Courage in the face of adversity (From the One7 Ministries blog)


2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (NIV)

Picture the scenario. It’s the semi-final game in a soccer tournament. You are trailing by one goal with less than five minutes left in the match. You’re tired. You’re hurting. You have fought every step of the way, but just can’t score the equalizer. You leave nothing on the field, but the final whistle blows, and you can’t secure a win that would send you to the final. As the opposing team celebrates a hard fought victory, you sit in the grass, head down, while the brilliant rays of a golden sun slowly fade into twilight.

You can read the rest of this blog post HERE

Behind the Smile


A gentle rain descends from a darkened sky as I lie awake in my bed. The steady sound of water, pattering on the window sill, should lull me to sleep, but I am troubled. While I am nestled warmly under the comfort of blankets, there are children somewhere tonight who have no bed. As they lay on dirty carpet with no pillows, their stomachs growl with hunger that is relentlessly familiar.

I close my eyes and find myself standing outside the window looking in at a scene of immense heartbreak. A young girl, no older than twelve, on her knees in the middle of the living room. She slowly folds her hands together and bows her head. Her father walked out on them a long time ago. Her mother works during the night, leaving the girl to care for her younger brother.

Rain mixes with tears on my face as I listen to her pray. She doesn’t ask for the newest game console, or clothes from Old Navy. She quietly whispers for her brother to get better. He’s been sick with a sinus infection, and they don’t have the money to take him to a doctor. She asks God to give her mother strength as she works through the night. She prays for her safety as she rides the bus home in the hours just before day break. She pleads with God to provide them with food and another bed so she won’t have to sleep on the floor anymore.

At the very end, with tears streaming down her face, the little girl prays for her daddy. She knows he left and most likely will never come back, but still she intercedes on his behalf. She longs for someone to tuck her into bed at night. She cries when she sees other children playing with their dads at the park. She misses the simple things like kicking a soccer ball together. She admits to God that she gets angry at her father for leaving, but she also seeks forgiveness for those feelings.

Her mother is doing everything she can to keep them from falling through the cracks of a society that so often looks the other way. The little girl pleads for help and a miracle to remove them from their dire situation. Roaches are everywhere, scavenging what they can in such bare conditions. The kitchen is practically empty except for a bag of rice and a carton of spoiled milk. 

I open my eyes and wipe the away the tears. The rain continues to fall as I climb out of bed and get down on my knees. I have so much to be thankful for, but I don’t know where to begin. I still see the little girl on the floor of her apartment pouring out her heart to God. She is a face without a name, a lonely heart in a sea of hopelessness. There must be an answer. There just has to be. 

These are the kinds of kids we see on a daily basis at One7. They laugh and play like all the other children, but deep inside, they are hurting. They come from broken homes, many with no fathers. Some have survived horrific ordeals just to make it into this country, thinking a better life awaited. Sadly, many continuously struggle to find food, clothing, and shelter. 

We need your help and support as we start a new year being the hands and feet of Jesus. Please check out the One7 website HERE If you would like to mail in a donation, or simply send a donation through PayPal, please visit the donate page HERE 

Thank you so much for your support.

We’ve learned that behind every smile, there lies a need.

 

Chris Martin

Pictures Have a Voice (Re-blog)


This is a re-blog of a post on the One7 Ministries blog.

Pictures can be a very powerful thing. They are inanimate objects, therefore unable to talk or speak aloud. However, their silent voices can move people in ways that sometimes spoken words are unable to.

Click here for rest of post.

 

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Have a blessed day

Finally Home (Chapter One)


Over the last couple of years, I have been working on a book entitled Finally Home. It is an attempt to describe the ministry my family is a part of called One7. To be honest, I don’t know when I’ll ever finish this story. I’m not even sure one book is enough for everything we’ve experienced over these past three years. Our main website is under construction at the moment, but you can find out more at the One7 Blog.

Finally Home (Chapter One) Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

She wanted to die.

Warm candlelight glinted from the razor-sharp blade pressed against her wrist. She possessed no reason to live. Loneliness and despair draped the girl with darkness no ordinary light could penetrate. Hope remained an illusion, a shimmering mirage across the wasteland of her defeated heart. It appeared for an instant, hovering within reach, but slipped through her fingers uncaptured.

Deep within the hidden chambers of a desperate soul, the awakened voice cried out. Invisible to the human eye, a spark flared, and then brightened.

A tear drop dangled from one eyelash, slowly traced the softness of her cheek, and fell into her open palm. More followed. Each one carried with it a glimpse of the life she never asked for. Paralyzing clutches of low self-esteem. Unyielding peer pressure at school. Parents incapable of demonstrating love.

The knife flirted with her skin as it tickled the surface. With a growing sense of urgency, the voice gained strength and momentum.

Tuyen suffered through more adversity during her fifteen years than most would face in a lifetime. Religious persecution in Vietnam forced her family to escape for the promise of freedom in America. They fled without looking back, nearly losing everything. She prayed the worst parts of her life would fade into distant memories.

The voice fought through one layer after another of her subconscious, ripping through the tangled mesh of past insecurities and failures.

While her friends sought after material things in life, Tuyen simply craved unconditional love. She longed for assurance that past mistakes would never compromise her worth. Boyfriends drifted through her world, leaving her delicate heart bruised and wilted like a trampled flower. Desire for unreachable happiness burned inside with desperate fervor.

A cruel, unimaginable life mocked her very existence. Breaking down resolve, it pierced the center of her being with barbed talons. Silent emptiness replaced the tender, innocent heart of a child with hardened resistance.

Fate’s most painful reminder proved to be her own reflection in the mirror. As time passed, Tuyen recognized the stranger staring back even less. Makeup failed to transform her features into a desirable appearance that demanded attention. Well aware of her limited beauty, Tuyen feared she would never fit in. Pretty girls walked the halls of her school every day, but none of them offered friendship. Their glances declared feelings that rendered words useless. She was unpopular. An outcast. Alien.

Tuyen cursed herself for not doing more to gain their approval. Changing her style and hanging out with the wrong boys had done nothing but attract more pain to her life. She often asked God why He didn’t make her more popular. Why didn’t He give her more talents, something to make her stand out from the normal crowd? Like impending storm clouds on the horizon, the unanswered questions continued to build.

Tuyen applied pressure and a small dot of crimson appeared. No longer merely a whisper, the voice sliced through the resistance, casting aside all thoughts of rejection and doubt.

She stopped and glanced around the darkened room as if awakened from a deep slumber. She frowned, having no memory of lighting the candle sitting on the bedside table. Across the walls of her room, ghostly shapes danced in rhythm with the hypnotic flame. The knife in her hand appeared like a viper that slithered onto her wrist unnoticed.

Tuyen shuddered. The cold, serrated edge chilled her to the core. Pulled by invisible strings, every hair on the back of her neck stood at attention. She balanced on the brink of uncertainty where the reality of life collided with the grandeur of fantasy.

Sweat beaded her brow. Shock tingled through her veins. Her pulse quickened. The possibility of merely existing in a dream entered her mind, but Tuyen dismissed the thought. The hardened steel kissing her skin anchored all perception to the realm of the living.

Unseen tears stung both eyes and she blinked them away. Panic fluttered inside her chest, but she refused to surrender. Tuyen wiped a clammy palm across her blue jeans and took deep breaths. She looked at her arm.

A small drop of blood revealed the evidence of her attempt. Invisible to her parents and friends, well hidden scars covered her legs from past moments of weakness. Defenses like a ready smile and forced laughter veiled the pain burning under the surface.

No one possessed the key that unlocked the inner chamber door. Certain the end result would only bring more pain, Tuyen built walls to keep everyone away. She didn’t want the pain. She couldn’t handle it.

Trembling, Tuyen placed the knife on a dust-covered Bible that lay unopened by her bed. A birthday present from someone at church, the book remained untouched. With so much homework and everything else life forced upon her, she had no free time. The weak explanation for not reading reminded her of the very people she almost left behind in the first place. The ones hurting her most created excuses for their actions.

On the rare occasion her father apologized for slapping her, he would argue that blind anger clouded his judgment. When Mom missed a parent-teacher meeting or forgot to help with homework as promised, she would blame a situation that came up at work. They always justified their failure to be the parents she needed them to be.

Abandonment morphed into guilt as Tuyen struggled to understand why nothing was ever good enough for them. She fell short of the unspoken mark apparently set for her. She would strive even harder to meet their expectations if she only knew what those were. Lacking her parents approval and living with the constant rejection in their eyes hurt the most.

After blowing out the candle, Tuyen flipped onto her back and gazed up at the ceiling. When she was younger, her father painted a galaxy mural complete with stars and a handful of planets. Two strategically mounted spotlights illuminated the scene. She longed to fly away, across the jewel-speckled canvas of night into the far reaches of outer space.

The idea of having her own planet thrilled Tuyen. She would abolish hate and declare love the master of everyone. No more pain. No more tears. Untouchable by the hurt she endured her entire life, Tuyen could finally move in a more positive direction. Happiness sounded so foreign to her, she found it hard to comprehend.

People just didn’t understand. They didn’t get it. Kind words meant empty promises unless reinforced with actions. She desired true, genuine love, not pity or wasted charity.

Tuyen glanced at the knife. The urge to use it moved on leaving her tired and very confused. She despised the thoughts that constantly jumbled her mind. They prevented her from cultivating meaningful relationships with other people. For anyone to see through her happy exterior and discover the aching, little girl inside frightened Tuyen.

Every day became a battle to survive her existence. She often wondered if staying in Vietnam would have been a better choice. At least there, she could be herself and feel accepted. Some family stayed behind and would have allowed Tuyen to live with them.

As comforting a thought as it was, she knew it would have been a mistake to remain in their country. Too many were being thrown into jail or even worse, murdered for no reason. The Vietnam soldiers hated Montagnard people and would do anything to make life unbearable.

Tuyen wished the answer would appear and she could stop trying so hard to figure everything out. Her life had been a journey through years of searching for acceptance and approval like an ancient quest to locate a brave new world. Just when the promise of discovery loomed on the horizon, darkness swept it away.

Not giving up was about the only thing she was sure of anymore. She would will herself to continue forward. Take each day one step at a time. Start slowly, and build momentum. That was the key. Baby steps. She could do it.

Tuyen wanted people to make an investment into her life and truly get to know her. As frightening as that sounded, she believed it was necessary. Physical and mental abuse took its toll over the years, forging walls around her emotions and feelings.

The day to tear down those walls and become open and transparent approached quickly.

That day would arrive much sooner than she anticipated.

******

While Tuyen is fictional, her story is not. She is a combination of many girls from One7 whom I have talked with. They all face the same struggles, heartaches, rejections, insecurities, and failures as Tuyen. Many have contemplated suicide. Most all have engaged in some form of cutting. They wear long sleeves and a smile to hide the unspeakable horror that lies just below the surface. They wake up each morning thankful to have survived yet another day in a life riddled with despair and often times, hopelessness. Tuyen’s life and story will be the thread that binds the pages of this book together.

One7 is a place for the broken to find healing, the lost to find hope, and the homeless to find shelter. The name comes from a verse in the Bible. Jeremiah 1:7.

The story starts with God telling a teenager that He knew him, and loved him, before he was ever conceived. Can you imagine how special we are to God that we would be on his mind before we are created? God then tells him that he was created for something important. Not to just settle for an average life, but to seek this awesome adventure that was waiting for him. We believe that all youth are called by God before they are born to do incredible things for the Kingdom. We also know that once a young person understands that God is calling them at a young age to make a difference in their world, there will be two major fears. The same two that Jeremiah faced. The fear that they don’t know what to say, and that no one would listen because they are too young. It is our job as leaders to equip youth to embrace and understand what God’s Word says to young people. Jeremiah, and many others, were young when God called them to make a stand for the Lord.

God is still calling our youth today, if they will accept His call and step out in faith, He will give them strength to embrace their destiny.

 

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Have a blessed day

Our God is Greater (From One7 Blog)


Here is a post I published on the One7 Blog today. We found out this morning that the father of two boys who live with staff at the One7 apartments, was killed in Mexico. David, the founder of One7, had to break the news to them this morning. They are really having a hard time as you can imagine. It seems like One7 is really under attack right now. Spiritually, financially, and physically. We would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Our God is Greater.

Pain. It’s an ever present part of life for some people, maybe even for most. Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain. There are all types and versions, and none of us are immune to its presence.

At One7, we see and experience pain on a regular, almost daily, basis. We work with youth from multiple origins, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and home situations. We are all broken, but understand that God loves us relentlessly, and His love doesn’t depend upon our condition. He often displays His unparalleled power through cracked and nearly shattered vessels. Sometimes the very definition of pain doesn’t entirely reveal itself until you’ve been at the lowest possible moment in your life. In that dark place where there is only one direction to go, and that direction is up.

Most of the people we interact with at One7 have, at one time or another, been in that place. Some have overcome great adversity to be in this country. They have been forced to sacrifice everything, except the clothes on their backs, to escape persecution and flee their homes and everything familiar. They have left behind brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers, and grandparents. They have gone days, even weeks with no food. They have survived some of the worst refugee camps this world has to offer.

After enduring all of that, they are then thrust into a strange land where the food, culture, and language are nothing like they are accustomed to. Kids struggle in school. Parents struggle to find work. There are moments when they wonder if leaving their homeland was, in fact, the right decision. It’s a constant battle against racism, rejection, homelessness, and peer pressure. They search for hope in a place where it’s sometimes very difficult to find. They end up at our doorstep, and that gives us the opportunity to show and teach them that there is only one person Who can change their lives.

And He is God.

God is greater than the fear of walking into the unknown.

God is greater than the empty food cupboard in the kitchen.

God is greater than language barriers.

God is greater than intense pain of losing a parent.

God is greater than all of that, because God. Is. Love. His unconditional love pierces through the darkest pain you could ever suffer, and fills your soul with His light. His love can break through the walls surrounding the street-hardened boy who has no father. His love can melt the jaded heart of a teenage girl who had to drop out of school to raise her baby. His love can heal the scars of past rejections and abuse.

At One7, we are dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus to everyone we meet. We believe that as the body of Christ, we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love others unconditionally. Is it easy? Not even close. Is it worth it? You better believe it.

Please pray as we continue forward with this ministry despite the constant attacks from satan. He never stops trying to destroy what God is doing here in Charlotte, but we are confident that our God is greater.

 

 

Prayer is HUGE for us, but if you felt led to donate monetarily, you can click Here. This will take you to the One7 main website (which is under construction at the moment) and you can use the Donate button. Thank you so much.

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

Have a blessed day,

Chris

If These Walls Could Speak


I was talking with a One7 girl the other day and she was telling me more things about her life and the stuff she goes through. Her room is where she goes when nothing makes sense. It’s where she cries, laughs, prays, and tries to find hope. Everything she told me inspired these lyrics. It’s called If These Walls Could Speak.

If These Walls Could Speak
© 2013 Chris Martin

(verse one)

Another night of sadness, I whisper a silent prayer
I close the door, turn out the light, and hope You’re still there
Tired of feeling alone and unable to find a reason to live
Have I gone so far even You can’t forgive

In the darkness of my solitude, I trade the knife for a pen
With shaking hands, words on paper soothe my soul again

(chorus)

If these walls could speak, they would share a million stories
They’ve seen me try without fail, to exchange my pain for glory
If these walls could speak, they would paint quite the picture
Of a girl who can’t get it right, inspiration mixed with failure

They’ve watched me cry every night for a family I can’t save
Names etched with pencil, where paint has begun to fade
They’ve witness the hurt, the reason behind my scars
They listen as I cry out to God, with questions from a broken heart

If these walls could speak

(verse two)

The emptiness I feel is nothing compared to what You lost
When you gave us love, Your only son to die on the cross
As my tears start to fall, outside the sun begins to rise
A weary heart is thankful just to make it through the night

I take a deep breath, pray for courage to face the day
I look to You for hope, I look to You to guide my way

(repeat chorus)

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

Have a blessed day,

Chris

Welcome to My Story


Last night, I dreamed about one of our One7 girls facing persecution and physical abuse at home. Sadly, this is not only a dream for most, but a vivid reality each and every day. I woke up at 4:30 with these lyrics swirling around my head and knew I had to write them down. This is called My Story.

My Story
© 2013 Chris Martin

(verse one)

Sitting here alone, the silence and the shadows speak to me and are my only friends
Between the lines, no one reads the words I write about my life and stories with no end
Tearstains on my pillow, a constant reminder of the night before
Bruises and scars, I don’t think I can take this anymore

(chorus)

Welcome to my story, a world that lingers just behind my smile
I don’t know if you want to, but I was hoping we could talk for a little while
There’s so much that I want to say, but the words get lost, please help me understand
They keep telling me God is in control, but I just can’t see His plan

My life doesn’t matter to anyone, I’ve known nothing but pain
For once I want to dance in the sun, but my world is darkened with rain
Don’t I deserve something different, I want the chance to have a better life
The knife on the floor, blade by the sink, they call my name tonight

Welcome to my story

(verse two)

In the silence, I cry out for help, but no one hears my voice
In the mirror, a stranger looks back and tells me I have no choice
No friends at school, nothing but endless rejection at home
In this world so full of people, why do I always feel alone

(repeat chorus)

(bridge)

I dig deep inside and find the strength to stand
Open the blinds, let the sun pour in, wipe the tears with my hand

(final chorus)

Welcome to my story, a world that lingers just behind my smile
I’m not sure if I can, but I need to talk to God for a little while
I’m so far from perfect, I know I am going to fall
Thankful for the grace and mercy of a savior, His blood covers it all

Welcome to my story