But I need your help...I need some believers who will hold up my arms through prayer and giving, just as Moses was held up when He grew weary waiting for the Red Sea to part.
You see "missions" is not just a foreign word or international calling. For some, like me, most of my being "sent out" is for the broken, poor, misunderstood and marginalized right here in the United States. The child on the brink of foster care with very little food. The prostitute who needs a hug, a ride to safety and someone who has time to talk. The single mom who is overwhelmed and needs family support. The toddler who wanders around alone, filthy and at risk. The precious folks who give their hearts to Christ right in the middle of it all but need a pastor and a church who will come to them and embrace them right where they are at. The users, the dealers, the babies born addicted, the youth who are filled with potential that no one else sees...the homeless on the street. These are my people. This is my "unreached people group," and I MUST GO. I have been given so much favor and even a building to use in a little town called Bartow, Florida, in one of the most needy, forsaken and segregated neighborhoods in our county, and adjacent to my hometown, Lakeland, Fl, which has been named the "second hungriest city in America." I am praying that God opens the eyes of those who are blind to this need and that he would send help. Just as other missionaries take a risk and follow God into the darkness to other countries, walking by faith and not by sight, I am called to do the same, but to the streets, inner-cities and "Projects" of America.
But I do not go as "rich among the poor." It has truly been a sacrifice for my family and as of now, I am banking on major breakthrough over the next couple of months in order to keep moving forward in this assignment. Besides the "Hands-On" ministry side of it, the feeding, clothing, mentoring, discipling...there is a lot of administrative responsibilities that I am currently in charge of. Our organization,"Village of Hope Ministries," is a 501-C3 Non-Profit and a Pioneer base for Iris Global ministries. I have the honor of overseeing it all, from leading our amazing volunteers and training missions students to keeping up with paperwork, mail and meetings. This "job" requires a lot of prayer, time and hard work, which has to be funded just like any other position like it.
I have a family of my own and a husband who works very hard to provide for us, including our two amazing sons, ages 10 and 7. As with most families though, we are a two-income household and I have a significant part to play in contributing to our financial needs. I am filled with dreams and visions and creativity and ideas and LOVE for the community I have served faithfully as a pastor for over 5 years. As I tell our single pregnant mommas, "Whatever you do, please keep the baby and we will help you however we can..." I kind of feel like one of those mommas in the spirit right now and pray that as you read this, God would touch your heart to "help however you can" so that I can carry this promise and ministry to full term and see God birth all of the things He has so graciously chosen for me to be a part of! Most traditional pastors in the West are funded through their own congregations' support and/or their denomination, but as a missionary/pastor in my context it doesn't work that way.
A lot of "my people" are very poor or are children who can do very little to give back. Some might call it an "outreach" or "para-church" ministry...I call them Family. And I refuse to abandon them. I live in a very wealthy nation, with many wealthy Christians in it. (If I was one of them, I would not need to write this letter.) I know that money should never be the deciding factor in matters like this, not here, not where I live. There are so many resources available in the body of Christ. But even the average Christian can give something, even if it's $5 a month. (One Starbucks drink can cost more than that!)
As I write this, I am facing a fundraising deadline to raise a minimum of $3,000 per month in donations, through sponsors/pledges by no later than August 7, 2018. So far I only have around 10% of my budget raised. And as I fundraise? I think of the faces and stories behind my story that really make the effort worth it! The voiceless that I get to speak for. I am speaking up for them. For us.
Here's how you can really make a difference: Take a few minutes and go to our donate page at www.villageofhopeministries.org and join my team! All you have to do is set up a recurring (monthly) account with any donation amount and memo it "Jessica Goodman/Missionary Support." My missionary ID number is #001. Please include your mailing address, so I can send you a follow up form as well as contribution receipts. All gifts are tax-deductible!
Or, If you prefer to mail checks, you can write them to:
Village of Hope Ministries
PO Box 6572, Lakeland, Fl, 33807
Thank you so much for praying, giving and taking the time to read these important words from my heart! With love and deepest devotion, Pastor Jessica Goodman ("Mama J")