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community

A Disturbing Day At Church

Last week I had a very disturbing experience at the food sharing outside our church on Orange Blossom Trail, OBT, in Orlando. We feed the homeless and needy people in the neigborhood every week, so this was one of our regular nights with a 100 people standing in line to eat.

At 5.30 pm we were plating the food and getting ready to serve, when four black cars came into our parking lot and parked next to a black truck that were already there. It looked like new rental cars, something official, so they caught my attention.

Next thing I saw were the drivers in the black cars jumping out, opening up the trunks and giving out stuff from the back to the people in our parking lot.

I don’t mind people caring for the community and helping us serve. That happens a lot of times. Usually teams will come and ask if they can join us, giving out food, clothing, hygiejne products etc, but this time was different. It seemed like these people had another agenda.

I am Not a Racist

I walked over to talk to them, but they totally ignored me. They were all african americans, a group of 10-15 young people, handing out packages. “This is private property”, I said, and immediately one of them, a young guy with tattoos in his face, came right at me cursing me out. Somehow he tried to make this a racial issue, calling me a “White Mother……”, as if the color of my skin would have anything to do with feeding the homeless. I am not from this country. I am a viking from Denmark, and over there we don’t see colors like some people see them here.

At this point, they all started shouting at me, almost like some of the protesters I have seen on the news. I saw the hate in their faces, as they were threatening me and calling me a racist. It all happened really fast, like putting gasoline on a fire. In all these years I have worked as a pastor in the “hood”, I never experienced anything like this…

Calling the Police

Our church is located just down the road from the police headquarters, so I picked up my phone and called the police, while the newcomers were still in my face cursing me out. Then they all went back in their cars and started to leave, including a black female driver, who almost ran me down on the way out. As the car touched me, I lifted my leg as a reflex, and the driver jumped out, accusing me of kicking the car.

At this point, the rest of the team were waiting across the street, and when they saw her coming out of the car, they all started running towards me. Again they were yelling and screaming, it looked like a lynch mob coming towards me, but thank God. Somebody went in their way and stopped them before it was too late.

The Devil in the Parking Lot

When the police showed up half an hour later, we were feeding the homeless like we always do. They were my eye witnesses, they had been watching from the side. The only hard evidence I had was footage from the security camera, but somehow the intruders had managed to cover up for the episode by parking one of the cars in front of the camera.

The Devil was in the parking lot that day, but so was God. And the only reason why I am still here is because of God. From His perspective All Lives Matters. It is not about being black or white. He made us all different, and He likes us like that.

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Inspiration

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

The other day I read an article from my home country Denmark speaking about “being skin hungry”. I guess it is a new word in this pandemic, and the definition of “Skin Hunger” is the need of a physical touch, a hug and a kiss. In other words, we need to be loved!

Truth is that we are all social creatures and in this time of global social distancing because of the pandemic, people are starving for physical contact. We can’t live without it, and some people are so under stimulated right now, that they go crazy.

The Fear of Death

Social distancing seems to be a necessary curse right now but I wonder if the consequence of separating people is worth the prize compared to the many broken families, suicides, depressions etc that inevitably will swipe through the world as a consequence of the lock downs and separation of people.

Right now fear is in the front seat. People are afraid of getting sick. People are afraid of being a carrier of the virus. People are afraid of dying. And in order to control the fear of death, people all over the world are trying to control the spread of the virus, instead of turning to God who conquered death and gave us a living hope!

A Jesus Touch

At Powerhouse Church we reach out to some of the weakest people in society and for them the church is an important daily salvage raft that gives them hope and joy and a Jesus touch when most needed.

For them surviving daily in the streets is a much bigger threat than the virus and they need the church now more than ever. We daily follow the news of the streets of Orlando, news of murder, rape, broken families, addictions, gang, aids etc. We see people with cancers, open operation wounds, stab wounds. For them the corona is just another thing on the list to fear.

What Are We Waiting For?

People are telling me to shut down the church and to wait. To take care of my self and not risk the life of our members. My question is; Wait for what? Jesus did not wait for nobody, he touched the lepers and hung around sick people on a daily basis as he was doing his Fathers business. Paul said in 2. Cor 6:2 “Today is the day of salvation, now is the appointed time”. This is the Bible. No government order can postpone God timing.

I do not fear the virus. I do not live by fear, I live by faith, and my faith is being expressed in love. Perfect love drives out all fear. In times of social distancing, it is our time to show our hearts. While Christians all over the world are praying in their homes, their neighbors are sick of isolation and fear. This is the real killer! Who will show them the way to salvation, who will teach them to cry out and pray in times of distress?

Rise And Shine

This is the time for the church to rise!

Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

This week we have started a daily feeding program, so that people can come and get a hot meal, meet some people, still keeping social distancing, and experience the love of God in action.

Today we received pallets of food and drinks for our food bank, reaching out to homeless and low income individuals and families in our community. On Sunday we have drive in service in the parking, serving the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that is lost.

We Need Your Help

We don’t know how long this is gonna last, but we will continue to do as much as we can. Right now we need pop up tents to protect the people from the Florida sun and money for food to continue giving out the daily meals.

We need your help. If your conviction is to stay home, I am okay with that, but you can still help us reaching out to the poor. If you can’t go yourself, your money can make a difference. If you want to partner with Powerhouse Church and our ministry in this season, please help and donate today!

We see people with cancers, open operation wounds, stab wounds. For them the corona is just another thing on the list to fear.

Categories
Inspiration

A Day in the Studio

A few weeks ago I joined Rich Marshall in Orlando as his guest on the God@Work television show. This program, that highlights how God is at work in people’s lives around the world, is produced by GodTV and my segment will air on March 16th at 8:30pm Eastern time. I really enjoyed my time with Rich and his other guests as we explored the power of God at work in our daily lives. Please tune in and tell your friends about this opportunity. 

GodTV is on channel 365 if you have DirecTV; or you can get it online at www.god.tv/work. I am on episode 110. You can also download the GodTV app; God@Work is under the GodTV Originals section.

I genuinely hope you will watch the March 16th program and drop me a note letting me know what you think. GodTV reaches out to million 300 homes on the globe with a potential of 1 billion viewers.

If you are one of them, plz let me know!

Remember, put it in your calendar: Channel 365 on DirecTV; online at www.God.tv/work or on the GodTV app.

Categories
community

Working with Wood and People on OBT

For a long time, my husband has been talking about making a wood work shop where we could create projects in pallet wood and jobs for the homeless people. We have a heart for the homeless, and this wood shop has been on our hearts for several years. We have talked about it and looked for people who could work with wood, but nobody showed up until we actually started the production one month ago!

Our first project was to make an American flag made out of pallet wood. My husband found a how to do video on youtube, so we went out to buy the tools. First we went to the pawn shops, but they did not have what we were looking for, so instead we ended up in Harbor Freight and Home Depot to buy the proper tools and the paint for the project. It was not cheap, but the good news was, that we already had the wood for free. The wood was in “the hood”, on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, which is the neighborhood of our church. The wood is all over the place, so we asked some of our guys to look for pallets, and the same day they started hauling in pallet wood to our shop.

Then we started to break down the pallets and pull out the nails, cutting out the stripes for the flag with a table saw, preparing them for the paint work. I will spare you for the video. None of us are used to working with wood, but we made it work anyways. My husband was cutting, one of the guys from the street was sanding, and I was spray painting. Eventually we put it all together into our first American pallet wood flag!

The Production

It all started with a vision, and over the past month we have build an production out of pallet wood that we pick up in the neigborhood. We work outdoors in a shed outside our church building, and in this little shop we have made a great selection of wood art. American flags and different signs with scriptures, Christmas decorations and even artwork painted on pallet wood.

We even have a brand. We call it Heart4Homeless OBT referring to the vision, to make projects and create jobs for the homeless people in the area of Orange Blossom Trail (OBT), but so far there is no paid jobs for this business. It is all based on volunteer work, until we find the right places to sell the wood – and the vision.

I am sharing this because I want you to know that we can do all things trough Christ, even wood work. My husband and I are pastoring a church, but we have a heart for the community that make us step out of our comfort zone, out of the box, into a wood shop and create something significant out of wood that other people would throw in the dumpster.

We are a team, and we love working together, even the days where nobody comes to help us. We are here for the vision. Everything we do, we do it as unto the Lord. Even the wood work. When we work in the Heart4Homeless wood shop on OBT, we don’t primarily work with wood. We work with people. They might look rough, full of nails, we find them dumped on OBT, homeless, selling drugs or prostituting themselves. In the eyes of this world they are considered “good for nothing”, but God sees the potential, and in his hands they can be made into something beautiful.

This is a small beginning, let’s see how it goes in this season of Christmas where we will go out to present the work. It is all for sale, like a lot of other stuff on the internet. But we are not there only to sell the wood work, we are there to share the vision, our heart for the homeless and the needy people on OBT.

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Powerhouse Church

Power to Overcome

Four years ago we introduced Powerschool in Orlando Florida, where people could come to our church in Orlando and learn about Christian lifestyle.

We started out small, with the members from our church, but over the years we have had an increasing number of international students. They come from Africa, Europe and South America, from different states and even from different tribes. We have prayed God to give us the nations, and our prayers have been heard!

What is Powerschool

The purpose of Powerschool is to empower people to live victorious in every area of life. In Powerschool you will meet teachers who has been through “stuff”, and they will talk to you about the process, how they overcome obstacles in life. They will share their lives, not only the success stories, but also their mistakes and misery, the problems and the pain. But they will not leave you there. They will show you a way out and share, how they were able to pick up faith and to move on in life.

I will talk about how we gave up our 60 acres farm in Denmark to come and feed the homeless people in Orlando. My wife will share how she overcame cancer, having a handicapped child, and how it was when my teenage boys were on drugs. Our pastor from Rwanda will teach you about prayer, telling powerful testimonies of healing the sick and raising the dead, and the other leaders will give you their version of how to build a church from scratch, faithfully serving the poor and believing in the vision when nobody else was there.

Worship and workshops

In Powerschool we start the day with coffee and fellowship, followed by prayer, worship and teaching. We also have workshops with evangelism, prayer and community service, giving out dinner and brunch to the poor people in the community.

If you want to know more about powerschool, you can go to our website . Registration is open, and the price is 50 dollars for a week .https://www.powerhouseflorida.com/powerschool

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Powerhouse Church

Today is The Day

People standing in line for BBQ outside our Powerhouse church building in Orlando during our Winter Fest last year in February. Now the church building is ours!

Do you know what day it is today?

It is the day, where we finally got to purchase our church building on 1025 S Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. It is the day, where we officially own a part of “the trail”, the highway 441 that runs through the downtown Orlando area.

For us, to own this 20,000 sqft building is an absolute miracle. When we first started the church five years ago, we were only a few people that got together and rented a party hall half a mile down the road from our current building. The party hall was known for parties in the gay and lesbian community. The rent was 3000 dollars a month, and we were only 6 families. So we decided, that if nothing else would work, we would just pay 500 dollars each to make sure that the rent was paid every month.

Our first facility was one room, two bathrooms and a back room the size of the closet in my master bedroom. Here we had our children’s ministry that shared the space with the cleaning supplies, and here we put up a room divider to separate the kids from the brooms.

God’s House, in the Middle of The Street

After three years in the party hall, praying and looking for another building that could contain the vision, God showed us the building we have now. It was huge compared to the first place, the rent was triple, and we were still small in numbers. One of our leaders took contact with the owner, and after a time of negotiation, we were able to rent the place.

It has been two years with a lot of trials, we have had water damage, rain through the roof, rats, coach roaches, and people stealing, shooting up heroin in the parking lot. It has been like the 10 plagues of Egypt, but finally, we are at the end, now it is time for God’s people to go and take the land that God has already given to us.

100.000 USD Downpayment

God gave us a rental agreement with the option to buy. I know some of you followed us last year when we raised 100.000 dollars towards the downpayment. We gave everything. One gave a car, another a house, and a motorcycle, just to mention a few things. We are not a rich church but we are rich in vision and we are willing to pay what it takes in order for God’s Kingdom to come and his will be done.

The church is not a building, we are the building, the living stones, that make it all come together, but we believe that God has given us Powerhouse on OBT as an embassy for the Kingdom, like a lighthouse shining in a very dark place.

When we came with the downpayment of 100.000 dollars, I could tell that our landlord was impressed. He wanted us to proceed, he said, to buy the building, which meant another 120.000 dollars in downpayment according to the contract. I knew this was not gonna come easy, it was just too much, we had given everything!

God’s Way of Doing Business

All the way we have had a good relationship with our landlord who is a Muslim. He has great faith in us and in the vision and he has been speaking highly about us all the time, as we have kept our testimony and paid our bills on time.

At the beginning of this year, he called us. He said he wanted to speed up the process, in order for us to buy the building, and we decided to meet. I called a businessman in Texas to give me some advice before the final negotiation, and he asked if we were in any default. I realized that we were! The month we paid 100.000, we had not been able to pay our rent in full. The businessman told me to get this in order, and he helped me by transferring the money an hour before I arrived at the landlord’s office. When we sat down, the first thing the landlord addressed was the default, and by the grace of God, I was able to pull out the check with the exact amount so that we could continue the negotiations!

Long Story Short

Someone said that “money talks”, and now we were able to talk and to present our case. We had a very direct proposal. No more downpayments and a reduction in the price equivalent to the past two years of rent, plus a new roof, because of all the test and trials and tribulations, we have been going through.

It was a tough one, our landlord is a businessman, but he is also a believer. Even though we don’t share the same faith, he has respect for the House of God, and eventually, that made the conclusion. We got the price down below the market price which is an absolute miracle, and we own the building from today!

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Powerhouse Church

In Memory of “Come Clean”

“Come Clean” was the street name of this man who died a few days ago behind a garbage dumpster alone, just across the street from Powerhouse Church. This is the picture of his memorial. A photo, a few plastic flowers, some candles, two booklets, and a white teddy bear on the spot where he was found.

“Come Clean” was one of the homeless people in our community. He used to come to our church all the time, for Community Day or during the Wednesday Dinner. Now we won’t see him anymore. He is no longer around. It is really sad. I talked to him last month and now he is gone.

I went to see his memorial yesterday together with one of his friends, and as we were going down the street, we did a Facebook live recording to give you an impression of what kind of area we are in. We are in a dark place, and God has put us here to shine his light!

In a few days “Come Clean” will be forgotten and another memorial will be raised for somebody else on the trail. Orange Blossom Trail, OBT, devours people and destroys families, only Jesus Christ is the answer.

Do you realize that all these people dying for nothing were kids once? Think about it, they were playing around, going to school, and they all had dreams – until some adult stole it away from them, they were abused before they started using, and as they grew up they suffered the consequences of iniquity and sin.

His Last Message on Video

One of the young guys from our church made a video with “Come Clean” recently. At this point, he thought he still had plenty of time left on this earth. He was free of cocaine, but not free of alcohol. This is what he said, not knowing that this would be his last message to us on OBT https://www.facebook.com/C.Hedegaard/videos/10217329688412424/

Are you ready to meet your Maker? Only one thing is sure in life and that is that we all will be leaving at one point. I wish we all be ready. I know where I am going. I have dedicated my life to give and to live a life worth dying for. I want to live life to the fullest, with Christ, in obedience to Him, as if each day was the last.

This is the live video that I made from the memorial of “Come Clean” https://www.facebook.com/C.Hedegaard/videos/10217326384969840/

“Come Clean” was a beautiful man, and I hope that one day I will see him again. In Powerhouse Church he is not forgotten. “Come clean, or don’t come at all”, that is what he used to say. God knows his heart, He knows every outspoken prayer, He even knows his last words and how he died …

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Powerhouse Church

Don’t You Ever Give Up Hope

This Christmas it has been seven years since we first came to America and started feeding the homeless people on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. Every Wednesday and Sunday after church, but also a lot in between. Even before the church was established, our family has served tens of thousands of people, and if somebody asks me if it has been worth it, I will always say “yes”.

Honestly, I don’t think about it, I just do it. If I start to think too deeply about what we are doing I might start to lose courage. Orange Blossom Trail needs a lot of change, and we all know that it’s not the food, that will change the community. It is Jesus Christ. My focus is so strong on Jesus Christ and the vision that I refuse to look back and faith in him keeps me alive and strong in all the daily problems.

I have many pastor friends now in America and sometimes I have to pinch myself in the arm when I hear about their problems, how I wish I sometimes could swab problems with them. Just last week alone, two of the people that come to our church regularly have died out in the street, but still, I am convinced that I am graced to do this job.

There is a Reason, Pastor!

Let me give you three fresh testimonies that kept me going this past week:

In our church we have this homeless man that I have fed for seven years, he always sticks to himself, he has a long beard and white wild hair, and not so long ago he told me why. “There is a reason, pastor. I want people to think that I am crazy so that they will stay away from me”, he explained. “I am not crazy, but I am so hurt by people, I just want to sit on an island alone and die”, he said. This man has been expelled many times because he has been drunk and aggressive, but last year he detoxed himself off one bottle of vodka a day and has been sober for a long time. Now he has decided to follow Jesus, and Sunday he was in our service for the first time ever and got baptized in front of everybody. Even I was astonished to see him take that turn. For many years it seemed like nothing was happening but now, all of a sudden, he is changing big time.

My Other Sheep

One of my other “sheep” have been coming to our Community Cafe for a long time. They are always around, and they are always high and drunk. They live in a different world of substance abuse and we have had many problems with one of them in particular. No matter what I say, they will never listen, so I must admit that I kind of wrote them off, still knowing that “nothing is impossible with God”.

This week I saw the impossible. I was outside the Community Cafe talking to one of the guys, and when I came into the building everybody was real quiet. I had to look twice when I saw my “case impossible” speak in front of everybody. “So many people have died out here, but this church has saved my life”, he said. “This is our street, and we must stand together to change our community. We can do it. If they could change me, you can change as well. But it takes faith in God and faith in the church”, he said.

I was stunned. This man has threatened me and my family and my volunteers over and over again. Recently we gave him the “last chance”, he has been asked to leave the facility several times, but now I am happy that we had faith, patience, and longsuffering enough to love him through. Now he is pulling people into the church.

We Saved his Life …

My last “case impossible” is a young man that I don’t remember “not high”. A few months ago he told me that he was starting in school, A young man that I do not remember “not high” on drugs told me a few months ago that he was starting to go to school. I took the time to talk to him but it looked like the word was just going in through one ear and out of the other. I also prayed with him, and next time I saw him around he was sitting down, talking to another young drug addict about Jesus Christ. “You know me from the streets”, he said, “but I have changed, ever since pastor prayed for me and I started listening to him, my life has changed. I am going back to school. This pastor saved my life!” he said.

I almost fell off my chair, I had not seen that one coming and I realized right there that our word is like a living seed. We must preach whether people like it or not. We must not stop speaking about Jesus Christ. The word is alive and has mighty power to save.

When I came home Friday I was still in awe. Two of the most impossible cases were testifying in front of other people that I had saved their lives and I did not even know it. The third “impossible” guy was baptized on his first Sunday in church. Wauv, I never get tired of serving Jesus Christ.

Happy New Years from all of us here in Orlando. We walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Don’t ever give up hope!

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Powerhouse Church

10 Years Blind and Homeless

A few days ago I was contacted by a Danish man on Facebook. He said that he had been in my meetings in Denmark many years ago and that he wanted to help me help people. He said “Christian Hedegaard, you are a man of God, we need you in our country. Why have you moved to America?”

I told him, that God had given me a call to help the poor people in Orlando and to build Him a church where his presence reigns and from where people will go to the whole world with the gospel.

I don’t care where I live, seriously Karen and I could live among the Eskimos in Greenland or among tribes in the Amazon jungle and be fulfilled in Gods calling, but I know that I know that I know we are in the right place right now, and there is no amount of money or position that can persuade me to leave. We are in Gods plan for our lives in this season, and it is very satisfactory. We are so hungry to see Gods plan for Powerhouse Church being fulfilled.

For the second time, the man wrote to me and asked how he could help me with the work. My answer was simple. “Money and prayers are much needed since we are feeding homeless people. We are in a very dangerous area and the needs here are endless”, I said.

I honestly thought that this man wanted to help us since he was the one contacting me, so I was very surprised when I got his reply. “ Why should I  give you anything, who do you think you are to ask me for money?”, he said, suggesting that I should go back to Denmark and help people there instead of being here in Orlando, Florida, where God has called me to be.

I  really don’t need “friends” like that, so I deleted him on Facebook, even though I couldn’t help thinking about his response.

Earlier this year a 59-year-old blind man came to our church. He had been blind and homeless for 10 years, and over the next few months, we got to know him very well. We found out that he had a severe cataract and that a simple surgery could give him his eyesight back.

Over the next months, I encouraged him to believe God for a miracle surgery. I taught him about Jesus Christ who gives blind their sight back and set captives free. One day a businessman visited our church and told Thomas that he would sponsor the surgery.  This was good news!

Not only did he get his physical eyesight restored to him, but God has also opened his spiritual eyes. He has seen Jesus as his Lord and Savior, like the one that cares for him and loves him so much, that he send a man he never met before to donate money for the surgery.

Now  Thomas can truly see. He stayed with us during the time of surgery, and my youngest son Noah followed him all the way, as he made this documentary. Thomas had no insurance, but somebody else paid the price. Jesus paid the price for all of us, and our job is to give what we have. It’s more blessed to give than to receive, Jesus says. With your little, you can help us do much. https://evangelistministries.international/contact/donations/

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Powerhouse Church

Jesus is The New High

Last year I blogged about “The Good, The Bad and The Evil”. It was a story of how somebody stole the circular saw that belonged to our church on Orange Blossom Trail. I was chasing the guy on my motorcycle and ended up in a dead end with a bunch of people that was more dead than alive. Heroin addicts and dealers, prostitutes etc. I felt cornered, so my only escape was to invite the most tattooed guy for a ride. It was a wild story. That day the two of us made friends, and as I am writing this blog the man with the tattoos is sitting in my living room reading his bible.

As I look at him, I am watching a true miracle. This man has been addicted to heroin for 38 years but now Jesus has made him clean. Not only from heroin but also from sin. Jesus has become his new “high”. When my wife was in Denmark in May, he asked if he could use my parking lot to get cleaned up. I took him to my house, gave him a mattress on the floor and covered him with a blanket. He stayed there for 5 days, shaking, as the heroin was leaving his body. Every evening I would come and lay my hands on him and pray, and every day we would fill our house with worship. In this atmosphere, the man was healed.

When he finally stood up, he was a new man. One big smile, happy and forever grateful. The first thing he wanted to do was to work. We had some engines in boxes in our garage, and these engines are now being attached to used bicycles. We have been buying bicycles from pawn shops and thrift stores and these bikes are being transformed into “power bikes” with an 80 cc engine. This week we loaded the pickup truck and took the power bikes down to our church so this man can have his own little business in the back of the building, selling motorized bicycles to people on OBT. He has made a sign for his business and will be sitting at the curbside talking to people and hopefully selling some of his bikes.

I can’t tell you how much I love my new brother. The more we spend time together, the more I see the grace of God over his life. We have had some deep conversations about life over the past weeks. The other day we talked about his past, but most of the time we talk about his future. We are looking for a place where he can live his new life with Jesus. He cannot return to the streets. That would be like the dog that turns to its vomit and the pig that  returns to the mud.” (2 Peter 2.22). He is a new creation in Christ, he is a part of our church family and not to be compared to a dog or a pig!

How God has set him free from heroin addiction has become a powerful testimony for the people he used to be around. Slowly but surely we see how the gospel is changing the mindset of the people in the street. When I go with him to serve breakfast and lunch for the homeless people at the church, I can tell how other heroin addicts now are coming to see what freedom looks like. and I believe some of them will follow his example and change. The rumor is spreading. It cannot be stopped.

Hope is coming back to our part of town.