A Much Needed Update

November 28th, 2012

First of all, I want to send a huge apology for not sending an update sooner. I have wanted to do so, but life has taken some interesting twists and turns the last couple of months that have prevented me from having the time to sit down and write.

In our last update, we informed you of our intentions to continue to live in the RV and use the south side of the duplex where we are parked as extended living space. Our plan was to use the north side of the duplex as an emergency shelter for the homeless on cold weather nights and also as space to hold three-day retreats to take people through the principles we teach in our small group study.  Beth and I have dreamed and prayed about establishing a headquarters in Denver and each time we would brain storm about what the ministry would look like now that we are in one location, we would hit a wall. Would we begin by doing serving days weekly or monthly? Would we do retreats right away and if so, how would we house and feed people? Each time we talked, we felt strongly that we needed to seek the heart of God in regards to what He desires for us to do. We knew we could come up with a decent human strategy, but we didn’t want that. We truly want to see the power of God in all that we do because without Him, we really have nothing.

With that in mind, I decided to take a three-day prayer retreat up in the mountains at a prayer cabin called “The Shack”, which is part of Toth Ministries.  I went away seeking direction for our ministry and what we should do next, and as God often does, He surprised me. Instead of giving me direction for the ministry, He spoke to me about resting and abiding in Him. He expanded my heart for my wife and kids. He helped me to see that we had been going strong (many times to the point of utter exhaustion) for 4 ½ years and that we needed to enter a season of rest and wait on Him to show us what to do next.  I came home with a deep peace and shared the news with the family and read each of them personal letters of apology and encouragement that God prompted me to write while I was gone.  We shared a sweet time of tears and healing.  While I believe God was giving me permission to wait on Him before deciding what the expression of P2A will be in Denver, I don’t believe I am to be sitting around doing nothing and eating bon bons all day!  That would cause my driven personality to go crazy! Over the course of the next six months to a year, I believe it’s important that, as a family, we get settled and get back to our priorities. We also want to familiarize ourselves with the city and continue to serve and network with others who are making an impact in Denver.  I will also continue to develop Passion to Action Studios as a way to bring in revenue to support the ministry, which also blesses other non-profits with top-notch video work at a fraction of the cost.  My desire also to meet with churches and groups to get our small group study circulated throughout the Denver area and I am praying about leading a group of people who are interested in going through it in the Lakewood area. While in some ways, it feels like we are taking a step back, I know it’s important that we lay a solid foundation in the beginning so we can grow like I believe God wants us to.

Several days after I arrived home from my retreat, we received an unexpected visitor from the city of Lakewood.  It was a code enforcement officer who was stopping by to inform us that someone had complained that we were living in our RV and that the city code said that we were only allowed to live in an RV for two weeks. He was very gracious and sympathetic and understood what we were about, but he told us that we had two weeks to move out or move to an RV park.  After he left, I felt like I received a swift kick in the gut, but I was quickly reminded of the words from Graham Cooke, “With every problem, there is a promise and a provision.” His visit lit a fire under us and put us into high gear, unfortunately leaving the words of rest far behind. We immediately began the long and exhausting journey to fix up a place that was severely dilapidated and had been neglected for years.  With this we also realized that our family needed to live out of both sides of the duplex, beds and kitchen on one side and living and meeting space on the other, and that is was unrealistic to use the north side as an emergency shelter for the homeless. Thankfully the same day I told this to Tim, one of the pastors at Bethlehem Lutheran, he was also meeting with another church and they were excited and willing to use their space for the homeless, which was a better solution!

To say I was completely overwhelmed with the scope of the project that was ahead of us is an understatement. I knew we didn’t have the skills, nor the capacity to do it on our own, so I called a few people we had met here to see if they could help mobilize people to help us.  One gentleman, who is an incredible connector, was able to rally dozens of people to help us with the enormous project. We’ve had plumbers, builders, painters and handymen come out of the woodwork to help us.  We were completely blown away by everyone who stepped up to help us, even though many didn’t know us from Adam!  We would never have accomplished this without their help. People were not only generous with their time, but also with their resources, donating tile, paint, supplies, a kitchen sink, stove and refrigerator. One afternoon, a neighbor saw us working and stopped by and asked us if we needed a washer and dryer.  We told him yes; he left and ten minutes later he came back with a front-loading LG washer and dryer that were in excellent condition. Another neighbor brought over kitchen cabinets that were like new! We stand amazed at God’s incredible provision for us!

About half way into the project, we knew that in order to move in, we would need to get our furniture here that has been stored in Atlanta. Thanks to a generous donor in California and many other friends, we were able to pull the trigger on moving the pods and they were delivered about three weeks ago, the day after my parents were planning a visit – perfect timing! My parents were also such a huge help with many projects, especially laying carpet! We are now at the tail end of getting what we need moved into the duplex. What we can’t fit, but want to keep for a permanent ministry center, we have moved to a free storage area.

Some of you may be wondering why in the world we would spend so much time and money fixing up a run down duplex, that we don’t even own. We have had moments when we wondered that same thing!  Bethlehem Lutheran Church, who owns the duplex and the lot we are on, has graciously allowed us to stay, rent free, as long as we cover our water, electric and gas usage.  If we rented a house or stayed in an RV park, it would cost us anywhere from $650 to $1,600 a month for RV park or house rental fees.  Living in the duplex, even with the money we put into it, is a far better option for us financially at this stage. We also believe this location is strategic from an exposure and accessibility perspective. It’s centrally located, making it easy to mobilize people from suburban areas and it’s close to people in distress who reside up and down Colfax Avenue (just blocks from us).

Now that we have made the move out of the RV and into the duplexes, we can wholeheartedly say, “We love it!”  We can’t even begin to express tell how wonderful the extra space is! Sometimes, I honestly don’t know how we managed to live in 340 square feet for 4 ½ years with 6 people and a dog!  We have been like giddy little kids in a candy store getting our furniture moved in, pictures hung and curtains made.  (We are almost completed with all the updates and when we are we will be sharing pictures with you.) For now, our plan is to keep the RV and use it for service projects that we will do this coming spring and summer and also for potential bookings we may still get around the country. However, if God shows us otherwise, we are also open to selling it. We are so excited to see what God has for us here in Denver. As of now, our plan is to live in the duplex for at least the next year while we pray and determine if this is where God wants us to eventually build a permanent home for P2A or if he has another location in mind for us. Again, all this is subject to change if God leads us to something else. For now, we just want to be faithful and grateful for what He has provided.

We do have a deep peace that this is where God has called us to be for now and we are overwhelmed with His amazing provision and favor. Before we arrived here, God gave us some incredible promises. One of those promises was that we would not only have an army of angels come around us for protection for the work we would do in the city, but we would also have an army of physical warriors join alongside us.  We’ve experienced that firsthand over the past month as we have had army of volunteers help us restore this place and warriors who have encouraged us and prayed for us. Another promise He gave us was that the blind would see, the deaf would hear and the lame would walk.  After being parked here for several weeks it hit me. I remembered God’s promise as I noticed a sign on one street we are on that says, “Deaf Child”, and a sign on a street one block down that says, “Blind Child”.  Our prayer in coming here is that God would do more through us than just mobilizing people into action, but that He would bring His Kingdom here to earth as it is in heaven.  John 14:12 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”.  He says we will do greater works than He did! I believe that He not only wants us to bring healing to people spiritually, but emotionally and physically as well.

We experienced two of these promises fulfilled Wednesday night. We went to hear Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, CA speak at a conference in Denver. At the end of his talk, we prayed over a woman who was in a serious car accident 2 ½ years ago. The accident wiped out the lower half of her leg leaving no ankle and no ability to place weight on her leg without her cane or boot. She lifted up her pant leg and the accident had ravaged the lower part of her leg. After we prayed for healing, she reluctantly removed her boot and took a step on her leg. She was overwhelmed and began crying for joy. She then cautiously walked up and down the aisle and was able to bend and twist and put the full weight of her body on her leg without pain! Next thing we knew she was cruising up and down the aisle, even bravely lifting up her other leg and stepping only on the injured foot! We were all in tears!

After seeing hundreds of people healed of numerous ailments, Bill said that he believed that there were people in the room who needed healing from hearing loss. After telling Beth what Bill said, because she couldn’t hear him say it, she stood to her feet declaring that she wanted healing. She has struggled with hearing loss for some time and mostly gets about a third of conversations. Although it’s been frustrating for her, you’d never know it. After several people around her prayed over her, her ears were literally opened and she can now hear everything clearly. She even noticed on her walk the following morning that her iPod was turned up to a ridiculous volume! How powerful it was for her to experience healing first hand.

I have been hesitant to share this with you because I realize there are many opinions on the topic of healing, but over the last several years, we have seen how God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He Word is true and in Him all things are possible!

Recently Susie Larson interviewed us on KTIS radio in Minneapolis.  We share an update with her on what we have been up to.  Click here to hear the interview.

Thank you so much for your love and generous support.  If you are able to make a monthly or one time gift to our ministry please click here to donate. We value you and appreciate your prayers and financial commitment to us.

Sincerely,

The Loecken’s – Jay, Beth, Ben, Bekah, Abi & Noah