Our Vision For The Community

In this blog post, I want to share a video about Powerhouse Church and our vision for our OBT community in Orlando. In the video, I will explain to you how it all began, how we as a family started to feed the poor and needy, and how people came to support the vision. You will see our street, our building and you will meet some of the amazing people in our community.

Click on the link and enjoy.

https://www.facebook.com/powerhouseflorida/videos/718013398569243/

I hope this will inspire you to do something in your community as well!

Speaking Life At The Hospital

Yesterday I went to the hospital to visit one of my “sheep”. I don’t know what other pastors do when they go here, but my errand was a little unusual. I had heard from a neighbor that this man was in the hospital – and the neighbor also told me, that the house where he used to live now was a crime scene, his roommate had been stabbed in the house by his girlfriend and the police were investigating, so honestly, I did not know exactly what to expect!

As I came into the room, the man was sitting on the hospital bed waiting for the nurse to dress his wounds. First I thought it was from the stabbing incident, but then I realized it was something else. I found out he had been in the hospital for 12 days, even before the incident, and his wounds were not there because of a weapon.

“I dropped the pot of boiling soup on my feet”, he explained. “We were cooking on the fire outside, and I wanted to bring soup inside to cool off. I dropped the pot and I burned my feet, he explained. I looked at his wound. It was not on his foot but on his thigh, since the burn was so bad, that they had to make a skin transplant in order to fix it. I found out that this guy had been walking around trying to self-medicate the burn with hydroperoxide for several days, which only made it worse. Eventually, he had passed out, most likely from drugs, and this was how he came to the hospital

I love this guy so much. He lives in a small house in a side street to OBT, very close to the church. He shows up when we have our community days and our community dinners, and I go there to visit when I can. A few months ago I had him ready and packed to go into a rehab, but on the day we were supposed to leave, he had barricaded himself drunk inside his little house and he refused to leave. I called the rehab center and canceled, and a couple of days later somebody more desperate than him had taken his place.

In the hospital, I called the rehab and explained the situation. They know it is a matter of life or death, so they do what they can. “There is another opening in December”, they said. “Somebody is checking out just before Christmas, so we will reserve the place”. My friend who runs the center was on speaker phone and I made sure that my guy in the hospital bed got the message as well.

I leaned over to his face. “Please don’t die on me. I have come all the way from Denmark just for you, brother so don’t you die on me”, I said repeatedly, as I laid my arm around his shoulders, heartbroken with tears in my eyes.

He looked at me with his big wild and half-crazed eyes. “I am not going to die, pastor, not this time”, he ensured me, but I was not that sure unless he will be able to go directly from the hospital to the rehab. My biggest concern is, that he will go back to his house. So before I left, I took his hand and prayed together with him, speaking life, that this man shall live and not die and see the goodness of the Lord.

When Jesus calls you, it is always now. Don’t wait for later. Don’t wait for tomorrow. People die like flies around here. When my wife did a women’s meeting a few weeks ago the police had sealed off the street corner across from our church. Somebody in a body bag was laying there on the ground, and the detectives were investigating for more evidence. Same night one of our local drug dealers lost his friend to a runaway driver on that same corner. He came to church the next morning, freaking out and begging me to contact the police to make sure they would find the runaway driver. I asked him, “Why can’t you talk to them yourself” and he said that nobody would listen to a drunk drug dealer which is true!

One day I had to throw another young man out of the church because he was so rude. He was shouting and cursing on his way out, and I found out that he had already been trespassed by one of our pastors. He said we were not a real church, he was even quoting scriptures trying to teach me how to be a pastor, but one month later a humble young man came to give his testimony. “I was off track for a while, but God has got me now real good”, he said. I did not recognize him, but it was the same man. Since I saw him last time, he had been robbed and shot three times.

These are my sheep on OBT and most of them are black in the sense, that they are lost, not knowing how to find their way and how to behave. Night and day they are putting themselves in danger, breaking through the fence, running around wild, doing drugs, dealing drugs and dying. But Jesus is still the good shepherd leaving the 99 in order to find the one. He does not want anyone to perish, and neither do we.

 

 

Hope Dealers in South Dakota

This summer we received an invitation to visit the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. We were invited by a pastor who lived there and we’re excited to go. We traveled almost 2000 miles to get there, and as we crossed the border to the reservation we realized how far away this was from what we call home!

The Rose Bud Sioux Nation in South Dakota is a nation of 25.000 people living on 2800 square miles of land. The land is vast, the summers are dry and the winters are cold. It is not unusual for South Dakota to have severe hot, dry spells in the summer with the temperature climbing above 100 °F and winters going low to -30 °F with an average snowfall of 41 inches.

We stayed in a small town called “Mission” and found out that this was a mission, even more than expected. The church there was small. The first night we were only a few people, the pastor, the leader of the school, the worship leader and his wife, plus a family with nine kids! Even though the meetings had been advertised on the radio nobody from outside showed up! We realized that God had to give us a new strategy to reach the people, so we decided to make a bill payment. If Jesus came to announce good news for the poor, what would be more fulfilling that paying peoples bills?

Next day we went out with flyers and visited every corner of town, as many trailer homes as we could reach, every apartment, every street. As we knocked on the doors, the kids would answer. Many places we did not see the adults. Most people were friendly, and when we invited them for the bill pay they were very surprised. They had never heard of anything like this, and they all had bills that needed to be paid. One family had been without electricity for five months!

As we walked around and talked to people we could feel the hopelessness. So much poverty, misery, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment … there were only a few grocery stores in town, only one bank, a Family Dollar with next to nothing on the shelves and more than 100 miles to the nearest Walmart. I was thinking of the family in church with the nine kids. How do you raise your kids and provide for your family with little substances in such a desolate place?

We were “hope dealers”, dealing hope to the hopeless. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, so in this case, hope had to come before faith! We were speaking hope, declaring hope, singing songs of hope: “Let hope arise, let hope remain, the dawn is breaking, it’s a new day!”, expecting God to change the atmosphere.

Many people came for the bill pay, they brought their bills and entered the drawing. The first two nights we gave away 2 x 500 dollars, and Sunday morning we gave away 1.000 dollars. The money was donated by people in our home church and people that we met on the road, it was awesome to see how it all came together!

First night five people were saved. The pastor was crying. For the past 40 years he had never seen five people saved at the same time, he said. The following days more people got saved. I think we counted 21 in total. We saw how hope was restored in peoples lives, maybe they came for the bill pay but they stayed for Jesus. They did not hurry to get back home, those that came the first night came back, and some of them also brought friends and family along.

When we left with our team after service Sunday, we wanted to pack them all up in the car and take them back home to Orlando, but obviously, that can’t happen! We believe God has another plan. Jesus says, who should I send, who will go? I trust God will call and send people to fulfill the mission out there, he is the author and the finisher of our faith, and we believe that He who started the work will be faithful to complete it, not only in our lives but also in the life of the people we ministered to.

We left a piece of our hearts there, and we pray that we will be able to be back. Help us share the vision. Some of you have supported this trip financially, and we trust that God will call more people to support. Pray for Mission, pray for the reservation, pray for the Native Americans. Let hope arise!

You can watch the video from the reservation here: hope dealers in the reservation

The Good, The Bad And The Evil

The other day I went with my wife Karen on the back of the motorcycle down to our church downtown Orlando and when we hit “OBT”, Orange Blossom Trail, I asked her “Why in the whole world she had chosen to follow me all the way to the US spending her best years serving the homeless people, some of them drunk and drugged, lazy, lying and stealing our stuff.

Since we have been married 29 years I already knew the answer. “Because God called us to do it”, she said as we pulled up in the parking lot to feed the poor which we have done consistently since we first came to Orlando in 2011.

I realize that many people my age have their 401Ks and are ready to retire. We have no pension, it was already spent in the visa process. We have no savings and we don’t own a house. But we have something much more powerful. We have a strong vision and we have a purpose which makes us feel rich every day.

A lot of men and women from the street had found their way to our Community Cafe. Most of them I recognized and some of them were new. One of them was a crack head, he was roaming around as if he was looking for something, and as I went into the main building to do some work together with the administrator, he followed me in, picked up a circular saw that belonged to the church and ran out!

Instinctively I and the administrator followed him through the traffic across the street. He was fast and I was not, so I turned around to get the motorcycle and came right after with a pistol in my pocket. The hunt ended less than 300 yards from our church, right in front of a house with a bunch of guys sitting outside. They did not look friendly. The oldest one with the most tattoos came and asked what I wanted so I explained to him that I was a pastor from the church on the other side of the street.

The man with the tattoos looked at me and made it perfectly clear that he was not familiar with our church or any kind of church. A lady next to him asked me if we were Methodists or Baptists. We are “Wild-ists” I explained. “I don’t know what that is!”, she said. “We are the ones that worship with their hands up and shout Hallelujah”, I said. Then she turned to her friend. “That is the kind of church you would like to go to, you get “high” there!”, she said.

Now the guy that stole our circular saw came running behind the fence into the house. “There he is!” I shouted and took out the phone from my pocket to call the police. I guess they knew where I was, they told me to wait and NOT go into the house!

The man with the tattoos was looking at my motorcycle. I asked if he would like a ride. Next thing, he jumped up behind and we raced down the street. When the police finally showed up, we a pulled up next to the police cars in front of our church, I the pastor, with an over tattooed man on the back.  This was his first introduction to the church so hopefully, he will be back!

When I came down the next day the guy that stole the circular saw was there again. He came out from 7-Eleven and I jumped right up on the side curb on my big bike so that he could not escape. As I looked him in the eyes, he started begging me for forgiveness with big tears in his eyes. Sorry pastor, I should not have stolen from the church but the drug dealer put a gun to my head and told me to get 60 dollars within an hour!”

I want Jesus to be the new “high” in the street. Life on OBT is different from where I come from. But I love every second of it. We have a great church, full of extraordinary people. I will say we are about 75 members including rats and roaches. Recently we have lost several members, including a younger fellow that fell into the sink. We are not afraid of losing members, the only thing we care about is doing the will of God – and the number of rats in our traps!

Matthew 22;8-10. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the crossroads and invite to the banquet as many as you can find’.  So the servants went out into the streets and gathered everyone they could find, both evil and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.