Growing Solutions for Faith

  
Dedicated to Brett, Randy, Ben, wild Bill, and John. My beloved friends and co-workers. 
A little over two years ago my life was in the gutter. I had lost my job in Nashville, was forced to move back to Louisiana, and almost lost my marriage and on top of that we collected a pile of debt and had no income to help us in the least. It was almost three months after we moved back to Louisiana that I gave my life to Jesus Christ. He first answered my prayer of restoring my marriage and almost immediately we got pregnant. Second He answered my prayer of getting a good job. I’m not an educated man. I have almost a ninth grade education. Most of what I know beyond that is simply self taught so finding something that was decent pay and could look hopeful in the future was next to impossible especially for someone who had such poor work ethic like me. I had been searching craigslist and stumbled upon an add that caught my attention. It was promising for me because “no experience necessary” was plastered in big bold letters. “What a relief” I thought. This job had decent pay and I didn’t have to have something that I would never otherwise have the chance to gain. I arrived for an interview and immediately was hired. The man I talked to, Brett, was the owner who later on would become one of my most beloved mentors. This man has an absolute heart of gold. He is in fact the second most patient and compassionate man I have ever met besides my father. He has an incredible testimony and loves the Lord deeply so it was no surprise to me that God brought us together. 

   Over the next eight months I struggled severely to keep my job. I was given chance after chance after chance. I was constantly pushing them to the very brink of termination but one day I heard Brett tell me something I’ll never forget and furthermore would cherish very deeply, he said “I have been praying and I believe God brought you here. I have faith in you and I know you will succeed here.” You see when you’ve spent your whole life as a screw up its an incredibly hopeful experience to hear someone say those things to you. After that day I did something I hadn’t gotten into the habit of doing prior and that’s praying. I prayed more and more. I spent a lot of time praying as I was always alone during work hours. 

   Things got so much better over time. I started making more money than I had ever made before. I got to get off work a lot earlier than most people and I still got paid regardless. I was allotted two weeks paid vacation and consistent raises. This job was more than I could hope for. 

    I struggled with wanting to stay employed there for a while because of an employee named Ben. He has been in this business with Brett a very long time. He and I used to butt heads A LOT!!! Two people that are hard to deal with don’t mix. It flared my anxiety and stomach ulcers up severely having to try and get along with him. The only solution to this after a year and a half of working there was prayer. I started praying for him every single day. Asking God to help our relationship and most of all to help me love him the way Christ does. I can’t tell you how consistently good God is. Nothing I say can express that articulately enough so I’ll simply say that God answered my prayers. You have to change yourself in order to change others and that’s exactly what God did. He changed me not Ben. He changed my attitude, my anger and my perspective. He helped me love Ben like I never could have imagined. I can tell you this. I will miss Ben deeply because of how I saw God through our situation. I love him. He’s a wonderful man with a great capacity to love. He’s hard working and has taught me patience. Something I’ve never had. He helped refine my strong work ethic and held me accountable. He’s a good friend. 

    For the first part of my employment there I had a problem with being on my cellphone at work. It didn’t come as a surprise to me when the co-owner of the company came and talked to me about it. Needless to say Randy straightened me out. I’ve been scared of him ever since. Let me restate that. I have had an intimidation which is accompanied by a tremendous respect for him ever since then. Overtime God showed me how dedicated Randy was to his job. How important this is him. It made me want to give him more than I had been. He deserved it. Randy is a good man and I saw that. Ever since that day I strived to do a better job for him. I admire his perseverance even amidst some of the struggles I know he dealt with while I was at that job. I still pray daily for him. 

  There is a guy there who I’ll really miss. He didn’t like me for a while but I could tell by now that he’s grown fond of me. I’ve learned a lot from him especially work ethic. He’s a very dedicated worker and like Brett he has a heart of gold although I’m not sure he knows this. In the two and a half years that I’ve worked there I have grown very fond of Bill, wild Bill that is. He is one of my most favorite people I’ve ever met. His life is full of hard knocks and some of the intimate stories of himself that he’s shared really made me see him differently and ultimately love him more. I would consider him a very dear friend to me and I look up to him as an older brother figure. He will succeed greatly at this job and I will continue to pray for him daily. 

  Last but certainly not least there was an answer to prayer there that I just couldn’t even begin to describe to you the magnitude of how awesome it is. This new guy came along about seven months ago. I had really spiritually matured at an awesome rate and I heard God tell me right when I met John that he was a special guy. I could really tell that this guy was a diamond in the rough. I prayed tremendously for him and not too long after he started working there John gave his life to Christ. This is an answered prayer because I prayed for a while for God to send someone that I could disciple. He sent John. He and I share a similar story. Not of substance but of who we are as people. He and I have the same tender heart. I have seen God change him tremendously. I truly love him and would consider him one of my best friends and brother. John and I will be sharing our lives with one another far into the reaches of time. We will be old men calling each other and testifying to the goodness of God. I have terrific faith in John and I know that he will succeed greatly at this job. 

Each of these men have touched my heart in a big way and it’s very hard for me to say goodbye to them. Yesterday Ben told me that he might not see me again because he wasn’t coming back to work until after the holidays. I almost cried. This is someone who I look forward to seeing almost everyday . Someone I love very much. It was heartbreaking to know that I wouldn’t see him anymore and he wouldn’t be a part of my daily life. I wouldn’t get the chance to show him how much I love God through my love for him. I wouldn’t get to laugh and cut up with him. I wouldn’t get to banter petty things back and forth. Change is inevitable and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I will miss him. 

  I have four days left at this job and it’s getting harder and harder to let go. I do not look forward to my last day because I know that it will be one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to do in life. I’ve invested a tremendous amount of my time and heart into this job and my friends there. I’ve laughed, argued and loved. I’ve spent a terrific amount of time praying for each man there even the ones who have come and gone in the short time I’ve been there. I’ve even had the chance to cry with my boss as he poured out a side of himself to me. 

Brett is the person I will miss the most. I’ve seen him love people in ways I didn’t think we’re possible. I saw this especially with his son Todd who had worked there a short time and I could see why. Todd is a good man and someone whom I also will miss greatly. I’ve shared intimate details of my life and God with him. Anyone who works at this place is absolutely blessed to. These men are one of a kind and it’s no surprise to me why God has blessed their business. This has been the best job I’ll ever have. 
Joshua P Harris
 

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Go Tell It… Everywhere

   
As Christmas nears, God is laying a mission heavily on our hearts: to go and tell the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yet, the mission is broader than that. You don’t have to go to a third-world country to share God’s grace on your life. Go to the grocery store. Go to the pharmacy. Go to a basketball game. Go to work. Go to your own church congregation; if you don’t have one, GET one*. If you pray for God to open the opportunity, He will tell you who to tell, when to tell, and what to tell. My prayer life is not nearly as hot as God or I would like for it to be, but every time the kids and I pray for God to open Josh’s eyes to an opportunity to witness, Josh has brought good news home with him. EVERY TIME!! 

God wants every soul to be reached. And, he wants every Christian to do the reaching. “He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.'” (Matthew 9: 37-38 NLT). As we personally strive to make sharing our testimony a priority in our daily lives, we also want to encourage others to do the same. Being the introvert that I am, I struggle with making conversation with strangers and loved ones alike; but I have been praying for courage to speak for Jesus Christ. Though I didn’t realize it at first, God answered my prayer through the idea He gave Josh for a t-shirt design. (Follow the link below for the campaign which will end 12/23/15**) As mentioned in our campaign, we currently plan to use any money earned to assist with moving expenses (see previous blog, “We have a new address”). However, I believe God intended so much more to come from this than we did. The front (or back, depending on the style chosen) of the shirt reads, “Anything good you see in me is because of Jesus”, with the opposite side of the shirt broadcasting a Christogram, an emblem created from Christ’s initials. What a conversation piece!

Now, I’m not saying you have to wear this shirt to share the Good News, or that you must not believe in Jesus Christ if you don’t buy our shirt. But, I do pray that you would obey if God does call you to support our ministry. Above that, I pray that you do, in fact, believe that Jesus Christ has made a beautiful story out of your messy life, and I pray that you will share it often. Praise Him! 

Everyday we encounter lost people. Everyday God shows us His grace. Let us take advantage of every opportunity to share God’s graciousness with the lost and found alike. 

–Raye

*If you live in Shreveport, The Refuge meets at 2441 E 70th St. at 10 am on Sundays

** https://www.booster.com/moving-to-new-orleans
https://www.booster.com/move-to-new-orleans-2