by Dawn Bechtel
As a young child I attended a Christian School from 1st-9th grade. Even though I went to a Christian School and church every Sunday, I never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ until I was saved by Jesus' love and grace in November of 1994. In March of 1995 I was baptized and my life changed forever!
I was like a 'burning bush' for the Lord. Wherever I went and whomever I spoke to, I spoke about Jesus. I loved people so much that I couldn't wait to tell them about how Jesus' love and forgiveness had changed my life and how He could change theirs. I kept telling the Lord, "Here I am; send me!"
One day my nephew invited me to go minister with him on a street outreach in New Orleans. At first I was a little hesitant, but I felt such a stirring and nudging at my heart that I couldn't wait to go! On Saturday morning we headed to New Orleans East to minister to the needs of children and families in a broken down neighborhood.
Several groups of people from Andy's church followed us as we drove into the neighborhood where we were going to minister. As we were pulling up to the location, a truck driven by one of the church family members pulled up and unloaded tarps, a sound system and food. His church family quickly broke up into several teams. One group started getting games together for the kids to play. Another team was preparing food and the other team headed out to knock on doors to get the families to come to where we were located.
Over 100 kids and parents came out. As I watched the street outreach, I saw the hunger, pain and brokenness of people who did not know Jesus. They had no hope! What they needed was Jesus in their lives. My heart broke. That day the Holy Spirit began speaking to my heart about reaching out to the people in the community of Picayune.
Within a couple of months after that first outreach, I attended a training in Tampa, FL, where I was trained in street ministry. Upon returning to Picayune, with the covering of my Pastor, I met with the Director of the Housing Authority and the Police Department and I shared what we wanted to do. They directed us to the most needy areas of the city.
Over the next 4 1/2 years God did amazing things in our city. He unified the hearts of the people in our church to reach the city for the Lord. The Lord multiplied the street ministry from one to three locations. We 'went to the highways and byways and compelled them to come in.' (Luke 14:23) Jesus was exalted, people accepted the Lord and lives were changed.
The Lord opened doors for us to obtain free produce, food and snacks. We were able to provide snacks, vegetables and other items to residents in the housing areas, trailer parks and throughout the city. Many nights several of us went on 'midnight runs' to load food into a Suburban and then unload it in our storage garage where we would sort and bag food to be delivered to locations throughout the city. We even went into dumpsters behind area grocery stores to get food for the needy! Rain or shine, hot or cold we did it because of the love of people and the Lord. Lives were changed; hope was restored -- the only Hope, Jesus Christ.
Throughout this time we began several community outreach ministries; clothes ministry, baby baskets to young unwed girls' babies, outreaches at The Pines and Convalescent Home, Thanksgiving baskets, a bus ministry, 'Back to School' bashes and a community Easter egg hunt. The Lord continued to multiply. His glory was revealed!
The Lord called us to go minister in Honduras to over 5,000 people in parks, hospitals, an orphanage and on the streets in the poorest areas of town. People were healed and lives were changed forever for Jesus!
Over the past 17 years the Lord has used me in our community in ways I could never have dreamed or imagined. Whether serving the youth at RLM, developing programs as Teen Director and Director of the Boys and Girls Club, coordinating after school and summer camps in multiple school districts, Teen Court Judge for Picayune, teaching Young Ladies of Virtue and overseeing outreach projects in our community, God never ceases to amaze me that He could use 'this foolish thing of the world, to confound the wise.' (Ninth Ward Girl, you know!)
To be used by God takes a humble spirit and a willing heart. I am truly humbled to know that the Lord is continuing to grow and trust me with some of His work to be done here. Giving myself selflessly to the Lord to serve His people is truly a privilege, blessing and honor that I do not take lightly.
One of my life's goals is for the Lord to use me to leave a 'Legacy' to the children and families of Picayune. Knowing that my life was spent selflessly to love and serve His people and to exalt Him is what I am here for -- to help people see that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, that He has a plan and purpose for each one of us, and that everyone is valuable in His eyes. Only by accepting Him as Lord and Savior will their lives change and restoration take place.
When I meet Him face to face, I pray I hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." And when I do, I know that I will have fulfilled my purpose and call to His people of this community.
Posted from Life Signs Magazine July-September 2011 with permission
Intro to this blog!
As a transplant resident of Picayune, MS I have observed since we arrived in this area in June, 2006 that there are many people throughout this city and its surrounding communities who are strong in the Lord. As I've asked the Lord to show me something I could do to reach out to others I've had a strong leading to begin this blog. Also in the past few weeks Picayune's local newspaper has included some writings as to why people live in Picayune and what this city means to them. My goal here is to allow as many as would like, to share their love for the city and to blog why they think 'Jesus Is Lord Over Picayune, MS'. Come back often and see what kind of responses we get. This is an exciting adventure for me and I really do hope you'll enjoy participating. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Please follow this blog and suggest your friends also do so. Thank you and may the Lord give you eyes to see as the Lord sees His desire for this city!