in awhile on a Sunday, for now. I would just put him on the back burner and went on accomplish “the list ” in life. Go to college, play your sport, do good in school, marry a great guy and start a job with your degree.

So, I started a job with that degree and then about 8 months after we got married I started my photography business.  Again, while I prayed to God and knew he was there. I still put him in a box to only open on Sunday-ish. Matt and I continued on our quest for a church and through a connection or two we stumbled on the church we attend now. We went on and off , and (by on and off means whenever I didn’t want to sleep in) for 2 years before we felt we needed to surround ourselves with other Christian couples and we joined a bible study there to get connected. We loved the people we met through it (still do),which sent us headed to pursuing membership.

Here is where we  HAULT. In order to be a member at Bethlehem you have to be baptized. Now Matt had done this when he was 11 or so at his home church, but I had an infant baptism which didn’t qualify as I understood. At first this made me so frustrated, uncomfortable and just unsure. Also, to make matters worse you had to give your testimony publicly at your baptism. WHAT I thought? Heck, no. People are going to think I’m not good enough or that my story won’t be “right”. It made me question everything. Did I really know Jesus? Am I saved? Is he really my Lord and savior? I spent so many hours trying to put together my testimony, but it just seemed so lame to me. I didn’t have a “I was on the corner and a Jesus pamphlet hit me in the faith and I was saved” story. Mine is plain jane almost text book. Good kid, crazy college years and back on track. I felt like if I didn’t have a “good” story then maybe I wasn’t being called, I was just making it up or that maybe I had done something wrong the first time. But after a couple hard months of God working on me (even having to postpone my baptism because I didn’t feel ready) God slowly revealed that my story is just my story …….just the way he planned it. Gina Iolanda’s path. His exact path for me, not anyone else’s. and that it was OK. More than ok.

The testimony that I actually ended up sharing on video (that was played during church service) went something like this….. I did grow up in a home with all the right surroundings, the right schooling and the right path. I accepted Jesus when I was very young but it was more a head knowledge. A surface knowledge. Through the years of high school, college and beyond I lost track of Jesus. I put him behind what I believed was important. Over the past year God has been calling me to learn and understand what a heart knowledge of him looks and feels like and what it truly means. What a personal relationship with him was the only way to be truly saved. To talk to God daily and not just in passing or the same prayers, to really let Jesus at my heart. To give myself to him and live.  Give him my security, my plans, my thoughts, my troubles, my pride and my desires. Baptism was the outward symbol of what God has done for me and is always doing.  Just like when they dunk you in the water, Jesus’ death takes away my sins (under the water )and when I arise (out of the water) I am saved with him.

It wasn’t as scary as I thought. In fact it was beautifully overwhelming. I thought I would be so intimated about being in a baptismal tub (more like a decked out hot tub) in front of the busy service and how dorky I was on video. Yet once I stepped in and hit the water. IMMENSE peace filled my soul. It was like no one else was there. I got out of the tub and got wrapped with a towel, as the others were being baptized, and tears just continued to drip from my face. Happy tears, yet still the heyiwanttosingthissongsostopblubbering already tears. I was overwhelmed with deep in my soul joy.

Now honestly I thought after this day, life would become easier. Like hand me my halo and white robe, well not really but sort of. While my circumstances haven’t changed and everyday isn’t rainbows & unicorns. It is my choice to wake up (fighting my heart out) each day to lay my plans, my decisions and my every moment at his feet. Where he is waiting for me, to give me his JOY and peace. I just have to slow down and let him lead. Which is hard for this go-getter girl to do, but completely and utterly worth it.

Enough about me. I want you know that your story is your story, and if I have learned anything in 2011 is that God loves us each individually, personally. Don’t compare your walk to anyone else’s. ANYONE Else. Sin is sin to God, and we all have it, since we took our first breath. It plagues us everyday whether you tell a lie or burn down someones house down or worse. Yet, he can take all of that away by being a substitute for you. His death on the cross can substitute the wrath of your sins. He will take your place, if you let him and get to know him.

John Piper put it perfectly in this sermon….

If you could sum up what you believe in or what your religion is all about  in one word that word is SUBSTITUTION. So, that is why I started this post by saying I was substituted.

Questions? or if you feel doubt about your walk? I GET YOU. I totally get you and am here for you if you want to chat. I would love to give you the real skinny, not a pretty perfect picture. Just authenticity.

Thanks for listening to this long post. And Thank you to Melissa O for taking these beautiful film images of this day.