April was an amazing month! C and R told us they finally were able to buy a place of their own, P accepted an invite to dinner, and B had some intense and open dialogue with a Muslim man and his son. As we thought about all the transpired that morning, we realized something. The need we are seeing time and time again is not for money or food or housing; it is a longing for hope, love, peace, joy, reconciliation, and restoration. It reminds me of the story in Acts 3 when Peter and the other guy were walking into the temple and they passed a lame man. Peter says “Hey look at me”. The man, expecting some material handout, looks up. And boy, does Peter give it to him: “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong .He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” Peter gave this man the most valuable thing he had. Not only that, but Peter took the next step, extending a hand to help the man stand up. That’s our desire for Laundry Love Project Irving. We don’t want to just tell people about the source of the hope, love, peace, joy, reconciliation, and restoration they long for; we want to take them by the hand and help them stand up on strong legs and enter the temple courts with praise. Because, after all, we’ve been lame at some point then someone took our hand to help us stand. Help us help others stand. Pray for LLP, volunteer (you don’t know what we are talking about until you’ve experienced it), donate resources. God is in the Laundromat!
Please join us Saturday, April 6th, as we celebrate LLP Irving’s 2nd bday! There will be laundry, cake, and fun! First wash starts at 9am at the Amigo Laundromat in Irving, TX: 3349 Country Club Drive W Irving.
Today at LLP, Irving I met Mohani from Nepal. His family participated in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program and their number came up giving them an opportunity to get permanent immigrant visas to the USA. They have been in the USA for one year (first to Virginia and now living in Irving). He and his wife are both working, although he is now searching for another job b/c UPS is only giving him 20 hours per week of work. They share a car between them. Their rent is $700 per month and with utilities, groceries, gasoline, car maintenance, etc…plus 2 children in school (middle school and high school) they are barely surviving financially. Mohani’s family is Hindu and he believes that all religions lead to the same God – they just take different paths to reach Him. He graciously listened as Lezlie Carter and I told him about Jesus and grace vs. works. I asked him if he had ever been invited into an American home…he said “no”. Lezlie and I extended invitations to his family to join us for a meal in our homes. He hesitated and shared that the language barrier might be too high…we assured him that we were comfortable with the language barrier and that we would make his family feel comfortable in spite of it. We also should have mentioned that we would prepare a vegetarian meal for his family (that may have been the bigger barrier but he did not bring it up). When we communicate with him about dates and times we will be sure to mention that we understand that his family prefers a vegetarian meal. I will invite a Nepalese family that speaks both Nepalese and English to join us so that everyone can participate in the conversation over dinner. Mohani’s son is experiencing some health issues. We told him about the clinic at 2435 Kinwest on Wednesday evenings and gave him a map to the building. When we asked him if we could pray then and there for his son and family he again hesitated and asked if he could talk with his wife about it first. And, we said “of course”. Pray for Mohani and his family, that they will come to understand that Jesus is not a guru or a god but that He is God and that He wants to bring His Shalom into their family! Also, pray for healing for his son.
A volunteer had a blessed experience with one of the patrons at last month’s LLP event and wanted to share his touching story:
She had the loudest and brightest hijab in the Laundromat. She was also young and smiled more than the other Muslim women. Her husband was tall and large. I spoke to her husband first and helped him start the washing machines when they were ready. He said he needed to go to work and that his wife would do the drying. An hour later she flagged me down to start a series of dryers for her with my magic laundry card. Like her husband, she was noticeably grateful for the free help. Since we had made eye contact several times this morning, I asked her how she was doing.
“Fine. Very well. Thank you much.”
“Where are you from?” She said she was from Sudan. Not South Sudan—Sudan.
“Oh really? We supported South Sudan’s independence last year.”
“But it is terrible in the North” she said, as her engaging smile disappeared.
For the next ten minutes she relayed how she had been threatened and tortured by the Sudanese government.
Just then someone poked my arm, needing me to start their dryer. This conversation was too intense to drop. I handed them the magic card and asked them to bring it back. They did.
“Why were you tortured by your government?”
“Not the government. The security forces. They tortured me because I went to Darfur to help the people.”
“Are you from Darfur?”
“No! I tell you already, I am from Sudan. Because my training is medicine, I go to Darfur to help people. The man who runs my government, he burns entire villages in Darfur. I go to help them.”
“And they tortured you for providing relief?”
“Yes. They tortured me five times. And they make me to have sex.”
“What??! Are you saying they raped you because you provided relief to Darfur refugees??”
She nodded her head resolutely. The certainty of her answer and the surprising lack of anguish or shame on her face confirmed the validity of the reports that I’ve read—that rape is a primary tactic used by governments, tribes and clans in African countries. One in four African women is a victim of political or tribal-motivated rape.
“The last time, they say the next time they come, they will kill me. That’s when I go to American embassy and ask for asylum. They give me permission to come to USA as Visitor. Then I can get work permit, then Green Card. This is my home now. I want to stay here.”
Another request to start a dryer. I handed someone my card without breaking eye-contact with my guest. We talked a little more about how her life in America is freer and safer, and how she is finding community among other Sudanese and African immigrants. Her smile returned and I could see she was genuinely thankful to have a new life here where she and her husband and her newborn child could live in safety.
But this was too emotional to just discuss and then leave hanging. God has us at this Laundromat today for a reason. There is something this woman needs that God wants to give her.
“Can I pray for you?” I asked.
“Yes, of course” she said as she smiled, assuming that I wanted to pray for her in the privacy of my home.
“I would like to pray for you right now.”
“Oh!” she said, her head pulling back and her hand blocking her heart, “But I am Muslim.”
–Quick, brain: Think of something.–
“That’s wonderful” I said, watching her face to see how she would react to what I was about to say next.
“You know that Koran says much about Isa” (Arabic for “Jesus”).
“Yes” she nodded.
“And the Koran says that Jesus blesses people, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, yes” she agreed.
“And if I pray to Jesus and ask him to bless you and your family in his name, he will bless your family, correct?”
“Yes, yes!” she said with a growing eagerness.
“Then let’s pray!” I smiled.
“Okay” she agreed, not really knowing what to do.
I closed my eyes and thanked Jesus for protecting her life and for bringing her family safely here. I asked him to heal the wounds and scars of the past—I could hear her agreeing out loud with this—and to bless her new life here as well as her husband and their newborn child.
“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
I looked up and she was standing there with a thankful look on her face. I know Muslim women aren’t supposed to touch men who aren’t their husbands, but the moment came over me and I told her that I wanted to give her a hug, to which she complied. I told her to let us know if she had any other needs in case we could help.
Then it was on to the next washing machine.
I have no idea what she will tell her husband tonight.
I have no idea what it must feel like to be prayed for by someone else, maybe for the first time in your life.
All I know is that I was obedient and took the chance I’ve been hoping for. The rest is up to God.
Perhaps we’ll see her next month.
After their first encounter with IBC through Laundry Love, Kendra and Raymond Brookins found a place to belong at Propel.
“I was nine months pregnant, miserable and still going to the Propel classes because I loved being there that much,” Kendra Brookins says with a smile on her face.
The Brookins family — Raymond, his wife Kendra, and 4-year-old daughter Savannah — moved from Kendra’s home state of Oregon in 2010 to Texas. Not knowing anyone, they wanted to find a home church and a place to belong instead of just attending a Sunday service once a week.
The couple had tried different churches in the Dallas area but didn’t feel like any were where God wanted their family and faith to grow. After hearing about IBC while doing laundry one afternoon, Kendra and Raymond decide to see what IBC was all about.
Laundry Love, an IBC ministry begun in April of 2011, offers free cleaning supplies and laundry cycles at Amigo Laundromat in Irving.
“We were broke; I mean 2 to 5 dollars for laundry at the time was a lot, and this family just helped with my laundry and talked to me the entire time about IBC,” Kendra says. It wasn’t long after this they began visiting the church on Sunday.
“Everyone seemed really nice and inviting here from the moment we walked in the door,” says Raymond.
But after joining IBC over a year ago, Kendra and Raymond were still looking for a place to belong. They didn’t want to just go to Sunday service every week; they wanted to be a part of the community, and had heard about Propel a few times through Sunday services and Chatter.
“Since we didn’t know anybody at IBC, we thought this was the best way to start,” Raymond says.
During the four-week class, Raymond and Kendra enjoyed listening to the pastors that spoke each week. “I really liked it because they had different perspectives,” Raymond says.
But it was one story that stood out to Raymond the most during the second class they attended. “This pastor told about how he thought he would never be a person who would preach a sermon — or anything like that,” Raymond says. Raymond connected with the speaker’s struggle because of his own struggles in life with his faith.
Since the class has ended, the Brookins family welcomed a new baby girl, Annabelle, born June 15. Kendra says while she was home with her newborn, Raymond would tell her how people from Propel would ask about how she and the baby were doing, which meant so much to her.
Now back in the swing of things, Kendra and Raymond are ready to dive in to IBC. And now, thanks to Propel, they have a list of groups and programs that could be a good fit for their family, as well as new friends and ministry connections.
“It’s kind of exciting because we can get involved. My daughter’s class got a letter today stating they need more help in the children’s ministry,” Kendra says, with a twinkle in her eye.
Raymond shares that the biggest reason he wanted his family to be involved with IBC is because of his own upbringing. His mother had his family involved in every part of his childhood church, an experience that gave Raymond his best memories with his family. He wants the same thing for his daughters, and now it seems possible.
“Now we come to church and we don’t just sit every Sunday. We see
people we know from class and feel like we are a part of the IBC community,” Kendra says.
And the IBC community is better for it. Welcome, Kendra and Raymond.
Each month we are so blessed to meet so many people. People from here or there, people who have done this or that, people who are experiencing the best of life, people who are walking through what seems their darkest hour. And it is through these amazing creatures of God that we search for Him, a glimpse of His handiwork and His love. Needless to say we were totally blindsided when that much desired glimpse of Him came from a source who has been there all along: the volunteers. Jesus showed up with 18 sets of hands and feet, including kids, to just be real. There was no personal, selfish agenda at work in these people, these blessings. The only thing that was seen was a true love for man because of God. In life, we often need the proverbial “knock up side the head” to be reminded of the good stuff, the God stuff. Through these beautiful people, God hugged His creation in a way only a Father can. Thank you, volunteers of LLP Irving. We love you!
June’s event was somewhat calming and went by very smoothly. The community kind of helped make it that way by having their loads ready early and once 9am comes around, we just slide in our cards and every single washing machine is on its way. With no vacant washing machines left, that enables us to focus on getting to know our patrons better for the next 30 minutes until it’s time to transition to the dryers. It was a valuable time for us to build relationships, tell each other’s stories and share God’s love.
We met several people who are going through struggles with their lives, and were able to provide financial assistance with their laundry, encouragement, prayer, and especially hope. Even our friend “T” who we met here at an LLP event came by to help out. Unfortunately he received a ticket on his walk to the event for jaywalking of all things!
We met 2 new volunteers from our church and were very glad that they came – they also helped make the event go by smoothly. We gather together before each event to give thanks for this opportunity and for His guidance, and for open hearts and minds:
Here is our leader “A” showing our new volunteers “D”, “G” & his daughter “S” the ropes of how the laundromat machines work:
The down time while the washing machines were running allowed us to love on the patrons:
As always at each event, it is so delighting that the kids get to be involved and serve:
Since we didn’t have any action shots of our very own Mr. T, we figured we’d show 4 this time around:
Looks like someone was worn out from the fun:
Overall it was a fun and positive experience. We will definitely pray for those who we met that are struggling and hope to see them at our Life after Laundry so that we can do life together! Thanks to everyone for making this event a successful one!