Humanity of Jesus: How Then Shall I Live

 

Understanding the humanity of Jesus, allows Christians to look at the personality of Jesus while on Earth. By doing so we are able to model and reflect our lives in a way that reflects the ultimate role model who is Jesus Christ.

Humanity of Jesus Sermon By: Joshua Minerella

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A Captivated Heart

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” This quote by Albert Schweiter, philosopher, physician, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, holds great truth for all people.

“By the People for the People” blog has relayed to its readers what service opportunities are available in the Polk County region of Florida. Including various organizations such as the Dream Center, Lighthouse Ministries, and Parker Street Ministries, which strive to provide services that better their local community.

“Lakeland reminds me of a town that’s a tale of two cities. You have the enjoyment of Lakeside village and the swans on the lake. But you have another side of town where you see dilapidated houses and hopelessness. This is the Lakeland that God has called me too,” said Pastor Mike Cooper, the Executive Director of the Lakeland Dream Center.

Through this article, I will relate my first hand experiences of volunteering in order to give a unique perspective to you, the reader. The goal is to answer all questions that may arise when deciding where and how to volunteer. Questions such as, “How do I start?”, or perhaps, “Where can I be the most effective?” I hope to cover an array of issues that are practical and helpful for readers who are eager to make a lasting impact on the world they live in.

My name is Joshua Minerella, I am a sophomore at Southeastern University and the single most important lesson I have learned through volunteering is that true service is investing your time, emotions, and resources, while expecting nothing in return.

Upon arrival to Southeastern in Lakeland, FL I began to search for a place to volunteer. The first step that I took in order to get involved was simply sending emails to various nonprofits. Any person who is interested in community service should express their interest in a particular organization via telephone, email, or even stop by the headquarters. A clear indicator of an organization that is worth investing your time into is an organization that is eager to bring new people in and share their vision.

After contacting Steven Hill, who is now the Director at the Dream Center of Lakeland, I was immediately plugged into a program. The Dream Center had an established vision and allowed me to be a part of it. Initially, my role was to support the leaders and assist in any way possible. Rather than being concerned about ego or personal desire, it is necessary to become captivated with a cause greater than yourself.

Matthew Barnett, founder of LA Dream Center recently had stated at a conference at Victory Church in Lakeland FL, “Our community is not looking for people to understand, they are looking for people to show up.”

Over a year passed and I was still an active volunteer at the Dream Center. Through consistency and a willingness to help others I became a larger part of the collective vision. I was mentored and trained to a point where I am now able to mentor and train others myself. An organization that cares about the people they serve, cares about their volunteers because they too are being served.

I am currently involved in many aspects of the Dream Center. Most recently, I led students in the renovation of a newly acquired building to further the mission of the Dream Center. The goals for this building are to create more storage, a food bank and a life skills center, where people can learn practical trades such as carpentry. “The Dream Center is a training ground for all people,” says Pastor Mike Cooper.

The connections that I have made through the Dream Center are invaluable to my future not only in regards to a career, but more importantly my personal character. Through volunteering at the Dream Center I have been mentored by people with years of experience in various professions, networked, learned to observe, learned to lead and learned to serve. These lessons are what mold a person’s character.

A quote by Matthew Barnett that has completely changed my perspective on what it means to be a part of a cause greater than yourself reads, “If you want to be a bridge to the world, you have to allow yourself to be walked on.”

My full story involving personal growth through the Dream Center would be well over twenty pages. I have only highlighted points that have been particularly beneficial in my own life. I hope that through my personal experience you will be inspired to get involved in your own community, wherever that may be. My heart has been truly captivated by the vision and mission of the Dream Center locally in Lakeland and across the country.

What captivates your heart?

For more information about my journey or about how to get involved with a nonprofit contact me by clicking here. For further information about the mission of the Dream Center across the country check out these videos and links:

Joshua Minerella

Los Angeles Dream Center

Dream Center of Lakeland

Postmodern Leadership

Times have changed and America has left the modern era and entered into the postmodern world. One of the biggest challenges for many organizations is the inability to lead in a way that is compatible with this new era. People want to be a part of a vision.

In the modern era, teams were based on a hierarchical structure. In the postmodern era, in order to get the best production people need to understand their contribution. People want to know that they are making a difference. I interviewed two student leaders at Southeastern University and asked them how they lead their teams.

Both Matthew Madison and Taylor Brown, interviewees, incorporate effective communication amongst their group members. Rather than simply taking orders, group members have a voice and contribute to the common goal. Incorporating effective communication is not bound by gender, race, economic status, etc.

If you are interested in leading a group with a bright future, studies have shown that establishing a team is the most effective way to do so. Check out this video to find out how you can be better prepared to lead in the postmodern world.

The Word Became Flesh

Parker Street Sign

“The word became flesh and moved into our neighborhood.” These words are what drive Parker Street Ministries (PSM). Community service feels good. A person or group can take a few hours every couple of weeks to give back and feel helpful. However, for the people of Parker Street Ministries, service has become a lifestyle.

Unlike most non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, the staff of PSM embraces a holistic approach by living in the community they serve. At first glance, this may not appear to be relevant, however, now consider that the Parker Street Neighborhood received 9,582 calls for assistance to the police in 2011. The PSM staff is not simply helping a neighborhood they have joined the community.

PSM Staff

Staff members and their families live in the community and are, therefore, part of their neighbor’s everyday lives. This creates a unique opportunity for the staff to speak directly about problems in the lives of fellow residents. A bond is formed through personal relationships, direct observation and common, often painful, experiences.

“Parker Street Ministries is committed to individual, family and community restoration, reconciliation and revitalization in Lakeland’s Parker Street community,” said Executive Director of PSM, Tim Mitchell.

Kids in the Community

Due to the fact that the PSM staff lives in the community that they serve, they have earned the respect and appreciation of the fellow residents. PSM offers a wide array of programs to benefit the community including academic enrichment, a Christmas store, and neighborhood revitalization. The goal of PSM is to meet the physical needs of the community in order to meet their spiritual needs. PSM is a Christian organization with the hope that all people will accept Jesus Christ as their Lord. However, a person does not need to share the same beliefs in order to receive assistance.

“In a place where police sirens and angry shouts are common, there is a new, loud voice that says, ‘you’re loved, you’re cared for, and we’re here.’” Those words, from neighborhood resident and Executive Director Mitchell display the compassion and mission of PSM.

A primary objective of PSM is to give renters the opportunity and ability to become homeowners. Homeowners are less transient and more financially stable. Allowing residents to have this opportunity is carried out in various ways by PSM.

Renovation Volunteers

Thomas Gaige, a full time employee of PSM, and neighborhood resident said, “One of the most exciting news items is that we now have the opportunity to renovate three homes we acquired in July as part of our neighborhood stabilization initiative. Once beautiful, they now need major rehabilitation.”

PSM works alongside Habitat for Humanity, the City of Lakeland, and other organizations to get local residents into a secure stable financial situation. PSM purchases abandoned and rundown homes in order to renovate them. After renovations, PSM can either sell the homes for a very reasonable price or rent it. This strategy stabilizes residents thereby reducing the high turnover rate in the community.

Local Volunteers

Larry, a resident of Parker Street, has gone to prison multiple times. He has experienced the difficulties and challenges of living as a forgotten son in a forgotten community. After many years of contact and communication with PSM, he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of his life.

When asked what has changed in his life since becoming a Christian Larry said, “The building of a foundation through Christ really opens your eyes to who God is calling you to be. A man is someone who loves his family, someone who loves his kids, someone who loves his neighbors.”

Although the PSM staff lives in the neighborhood, they are always happy to have new people join their community. In 2011, over 800 volunteers contributed to the Parker Street community. If you are interested in getting involved with Parker Street Ministries click the links below:

PSM General Information

Execute Director Tim Mitchel

Volunteer Director

A Shining Light

Lighthouse Ministries Banner

“I was giving up on life…there’s got to be something more. I wanted God to love me, for God to want me if nobody else did.” These are the words of a man named Matthew, a resident at Lighthouse Ministries. Matthew and his mother grew up homeless for the majority of his life, spending many nights under an Amtrak train overpass. Lighthouse Ministries first met the needs of Matthew by giving him a place to live through their residential placement program—then they met his spiritual needs through displaying the love of Jesus Christ.

Lighthouse Ministries’ main objective is to give people hope and change the lives of  struggling people. They meet the needs of the people in the community by going to where the need is, whether it is on the streets, on their campus or thrift stores or in the community. It offers a wide array of services including a rescue shelter, residential ministry, children’s ministry, community preschool, community outreach, thrift stores, adult learning, a hydroponic garden and a hope center.

Steve Turbeville, President and CEO of Lighthouse Ministries said, “We are a Life & Learning Campus For Men, Women, and Children who need a place of refuge to begin a new life. We serve Central Florida with the hope of impacting lives for Jesus by       giving food, clothing, shelter, childcare, education and job placement.”

Two men, who were sensitive and obedient to what God was telling them to do, founded Lighthouse Ministries’. Their names are Carl Warnock and Jim Welch; they started this organization in the mid 1970’s. Through a sequence of events that can be read here, Warnock and Welch were two men with a vision, a plan, and faithfulness to God’s plan.  When Warnock was concerned about his ability to run a shelter, his partner Welch said, “It’s not about ability or inability. It’s about availability.” In 1977, the first Lighthouse Rescue Mission shelter was opened.

Distribution Center

Since that time, Lighthouse Ministries has expanded into numerous campuses with many different ministries all over the Polk County region. It has  seven different buildings,  which includes, five stores, a Hope Center and a Distribution  Center. Not only do these stores provide food and clothing for a very reasonable price, they also provide jobs and volunteer opportunities.

Lighthouse Ministries has provided invaluable support for the community in numerous ways. In 2011 the men’s Rescue Shelter had 4,416 overnight guests, 15,104 meals served and 70 faith decisions. Also in 2011, The One Stop Residential Care Program served 122 people, 40,509 meals, filled 11,929 beds and had 17 faith decisions. These are only two examples of how Lighthouse Ministries has benefited the community; they have served thousands more through their thrift stores and various children’s and tutoring ministries.

Jessica, a woman who was once a person being served by Lighthouse Ministries, stated, “Lighthouse is everything I needed: childcare, education, saving money, a schedule, routine. I didn’t know where to find it, and it was here at Lighthouse.” You can read more about   Jessica’s testimony by clicking here.

Jessica is now an employee of Lighthouse Ministries H.O.P.E. Center.   She is living proof of the positive impact Lighthouse Ministries has on the community.

For organizations such as Lighthouse Ministries their ability to help the community directly comes from donations and volunteers. A nonprofit organization cannot function without people in the community who are willing to give back. The fact that numerous nonprofit organizations can coexist in the one town of Lakeland, FL shows the heart of its residences. The world is full of struggling people who have many different needs, so it is up to the fellow citizens of the world too sacrifice some time and resources for the benefit of the greater good.

Lighthouse Ministries Sign

For more information about Lighthouse Ministries’ services and how to get involved click on the links below:

Get Assistance

Lighthouse Ministries Get Involved

Lighthouse Ministries Donations

Spreading the Dream

Post Game Prayer

Often when people think of community service they associate it with words such as boring, tedious, or even punishment. For Nick Tedeschi, he associates community service with words like hope, love, kindness, and selflessness.  When performing community service the person inflicting change is many times the one changed the most. This was a realization that occurred for Tedeschi soon after getting involved with the Dream Center of Lakeland.

Open Gym

Community service can be defined as a service that is performed for the benefit of the public or its institutions. Service that benefits a community can be done in various ways such as personal initiative, meaning own your own or through an established nonprofit organization. A nonprofit organization (NPO) is an organization that distributes its excess revenues back into the organization, rather than to owners or shareholders in order to better serve and fulfill their goals.

In Lakeland, Florida, there are numerous nonprofit organizations,

each which provide unique services for the community. The Dream Center of Lakeland is a Christ centered NPO. There services include tutoring, mentoring, athletics, food distribution and general cleaning/maintenance that are requested by people in the community. The program has only two paid employees, Pastor Mike Cooper and Steven Hill. Though they are in charge of the administrative aspects, the program is able to thrive due to dedicated volunteers.

“I have been a part of the basketball program at the Dream Center for over  a year now. The fact that I continue to show up week after week definitely earns the kids trust,” said Tedeschi, 21, senior, head basketball coach and mentor at the Dream Center.

Southeastern Volunteer

The Dream Center is located between Fifth Street and Kettles Avenue. This particular part of Lakeland is geared towards low-income residents, which includes hundreds of children and teens. The Dream Center of Lakeland’s primary objective is to get these children out of the street and into a fun environment that is also integrated with faith.

According to Pastor Cooper, the organization is making new strides and reaching out to more people. Cooper also especially appreciates the great deal of hours that local volunteers invest into the Dream Center.

“Without them this program would not function, I am very grateful for all of them,” said Cooper in reference to the volunteers that help advance the Dream Centers mission.

Hill, a fulltime employee at the Dream Center, has witnessed first hand the impact that the Dream Center has had on the community. Hill watched a Saturday morning food distribution turn into a full day of evangelism, activities for children, door-to-door food distribution, and basic property upkeep for people in the community. A program that only had four volunteers on a good day now is carried out by literally hundreds.

Nick Tedeschi Pregame Devotions

“When we first started [Dream Center of Lakeland] there was a lot of tension and skepticism by people in the neighborhood,” said Hill. “We had to prove our worth to the community. Amazingly, there has been a huge level of change in receptiveness. The fact that we get so many volunteers on a consistent basis, especially from Southeastern University, also really helps.”

Dream Center’s are located all throughout the country and there collective vision is to, “Encourage and train a community of resilient people whose lives have been redeemed by God’s love, who share that love with others to transform and restore broken lives to wholeness.”

The goal of both Hill and Cooper, along with the volunteers, is to meet the needs in the community, help the hurting, and take steps to solve the problems of low income neighborhoods.

“I love the vision that the Dream Center has. I want to help be a part of spreading the vision of the program all across the country,” said Tedeschi.

Being a part of an organization such as the Dream Center is a truly rewarding experience. Volunteers are able to spread hope to people that need it the most and witness the tremendous strides people are able to take with just a helping hand. If you are interested in being a part of the mission of the Dream Center email Steven Hill at shill@dreamcenterlakeland.org.