God is writing a story of love, mystery and adventure that we live out every day. He is, according to Hebrews 12:2 “the author and perfecter of our faith”. The story has many surprises and sub-plots that are later revealed to His glory. Last February, shortly before camp, I received a call from the Walmart Distribution Center in Bedford, PA. They had tried to give away 400 chickens to another charity but were turned down due to lack of storage for such a large gift. Inside my heart, I questioned if this was something God was behind for an unknown future need or if it was a kind offer but an unnecessary distraction. I had my mind on the “real work” of camp as being more important. I also knew if I turned them down, they might never call again. Apparently, a woman was visiting a church in Bedford with her mother when I was the guest speaker a year earlier. She worked at Walmart and when they didn’t know whom to call to give away the chicken she remembered the Door suggested they call us. Now I had a decision to make and I needed clarity from God. I just felt a peace inside and said, “Yes”.
It was a blur of work to get the chickens and store what we had room for but I had 300 to give away still. I knew of the Reapers Food ministry in Altoona and called Tom Miller to offer them the chickens for the 150+ families they give food to each month. They said yes, and their work began too. Two weeks later, we were called again and this time it was 800 chickens! This led to having to rent a 26 ft. box twice a month to pick up thousands of dollars in food to share. We were given very large freezers by Sheetz to store more for the Door and we had to have a completely new electrical service installed with the support of Cogan Electric. The electric bill soared to $270 monthly just for the freezers. The truck costs for rental and fuel were over $500 monthly. It was so much work and required such a large number of volunteers and cooperation with other programs we began to question if it was something we should be doing. I always felt that while it was not all needed in the moment, God was up to something.
Then Covid-19 hit and the need for food for tremendous numbers of people increased everywhere. Now we were offered a truckload every week and required to rent a more costly truck with a refrigerator unit. We also began to send a trailer full of food to the new Door in North East, PA. They arranged with the community food pantry to share walk-in refrigerator and freezer space in exchange for sharing overflow. Then the North East Food Pantry was unable to obtain enough food to share because of purchasing limits by local suppliers. Together we teamed up and they paid for the rental truck and provided a driver. Together as a team of both Doors, The Reapers and the North East Pantry we are feeding thousands of people! God was preparing for the future need we did not see coming.
This week I rode in the truck with the North East Pantry driver and his grandson to Bedford. I wanted the young boy to see with the eyes of a child how God provided and I told him the story of how it started with the chickens 14 months ago. At the loading dock, they filled the truck nearly to capacity but there was still room for one more skid of food, they just didn’t have any more to donate. One unusual skid was half filled with “Wholly Guacamole” chip dip. As we neared Altoona on the return trip I got a message from the local Sam’s Club asking if we wanted a skid of taco flavored Doritos! I laughed…Jesus was sending chips for the dip! What a lesson for the boy riding with us. I told him we never had empty space on the truck until today and God had planned ahead for that. I told him that he was so very fortunate to be able to see and learn how God cares for us at such a young age. I wish I had opportunity to learn so young.
There was a piece missing and God had a wonderful plan to fill it. Our ministry too has been missing a piece. We have had a home for young men called LionHeart for nearly 3 years, but none for ladies. Now we are nearing the opening of Lioness. Doug Wills, who lead the remodel at LionHeart, has been leading the renovations at Lioness. All windows have been restored, new flooring installed, and all trim has been handmade and custom installed. New appliances are waiting, trim still needs painting and bathrooms await remodeling. We would love to see a large deck added to the home in summertime too. We still have some volunteers missing to complete Lioness, but I know God has chosen someone we are waiting to hear from out there.
In North East at the New Door, we have missing pieces too. The missions team of Bill Bennet and Zach Trimble have been working non-stop and completed the renovations of the 2nd story residence in time for Zach and his wife Brittany to welcome their newborn son. Work began in earnest downstairs on the teen center before Co-vid 19 changed everything. Now Zach has been assembling and delivering meal kits to kids all over town daily, as they have no kitchen to cook in yet. Bill was working to do remodeling and has now injured his back (a slipped disk) and can struggle even to walk some days. Commercial equipment for the kitchen awaits installation, ceilings need finishing and many more projects await outside the building. God know where the pieces of the puzzle are. He knows who is prepared to complete the work. He knows why there is a delay and a trial. I know the new Door will reflect His glory as well as the one in Bellwood.
In all of this, food costs dramatically went up because we are providing prepackaged food that is easy for kids to make at home in addition to a hot takeout meal. These items are not always donated and cost on average $4 per kit for 100 kits, 5 days per week. God lined up the help in advance. The Erie Community Foundation, The Dunkin Donuts Joy in Childhood Foundation, M&T Bank, Erie Insurance, The Baltimore Life Insurance Company, numerous churches and individuals all stepped up to give extra to help feed the children for these many weeks. So many are giving supplies we could not possibly thank everyone, but God will bless them all.
We also were able to bless the lives of many small business owners this past month. A local Christian philanthropic couple, whom God has blessed, gave The Door $10,000 to go to small businesses in Bellwood and buy gift cards and gift certificates for future giving. The desire was to get money to local business people who were suffering now and be able to use the gift cards and certificates in the future to help the needy when we reopen. It was such a joy to help so many with a financial lifeline through the crisis. The gratitude on the faces of each business owner was overwhelming. After the first round, even more money was given by the same couple to extend the help to other local businesses. We are so blessed to help the businesses now, and will be blessed to share in the future. God is connecting us to our town like never before.
Summer Camp is a puzzle too. We hope we can still do camp in late July, but our Community Cleanup Day fundraiser is on hold for now. Kids are not able to help raise their camp money for now even if they wanted too. We also need a camp cook this year, as our previous cooks cannot physically do it any longer. It remains a mystery story today, but I trust the author and finisher of our faith. More of His story is coming, join us in the next chapter, and maybe even play a part.
Living In His-Story,
David Taylor and The Door Ministry team
Would you give up security for tomorrow to love extravagantly today?
I was driving through the heart of the inner-city in a rough part of town. In the early 1990’s, Buffalo was in the middle of a bloody gang war. Police cars did not stop at intersections out of fear of being shot at. Body armor was worn by every officer, even at their desks in the ghetto sub-stations. Daily accounts of the dead and wounded filled the evening news and the stories of the teens who came to our bible studies. Drive by shootings were a near daily occurrence.
I do not remember why I was driving the Teen Haven van in that part of town. I was sitting too long at the intersection not knowing where to turn when “BOOM!” I was startled and terrified when a large older African American man with huge and very scarred arms pounded on my window with both fists. Was I being car jacked? Was I about to get drug through the streets and beaten on as a white boy on the wrong side of town? Was I racist if I didn’t roll down the window and tried to race away? My mind was a jumble of fight or flight thoughts.
I rolled down the window. “Yes, man what’s up?” I asked nervously. He pointed to the side of my van and said “Because Jesus Cares”. He touched each of the words painted on my van as he read them out loud…he was very serious and very emotional. “Can you help me?” He asked. I did not know what to do but I felt what I would later come to know in later years as the hand of Jesus encouraging me on my shoulder. I said, “Let me pull over and we can talk.”
I pulled over and he came up to me. He was at least 30 years older than me and nearly 300 lbs. of large and scarred muscle. His face had the look of a man who had been in fights and his arms were covered in multiple inch long scars that had long since healed. I was afraid of him. I sized him up and knew if he wanted to hurt me I would not win. He started a story about needing money…
I sighed in my heart because I had no money myself. My wife and I had an income of $425 a month as missionaries. My car payment was $135 a month, insurance another $60 so we lived on less than $50 each week for food, gas and groceries. We qualified for all the welfare programs the people we worked with received but didn’t apply for any of it. Earlier that day we had gone to the grocery store and bought real groceries for the first time in weeks. Our refrigerator was normally pretty empty now had at least a few items on each shelf. Milk, eggs, chicken and a few cans of frozen orange juice concentrate were in the freezer. We were poor, but happy in love and serving Jesus sacrificially in the inner-city. I was just 21 years old and a kid from the upper class Philadelphia suburbs.
His story was that he was a disabled veteran from Vietnam. His scars were from an exploded land mine that had filled his body with shrapnel and left him on disability. He had moved to Buffalo to care for is daughter and her baby and his government check had not caught up with him yet. Could I give him a few dollars to buy food? My skeptical side rose up in me… was the money for drugs? Was there really a daughter and baby? He looked about the right age to be a vet and the land mine story matched his scars. I had zero cash. I could just tell him I was poor too and had nothing… I remembered we had a food pantry at our teen center with government cheese and flour and cans of peanut butter and a few things. My wife and I had eaten a lot of pancakes from that government flour, being too poor too often ourselves. I couldn’t refuse to offer at least some food? I also thought, if it’s just cash he wants he’ll turn down the food and the scam will be revealed.
I told him I had no money but he could get in (what was I thinking?) and ride with me to the teen center and get some things from our food pantry. He hopped in the passenger seat and was shaking with sweat and emotion. “Thank you” he said. He started telling me the story of his daughter’s baby daddy running out on her and leaving her in a rat and roach infest place. He told me how he had to chase a rat out of the baby’s crib. I began to get very skeptical about his wild story. I resented having to help him when I too was without money and had only recently bought groceries for my own home. I let him ramble on while I sat in disbelief as we drove to the center.
When we arrived I realized the danger I was in. He could over power me and rob us, I didn’t know him. His story seemed too fantastical to be true. I walked him inside to the food pantry that was down stairs at the teen center. My wife and I lived in the modest apartment upstairs. Our furniture had come from the Salvation Army. I had saved up $35 to buy a couch and chairs for my wife’s birthday. It was a humble place. Our own bed was the only thing we had bought new by saving up before we got married just a few months before. Our big day was Thursday our day off and “date day”. We went to a dive that resembled Mel’s diner from the TV show. The Breakfast Special was eggs, toast, coffee and fried potatoes for $2.59 each. Then we went to the discount store and each chose a $1 candy box. We would then go to the $1 theater and watch whatever was showing. We had just $10 a week for a date, but we need that time together escaping from the poverty and war all around us.
I invited him into the pantry which was little more than an 8’x10’ room with shelves and bags of government flour and white labeled cans of government peanut butter and a few other items. I let him choose somethings. He was disappointed. He asked, “Do you have any milk for the baby? Any juice? Anything to make a meal?” We did not have anything as a ministry but I knew there was all of that in my refrigerator upstairs. I felt the hand of Jesus on my shoulder. I didn’t yet know it was him or how to understand his promptings. “But he’s probably lying Jesus? What will we eat if I give him our food? My wife will be angry! I am eating this food pantry food… why can’t he? I just wanted to sit and have a real dinner with my wife being able to cook for once.” Many things I argued with Jesus in that moment but the weight on my shoulder got heavy…I now sense it every time God asks me to take a risk that I have every reason to walk away from. I know what He’s up to today, but I did not understand it then and I was torn up inside.
I answered shyly, “I have some food upstairs where I live. We just went shopping. I could spare some.” We went upstairs to our kitchen my wife was gone at her part-time job teaching music at a Christian school. That small income had bought the groceries in the refrigerator. I opened the refrigerator and handed him the milk for the baby (I still doubted she was real). He said, “What about juice? Do you have any? I opened the freezer doo and took out the frozen concentrate and put it in his bag. Then the chicken, the eggs, the butter…everything we had just bought I surrendered to the hand on my shoulder, still resenting the man who could ask for so much.
He was very thankful and we went to get in the van to drive him home. I started to feel a bit better. I hoped my wife would not come home before I could explain. She was going to make my favorite meal that night and now we would be having pancakes again. He guided me back to a rougher part of town than I had picked him up in. I still was on guard against being car jacked or robbed. We stopped at a very rough and run down row house. He invited me inside to meet his daughter and granddaughter. I helped him carry the food bags inside.
It was the first time I’d been inside a home in the “hood”. I’d picked up and dropped off kids for Bible study but never been invited inside. The home was dark and the walls all covered in a dingy kind of soot. The air was thick with a musty smell of stale something. Then I saw the movement. Roaches were crawling on the walls. I’d never seen a roach in my life before. My family was never wealthy, but we were clean. I felt judgmental at first because I did not understand the futility of fighting roaches in a row house with dirty neighbors. He took me back to the nursery and picked up his granddaughter out of the crib with his scared arms. He was so proud of her. He’d come to rescue them and had no money to do so. He pointed to a rocking chair and said, “I sleep there now to keep the rats from attacking my baby girl.” I saw some large holes in the walls around the floor and realized he had been truthful all along. I felt deep shame at judging him, shame at feeling afraid of him, shame at resenting his needs over mine.
I also felt joy. I had not raced away. I did pull over and talk. I did take him to my work, and then into my home. I did give up all we had to eat for him. I had learned that that hand on my shoulder was Jesus encouraging me to be “risky”, to be loving, to do what nobody else could do in that moment for those people. I stayed and heard their stories for a while but had to get home before my wife did. When I got home she was already there. She probably had tried to make dinner and I walked upstairs trying to figure out how best to explain all that had happened and the choices I had made.
“David? Where is the chicken? Where is all our groceries?” She asked. I began to explain and her heart journeyed over the same ground I had made earlier. I suddenly found myself crying as I felt all the emotion of the day hit me. Being afraid, then being tested and then seeing poverty in a way I could have never fathomed without being inside that house. I could never imagine guarding a crib from rats. I could never have imagined that his story was true and that people lived that way all around me. I was never so joyful inside that I had listened and given everything away.
On Sunday we went to church in the suburbs on Grand Island at Bible Presbyterian Church where my wife taught Christian School. The service was old fashioned but the people so loving. It was our breath of peace outside the war zone each week. As we walked to our car after church something didn’t look right. As I walked around away from the glare where I could see inside, I felt the hand on my shoulder. The car was filled with brown paper bags of groceries. I mean filled! I don’t know who. I don’t know how but while we were worshiping in our poverty, God was using someone to supply us generously. I held my wife’s hand as we drove away. It was the first of many tests over the years. The first time I felt Jesus leading me to take a risk, a step of faith, a sacrifice, to walk into my fears and let Him be God. To put to the test, the word’s on the side of that Teen Haven van… “Because Jesus Cares”
Why do I write about a story from 1992? Because everyday the stakes are raised. Jesus keeps asking me to risk the security of tomorrow to love generously today. I still struggle with fear. I still struggle with resentment at times. Today I did not have enough to receive my wages in the bank. Jesus brought this story to my mind to write it down and share it. I had made some choices this week to love generously and to take risks that would effect today's needs. Today $3500 came in the mail. The hand on my shoulder was felt. Jesus offers no shame ... He cares for me too.
Could you love extravagantly today? Send your best gift to The Door P.O. Box 6 Bellwood, PA 16617. We will use it to keep the God of extravagant love known to anyone in need. God Bless You.
In our last letter we celebrated the many victories around camp and the supplying of amazing amounts of food. Since then we have been through at time of severe testing of our faith in the matter of finances. Our staff went without wages for more than 10 days late in one case. We nearly missed the mortgage payment due for Lionheart. We met as a staff and board to consider our way forward…to consider if God was wanting us to slow down on starting a new Door program in North East…to consider our way of living by faith. We were each subjected to different warfare against our homes, our health, our finances and our relationships. Satan really tried to break us as a team. In the end we agreed to persevere the course. I had asked God to meet two personal conditions as a sign to move ahead. He did both of the things I had requested on the very day they needed to happen.
Two things God has spoken to my heart in this season are: 1. You cannot have twice the fruit without twice the testing. 2. We have lead over 1000 souls to Christ in this ministry…Satan will strongly oppose a second front in this war. I feel like Moses coming to the promised land and having the good report of the fruit of the land but the bad report of the giants living there and their great walls.
26 “There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large… 30Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”31But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13
We have seen the fruit of the North East program, over 20 teenagers accepting Christ in the past year at our camps. Up to 50 kids a day are getting dinner 3 days a week out of a local church building we use. I personally went up to see our staff in action and their dedicated volunteer cooks and I saw a unity and joy in their service. Bill Bennett and I were given a few unscheduled minutes with the town council of churches to share our mission plans and they will be taking up a collection for us at the National Day of Prayer service. Two local church pastors gave us a generous portion of their time and will be lending us their support. The town government officials and a few local business people have expressed their support. A local believer is also putting up their personal savings to finance the building for us with no payments from us for one year so we can raise support and remodel. The building is twice the size of our Door in Bellwood and can house The Trimble family as our staff and actually save some finances. I see a “land flowing with milk and honey”.
I also see the GIANTS and the WALLS. There is a Giant of Poverty…we are struggling to meet our current needs with giving down 12% or $7,600 so far compared to this time last year. This GIANT is mocking our faith, our calling and our God. I see a Giant of Inability… we will need skilled labor, materials for two kitchen remodels, commercial restaurant equipment, the building vinyl sided and a place of peace and of play built outside in the yard. This Giant is mocking our numbers and our lack of skills and challenging our God and the distances involved. I see a WALL of IMPOSSIBILITY: There is no humanly possible way of doing this with our current staff and finances. We seem like grasshoppers to these Giants and Walls.
The Israelites failed to trust God and they wandered around for 40 years wishing they had moved ahead in faith and died without seeing what God wanted to give them. They should’ve looked back in their history…they had the God who brought the plagues upon Egypt, the God who parted the Red Sea, the God who made bitter waters sweet, the God who poured water from a rock, the God who sent manna every morning, the God who lit their darkness and shaded them in desert sun. They had a God who would move the heavens and the earth for their freedom and their victory. We must look back at what God has done for us.
Their God is OUR God. We serve a God who has paid for 24 years of camp taking 4000 kids to attend even without them having to pay a penny. Our God has provided $100,000 in vehicles and their maintenance, insurance and fuel over 16 years. Our God has provided over 100,000 meals for teens and we have had food to share with others! Our God has given us The Bellwood Door and it’s $50,000 Faithful Father Park all 100% paid for. Our God reroofed our building last spring. Our God gave us Lionheart and is sending a mission team to finish and insulate the interior of the garage/shop. God sent $2000 for Lionheart the very day we needed to pay the mortgage. He sent materials and money for work benches, shop lights and tools. God sent 4820 pounds of chicken in a single day last month. He sent 168 gallons of milk in a single day last year. He sent 40 crates of oranges and 20 boxes of cheese cake in a single day a few weeks back. We have prayed with over 1000 souls to accept Jesus Christ as Lord. He has done wondrous things amongst us.
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3
When we set out to create the Lionheart program I felt God was calling us to a new walk of faith. One calling us for a deeper maturity. When the slaves left Egypt God parted the waters and dried the ground before they took a single step towards the promise. When they entered the promised land they walked into a river at flood stage and we do not know how deep the waters got before God parted them, but He did part the waters. He did knock down the walls. He did defeat the Giants. This is our God…the King whom we serve. He has called us to be fathers to the fatherless and we firmly believe He has called us to North East, PA and to claim 77 Robinson Street as Kingdom Ground.
These past few weeks the war has gotten more real and more personally cruel. We have had to intervene on multiple occasions with law enforcement and child welfare on behalf of the defenseless. We have been there for rescue and comfort of cases of sexual abuse, rape and dissemination of child pornography. This generation is suffering beyond what evil I’d ever believed I would see. Martin Luther would write centuries ago: “for still our ancient Foe doth seek to work us woe. His craft and power our great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.” I am thankful the song did not end there. He continued: Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; Lord Sabaoth (meaning Lord of Armies), his name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.
Serving In His Strength,
The Door Man
“It will be desperate for a while.” Those were the words I felt Jesus whisper to my heart a few days ago in my quiet time. I do not know how long “a while” is or the depth of the word “desperate”. None of the staff has been paid on time now for 4 weeks. Most delays have been only 1 day but now we are behind several days. I’m torn between sending out a mailing or paying our staff as I write. We all know that the life of faith and service carries the need for dependence of provisions, but it has never been this tight this long. All the other indications from God are positive and awesome to see and experience. I believe He is trying to assure us to stay on the front lines despite our own needs.
We received a grant of $30,000 from the Nazareth Family Foundation to purchase reliable 4-wheel drive transportation for the Lionheart Program that could also help tow the trailer to camp and transport Door kids in inclement weather. I struggled to buy the truck knowing how little would be left in our accounts, but also knowing we need to use gifts as they are given. We were able to purchase this lightly used 2015 Ford F-150 Super Crew Cab truck and add running boards and a matching cap. The cab space can transport 6 grown men with generous leg room and pick up donations from the ministry.
We received a call from U.S. Foods to pick up a donation of over 200 cases of juice, and another call a week later to pick up over 100 lbs. of chicken, cases of French toast sticks, turkey sausage, bacon, shrimp, fish sticks and more! The day before a case of individual Maple Syrup cups arrived (like a restaurant gives out) and I wondered how we would use them. The next day from a different source came French toast sticks! Then Hoss’s restaurant asked us to pick up a donation that included cocktail sauce which went with the shrimp we received from U.S. Foods. (Are you seeing a pattern?) Sandwich rolls came in one day with sandwich steaks being donated the next. We are very well supplied when it comes to food and goodies for the kids.
We were so blessed with supplies of food that I announced to the kids that they should not be shy about needing food at home. I told them if their families were in need they should come to us and we will help. Without hesitation a new young girl blurted out; “That’s good cause we don’t have any money at our house! You know what we get to eat at every meal? Just one sandwich each! And that’s because my sister gave us money for bread.” You could’ve heard a pin drop. She didn’t know to be embarrassed in front of the other kids but her older brother was. We quietly met the need and have given much away as God keeps the material supplies coming. I worry about a paycheck and she only has a sandwich, Jesus is keeping my heart aligned.
Jesus has kept us encouraged from former kids as well. I had gone out to eat with my wife and a waitress walked over and asked if we were the people from the Door. She was in her late 20’s but looked familiar. She said, “My name is ______ and I used to go there. I remember how nice you were to me. That was a rough time in my life and The Door I remember was the only place I ever felt like home. Thank you for doing that. I’m working and getting my life together now.” Today it happened again with two young men in their 20’s coming up to us and sharing about working on their GED and trying to get a job.
I had applied for a Technology Grant to Best Buy Foundation and Operation Our Town to form our own computer club at The Door. We were granted the portion from Operation Our Town (about 1/3 of the cost) but were declined by Best Buy Foundation for the other 2/3rds. We will try to do it with a smaller number of kids in the future. It was another day of encouragement and disappointment.
My calendar for preaching has been pretty empty and it is hard to share the needs and the ministry without open opportunities. A message came through asking me to fill in in a local congregation on short notice due to the pastor needing to undergo a procedure. I shared a ministry update in Sunday School and preached in the morning service. The pastor had felt well enough to attend but not speak. He interrupted the closing hymn and was so moved by the message and the Spirit to give an invitation for the congregation to be committed to expanding the Kingdom of God. In moments the entire congregation had responded and come forward and was praying with the Pastor in a prayer of rededication. Revival had come and I had been able to see it and be a part of it. My heart needed to see that and be a part of it.
We traveled to Davis College for their Pastors Conference and set up a display for The Lionheart Program (the vendor space was donated to us) hoping to make contacts to share our ministry. I have represented The Door there in the past but this year the conference was moved to a newer wing of the campus. I called an old friend on staff who in 1988 had called me into his office to encourage me to stay in school and become a leader when I was discouraged and ready to quit (I had no money for school back then either). He told me where to go and set up (I was talking to him through the cell phone and the radio on the new truck). I did not yet know how to hang up the phone in the truck and overheard him say to someone in the room. “That was Dave Taylor one of our graduates…he has this tremendous ministry to kids. He is such a great guy…I wish he knew.” I found the button and hung up the phone. I sat and cried, I felt ashamed at what I stress over. Jesus is clearly doing everything possible to encourage my heart as we wait for the finances that have not matched the other supplies.
I subscribe to a daily devotional and yesterday (Sunday) as I waited for morning mail on Monday the end of the devotional declared. “Jesus is not a betrayer. Jesus has not betrayed me. Jesus will never betray me.” I repeated those words out loud again and again like a prayer. Today I could not pay our staff again, only $25 came in in the mail. Six days behind for a servant of God with a wife and two children. I told him what Jesus told me,
“It will be desperate, for a while”. I cannot save my staff from this test of faith but together we can’t fail to see all the other ways Jesus is encouraging us.
The battle goes on in other ways too. We are fighting a resurgent community drug problem and some rough home situations where we had to involve Child Welfare and law enforcement. There is a moment in every war referred to as “The Turning of the Tide”. It is not the moment of victory, but the moment where victory becomes more certain. The battle is the fiercest there because the Enemy knows defeat may yet be a long way off but his loss is certain. We have not won yet, but as I write to you I believe with all my heart the tide is turning in this war. Would you be our allies in prayer and provision for the many battles yet to come? Would you enlist others in this fight? On Nov. 13 We celebrate 20 Years of The Door being open. The Enemy would like to close The Door. We would like to open another one. The battle in hanging in the balance. God willing, we will win through the desperate hours.
Turning The Tide,
The Kings Doorman
As I prayed about sending out this update I asked the Lord what I should write about. After a long silence I heard Him whisper, “Tell them about my goodness.” So let me tell you as much of His goodness I can recall regarding all that has happened at Lionheart in the past few months. I wish I could say we are ready to open, but we have a great deal more work to get done even though much has been accomplished.
If you recall we had a generous $25,000 donation at the start of summer in answer to a specific prayer I had made regarding that exact dollar amount. The donation came from First Baptist Church of Sykesville, PA. The church followed up on their giving a few weeks later with a one day mission service. Lots of painting was achieved as the pastor and I joined them for a long day of painting the dining room at The Door and painting trim to be installed in the bedrooms at LionHeart. Hands on service often helps join hearts in our work beyond what money can purchase.
The next mission team came from Zion Lutheran Church in Hollidaysburg. They painted the future Resident Director’s Bedroom walls and windows, giving at least 2 coats. Trim and a chair rail were painted and are awaiting installation. While they were busy at LionHeart another group of their men were installing a brand new floor in the pantry at The Door. Now our floor is beautiful and stronger in the highest foot traffic area of the ministry.
Precious Life Ministries had donated all the ceramic/porcelain tile needed to cover the kitchen floor at LionHeart and two bathrooms being renovated and their walls as well. I had been praying for God to provide a person who could tile for us. Several had express an interest but nothing had begun. Then out of the blue a gentleman called me and said he had been reading about LionHeart on my blog online. He wanted to help and had helped us back a few years ago gutting and replacing the bathroom at The Door with a Methodist ministry team called “God’s Builders”. We hadn’t spoken in at least two years but when he came for a tour of LionHeart to see how he could help he volunteered to do all the tiling! The first bathroom is completed with beautiful white marble tile. The second bathroom is being grouted in a sandstone colored tile and the kitchen is tiled in beautiful long tiles that appear as hardwood. God didn’t just send someone “good enough” he sent a craftsman with a servant’s heart.
In addition a local plumbing and heating company; Kimmen approached us about shooting a service commercial for TV of them servicing a furnace. In return they would do a full service cleaning of our furnace at The Door. The basement at LionHeart had a lot more room so I suggested that one. It turned out there wasn’t enough lighting available either place so the commercial was shot at the local TV station. The company serviced the furnaces at The Door and LionHeart anyways for free! Now we’re ready for winter.
All along we have had a regular Friday morning crew led by Pastor John Gray from The Foundry Ministry in Altoona. His friend and plumber Paul and on occasion a few other men have slowly tackled the major renovations of adding a second bathroom and preparing floors for tile. They have moved more plumbing and outlets for electricity as well. Their work has been a silent and steady service that has achieved more than I can adequately describe and we pray God’ richest blessing on them all. They have been called back to The Foundry to prepare apartments urgently needed for their own ministry and now we need a new source of skilled labor to finish all they have begun so well.
As new servants are needed God has supplied. I spoke in the spring at a church in the town of Northeast, PA. A mother heard me speak about LionHeart and gave our literature to her son-in-law who attended Greenfield Baptist Church and was praying about starting a men’s ministry and service group. After a delay in being able to talk about it due to our summer camp and a follow up week of Day Camp with Child Evangelism Fellowship we finally connected in a long phone call. It became very evident that God had given us such a similar heart and passion for young men. He agreed to come down and visit us and see the ministry for himself. He made the eight hour round trip in a day with his wife and toured The Door and LionHeart Programs. He made a list of needed jobs and returned to his church to find men with skills in carpentry, plumbing and electrical work to come and serve in a mission team. They will be arriving tonight and serving all day tomorrow while the Door kids run the Community Car Show that got delayed due to rain in July.
They plan on installing new LED lighting and ceiling fans in every bedroom. New LED hall lights and a new LED ceiling fan in the kitchen. They will be framing and finishing out the new bathroom door and installing a new sliding barn type door for it. At the same time they will be tackling installing the new laundry area which requires new plumbing and electrical work. The floor will need tearing out and replaced with cement board in preparation for our other servant to put down new tile. A new front loading full size stackable washer and gas dryer set was donated anonymously and are awaiting their new placement. A new small utility sink is awaiting installation by this team as well.
There is a lot left to do from simple tasks like assembling beds and desks to measuring and installing mini blinds in all the bedroom windows. New Curtains are needed and new bedding for the young men. More skilled help is needed to set sinks and toilets in the bathrooms and assemble and install the shower glass doors. Hall flooring needs installing. A second stairway needs refinishing and a light added for safety. Three Large rooms of hardwood floors need completely sanded and refinished and the fireplace needs to be retrofitted for natural gas. Quite a bit of plumbing is left including replacing cast-iron drain lines with PVC and running new PEX supply lines to a few spots. It all sounds like a lot, but I can see the finish line ahead if all the needed people come forward.
We want you to see it too. So many have given and sacrificed to enable us to put a down payment on this home and buy the supplies we have needed. We want to invite you to come to our first celebration event for LionHeart. On Tuesday Oct. 17 we will have a LionHeart Founder’s Banquet. An open house at LionHeart will be from 5-6 PM at 401 S. Main Street. At 6:15 PM a formal catered dinner will be served across the street at the banquet hall of Excelsior One Fire Company. The Banquet will include a mini-concert by Tabitha & Seth Melhorn and a vision message by myself as Director. The menu for the evening will be stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetable with a cake dessert. The Banquet costs $20 per person and is limited to only 80 people. Please RSVP quickly because we expect to sell out on this milestone evening. To RSVP call the office at (814)935-9971 or email us at email@example.com.
The purpose of this LionHeart Founder’s Banquet is to firstly show everyone what has been achieved so far and secondly to seek new “Founders” to join us in getting ministry launched. Everywhere I share our vision for LionHeart I get the same two responses; “There is such a need for this” and “What an incredible plan you have to change lives”. My prayer is to raise the $97,000 remaining on the mortgage by the end of 2017. I have always wanted the home to be paid for before we move in any residents. Young men who have come up in an insecure life need to be given a secure home to launch from. Would you join us for an evening to remember and would you ask God who you should be inviting who needs to hear about this mission and get involved. God has moved so many mountains for us over the years and we need you to get involved to help see this one moved as well.
Opening God’s LionHeart,
David & Gela Taylor
It has been an unusual delay for this update, but it has been an unusual time for us here as well. I wait to write a post until a time Jesus whispers to my heart… “This is it…this is the story to share.” I have been waiting and wanting to write, but I can’t force that voice to speak even as I feel like I know you are all waiting for an update. I can never in a blog share all that God is doing and all our needs and His supply, so I wait for the moment that I sense Him saying “Share this!” I have been waiting and wanting that voice and that moment and it had me distressed to not hear it for so long. God revealed His reasons on Sunday May 25.
Progress is slow and steady at Lionheart. There is an extensive list of things remaining to be done and purchased for the home. The blue insert shares just a portion of the needs. We would love to have you come spend a day or two with us serving “hands on” this summer with your church class or office staff or just your family. Call us and ask, we will find a use for you! (814)935-9971. We need help especially installing a new kitchen floor. Some very high quality tile has been donated and we need skilled installation. We also need simple things like cleaning and assembling beds or hanging miniblinds. There is something for every ability to come and offer service.
In April I attended a True Pursuit men’s retreat in Michigan to seek spiritual refreshment and renewal. God did not disappoint me. I felt strongly I needed to seek God’s “Fathering” in some un-fathered places in my own heart before I could offer fathering to the “sons” God will be bringing us. God revealed a lot to my heart and healing and clarity for my earthly father’s short comings. He also spoke to me about physical healing. I am from a generation of “play hurt” ministers. We were taught to keep going despite exhaustion, injury, sickness and brokenness. We learned to hide our weaknesses and continue playing even when our brokenness would get worse, the Kingdom needed us no matter what. Jesus had to convict me that that belief was wrong and that it did no one any good to not stop and heal. I have been without full use of my right arm since last July and then the accident in October compounded issues with my shoulder and back and having my “brains scrambled” for a few weeks as well.
In my heart I want to lead the construction and remodeling. I want to swing a hammer and do demolition. The truth is I can’t even mow the grass and I feel shame because of it. Jesus spoke to me about that shame not coming from Him and that I should not agree with that voice at all.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: …a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.
God clearly says there is a time to heal, and I have to learn to accept that this healing is coming much slower than I want, but it is coming. In this season I must learn not just to serve, but to allow others too, the joy of service alongside. They need to receive as well, all the blessings it brings to step up and sacrifice for a greater cause in Christ
The Door has been busy with so many new kids this past year and about a 200% increase in attendance. Our five freezers are full and our pantry fairly well supplied. We only need paper products and personal toiletries for the kids. This week have at least 6 seniors graduating from High School and we are so proud of them all. They are survivors and over-comers. They have seen God supply for them as I always share what God supplies every day when we say “Grace” as a family around the table. All of them have made a profession of faith at camp and are wrestling out a life with God. They have seen the generosity of others for Jesus and seen so many positive physical changes at The Door building and at camp too. They cannot deny that there is a God and He is generous and kind.
I spent 3 days at Bellwood public school 6th grade science camp held at Camp Kenasatake two weeks ago. I have been going to help with camp for 14 years as a “game guy” for after class time. Each 6th grader (105 of them) received a reusable sports water bottle with The Door logo on it and a drawstring back pack with our logo and hours of operation. It was an outreach gift since each teen needed those items at their camp, we provided them for them all so no child would feel shame of not having one. Usually I am meeting the sixth graders for the first time so I can invite them to the Door and to summer camp. This past year, because we saw the need, we expanded to allow 5th and 6th graders to attend The Door until after dinner so they could at least eat with us. 20% of our school’s 6th graders attend The Door already.
As we had discussions with school faculty I realized I was not alone in thinking that this was an exceptionally difficult and needier class than most. I have struggled with behavior issues, poverty issues and difficult home circumstances more with this grade than almost any other. I don’t expect many from this group to even be able to come up with registration money ($50). We are a short season away from Summer Camp which will be July 23-28. We need sponsors for 140 teens at $150 each and the kids will pay a $50 registration fee. Our current Camp Fund is at around $500 and the kids are excited and needy. Kids are asking for chores to do to earn camp money that we don’t have yet to give them. I know our supporters and I know our Father and I know no one will be disappointed. This grade has yet to come and hear the depths of Jesus love and life for them (most did not come to winter camp). Pray for the extra provision needed, thousands of dollars beyond all our regular expenses. Pray for a camp cook to be found. My wife is no longer able to physically do it as she has a recovery of her own still very much in process.
Now what about May 25??!! I have been on the road every weekend sharing Lionheart at many churches. I got an unusual invitation to return to Bethel Baptist Church in Sykesville after speaking there in March and sharing Lionheart. May 25th was Lionheart Sunday at their little church and we were invited to come and share a brief update and be prayed over by the church leaders during the service. After church there was a luncheon in the basement, but before saying grace the head Deacon asked me to come forward. He explained that the church had had a sum of money from a property sale sitting unused for over a year as they waited on God’s leading of how to use it. After I had spoken a few weeks before, God had continually burdened him at night to do something for The Door and Lionheart. He felt at first it should be $10,000 but God kept pushing his heart until finally he approached the church leaders about the amount he felt God was speaking to him about. To his surprise the leaders were all in agreement but needed the congregation to vote on such a large gift. He told me it took only about a 2 minute meeting for the entire congregation to vote without any objection to give what he felt God wanted. With everyone else looking on intently knowing what was about to happen he handed me a check for $25,000 for Lionheart!
I was undone. It took quite a bit for me to choke back tears enough to be able to express my thankfulness. He reminded me that in my prayer letter on March 10 I had felt strongly God asking me to pray for $25,000. I had forgotten after I had prayed because I thought God was doing it in bits and pieces. I had no idea God was going to send the $25,000 on top of all that others were giving and doing. We’ve had 3 other $1,000 donations for Lionheart in the past 10 days as well.
Since last April we have now received over $100,000 for the Lionheart Project. All that was given above and beyond our regular needs. I am asking God for the $115,000 remaining on the mortgage to be paid off this year. I am asking for wisdom to use the gifts that come in wisely to furnish out the home in the high standard of beauty God has laid on my heart. Would you join me together in praying for the following:
- Pray for the provision of a live in Resident Director for Lionheart to feel God’s calling and for us to recognize that man in the right season.
- Pray for Summer Camp July 23-28 and the sponsors needed for 140 teens at $150 each.
- Pray for Lionheart Renovations to be finished this summer.
- Pray for the need for additional staff for The Door, their calling and provision.
- Pray for continued physical healing for Gela and I.
David & Gela Taylor
Dad & Momma at The Door
The first week of February I had supplies for camp literally piled up everywhere. We had 150 T-shirts printed and delivered. We had trophies for all the planned events at camp. We had game equipment purchased and prepared. Food and snacks were piled up as well. We had precooked most of every meal in advance since we had a new kitchen staff serving instead of my wife. We had cases of cookies and crackers and even a custom built wooden bar to make s’mores indoors at our banquet. We had sent out camper forms and promoted the weekend. The only problems were with less than a week to go we had only 3 kids registered for camp and only $159 left in the camp fund.
If you’ve followed us over the years you know there are countless times we have needed God to save us with last minute provisions and he has never failed us or been late. You also know that God does an awful lot at the last minute possible to grow our faith and display His great love and power. This time would be no different. It was 7 days till we left for camp and 4 days before all campers’ forms were due. In any other business this is crazy and foolish to prepare so much with no evidence on hand that camp would be full and that we would be able to pay nearly $8,000 in expected costs on such short notice. I looked at the supplies sent ahead. Surely God is no fool to send so much supply that he would not send kids. Surely a God who could send hundreds of cookies and treats could also send money by the time it is needed.
One of my messages that I planned for Camp was entitled “God is not a Hard Man”. I was targeting kids who have a “hard man” for a father and believed that God was no different. For years I struggled with the false belief that God was a “hard man” due to my upbringing at home and in religious circles. God was always angry at me, I was always disappointing Him. I should have my act together by now, I should witness more, sin less…be more…be better….God was never pleased enough, etc… How God has shown me so much more of the truth of His gracious and loving heart in my later life. I’ve learned that God is not my accuser but the Enemy often pretends to be the voice of God accusing us, shaming us, condemning us…speaking anything that will separate us from the love and closeness of our Father. Satan was trying hard before camp to make me feel ashamed and foolish for not having money or kids ahead of time. I think I’m getting better at recognizing Satan’s lies too. God was not condemning me as fool but was about to demonstrate His great love in supplying for our acts of faith.
Tuesday the camper forms were due and then the numbers came swarming in. By the time we got to camp we had 124 in attendance! Friday we received a gift to cover the first cabin ($600). Saturday we received two more cabin sponsors at $600 each and a few hundred dollars in individual scholarships. Monday morning I was asked to meet a business man at The Door and he gave me a check for $1800 (3 cabins!) and another cabin gift came in the mail. I can’t remember everything but it was an avalanche of supply, with one cabin gift of $600 arriving the day we returned home. Can I tell you that all expenses were paid in full with enough left over to be the starter funds we need for summer camp. Our Father is not a “hard man” condemning us, He is full of Grace and love and has demonstrated once again He will supply all our needs and honor those who walk by faith.
For the first time I would not be the Camp Director. Pastor Bill Bennet was once a young camper at Door Camp and has volunteered for us for many years. This year I felt God asking me to give up control and give more opportunities to others and I asked Bill to consider becoming the Director. My new role would be to be the camp Speaker and to bring some Bigger and Better Games. These things align with my heart and gifting and I believed the administrative tasks and leadership were very in line with Bill’s heart and gifting. That proved to be true. This was our best run camp in all the years we’ve been doing it. Bill did an outstanding job of administrating and improving on the way camp is run. I got to put more heart into the messages for the kids and really amp up the level of fun in the activities to a new level. I look forward to years of teamwork ahead and am grateful for a former camper to now be our leader.
The theme for camp was “Catching the Drift”. We would play in snow drifts, race drift trikes (adult size big wheels) and catch our spiritual drifting from God. I spoke about Noah and his drift from preacher of righteousness and hero to shameful drunk who shamed and blamed others and lost relationship with his sons. I spoke about the Flood being a Traumatic experience. Noah witnessed the world die and no one listened to his preaching to get on the ark. I spoke of how Satan can use our traumas to drive us to self-medicate in alcohol, drugs, self-harm, eating disorders etc.… We offered prayer and counseling with teens who have experienced trauma and many stayed after chapel to cry and pray and be loved on by our counselors and God.
The next character who drifted was Peter, who drifted repeatedly in his life over fear of people. We talked about the masks teens wear for acceptance and the fears we have of being shamed, left alone, harmed, friendless etc.… if we don’t try to be what other people want and leave our true selves buried behind masks. A mask for church, a mask for mom & dad, a mask for school, friends, work and maybe even a mask for camp. Many teens responded to the call to repentance to leave the masks behind and stop living in fear of people.
The third chapel was about King David and his drift from “the man after God’s own heart” to the murdering adulterer. We discussed how Satan uses the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life” to systematically tear us away from a walk with God. It was a late night praying and counseling with kids. It was my joy to counsel with a very broken and weeping young man who was so bound up in shame with an addiction to pornography. He left that session in freedom and joy and wrote about it in the camper survey later.
The final chapel was about the parable of the talents. The last servant drifted from the master because he viewed the master as a “hard man”. He became wicked and lazy according to his master. I spoke of how we project onto God our earthly father’s. If our father was hard, God is hard. If our father was abandoning, God is abandoning. If our father was distant or cold than God is distant and cold. These wrong views of God distance us from Him and lead us to drift away. Then I spoke of Jesus and his statement “He that has seen me has seen the Father”, “I and the Father are one”. I spoke of Jesus encounters with sinners (women caught in adultery, etc.…) and revealed that God is not a “hard man” but slow to anger and quick to forgive. Any hardness God the Father had for Sin was taken on the cross by Jesus so that we can be forgiven and forever close to Him. Many kids confessed their false beliefs about God and at least 10 teens asked Jesus to forgive them and be their Savior (28 teens wrote they had done so at some point during the weekend). What a sweet union of hearts once separated from God now adopted into the Father’s own family.
The testing of my heart and His power and love were not over. Yesterday I realized we had over $3,000 in bills due by Friday for the Door (not the camp fund). We had only $800 on hand and I would be leaving for vacation on Monday to see my son graduate from USMC Boot Camp. I was asked to meet a man at the Door at 3pm. I had accidentally missed meeting him before camp through my own mix up. Now he stood with his wife in the living room at the Door and handed me a check for $5,000!!! That is my Father’s hand and His heart! God is not a “hard man”, He’s my Father and I can’t help but share Him and His good heart all the more. Thank you for your prayers and giving to enable us to share this good…good Father.
It was August 15, 2002 when our family of 5 moved into a cramped 2nd floor, 1 bedroom apartment and set up home to begin my new job as Director of The Door. I did not know then how much we would see of God’s mighty hand, or that we would be serving here for the next 15 years with many more to come. At the end of this July we received notice that the ground where Faithful Fathers Park was located needed to be sold by the owners. We had tried to obtain ownership many times in the past but could not get past just the permission to do anything with the ground for the ministry. We have rented those 2 lots since the ministry opened in 1998 for only $25 a month. Now with one owner nearing the end of life and needing care, the ground needed to be sold to help with his care expenses.
From our report you know we were coming off a hugely successful record breaking summer camp. We also came back from camp with less than 2 weeks finances on hand and now were being asked to raise $20,000 and fees for the ground. I was upset at the timing of the request, and I was worried that many of our supporters would not understand why we built a park on rented ground. I called a mentor and shared with him the situation for any insight. Firstly, he put me at ease about improving a rental property reminding me that he has spent thousands of dollars renovating leased space for his business and that in the business world it is very common to improve what you rent. As I was upset at the sudden need for money when I couldn’t get the owners to even make an offer for many years, he reminded me that we had been “Blessed” with very cheap rent for 18 years and I should be grateful not upset. I mentioned that we might be able to negotiate the costs down to maybe $16,000 from $20,000. He pointed out to me that negotiating with a woman who’s husband is dying and needs money after years of being given low rent and a free hand was not what he felt we should be doing. Instead he said, “Have you considered blessing them?” He comforted me with the word that “This need did not surprise Jesus.” “As far as Heaven is concerned,” he encouraged, “It’s already done.” He then said he would personally send the first $4,000 so we wouldn’t need to negotiate but could seek an opportunity to bless a family in their need and secure ownership of the ministry for the future. He reminded me that this was the last “loose end” to tie up before I could focus on Lionheart and Jesus was going to meet the need and take this final issue off our plate.
I was so encouraged in my faith, and completely changed in my outlook after that word. I knew in my heart was wisdom from Jesus. One hour later another supporter had called and pledged $1000 to help. 25% of the money was raised before I had told the public of our need. I called the owners and asked them for 30 days to send out a letter and raise the funds. I told them we were grateful for the years we had use of the ground and that we hoped we could bless them by paying for the purchase and all related costs. I then offered prayer for her husband. I felt the presence of Jesus in this and much assurance in my heart.
In the days after the “Mountain Movers” letter was sent gifts of all sizes came in from so many different and unexpected places. We reached a little past $12,000 in 3 weeks but the deadline was looming. Then a call came in from a dear couple far away. They had come into a sum of money and her husband felt strongly that we might have a need and they should see what it is. I explained to his wife about the sudden need of $20,000 plus transfer costs. We had at least $10,000 to go in the next week. To my astonishment she said they would be sending us $10,000 in the mail the next day! I couldn’t hold back my emotion any longer. I thanked her profusely through tears. It had been done on earth as Jesus had already assured us in the heavens. On Thursday Sept 8 we paid $22,039.70 to cover all costs. We now own all of our ministry facilities and grounds completely debt free 15 years and 24 days after we first arrived.
Psalm 50:14, 15 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
I asked God for a theme for this letter and the word “Thankfulness” was all I could hear from Him. I am thankful to God for we no longer have a 1 bedroom apartment but our own beautiful home. I am thankful for every room in The Door that has been renovated and filled with good things for the kids. I am thankful for beautiful grounds that we now own that provide a place of play and a place of peace for so many. We have fed the hungry, clothed the needy and set captives free. We have fathered the fatherless and led the lost to Jesus in the hundreds. We have seen His power to provide, to save, to heal and to move mountain after mountain.
Psalm 41:1-3 Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. 2The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. 3The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.
I was privileged to speak at the Last Blast of Summer (A Christian concert day at a local amusement park) for their 11 am worship service. I spoke about Jesus wanting to meet the needs we are ashamed to share about. I offered to meet anyone for prayer under a nearby tree. There was a line of people to pray for. Every single one was having the same need. Night terrors and demonic spirits were robbing them of sleep and peace. They were tormented and ashamed and seeing their torments now visiting their own children. We prayed in power for deliverance and peace and finally one young lady whose name literally meant “peace” came trembling for prayer. She was tormented with death and fear of death. It was a precious time to comfort her and lead her in accepting Jesus as her Savior and defeating the fear of death. I was hoping to share there about Lionheart, but instead it was a blessed time of freeing more captives of the “spirit of fear” and giving them “power, love and a sound mind” to return home. Thank you Jesus for a chance to fight with you again for hearts.
So many of our projects that we wished for were completed by the largest turn out of “hands on” volunteers in all our years. People of every denomination and background came and helped, paint, build, repair, clean, beatify and restore. The last big project was to run 75 ft. of natural gas line to our garage/arcade so we could have it heated for year round use. A Bedford man bought the heater, an Altoona man dug the trench and a Bellwood businessman sent his crew to run the gas line and absorbed the cost. Just a few loose ends to clean up and we’ll be set for winter.
We need a roofer to come and repair damaged and missing ridge cap and check the overall condition of our roof for winter (it is 20 years old). We need a few volunteers to spread tar sealer on a section of our blacktop (we have the sealer on hand). We need some masonry sealed on our garage and the metal doors painted (we have paint). We need a leaky toilet repaired and a loose one secured. Just a few hours from skilled volunteers will bless us and you’ll be blessed too. We need after-school volunteers as well. We are looking for a person to come and teach arts and/or crafts on a one time or ongoing basis. We could use your church group to be our guest chefs and bring a meal or come cook our supplies here. Come join our good work as God leads.
Finally we want you to mark your calendars to celebrate with us our 15th Anniversary and Open House on November 7th at Trinity United Methodist Church (Next to The Door) The Open House is 5:30-6:30 PM and the Banquet will be 6:30-8:30 PM. Dinner. The costs and Menu will be announced in our next letter. Just save the time to come celebrate with us. We will be bringing back some former Door Kids who are now grown up to share the difference The Door made for them. I will also be sharing our vision for the future and the Lionheart Program.
Finally we thank Jesus for You! Our readers and prayer warriors who shed tears with us over the needs and the victories. You who lend us your treasures to serve these forgotten children of the King. Thank you Jesus for all of you and all you do. So many have sacrificed so much to help us; we bless you in Jesus name.
God had sent more financial assistance than ever before for summer camp and so we threw open the gates for last minutes requests from teens in need. The result upon arriving at camp was a not only a larger amount than we planned for but was the largest number of kids to attend summer camp since we began doing it in 1995. Over 144 were there for the first night as we divided up the kids we used every single bed on the girl’s side of camp with none to spare. We were short on staff and would need to go buy more groceries and my carefully planned budget was blown apart. My faith was ready because God would not send these kids to us and not give us the means to meet their needs. As I look at the finished financial page we received over $20,000 for camp and have less than $25 in the account today. All week long I weighed adjusting our program to save funds, but I kept feeling prodded by Father that there would be enough. Even a simple thing like renting a pontoon boat was adjusted by God in our favor. We had reserved 1 boat for two days. Even giving just a 5 minute ride in a tube to 140 would take nearly 12 hours non-stop. My plans would’ve left a kid without the joy of tubing. When we arrived at the rental place to pick up our boat they told us there was a mistake and we would have 2 boats for the first day and none for the second. I wasn’t happy but knew we would try to get all 140 a ride in a single 5 hour window. By the time the kids arrived at the beach to start riding I received a phone call from the boat rental place that they had fixed their mistake and we would have 2 boats the next day as well. Part of me was relieved and part of me worried that I had not budgeted to rent boats and buy fuel for this size group. I just accepted it in my heart that God knew we would have more kids and He was lining up everything we’d need to give them all a great week. God did many things like this throughout the week to show His love, His power and His delight in giving the wealth of His Kingdom to children.
Our theme for the week was I.C.U. It would be a spiritual hospital, an Intensive Care Unit for kids. The theme revolved around Bible stories were God saw people that others missed, and where people saw God when others missed Him. We started on the first night speaking about Hagar and Ishmael and talked about castaway sons and mothers. We talked about God seeing our abandonments and hearing our cries and coming to save us in our distress. I gave out something new at camp on the first night called an ACE’s test. It is a survey of Adverse Childhood Experiences that gives insight into behavioral issues, mental health problems and would help us see the brokenness we were going to try to offer saving and healing from. Later one of our staff told me that it was “Spiritual Triage” where we ask the patients…”What happened to you”. I thought I was just giving out a survey, but apparently just asking the questions triggered deep emotion in this group. So much pain in kids’ faces revealing devastation of the soul was not why I did the survey, but God was opening our eyes quickly that this would be a different week…a very INTENSIVE CARE UNIT. That night as I read the results and tallied up the answers (the results are at the end of this letter) I began to weep. There was more damage and more pain present in hearts than I had ever anticipated. I felt very inadequate to handle the depth of suffering seen by this generation, but God sent them to us so He would equip us.
The first question related to living in fear and shame and 75% of our kids said that this was there experience. One evening I spoke on the woman with the issue of blood. The sermon was entitled “Jesus Heals our Issues”. The message focused on Jesus words to the woman who tried to sneak in a healing. “Daughter, Go in Peace and be Free of your suffering.” I spoke to the kids and said…”Some of you are not yet sons or daughters of God. Some of you here are not at peace. Some of you are not free. I led in a time of prayer aloud for each issue starting with the girls and inviting them to become daughters of God. Then I led in a time of telling Jesus why they were not at peace and asking Him for it. Finally I led in a time of prayer for freedom, confessing what we were not free from and asking Jesus to set us free. Then I did the same thing with the guys and led them in prayer to become sons of God, at peace and free. When we asked for hands to indicate you had asked to become a son or daughter of God tonight…the number was uncountable. It seemed the entire camp was desperate to become sons and daughters of the King, desperate for Peace and for Freedom. Heart transplants were in abundance and we as a staff were in awe of God’s moving.
The final chapel was entitled “Jesus Stops Your Funereal”. The chapel was candlelit with a real coffin covered in a sheet at the front. I spoke of Jesus approaching a funeral procession where a widow woman was going to bury her son. He stopped the plans of the mourners and gave a son back to life. Then I spoke of another procession where a young man was headed towards his own funeral followed by a grieving mother. Jesus did not stop that funeral procession because it was His own as He carried the cross for us. Jesus did not stop His own funeral so He could stop ours. I gave the final invitation to accept Jesus death for your sins and become raised from death to go home alive. Again the response was uncountable as so many chose salvation only heaven will truly know. Kids then went out to 2 different fire circles; one for boys and one for girls.
The testimony theme was “What funeral parade did Jesus stop in you this week?” I only got to hear the boys’ side as so many young men confessed struggles with pornography and other addictions. One obvious shared experience was a large number of boys who had witnessed domestic violence against their own mothers and the brokenness and anger they struggled with. As men we shared our wounds, our weaknesses and our failures and found healing, strength and hope together in Jesus. The wounded had been gathered off the field. Triage had sorted their needs and surgery after surgery was done to save a devastated generation. Please keep them in prayer as their new lives are just beginning. Keep us in prayers as we continue to meet their needs. We were offered a second week of camp if we wanted it next year. I do not know if that is what God wants us to do or not yet. The staffing and logistics are becoming seriously stretched but the need is so great in the hearts of the broken. Pray for us to know God’s wisdom on this matter.
In Awe of His Heart,
(Dad at The Door)
2016 Camp Adverse Childhood Experiences Test – Results
Prior to your 18th birthday:
1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
Yes = 75% of Camp Teens
2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
Yes = 52% of Camp Teens
3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt to?
Yes = 13% of Camp Teens
4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
Yes = 71% of Camp Teens
5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
Yes = 22% of Camp Teens
6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
Yes = 70% of Camp Teens
7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
Yes = 34% of Camp Teens
8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
Yes = 49% of Camp Teens
9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
Yes = 43% of Camp Teens
10. Did a household member go to prison?
Yes = 43% of Camp Teens
3 Yes Answers or Higher = 75% of Teens at Camp
4 Yes Answers or Higher = 62% of Teens at Camp
7 Yes Answers or Higher = 26% of Teens at Camp
9 Yes Answers or Higher = 10% of Teens at Camp
Summer Camp 2016
Testimonies and Thanksgiving
I asked Jesus into my heart. Pray for me, God stopped me from killing myself this week. Thank you for letting me have the best week in my life!
I talked with my counselor about how to get right with God. I’ve been depressed, but now I think God will help me. I’m finally going to put my problems in the hands of God. Thank you! I feel like my life will improve after this.
I needed this camp more than I knew when I first came. I found God for the first time ever and you made that possible. Thank You!
I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I’ve come to realize that I don’t need people to notice me, but that God sees me where I am.
This week was the first time I started to believe in God, and He helped me with my depression and anxiety. Before this camp I couldn’t trust anybody and I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Over the course of the week I learned I could trust Jesus and let Him into my life. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
I now know He sees and hears me. When I came to camp I had a lot of anger and a lot of anxiety. My trust was broken so it was hard for me to have faith in God. Over the week I realized that He had never left. He loves me and cares for me. I realized I didn’t have to be afraid of Him or worry He would ever leave my side. Being in camp made a difference in my life. It wouldn’t have happened without your donation. Thank you! I asked Jesus to be my Savior.
My real dad abused my mom and didn’t take care of me and my brother. My mom finally kicked him out. I hadn’t heard from him since except on this Father’s Day he showed up and wanted to be a dad for 1 day…blah…blah…blah…Pray for me. I did ask Jesus to be my Savior this week for the first time.
I prayed and talked to God and asked for forgiveness from the Lord. When Tabi’s spoke, the subject really touched me so I got emotional. I got saved this week.
Thank you for everything you provided and thank you for helping all 140 of us have a vacation and helping us get out of our hole and have Jesus save us.
The last chapel was most spiritual for me. I let go of stuff for the first time. I had been struggling with self-hatred and self-harming. With the help of a friend and the Lord I now love myself and humbly accept that God made me this way for a reason and I now love it. Thank you so much for all that you have done. Without you guys I wouldn’t have been able to go to camp. I would’ve missed out on the best week of my spiritual growth. God bless you all.
Thank you so much, you have helped me with my relationship with God. Everything was perfect.I let Jesus back in and I’m trying to keep Him in my life this time. Thank you for such a spiritual week.
I asked Jesus to save me this week. Thank you for giving me the experience of coming to camp. I wouldn’t be close to Jesus if it wasn’t for you! God Bless You!
I loved when we talked about our lives and how Jesus changed our lives. I prayed for guidance and just help trying to find my purpose so I can make a difference and to change people’s lives. Thank you for planning for all of this and you sacrificed so much so that this could be the best week of my life. I really appreciate it. Thank you for donating all the money so I could go.
The most spiritual moment for me was Friday night’s worship, I prayed and prayed hard for Jesus to be Lord of my life. I prayed for Jesus to get rid of my addiction to pornography. I’ve struggle with that since 5th grade. As soon as I prayed that prayer I felt a weight had been lifted. Pray for me that I would stick with Jesus. I want to thank you, not because it is mandatory but that I found Jesus this week, and that this week was awesome. I grew in faith and I was happy to be here. I am sad to leave, but I know somebody now loves me just the way I am. Thank you for the scholarship and the chance to be here.
I’ve been talking to God about my epilepsy and praying for His healing hand. Thank you for a week I didn’t have to be self-conscious about it.
I spent time this week listening to God and by doing that I realized a lot about myself and the plan He has for my life. I have learned more about myself, but I know the journey is far from over. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. So many lives have been changed and hearts healed through this camp and we owe it all to you and God.
I came here with some baggage and am still dealing with it, but I know God is still working everything out.
God has helped me feel not so alone. Thank you for paying for me so I could go to camp.
At the Funeral Service I finally started to find peace for a friend who passed away too soon. Pray I continue to find that peace.
Thursday (“Daughter go in peace and be free from your suffering”) I had a big spiritual moment and wouldn’t stop crying!! I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I would appreciate prayers for me.
The most spiritual moment for me was talking about death on the last night. I had previously given up on God and decided this week to give Him a chance.
At the casket, I asked God to help me let go of my anger and to forgive me of my sins and to forgive all the people who have hurt me. This has to be one of the best weeks of my life.
Last night, Friday when Dave gave his speech it opened my life to a whole new meaning. I asked Him to help stop my addictions and the problems I’ve struggled with. Thank you for making my summer possible. This camp came when things were tough in my life and I had little faith in God and when I first got here kids were loving each other and the first time I opened up was Friday night and changed my life! Thank you.
Thank you for letting me come to this camp. This is my first time. I asked Him to forgive my sins and that I have done bad things. Pray for me.
I asked God to be in my life again. Thank you for doing what you did to give us the best week ever.
Thank you for taking me back to Jesus again!
I asked God to stop my sexual addictions. Thank you so much because I accepted God back into my life.
The most spiritual moment for me was when Jesus touched death for me. Because of this week I could accept what happened to me when I was younger. Thank you for the help because I truly accepted Jesus and had a lot of fun.
I asked God to help me with my addiction to pornography. Thank you for the scholarship, this week has changed my life for the better.
God came to me this week and made me think and feel I DON’T need drugs and boys to feel better and beautiful. Thank you for helping me grow deeper in my faith. God Bless.
Thank you for the chance to experience God! You have given me the chance to change my life around before it was too late. Pray for me and my anger.
My most spiritual moment was the last night chapel and testimony time. I finally felt like I had a father and I could stop harming myself with boys and bulimia. I finally accepted Jesus into my life. I wanted to say thank you. You helped me forget about my problems with my dad and family.
I shared my story with Tabi. I understand now it was ok to fail. I also know that I am not alone and God sees me when I’m failing or passing. This was an eye opener for me and many more people. God Bless!
I asked God for help with my parents fighting and asked to stop being harassed about my past mistakes I have made. I have been bullied by a girl for 2 years now and I need you to pray for me.
I just got out of a 2 year relationship and I was mentally abused by him. God is leading me down the right path by getting him out of my life. I have never had any self-worth and God is helping grow and change now as a young women.
I stopped doing drugs and drinking. God stopped me from killing myself. Thank you for everything you did.
73 Teens indicated in surveys they received Jesus as Savior this week!
"And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1 We adopted 2 rescued greyhounds a few weeks ago. One was covered in scars and bare patches without fur. She was very frightened of me and got up from rest every time I came near and ran laps around our yard. She once had a different master who was not kind, not caring, scary and abusive. She did not understand that life would be different as part of our family. She did not know we would delight in her without her having to run laps like she learned as a track dog in training. She could not comprehend that life and love in a family means acceptance without performance. It means she was really free to discover her heart and become her true self.
For weeks she ran from me thinking I would hit her. For weeks she jumped up and ran laps every time I drew near. She did not know my heart, which I only wanted to love on her and help her scars heal. I hoped with patient love she would gradually learn I am a loving father and I am not only safe, but I delight in her just being my puppy.
This morning was different. I opened the door and she ran by me outside. Then she turned and looked at me and pranced around and gave me a tail wag and a bark for the first time. Then she raced around the yard darting to and fro. Not running laps but exploring, playing and enjoying...it was beautiful to see. No more laps for a harsh master but enjoying the creation made for her and the delight of her new family and home. She raced today for the sheer joy of it. She raced because she was made to race and enjoy it. She was more beautiful than I had ever seen her. It was breathtaking and graceful.
This is an awesome picture of a life in God's true family. In Jesus we do not need to run laps for a harsh master. We are free....truly free. Learning to live in freedom is hard because we've never had it before...we will often continue in needless lap running and hiding in crates with open doors. We will make up behaviors we think will keep God from harming us not realizing that 100% of our punishment for our sin has been really removed from us because of the cross (“It is finished”). I John 4:18 “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
I have run religious laps for years trying to keep a fearful master pleased not knowing how much he delighted in me. I did not know how to live in freedom…it is mysterious and sometime scary to live a new way. Now I have been exploring what kind of creation I am. What am I made for? What did my creator make me to joyfully do? Not a list of laps from a preacher or church, but my design. Over a period of several years I have discovered more of my design and the more I live in it, the more I delight in life and feel the eyes of Jesus watching with delight as I learn to run My race…not a rat race.
I cried today watching my dog transform from a “slave” to a pet. She transformed from a lap runner to a racer through the grace. It was so beautiful to see. The fur has grown back…the scars less visible…she is beginning to receive touch and affection from me. Oh how God must ache for us to know Him this way. We must stop showing up to church or other religious duties to run laps to keep Him pleased. It is exhausting and you will never feel His love. Find out what sort of creation you are, He will delight in watching you and you will delight in doing it. Find life and leave the track.
Dave Taylor has been married 28 years and a father of 3. A Graduate of Davis College and Southern Christian University Dave has served in full time ministry 30 years. His call is to Father the Fatherless and he has been doing it as Director of The Door since 2002. His hero is George Muller who fathered thousands of orphans by faith in Bristol, England in the 1800's. The stories of God's provision inspired him to seek God in the same manner. God is still amazing him each day.