Be the Hands and Feet

At One7, we hold a strong belief in the act of serving the community. It’s just a natural overflow of honoring God and loving others more than ourselves. Our ministry would fail if we kept company with just those whom we are the most comfortable around, hung out at the One7 apartments, and played soccer all day long. In our desire, and continuing journey, to be more like Christ, we feel a pressing urge to do anything and everything we can to fulfill the needs of those who are lost and hurting.

photo 1-3In the recent months, God has been blessing One7 with donations of food almost every day. Instead of keeping it all to ourselves, we believe God is leading us into the community, to other apartment complexes in the area, and directing us to give it away. We know the more we share with others, the more God will continue to bless us.

Last week, we sent a group over to some apartments that house many of our One7 kids and their families. They stopped by a local market and picked up packs of chicken, bags of rice, and plenty of beans. We added all of that to the donations we had already received. The families began to pour out of their apartments when they realized we had arrived.

photo 3-3We loaded the food onto the back of our trailer and served it right from there. For some, the meal we provide throughout the week at One7, might be the only one they eat for an entire day. It’s such a privilege and blessing for us when we get the opportunity to deliver food directly to where they live.

Romans 12:10 says “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” There is nothing more fulfilling than serving others. When the faces of those whom are hurting light up in a brilliant smile, it warms the heart in ways that the things of this world are incapable of accomplishing. It’s all about being the hands and feet of Jesus.

We dont stop at presenting items that can be seen with the eyes like food, clothing, and shelter. We also provide the hope that flows from a loving and glorious Savior. We share the Gospel, and the story of how God sent His only Son to endure the brutality of being crucified on a tree.

It’s this message of eternal hope in Jesus that will fill them more than food or material possessions ever could.

 

Make sure to follow One7 on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day.

Doe River Gorge (Summer 2013)

Nestled deep in the mountains of East Tennessee, a place of unparallelled peace and tranquility exists where youth from all over the country go to be physically and spiritually challenged. Doe River Gorge has been changing lives since it’s inception in 1987. It started with just small group retreats and has grown into week long camps with hundreds of youth in attendance. One7 has been blessed with the opportunity to attend these camps over the last several years.

This year, we were once again invited, but with an added bonus. We were allowed to take 61 kids, which is more than we have ever taken before.

The camp offers a multitude of team building and strenuous physical events that challenge even the most fearless. Campers have the chance to scale towering cliffs, rappel sheer rock walls, tube whitewater rapids, brave the high challenge course, catch a trapeze, or engage in a battle of paintball. Doe River Gorge also owns a huge lake where participants can get catapulted by the blob, play an intense game of water basketball, or soak up some rays on the white-sand beach.

It’s a week filled with fellowship, fun, music, exercise, great teaching, and new friends. There’s just something so deeply moving about being tucked away in a secluded area where it feels as if God himself is smiling down at the sound of worship, laughter, and often times, tears of revival. Our kids are genuinely touched by all they see and experience during a week of camp. Friendships are re-kindled, hearts are once more softened, and God is glorified in every event.

Doe River Gorge is truly a blessing to One7 and all of our staff and kids. We are so thankful to have the opportunity they provide for us. Please take a moment and like their Facebook page. Doe Rive Gorge

Here are some pictures from their week of adventure.

 

Make sure to follow One7 on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day.

AC Milan Cup Tournament (7/13)

Two of our One7 teams had a tournament just outside Orlando, the AC Milan Cup. Our U18 and U12 teams arrived in Florida on Friday, but when they got to where the tournament was being held, they were told the games were cancelled for Friday night. That meant one of our teams would have to play 3 games on Saturday.

Saying it was hot down there is the understatement of the century. It was 90, but the heat index said it felt like 100. Humidity was at 96% pretty much the entire time. Playing a 90 minute soccer game is hard in itself. Having to play in those conditions makes it even more difficult. Our U12 team lost 2 and won their last game on Saturday. Our U18 won their first game, but lost the second one. During the first game, our U18 goal keeper was injured and had to have 7 staples put into his head between games. He played through the second game with it bandaged up.

As He always does, God provided everything we needed during the entire trip. A church opened up their youth building and allowed both of our teams to sleep there. When we left Charlotte, housing was the only thing guaranteed. We knew God would provide food and gas for us. He sent us some angels who went out of their way to get drinks, snacks, and food for our players. The games on Saturday were covered, but they also made a late night delivery of Gatorade for the games on Sunday. Due to storms, only two games were played on Sunday and the tournament was cancelled.

Some might say it was a waste of time for us to travel that far and the tournament end with no standings. They would be wrong. We met and played against international teams from Italy, Dutch Islands, and Columbia. We had the opportunity to share about God and One7 to people we would never have a chance to play against if it wasn’t for this tournament. Here are a couple of Facebook posts from this weekend:

“One7 u-12 played an EPIC and LEGENDARY game against a top team from Colombia. We were losing 3-1 and had a LEGENDARY comeback 3-3 final score. Our guys played so great the parents came and ask me to send them across the field so that the other teams and families would cheer and clap and shake their hands… God is awesome!!!!!”

“Our One7 teams played through extreme heat and humidity yesterday in the AC Milan tournament near Orlando. U12’s lost two games and won their third. U18 split their two games with one win and one loss. U18 goalie, Francisco, got injured in the first game and had to get seven staples in his head right before game 2. He played through it. We’ve seen God show up and provide for our needs during the course of this tournament. We will finish today strong and do it all for Jesucristo.”

Even though the tournament was eventually cancelled and the standings were not completed, God used our guys to change people’s lives. Here are two Facebook posts from the ladies who provided food, snacks, and drinks:

“What a blessing to be a part of “One 7” Ministries. These amazing young men have gone through so many difficulties and challenges in their young lives, but God has blessed them and carried them through faith by faith. They came to Orlando by Faith and God provided in so many ways. We are so thankful for the opportunity to meet them. Please pray for them as they head back to beautiful Charlotte, NC. To all my friends up there check out this ministry. These young men and their leaders are truly amazing!!”

“God takes care of his faithful children. One7 ministry are Gods faithful children who began with one man, a soccer ball, a bible and a passion to unite children from many different cultures and backgrounds. They have since learned that they don’t need to live divided or alone. Now they share their passion for soccer and Jesus Christ. It’s a beautiful thing! I’m praying that God continues to bless the one7 family.”

Here are some pictures:

Everyone Has a Story. Meet Soli

At One7, our goal is to raise up a generation of Jeremiah’s who will go out into the world and share the Gospel of Christ. The beauty of grace is that God can use an imperfect vessel to illustrate His ultimate perfection. The youth of One7 would be the first to tell you that they are not perfect. They make mistakes. They struggle. They fall. The good news is that they get back up and keep moving forward because, when they are weak, God is powerful.

SoliMeet Soli. She is from Ethiopia and started attending the One7 Academy this year. She is one of five children living here in the US. Like most refugee families, they escaped their country hoping to make a better life here in America. While on many levels, they do indeed have it much better than in the past, but they still face hunger, pain, and rejection.

Here is her story…

My name is Soli, and I am from Ethiopia. I came to the United States when I was eight years old. I have two sisters and two brothers. We all grew up without a father. When we first came to America, life was very hard because we didn’t know how to speak English. All of us lived in a two bedroom apartment. It was so small and not enough room for us to live. We didn’t have anything in our apartment, not even furniture. My mother had to work to support us and often times left just us kids alone at home. I was the oldest child, but even at such a young age, I was forced to take care of my brothers and sisters.

Life was so difficult at times that my mother tried to make us all drink bathroom cleaners so we would die. She tried to make me drink it first, but when I opened the bottle, I knew it was something that we shouldn’t drink. At one time, my mother lost her food stamps and was it was so hard to get food. My cousins would give us food so we wouldn’t go hungry.

Before we moved to America, it was very hard for my mother to take care of us. We were so poor that she had to carry two of the kids around in a book bag. We lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia for several years. Life inside the refugee camp was horrible. So many people died. There was no hope, only pain and devastation. I didn’t think we were ever going to make it out alive. School was also very hard. I didn’t like it at all, but my mom would beat me if I didn’t go. If we were late to class, the teacher would make us get on our knees and hold up heavy rocks for several minutes. There would also hit us with rulers. Some kids were beaten so severely that they died right there in the classroom.

Sometimes, we wouldn’t leave the house because we were afraid that people were going to try and kill us. They would also do witchcraft and put curses on us. One time when my mom was pregnant, someone put a curse on her, and she lost the baby.

My mother dropped out of school when she was in fifth grade and still doesn’t know how to speak English very well. I have to try and translate for her when we read the mail. It’s very hard for me. She pushed me so hard to get my schoolwork done because she doesn’t want me to drop out like she did.

Recently, my mom got really sick and the doctor didn’t know what was wrong with her. She was becoming very stressed which caused me to lose focus on my schoolwork. She went back to the doctors many times before they finally realized she was five months pregnant. My brother was facing the wrong way inside, and they were unable to turn him. Because of that, my mom had to have a C section. My new brother has a heart murmur, and my mom wanted to sell him because he didn’t come out perfect.

Life is better now, but still so hard. This is my first year at the One7 Academy and I am doing well. I look back and remember how much worse life was in the refugee camp, and I thank God for allowing us to live in America.

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Everyone Has a Story. Meet Pablo (Part 2)

At One7, our goal is to raise up a generation of Jeremiah’s who will go out into the world and share the Gospel of Christ. The beauty of grace is that God can use an imperfect vessel to illustrate His ultimate perfection. The youth of One7 would be the first to tell you that they are not perfect. They make mistakes. They struggle. They fall. The good news is that they get back up and keep moving forward because, when they are weak, God is powerful.

PabloLast week, we introduced you to Pablo and let him share his testimony. We wanted to post another segment in this young man’s story, because it’s incredibly awesome. He heard about a college scholarship, and went for it. We’ll let him tell the rest of his story.

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when I found out I had received the Golden Door Scholarship. Although I wish I could take credit and boast about my achievement, I know I had almost no control of my award. The story begins many years ago…

For as long as I can remember, my family has had economical problems. Over the last ten years, we have lived in two different countries, three different states, and seven different houses. Often times, we had little to no food at all. Although my family had always been close, there came a point where my parents would fight every night because we were simply not making it through. It was a time in my life where I felt a lot of pain and hate. My hate did not target my parents, but instead, my anger was directed solely at God. I felt like God had put my family in a situation that was unfair and unjust. I despised Him and wished that He would just leave us alone.

During the summer of 2009, I decided to join the One7 soccer team. Through soccer, I got connected with the ministry side of One7. During one of our mission trips to Tennessee, a pastor preached about Jesus. I had heard the story of the crucifixion many times, but this time, my heart melted as I heard the words, ” He loves you!” That same night, I dedicated my life to God and begged for forgiveness. I knew that I had blamed Him for everything, so receiving grace seemed impossible. God proved to me once again why He is perfect, and He forgave me the way no human being can do.

Ever since that summer, my life was completely turned around. Life was no longer about me. Every breath I took was for Him and His glory. Even through mistakes, falls, valleys, and lows, I could still feel His presence and love. I am aware that I am not perfect, that my life is not prefect, and I am bound to sin, but I am even more aware of the love He feels for me.

During the month of November, I found out about a scholarship specifically for undocumented students like me. Scholarships like this one are considered extremely rare, so the competition for these is fierce. The scholarship began with writing two essays explaining in detail what type of person I was. Out of 500 students, only 40 were chosen to move on to the next round. I was selected, and the next step was a 20 minute phone interview. During this interview, I was asked personal questions about my life. As much as my teachers and counselors at school advised me to keep God out of the conversation, I made the entire interview about how God had changed my life. To my surprise, I was chosen as a finalist.

For both the 3rd and final rounds, we had seven 20 minutes personal interviews. As we sat in the lobby waiting for the scholarship people to get ready, I got the chance to meet some of the brightest kids in North America. There were kids from all over the world who had impeccable school records and amazing backgrounds. The more I spoke to them, the less I felt like I had any chance at receiving the scholarship.

Just like in my phone interview, I stuttered along all of my responses. I was extremely nervous, and I began to get a migraine. I pushed through the interviews, but by the time all of them were done, my mouth was dry and I felt horrible. It seemed like every time I talked about me, I would sound boring, dull, and unimportant. I finally realized what was going wrong, and I switched the conversation to be all about Jesus.

I left the company where I had been interviewed knowing I did not win. There was no reason to choose a kid like me to win and represent this scholarship. When they asked me the final question “What sets you apart from the other contestants?” I responded “Jesus”. Obviously, to non Christians, that answer baffled them. In full honesty, I did not have anything worldly that could separate me from the other contestants. Compared to all of the other kids, I was not much. These kids were captains for sports teams, leaders in multiple society movements, national champion debaters, valedictorians, and many other great things. I walked into this scholarship with nothing but Jesus on my side.

God proved to me why He is Lord of all things. Something that at first seemed impossible, God made possible. I am now blessed to say that I am going to college as an undocumented immigrant on a full ride scholarship. Jeremiah 1:1-7 speaks about a boy being set apart before he was born. I was not the only winner of the scholarship. There were about 10 winners chosen, but unlike their stories which began when they joined the chess club or debate team, my story began many years ago.

It began 17 years ago in my mother’s womb where God was already setting me apart to do great things.

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One7 Disaster Relief (Hurricane Sandy)

In October of last year, Hurricane Sandy ripped through parts of the Northeast United States. Sandy was a category 3 storm at its peak with winds spanning 1,100 miles. Estimated damage at nearly $75 billion, which made it the second costliest Atlantic hurricane behind only Hurricane Katrina. At least 285 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven different countries.

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The devastation after a natural disaster cannot be counted just in dollar signs or statistics. Lives are lost, people are robbed of all their earthly possessions, and deep scars are cut into the very fiber of a human soul. It can take years, possibly an entire lifetime to recover from such a tragedy. It’s in situations such as these that God sends One7 to help in any way we can. We partnered up with Pastor Ed Cole and his church of believers in Staten Island. (Visit Salem Church website) We sent two teams at different times to join forces with the group from Salem and help a hurting community try and recover from the storm.

It’s heartbreaking to see piles of what can only be described as people’s lives outside of each house. All of their belongings ruined and pushed to the curb to be picked up and dumped into the garbage. And it’s not just wet pictures, broken furniture, or rotten sheet rock. It’s a lifetime of stories, memories, and whispers of a past that they can never revisit. Our teams met, and had the opportunity to share Christ with, some amazing people. Men and women who had just lost everything, but still clung to the hope that God had not completely abandoned them.

With tears in their eyes, they repeatedly thanked One7 for sending people to help them. One man said he tried several times to get some of his very own family members to help with cleanup, but they never replied. He was surprised, and profusely grateful, that a team of strangers from Charlotte NC would drive 15 hours to help people they didn’t even know.

Our teams made a huge impact on many lives during the two trips. Check out the pictures below. They speak louder than any blog post full of words.

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Everyone Has a Story. Meet Pablo (Part 1)

At One7, our goal is to raise up a generation of Jeremiah’s who will go out into the world and share the Gospel of Christ. The beauty of grace is that God can use an imperfect vessel to illustrate His ultimate perfection. The youth of One7 would be the first to tell you that they are not perfect. They make mistakes. They struggle. They fall. The good news is that they get back up and keep moving forward because, when they are weak, God is powerful.

PabloMeet Pablo. He is from Argentina and one of our most outspoken leaders at One7. On and off the soccer field, he demonstrates his passion not only for the game of soccer, but also his love for God. So many lives have been touched and changed by his words. He is an inspiration to all who meet him. He has a very bright future, and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for his life.

We asked Pablo to write out his testimony.

Growing up as a child, I had everything a kid might desire. My father was a successful manager of a steel company in New Jersey. Consequently, I become spoiled and selfish. I began to create this image that the universe revolved around me. Greed, lust, and idolatry were words that could describe the person I was becoming.

About six years ago, my life was completely turned around when my father lost his job. I lost everything I had. My friends, my home, even my self-value…all were gone. I was so enveloped by the little world I had created that money and material items had come to define who I was.

Watching my parents fight, having little to no food, wearing hand me downs to school, and not having any money humbled me to the bone. Life became a daily pain. Pushing through every day knowing that my family might not have even a piece of bread to eat for dinner was depressing. As I look back, I am reminded of the ways I would escape the pain of having a hole in my heart. Even until this day, I am embarrassed to speak about it. I was introduced to things that no child should ever go trough at such a young age.

Although I could temporarily escape my pains, nothing was permanent. While on a mission trip to Kingsport, TN, we attended a youth service at Higher Ground Baptist Church. The pastor preached about a man named Jesus. Growing up with a religious family, the story was not new to me. I had heard it many times, but for reasons I cannot explain, this time is was completely different.

I felt as if the pastor was speaking directly to me. He kept repeating the words, “He loves you!” The phrase echoed in my mind. Tears began to gently flow down my cheeks. For the first time in my life, I felt as if my heart had melted. I could not explain why, or how, but I felt as if the world was lifted off of my shoulders. The feeling of being cleaned and renewed engulfed every thought in my brain. Jesus had come to Earth to die for me! I considered myself garbage at that point, but God looked at me and said, “You are mine.”

I am still not a perfect human being, but I have come a long way. To me, every day that I wake up is a new day to glorify the God that forgave me and died for me. Greed, selfishness, and lust are all temptations that I still struggle with today, but Ephesians 6:10 encourages me to keep fighting for His glory. I now realize that no matter how much the world around me is falling apart, it is continuously in His hands and under His control. I have nothing to worry about.

If you have ever felt this way or maybe you feel like giving up, I strongly encourage you to seek Him. He is always knocking at the door of your heart. It’s just a matter of if you want to let Him in. He died for you, so why not live for Him?

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One7 workday in the mud, cold, wet, and snow

When you think of a cold day with rain and snow, you picture a nice crackling fire, big cup of steaming hot chocolate, and a day to relax and maybe watch some movies or TV. One7 believes that everyday, no matter what the weather decides to do, is a perfect day to work. The land around our new playground has turned into a mud pit, so we received some dirt and mulch to cover it up. We decided that Saturday would be the perfect time to get it all finished. When it was raining and spitting snow at 6:30am, we knew it would be an interesting day.

The morning started off with 40, bare-knuckle push ups in gravel and freezing water. That may seem very strange to a lot of people. In the words of David Garrett “The cross wasn’t easy, boys!”

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Getting out of our comfort zone and doing things even when it might cause pain and suffering is what One7 is all about. Jesus willingly carried that cross upon His back all the way to Calvary. He allowed people to punch Him, spit on Him, kick Him, mock Him, and finally nail Him to that tree. He was/is the ultimate example of a warrior.

After push ups, the dirt moving began. It was more like moving and raking mud, but we eventually got it all spread out. Using a Dingo and several wheelbarrows, we hauled dirt through slippery mud and, toward the end of the day, ice and snow. It was quite the challenge, but we had no doubt we would accomplish our mission.

Toward the end of our dirt moving and ditch digging adventures, the snow began to fall in blizzard-like fashion. We mobilized a clean-up team and had the grounds looking ship shape in no time at all. That left plenty of time for a snow ball fight and then a movie later at the dollar theater in Matthews.

We also had our amazing friends Brian and Pam visit from TN. All in all, it was an awesome day filled with hard work, community, fellowship, and fun. It’s what One7 is all about. Here are some pictures from the day.

 

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One7 After School Program (M1 Initiative)

The One7 After School program has been a huge success. We are seeing consistent improvement not only in grades, but also with the attitudes and discipline of our students. Each child gets quality one on one time with a designated mentor. We have partnered with Elevation Church to create the M1 Initiative. Many volunteers have stepped forward to help. Each day, they take time out of their own schedule to invest in our kid’s educations and lives.

It’s a beautiful thing to see. God is using this program to build relationships between the youth of One7 and amazing volunteers. And it’s not just limited to homework. The mentors spend time just talking with the kids, playing sports, and sharing their own lives with them. It’s just another aspect of community living and continual growth of the body of Christ.

Check out some amazing pictures of this program in action.

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One7 Live (2/14/2013)

Thursday nights at One7 are always such an awesome experience. For three hours, a small apartment complex deep in the heart of inner city Charlotte transforms into an even brighter glow than usual. Friends, family, and amazing volunteers come out and join with us while we fellowship together as the body of Christ.

thursday night

We play games, eat together, have small group time, and then worship. It’s great to see our youth leaders engaged and actively taking huge roles in the ministry. They meet and greet new volunteers and help them get plugged in. We have several who help lead our worship. Some take on a bigger role and lead small groups of younger kids. It’s just awesome to see how God can use someone for His purpose no matter what their age might be.

1 Timothy 4:12 says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” One7 is a living and breathing testimony of this verse. Everyday we have new youth leaders stepping up and allowing God to use them in many different ways.

We want to give a special shout out to Lisa Schumacher and her eGroup from Elevation. They provided us with an amazing meal last night. It’s because of volunteers like Lisa and so many others that we are able to do what we do. God will bless people abundantly when they make time to go and serve others. Thank you so much!

Make sure to check out the blog on Monday. We are going to post the first part of a testimony from one of our strongest leaders, Pablo. You won’t want to miss what he has to say.

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