These past few months have proven to be an exciting time of ministry. Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people were blessed through the unity of several Christian ministries that provided food, water, clothing, and medical care for homeless, hippies, and Vietnam veterans in the Ocala national forest. This time of year sees the gathering of the Rainbow Family in Central Florida when many celebrate having made it through another winter.
If this was Georgia in 1860, we would help the run-a-way slaves. If it was Germany, 1939 we would hide the Jews. It is United States of America, 2001, and we give relief to the oppressed, the poor, and the homeless. Christians have been doing this for over 1900 years. That is what Christianity is all about. One can not separate the Gospel from serving people in need.
The theme this year was "Jesus Kicks Down Phat!" as providence rained from heaven in an unprecedented deluge. Truckloads of canned food and water were brought in more than once a week. This gracious blessing did not go unnoticed by those who received it. Many have started a new relationship with Jesus Christ. Some were baptized to show others their decision. The hurting found hope and the lost regained a heading.
However, this year was not without its share of trials and persecutions. In the height of the gathering, law enforcement officers demanded that all the of the Christian ministries remove themselves out of the area. Threats of arrests, fines, and jail time were made, but care for the poor continued even from outside of the gathering. No riots developed. No one was hurt because of these incidents.
I would like to invite you to pray for some specific things... First, that the people of the Rainbow Family would continue to realize how much Jesus loves each of them. Secondly, for peace between law enforcement officers and hippies. Finally, for law enforcement administrators, particularly the cooperation and support of Commander Malcom Jowers of the U.S. Forest Service.
Pastor Chris Ward, DMin.
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