To whom it may concern
If you are receiving this letter it is because; you know me and have possibly experience the ministry God has placed inside of me in some way shape or fashion.
I want to share my story with you first and how I got to this moment.
I was born in 1992 and raised in Pomona California, to Marvin and Ramona Rice. I had a great childhood with my brother and two sisters. While living in Pomona it was evident that there was a homelessness problem with in the City. I noticed as a child, when walking into stores and riding down the street seeing people sleeping at bus stops, in parks and sitting against buildings. I didn’t know how to respond as a child, it was just what I saw. However, God knew how to respond.
One day in 2003 the Lord told my mom “Feed my sheep”, she thought for a moment maybe He meant to preach. Then He made it clear: feed them food. The way she tells it is that she went and saw she had a chicken in the freezer, she said this was is all she had. So, she made a big pot of chicken noodle soup and some corn bread. Her and my Father took the soup out in soup cups and fed the Lord’s sheep. Eventually she took me and my siblings out with her and my father. We did this for a good while and before we knew it we were getting bread, shoes, blankets, milk and other items to take out to the homeless. I believe this is where the seed was planted.
I went on through school, played football and received a scholarship for it. I studied Business Administration and made plans to pursue any field where I could make the most money. My motive for this was so that my dad could retire and rest. Senior year of College everything changed. I finally submitted my life to God and I stopped playing Football and began teaching Bible Study in my dorm and through this obedience and submission God finally downloaded a dream in me. He showed me a place where homeless men, women and families could come to be restored. They would have opportunity to get job training, help with resumes and life skills and have opportunity to cultivate a relationship with Jesus.
I took this dream and ran with it. Once the time came for me to choose a senior year internship I began to think about hotel management to get the skills in running that type of residence. However, my motive was also to get a paid internship. I went to my advisor and we contacted local hotels and there was no luck. I went back to my advisor and he gave me a few more hotels to call but then he asked me “what do you want to do?” I hesitated for fear of him thinking I was crazy saying “God gave me a dream”. I then told him, and he said maybe you should call the homeless shelter. I took the number that he gave me and the other hotels. I first called the hotels to no luck, then I called the number for the shelter.
The number I dialed either got mixed up or he gave me the wrong number. I called Penny Dugan who originally started the homeless shelter. However, she had turned the homeless shelter over 6 years prior to start a new project. She asked me what I was looking for. I kind of spilt my guts I told her about the dream and all. She told me I should come and meet her. I did, it was truly God that guided me here. I did my internship here and then she asked me to come on as staff and be a live-in staff member once we opened the residence starting with men. I accepted
I came on in August of 2014 once I returned for my last semester of College. I quickly fell in love with the ministry and serving the men that came to stay with us, and while Penny was in Africa that October I gave her a 2 year commitment. However, once I graduated that December it became hard to keep that commitment after my mother thought that it was too dangerous. That afternoon my father called me and asked if I thought that this place God wanted me, and I said yes, then my Father said “Do yo thang homie”. Those were the last words my Father spoke to me, two days later he passed away, and I’ve been here at the Mission ever since.
We now are still in the basement of this huge building. We house 15 men at a time and we serve lunch and dinner to about 40 individuals including families and individuals in the community. Some are homeless, some just run out of food stamps and all sorts of other situations. The men we house pay a small amount for rent when they can, which is $300 a month. This amount helps with covering utilities and some food expenses.
In my time here, I have heard some stories that would blow your minds and make your heart cry. I have learned so much in the last four years and I have grown so much from the men women and children we serve. A lot of times we are asked about success stories and we have quite a few. However, with working with homeless men and especially those trying to overcome addictions success takes time. However, we see growth in all the men that come through this residence. One individual that has relapsed over and over and right now is back in his addiction said to us “why do you still care; you people are crazy”. We have become a family to people who have no families or have burned all their bridges. We are truly becoming a community center here in Newton to those who feel they don’t belong in the usual places.
We operate with a small staff of 6. No staff members are paid, we all serve here because we believe in the work and love to do it. Four of the staff members are retired and receive those benefits, and me and one other staff member work full time jobs in addition to serving at the Mission to provide for ourselves. Our hope is to complete this building so that we can begin serving Women, Families, and the medically under-served. Once up and running at full capacity we could house 93 residents which would include men, women and families, housing for staff members and a large community center. This building can be the center for this community; truly a place of common ground.
So, where can you come in and be a part of this great work? The work of reaching and restoring the rejected?
The need here in Newton is growing! What God is wanting to do, to fill that void is even greater. God has placed some things in my heart to enhance what we do and to better serve the people we serve. With that increase need and increased response from the Lord, I now feel it is time for me to step out on faith and begin raising monthly missionary support. Missionary support will free me up from the full time job I am currently working to support myself financially, from this I will be able to take that 8 hours every day and pour it into my work at the Mission.
You are partnering with me by supporting me would make it able for me to teach daily Bible studies, and daily prayer times with the men here. It would also make it possible for me to teach classes on goal setting and strategic planning, resume development. I would be able to facilitate groups with the men here at the Mission. I would also be able to cook and serve meals here at the Mission.
Your support would do so much to enhance this service to those who have been rejected by their family, friends and community. They have fallen through the cracks of society but with your support and God’s grace we could reach them and embrace them and let them know that God has not rejected them.
I would love the opportunity to either sit with you or call you to further discuss what we do here and also how I can support you in prayer!
My number is 316-217-4157
My email is email@example.com
No Lego too small
When I was a kid I loved playing with Legos!!! It was evident if anyone noticed the light spots where the material on my jeans had worn or even holes from a constant posture of being on my knees to create my next magnificent creation. I often would get into arguments and fights with my younger sister when she would come in and distract me or even destroy my creation. I would spend hours on these lego masterpieces, well at least they were masterpieces to me! I am pretty sure that my entire family knew I had a thing for legos. I think it was my 10th birthday when my Auntie Connie bought me a Star Wars lego set, I was Hype! Even though I was not and am not to this day a fan of star wars. I was excited that I had something to put together, something that came in maybe over 100 pieces that would eventually make one flying machine. I couldn't wait till the next morning to wake up and pour all those pieces on the floor and put them all together! The high lasted until it was finished then I would disassemble it and use the pieces to create my own ideas. I loved legos so much once I called myself running away because of some argument with my older brother and sister, and the only thing I grabbed was my big container of legos. Legos were life.
From this passion for Legos developed this idea that I should go into construction in some way. First I would just say I wanted to be a builder, then I am not sure where the idea of becoming an architect came from but I road with that idea all the way through high school. I left New Mexico Highlands University after my freshman year to head to Alabama A&M University to study Construction Management. I thought this was close enough! Then after things with football didn't pan out at A&M I left after my first semester. Eventually ended up at Bethel College to study Business Administration. I thought this would be close enough! I figured a construction company is a business, so I should be fine.
I tried my hardest to stay close to this building idea that came from this passion in playing with Legos. I eventually came up with this idea to start a renovation company and keep everything in house. I've always been fascinated with the idea of having a team of specialist! A designer, A planner, finance Person, marketing, contractor, plumber, electrician and so on. I had this idea for having one office where all these specialists planned and worked together on each project. Renovation became my plan! I wanted to take a frame and give it new life!
I am sure you can see where I am going with this..
Well obviously, if you read the two previous blog posts you know I am not the leader of a renovation and design company. I actually found my way into Ministry and sort of social work. Until recently, I never connected the dots, I thought I had completely alienated my goal of building. I had it so backwards or just confused completely as a younger man. I thought I would do the building thing in my late 30s or 40s. Now I realize I stepped into the building and renovation field before I even graduated from College.
God began to train me as a child to love taking pieces and put them together to make them whole! Taking a bucket of individual lego pieces, which by themselves look useless. Just little pieces of plastic that will destroy the bottom of your foot if you stepped on it barefoot at night. Different colors, shapes and sizes. If you poured them all out on the floor they look like chaos and randomness. I can still picture the pile of legos on our tan carpet, looking at them and having a vision in my head of what all these random pieces could be. That every piece can be used! No piece is useless!
Now if you don't know where I am going with this, let me take you there!
When I first came to the mission. I saw this huge raw and somewhat falling apart building. I saw randomness and if you have volunteered on a work day sometimes it seems like randomness. Talking with Penny Dugan she told me the vision and said God told her that this huge 75,000 square foot building will be a physical manifestation of what he will do in the hearts and minds of those who come here. She went on to say what the world called condemned and trash God will take it and restore it. Now why did it take me 4 years of being here for me to see where God had already connected the dots, I couldn't tell you! but now when I look at this building in its randomness and sometimes what seems like chaos. I can see a pile of legos just begging to be put together!
Better than the
building, when I sit with the men that live here and the ones that pass
through. They tell me their stories and tell me their struggles and I can look
and see a pile of legos on the floor begging to be put together and made whole!
Pieces that could only be put together on my knees. I see pieces that look
random but not useless. I see pieces of their lives that may hurt like the lego
on the floor in the dark, but when put all together they make a beautiful
I know I am only
26, and I have not the slightest idea of all that God will bring into my life,
but I think it is so beautiful to look back and see God's strategic planning.
It blows my mind that he plants seeds at such a young age with something that
seems so insignificant. Legos!
I encourage you to
reflect on your life and ask God what skill or what desire did He plant inside
of you that seemed insignificant but is in reality a major building block for
your purpose. No matter how small that lego is let Him use it!
I know I am not the
builder that pieces lives together, God is I am just tool that He has decided
to use and I am grateful and humbled at the opportunity. I leave you with this:
Romans 8:28 And we
know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those
who are called according to his purpose.
Until next time
Do y'all thang
Follow the leader
Alright, I've been thinking and praying about what story I would share with you all next and it has taken a good while, but now I am sure about what I’ll share.
Almost two years ago I was coming to the end of my two year commitment at the mission and began to think on where God would take me next. I had ideas of where I wanted to go, but hadn't heard his plan for what was next or if I even was to leave. It was a frustrating time, because I began to make plans without his input, and even worse I began to share those plans as if they were His plans.
It all started with going to the movies to see Barbershop 3 (great movie). After watching this movie I began doing research on Chicago, and through my research I became drawn to it. I learned that Chicago has a ridiculous amount of homeless youth, and the gun violence was out of control as well. So through this time period I convinced myself that this drawing was from God and He was calling me to go to Chicago next!
I began sharing this idea with others around me, they quickly supported me (probably because I sold it as if it was God's will). I shared with everyone around me besides Penny Dugan (Director of the Mission). I even went as far as researching properties out in Chicago for me to plant the ministry. I found a hotel that was for sale that needed some minor remodeling done to it. I began planning a train trip to visit the City and the hotel. I got guides and maps from my host parents and had my brother excited to go with me on this trip. Everyone was on board, but God!
Then one day I sat down with Penny to reveal my master plan to her. We talked for a while, I am not completely sure how the full conversation went. I do remember talking about how I didn't want to be in Newton for the rest of my life. When I finally said that out loud she responded with "Do you think I wanted to be in Newton?" She said "I'm a Florida girl and I miss my ocean!" she then said "I love the people but I miss the coast!" When she said that it gave me some comfort, I then expressed my desire to go to Chicago. We talked some more and after that conversation I began to walk back to my room.
While walking back to my room in the midst of my stubbornness, I began to have a conversation with God. I told him that I still wanted to go to Chicago, then the Lord asked me a question: "What would you do in Chicago?" my response was quick and also revealed my heart. "I responded with "I would go out to eat at restaurants, and go to the movies". Then He asked "What do you do in Newton?" I responded with "go out to eat and go to the movies" and He said "Well, sit tight". I knew I wouldn't do anything in Chicago different than what I do here. I am not into the bar scene or clubs. I just go out to eat and to the movies.
The way this conversation revealed my heart was when He asked me the question it wasn't specific to what type of recreational activities will you do, He just asked simply "What would you do in Chicago?". I didn't answer with something about doing ministry on the street or feeding the homeless, handing out coats and developing a program for the ministry. I answered quickly with what was in my heart. Chicago for me wasn't a potential mission field it was an escape from a small town called Newton. It was ME wanting to go somewhere that seemed to have a lot more to offer than Newton. A city of lights and a skyline from a town with the tallest structure being a grain elevator.
I made the decision there to follow His instruction to: sit tight and wait on him. As I look back on that day and the days leading up to it, I am thankful that I didn't make that move and step out of his will. It makes me wonder how long it would have taken me to realize that I left his will, and to realize that He wasn't in my plans.
I think about the story in Luke 2:41. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. After the feast they set out towards home. The scripture says they went a day's journey supposing that Jesus was in the company, they then began to search among their relatives and acquaintances and did not find him. They then went a days journey back to Jerusalem to search for him for another three days. After they found him: sitting listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Mary asked him “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” and Jesus responds with: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”.
How long would it have take for me to be in Chicago to realize God's plan was Newton? How much time would have been wasted? How much resources would have been wasted? How many people would I have had out of the will of God by following my lead? How long would I have striven to make something out of nothing? I can imagine how my stubbornness would have kicked in, and how hard I would have prayed against the devil thinking he was fighting my ministry. When all the while it was because I "supposed" that Jesus was in my company.
I leave you with this: don't make plans and then add God in like he is a secondary ingredient. Seek Him first and let Him guide you in every step. Don't go a days journey, or a years journey or set a five year plan without His say so.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Much love and until next time...
Do y'all thang homies!!
Okay! So, I am starting a Blog. Why? I am not completely sure yet. However, I am going to jump out there. I've been told by people in the past that I should write. I would always just smile and nod my head in agreement, but never really moved on it. In recent times I have thought about doing short video clips to share ideas, encouragement, and the little wisdom I can offer, but my phone camera is terrible. I thought about buying a camera, but I want the best, and my funds aren't up yet. So, I will write until I can save, and find my voice!
What will I write about? I have no idea right now. Maybe it will be short sermons or Bible study notes, or it could be just basic wisdom and encouragement, or an open diary of some sorts.
So here it goes...
I guess I should introduce myself first. My name is Marvin. I'm 25 years old, often told I look older(probably because of my beard). I currently live in a small town of 19,000 called Newton, where I graduated from Bethel College in 2014. I am originally from Pomona California and graduated from Colony High School in Ontario California. After Graduation I chased my dream of football across the country from California to New Mexico to Alabama back to California then landing in Kansas. Notice how I said "my dream" not necessarily God's will. Although I cannot discount the fact that my chasing football led me to Kansas which is where God wanted me, it wasn't until I laid football down that I discovered God's will (or He revealed his will to me).
So, what was his will?
Right now, I am in the middle of my story so I can not speak to God's complete will for my life. However, I do know the small parts that He has revealed to me. He has given me glimpses of His plan, with no time stamp on the visions. It is very frustrating at times but it’s on a need to know basis.
Here is what I do know…
I am called to the broken and rejected. Not just the rejected, but the ones who would not walk into a church and sit in a pew. Not because they do not desire to, but because society has proved to them that they aren't welcome. These are my people! I often feel more comfortable with the broken and rejected than I do with my "Christian" friends and family. The way I am called to serve them is through my dream, Transformational Residences. Which will provide a safe space for individuals and families from all walks of life to come, live, and be transformed by meeting Jesus!
I currently serve at one of these ministries as a live in resident manager. I have been here since January 2014, I first came on as a business intern from Bethel College and was soon asked to join the staff as a live in Staff member. I went home for the summer and returned that August and began to learn the depth of my calling. My motives were not all pure in accepting the position.
I made the decision based on 1.) Moving off of campus, which saved me almost three thousand dollars. 2.) Free meals. 3.) I could learn the ministry although my plan was to learn and leave. Mainly because I had dreamed about leaving Newton once my plane landed in 2012. Whenever I would get frustrated with the school I would say "after my last final I’m going to be on the first thing smoking out of this town." I had a few friends that would even joke and say I am going to raise my family in this town. I would laugh and then quickly snap back at them.
Then in October of 2014 I gave Penny Dugan a 2-year service commitment. Two months later I completed my last assignment for College and was officially a College graduate on December 16th 2014. Which was the same morning my father died. This was devastating to me.
My father was so many things to me and often my sound board where I would bounce ideas off him. Most of the time, he would not respond just smile and nod his head. Nowadays, when I reflect on those moments, it's almost as if he knew more than I did and what path I would take career/ministry. His passing rocked my journey and I wanted to flee my ministry and join my family down in Tulsa.
Why did I stay?
The last time I spoke to my dad was on the Sunday before he passed. Early that morning I spoke to my mother, because she had been up all night worried and crying. She wasn’t convinced on the idea of her son living with men struggling with addictions, coming out of jail and prison. After the phone call I was tempted to leave the Mission. Then after church with a friend, I went over to my host parents’ house for lunch. Right before I opened the door of the truck to go inside my father called me. I hesitated to answer because I was already late, but I answered anyway. It was a brief conversation. My dad asked me if I thought that I was where God wanted me to be. I quickly answered and yes, and he responded with "Okay don't worry about yo Mamma I got her" I said "okay" and then he said "alright do yo thang homie". I have been trying to do my thang ever since!
After writing this I think I know what this blog will be. I believe this blog will be a collection of stories and lessons I have learned about ministry and life while at the Mission. I look forward to the next time until then…
Do y'all thang homies!!
I am Marvin. The more you read these Blog posts the more you will learn about me. The more I write the more I will discover about myself.