Save the home of The King’s Jubilee

After three friends urged me to use GoFundMe to raise funds to save our house from foreclosure, I set it up yesterday afternoon. And the Share the Love Almsgivng Facebook group has selected us for their 12 Days of Christmas Cash Flash Mob. People can give here on the website using Paypal, or give cash or use the GoFundMe site. We estimate that we need $15,000 to save our house. During the first 34 hours, $1.710 came in.

After a series of unfortunate events, they have set the sheriff’s sale for our house for February 26, 2014. February also marks the 25th anniversary of our founding of The King’s Jubilee. Through the years our home has served as the only base for this ministry. Our kitchen has prepared over 1/4 million meals through the years that were then served to the poor and homeless. Our home has also taken in homeless ex-offenders and one homeless family through the years. It has hosted mission workers and guests from Indonesia, Africa, India, France, Germany, and Canada who needed a place to stay.

I had an infection on my neck that I most likely picked up from the street, that later showed up on my spine. The treatment of it nearly killed me. I was allergic to the IV antibiotics. It ate into my spine. This led to chronic migraines. They caused 30 to 50 little strokes. I also suffer PTSD as a result of the strokes, and the court case with the city, and other incidents of being bullied. Altogether, this caused my business to fail due to too may interruptions and left me unemployable. I still can do the ministry, but that does not pay anything. My wife, Bethann, lost her job with its insurance, July 2012. We kept paying COBRA $1100, which was more than her unemployment income, so as the business failed, we fell behind on the mortgage. Now we can’t afford the insurance. I have Medical Assistance. We have to pay out of pocket for Bethann. We are in negotiation with the bank, but they are fast tracking the foreclosure at the same time. SSDI should come through, but not in time. Bethann is going to school to become a medical administrator.

Anything we receive will be paid forward once we get our feet under us again. Thank you. God bless you!

You may download and print a poster to help publicize this effort in your area.

A Hindu family “saves Christmas”

Revs. Joses & Chantal St. Phard distribute toys to poor children in Jesus’ Name at a big party on Christmas Eve at their church in north Philadelphia. They were short of toys this year. Chantal had called and asked me if I had any. I told her we didn’t. At the time, we didn’t have any funds to buy any either. I told her if any showed up, I would bring them down. She said, “God will provide.” That was last week. On Sunday afternoon, I got a call from one of my wife’s former co-workers, a Hindu woman. She said that her son and daughter-in-law had purchased a bunch of toys to donate to Toys for Tots, but had missed the cut off for the pick up. She told them that Cranford would know where to go with them. I told her to bring them over. They brought over two huge bags of new toys on Monday. I brought them down to Chantal yesterday morning and “Christmas was saved” in the hearts and minds of about 20 little children, thanks to a Hindu family giving from the heart.

Remember that in the one picture that Jesus gave us of the Judgment, it never mentions a creed, or profession of faith, or named religion, or membership in any organization. The sheep were known by what they had done for the least of these. The other thing to notice is that everyone is surprised. The sheep are surprised because they were not doing it to earn heaven. They were just doing it, because it was right. The goats were surprised, because they were sure they had the right religion to get in.

To Help 1,000,000 Pennsylvanians Have Better Health

Most of you are probably unaware, Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW) just released a new health care proposal with its version of Medicaid Expansion, which also drastically diminishes the current Medicaid benefits. The state’s proposal delays healthcare access for a year to 500,000 newly eligible people and reduces coverage for more than a million people already on Medicaid — seniors, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable individuals and families.

Right now is the public comment period. We are encouraging allies to weigh in online and at hearings across the state (see list below).  Information and talking points are available through the Project HOME website.

TAKE ACTION NOW

Upcoming Hearings: (Note: A Cover the Commonwealth Coalition Press Conference will be at 9:30 before each hearing.)

Friday, January 3, 2014, in Philadelphia, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Registration Deadline: Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday, January 6, 2014, in Scranton, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hilton Scranton & Conference Center
100 Adams Avenue
Scranton, PA, 18503
Registration Deadline: Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014, in Altoona, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Blair County Convention Center
1 Convention Center Drive
Altoona, PA 16602
Registration Deadline: Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014, in Harrisburg, PA
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
300 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Registration Deadline: Monday, January 6, 2014

Cookies and Hot Chocolate

christmas-cookiesPlease remember to bake a plate of cookies for the homeless while you are making your Christmas preparations. We will be serving homemade Christmas cookies and hot chocolate with the meal on the day after Christmas.

It is not that big a deal to make an extra plate of cookies, but it makes a big impact to have a touch of home and the tender loving care it represents to the people we serve.
They need to be delivered to our house before 6:45pm on Dec. 26.

Thank you. May God bless you.

Homecoming

Hands of LoveLast night was like a little “homecoming”. Several of the ‘old heads’ that we knew from the early days on the street came out to see us on the street. They have moved off the street into housing a while ago, so I haven’t seen them for some time. A few of them I have known since 1985 when I started as a chaplain in Philadelphia prisons. Two of them continued with me at Graterford State Prison. After they were released, I saw them on the street. I saw John shoot Peaches in the butt with a .22 pistol in front of the family court building on a rainy night 20 years ago. Sadly, everyone sort of agreed she had it coming. They have been happily married for over 15 years now. Brownie asked me for prayer for his wife, “Bunny”, as she has been diagnosed with cancer and has started chemo. Her given name is Ledger. Pray for her.

I have known these men for nearly 30 years. We have aged together. When I met them, they were rough and rowdy young bucks, and I was a young idealist. We were cocksure we could take on the world and win. Now, look at us. The wrinkles are starting to show. We are just hoping to make it through the week and happy to see an old friend or two.

Time, the great equalizer.

Left Coast Surprise!

butternut squashThey say when life gives you lemons to make lemonade. Well, someone gave us the biggest butternut squash I have ever seen. When I went to Produce Junction, avocados were on the best sale ever. I already had the quinoa and have been wanting to prepare it in the traditional Peruvian style, with cocoa powder, so another one of my famous mash-ups is born!

Ingredients:

  • 1 humongous Butternut Squash, so big, that when peeled and 1/2″ diced, it 3/4 fills the big turkey roaster pan.
  • 4 Sweet Red Peppers diced
  • 2 Fennel, fronds & all diced
  • 2 Spanish Onions chopped
  • 2″ Ginger Root
  • 10 Hass Avocados, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups Quinoa
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 generous Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 16 twists Black Pepper
  • 1 large bunch of Cilantro chopped
  • Water

Directions:

Dump the diced Butternut Squash, Red Peppers, an Hass Avocados into the roasting pan. Saute’ the chopped Onions and Fennel in Olive Oil, then dump into the roasting pan. If the skillet is deep enough, toast the Quinoa in Olive Oil until slightly darkened, then add Cocoa Powder and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, cover and let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off burner and let stand for another 15 minutes. Then and it to the pan. Grate the Ginger Root on top. Grind the Pepper. Add the Cilantro. Toss it all together. Cover and and either bake it at 350º for an hour or slow bake for several hours at 200°. There’s no salt in it. Each person can add salt, if they wish, when they eat it.

This recipe includes two of the super foods. Avocados have healthy fats and quinoa provides a little protein. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Cilantro helps to cleanse the body from toxins. All the bright colors indicate beneficial bioflavonoids. Fennel helps lower blood pressure and aids digestion. Sweet red peppers provide Vitamins A and C.

At first, the people were not sure about it. A few said they didn’t like squash. I told them it had cocoa in it and asked them if I had ever made anything they didn’t like. They said No, and tried it. They loved it and persuaded others to try it. I came home with an empty pan.

Tindley Temple UMC Soup Kitchen Christmas Party

tindley1I am going to be helping out at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church‘s soup kitchen’s annual Christmas party again this year. Thanks to donations from several of you, Lydia & I and her two daughters, our granddaughters, went shopping today for enough socks and underwear for over 200 men and women. I will be travelling down to Philadelphia in the morning and adding them to the gift bags in the morning, offering the prayer before the meal and helping to distribute the gifts after the meal. Anthony will be helping to cook and clean.

Tindley Temple’s food ministry to the poor and homeless is one of the oldest continuous ministries of its type in the country. They have been operating since the Great Depression. It’s called a soup kitchen, but rarely is soup served. They serve hearty, meaty meals, with lots of good vegetables. Normally the people stand in line cafeteria style. For the Christmas party, they sit down and are served by students from a local charter school.

Last year, one of the men played the upright piano in the corner with enthusiasm and skill.

Thank you for the privilege of being able to have a part in this. God bless you!

You were not born too late.

dayfb

 

“It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts. But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks; with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ. All that the friends of Christ did for him in his lifetime, we can do. Peter’s mother-in-law hastened to cook a meal for him, and if anything in the Gospels can be inferred, it surely is that she gave the very best she had, with no thought of extravagance. Matthew made a feast for him, inviting the whole town, so that the house was in an uproar of enjoyment, and the straitlaced Pharisees – the good people – were scandalized.” – Dorothy Day.

Christmas in Pakistan and Sri Lanka

shoukatWe have become friends with a young, Christian Pakistani, Adnan Shoukat, who was forced to flee to Sri Lanka due to persecution. Their church and neighborhood was burned down. He and his mother, Naila, have continued ministry among the poor and homeless in Sri Lanka. Others have continued their ministry in Pakistan. Please pray for them. They faithfully pray for The King’s Jubilee. These people put their lives on the line every day in the Name of Jesus Christ and to help the downtrodden and poor. If you wish to send them a donation, their information is on their website: Life Foundation Pakistan

Their mission is one of just a tiny handful of Christian organizations inside Pakistan who can legally receive money from outside of the country.

Santa gives more to rich kids than poor kids.

Yesterday I posted an icon with the quote from St. Basil the Great where he wrote, “Property is theft.” It went viral with over 2,000 views in the first 12 hours and 38 shares. A friend wondered if he was speaking to monastics when he wrote this. He may have been. I don’t think it matters. It jives with the principles he enunciates everywhere else in his teachings to non-monastics and with the teachings of the other Fathers, Jesus, the Apostles, the Law and the Prophets. This ministry is called “The King’s Jubilee” based on Jesus’ message in Luke 4 where he proclaimed Himself and the Church to be the fulfilment of Isaiah 60. This is all based on the jubilary proclamation: “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it!” This proclamation precludes private property. All we have, and, in fact, our very beings, belong to God. God is no respecter of persons, so if another of his children has need of something we happen to have, we have no right to hold on to it. It is theft to hold on to it. St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John Chrysostom all said so.

Somehow we don’t hear sermons on this. We hear justifications for holding on to wealth to make sure our children have all of the advantages in life. Are we teaching our children to live by faith and to serve the poor and to live in community with their brothers and sisters or to live like the world with a Christian gloss? This is what St. Basil the Great has to say on the subject:

“But wealth is necessary for rearing children,” someone will say. This is a specious excuse for greed; although you speak as though children were your concern, you betray the inclinations of your own heart. Do not impute guilt to the guiltless! They have their own Master who will care for their needs. They received their being from God, and God will provide what they need to live. Was the commandment found in the Gospel, “If you wish to be perfect, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor,” not written for the married? After seeking the blessing of children from the Lord, and being found worthy to become parents, did you at once add the following, “Give me children, that I might not attain the Kingdom of Heaven?”
– St. Basil, “To the Rich” (On Social Justice, p.54, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press)

We did not play Santa Claus with our daughters. We always told them the true story of St. Nicholas. We felt if we lied to them about Santa Claus and they found out about that, they would wonder what else we may have lied to them about. We also do not like the whole “gimme” covetousness culture that goes along with Santa Claus. We brought ex-offenders into our home who had no other home plan. I was a full-time prison minister and lived by faith of what came in in donations to support us. I once was hitch-hiking home from leading a Bible study in Graterford Prison and a couple picked me up. They apologized for how messy their car was, because they were living in it. Well, two of our daughters doubled up in a bedroom and the couple lived with us for the winter. God provided for us and them. God protected us. Have you met our four daughters? They don’t have high powered jobs or a lot of money, but they are kind and compassionate and use what they have to serve those in need. They are serious about their Christianity. Children learn what they live.

Rich-kids

Last year I saw this billboard around Allentown that said, “Santa Gives More to Rich Kids Than Poor Kids. Stop Lying to Your Children About Santa Claus.” I thought that was an “in your face” way of going about it, but sometimes that is what it takes. The Christmas message is supposed to be the Christian message. The Christian message is not the prosperity gospel of wish fulfilment and Santa Claus gimme. It is that of sharing and equality among all peoples. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” “The rough places made plain.” “The valleys exalted and the mountains brought low.” “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

This is not the time to get angry about people who say “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” and turn it into some sort of false martyrdom. That doesn’t make us any friends. It’s time to renew our commitment and put Christ back into Christian. Let us serve the poor in His Name. Let us learn to live more simply that others may simply live. Let us live our lives in such a way that all will know that we are His disciples, so they may glorify God with us.