#PRAY127 06.29.20

This week’s #PRAY127 is similar to last week’s, but nevertheless equally as important. I wish I could express to you the magnitude of this moment for the men in Kibuku. I’ve posted just a few pictures below, and although they will never do justice to the joy these men have in working hard to achieve a goal, I hope you can smile on their behalf and thank God in your hearts for the work He’s doing in their lives.

Kibuku is a neighboring town to Bulangira, last week’s #PRAY127 recipient, and this is their first Cohort to be discipled in the Authentic Masculinity Program (AMP). The men in this Cohort, just like the Bulangira Cohort, have graduated from Phase 2 (Income Generating Activities training) to Phase 3 (loan distribution and repayment).

There are 11 special men in this Cohort, and I’ve listed their names and a little bit about them below. As a #PRAY127 partner with Man Up and Go, please take just a minute or two and call out these men by name, praying that God might give them courage and strength to live for Him and honor him by stewarding this loan well.

Above our AMP Supervisor in Kibuku, Pastor George is handing out 750,000 Uganda shillings to the man the villagers know as the “turkey farmer.” Patrick will invest this money, which represents about 6 months in normal wages, to go from a merely subsistence farmer to a commercial farmer, using his skills as a “turkey” man and the accountability and lessons learned about biblical masculinity from AMP.

Above is the Kibuku Cohort President, Jeremiah, who signs his loan documents in front of Pastor George. Jeremiah has a degree but admitted what he called a “knowledge gap” in business stewardship. Despite this he was voted in as President for his charisma, humility, and love for Christ. Jeremiah has learned a lot from the biblically-based lessons Man Up teaches in AMP. He grew up in a very poor environment where alcohol was abused in the home, and is determined to break those chains in himself and his children.

Thank you once again for standing with us and these men. The 11 Kibuku men represent 33 children, and more to come in the future. We believe AMP is the right tool for these men to see “Less Orphans, More Families” in their communities.

Thank you for praying for these men this week and in the weeks to come as they look to repay their loans in a timely fashion.

Regards,
Jeff Ford, CEO
Isaiah 1:17

P.S. Please pass this email on to those who might be interested in praying with us each Monday. They can sign up to receive these emails here: https://manupandgo.org/pray127.

#PRAY127 06.22.20

This week’s #PRAY127 is special because we get to share with you a special day in the life of our ministry and in the lives of 25 men who have labored diligently now for the last 6 months in our Authentic Masculinity Program (AMP) in Uganda.

These men, all from our Bulangira Cohort in rural eastern Uganda, represent one of four cohorts who will be receiving their microloan from Man Up and Go.

AMP is a three-phased approach at introducing and encouraging men to live out biblical masculinity. We believe that when men lead as God calls them to, everyone is blessed – wives, children, and the community around them.

Many men, regardless of where they live, abandon their families around areas of provision and shame. God has placed an innate desire in a man to provide for his family. When he’s unable to do that, many men run from responsibility instead of embracing it. AMP is all about living as Jesus wants us to live, not as the culture or our sinful human desires do.

For the men in Bulangira, they’ve successfully graduated through Phase 1, Biblical Masculinity, as well as Phase 2, Income Generating Activities (IGA), and now enter Phase 3, a 34-week loan repayment period. During this phase, they will continue to meet together to learn practical business skills and encourage one another in their IGA.

Below are the names of the men in the Bulangira Cohort, as well as their family life and business endeavor.

Please note the number of children these men have collectively – if you’re doing the math at home, they have 156 children between the 25 men (although 5 of them aren’t married yet).

Do you see why we believe AMP is so important? There are 156 children whose lives, if statistics are accurate, hang in the balance in large part by watching Dad. There are 156 potential fatherless children in this group. But what if Dad can provide for them adequately and train them up in the ways of the Lord? What if he can love his wife as Christ loved the church? What if together, Mom and Dad can reflect biblical marriage and teach their children biblical principles?

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7

However you choose to pray with us today, we would ask that you might choose just one of the above names as someone to pray for over the next 34 weeks as these men look to honor God by repaying their loans and living out authentic masculinity in their homes and community.

Thank you once again for standing with us.

Regards,
Jeff Ford, CEO
Isaiah 1:17

P.S. Please pass this email on to those who might be interested in praying with us each Monday. They can sign up to receive these emails here: https://manupandgo.org/pray127.

Rays/Rowdies COVID-19 Relief Grant Summary

Man Up Tampa Bay was ecstatic to receive a grant from the Rays Baseball Foundation and Rowdies Soccer Fund aimed at helping folks affected by the COVID-19 crisis. For us, that means children in foster care and their foster parents/families, adoptive families, or relative/non-relative caregivers helping care for kids in crisis. 

In listening to our families’ specific needs, the grant helped provide food, assistance with utilities, and assistance with rent/mortgage. In all, we helped 33 caregivers and 100 children, including 11 single foster moms. 

The men enrolled in our Man Up 100 initiative were able to hand-deliver hot meals and gift cards aimed at food security. 

We couldn’t have done this without the Rays and Rowdies, and without our Man Up 100 men. Thanks you and thank you God for allowing us to be your hands and feet! Click here for the downloadable report.

#PRAY127 06.15.20

The last couple weeks of #PRAY127 requests have been a response to what’s happening in our world right now as various societal and social inequities have been brought to the forefront. We have been praying that we would “do justice” and for the wisdom to execute that desire of our heavenly Father.

While it appears most authentic followers of Christ believe we must do something about the racial injustice we see in our country (and the world), it also appears we have varying opinions about how to tackle the problem. I believe we’re at a critical mass right now in the Church (forget the world for a second). Not only do we have a window of opportunity that the Lord has given us (Colossians 4:5), but the seemingly fragility inside the body of Christ – as exploited by Satan – threatens our ability to effectively leverage the aforementioned opportunity.

Clearly the Church (Big C) needs what Jesus prayed we would have in John 17 – Oneness.

In one sense, we already have it. By including non-Jews in His plan of salvation, those “who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:13, 15b). That is to say, all the walls of religious division in the world were torn down when Jesus died not just for Jewish folks, but all other people groups. We were made ONE.

In another sense, we’re still working on the whole oneness thing. Look at Jesus’ famous prayer to His Father in the early morning hours before He was crucified:

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23).

Note that His prayer was that we “be made perfect in one;” this was completed on the cross, but it’s lived out in real time by messy humans who are still dealing daily with a very persuasive sin nature.

This is why Paul writes in Ephesians that we must “walk worthy of the calling” we’ve received (Ephesians 4:1).

It’s why God gave us teachers and apostles and prophets to equip us, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…according to the effective working by which every part does its share, [and] causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:13, 16b).

Growth doesn’t just happen. Unity doesn’t just happen. Oneness doesn’t just happen. It happens when each member in the body of Christ “does its share” and edifies the other members.

What’s more, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You remember the famous analogy in 1 Corinthians 12 about the body of Christ being compared a literal body? It’s not the hand or the foot, it’s both. It’s not the eye or the ear, it’s both. As Christ-followers, we “are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Cor. 12:27).

You know what that means? Unity doesn’t mean unanimity. Diversity can exist inside unity.

There seems to be a growing trend of polarization even within the Church. Either/Or propositions work in terms of eternal salvation, but we must be careful not to argue over what Paul called “disputable” issues (Romans 14:1). Increasing our Both/And language when it comes to non-essential perspectives actually promotes the unity that Christ has promised us.

Paul provides a clear path to promoting Both/And language in Philippians 2:2-4:

“Now make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.”

Humility. Elevating others.

Laying down rights. Being quick to listen.

Desiring oneness over winning an argument.

These are practical steps each of us can take every day to promote unity within the body of Christ.

If we think of the body of Christ as an actual body, it’s easy to grasp. The hand is busy being a hand. It’s generally unconcerned with what the feet are doing. The hand is grabbing things, dexterously conducting affairs, typing and brushing and cutting and catching and a million other things without conscious knowledge of how the feet are faring. But how cognizant would the hand be if the feet were missing?

Body of Christ, we need each other. We each have a perspective that God has given us; we have gifts to deploy and jobs to perform to make sure we’re clicking in unity and on all- cylinders. We must pull our weight so that we can continue to grow.

Our lack of unity is stunting our growth. We must stay vigilant in the body to fight for unity.

The easy thing is to go back to being a hand or a foot or an ear or nose, unconcerned with the burdens of our fellow body parts. But God has called us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) because in doing so we express the fullness of Christ.

Will you join us in praying for unity this week among the body of believers? If the family can’t unite itself, we’re going to have a hard time convincing those outside to join.

Jesus help us be all that you’ve called us to be.

Regards,

Regards,
Jeff Ford, CEO
Isaiah 1:17

P.S. Please pass this email on to those who might be interested in praying with us each Monday. They can sign up to receive these emails here: https://manupandgo.org/pray127.

#PRAY127 06.08.20

My wife and I, who are white, adopted our son from Ethiopia in 2013. Since then, I have, both unintentionally and with great intention, started a journey to see the world through his eyes, or at least what I can imagine his eyes might see at 12, 17, 21, and for the rest of his life. 

A turning point for me was in 2014 during the events that followed the killing of 18-yr old Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, MO. In the days after the event, when no one really had all the facts about the story, I distinctly remember seeing a white/black divide in the perspectives and reactions from my friends on social media. I distinctly remember asking myself, “Has this divide always been here?”

This divide wasn’t just among non-Christian friends. The church at large was mirroring the thoughts of a secular world. How could bible-believing Jesus-followers come to such opposing conclusions when looking at the same data?

I was torn.

I also had the killing of Trayvon Martin running through my head. Just the previous year, Trayvon’s killer George Zimmerman, who profiled and followed the 17-yr old black teen who, to him, looked “suspicious,” had been acquitted. Although I wasn’t privy to all the evidence in the case, the idea that a grown man would go out of his way check on a hoodie-wearing teenager and end up claiming self-defense after killing him, didn’t sit well with me.

This event caused me to project my son, not even 2 at the time, as a 16-yr old kid out on a Friday night. What if he was walking home through our predominantly white neighborhood with a hoodie on, and the wrong person saw him? Would he be profiled and followed? Would the cops be called? Might he pull out his ID to prove he was in the right place, only to have it mistaken for a gun?

Embarrassingly, in my mid-30’s, that was the moment when I realized that I had never, not once, not even for a second, worried about personally being profiled. That’s when the idea of privilege first hit me. In an instant, I knew it was true.

Fast forward to 2020, and there is more outrage about the killing of a black man at the hands of police. Only this time, the entire world had an 8-minute front row seat to his murder. White and black friends are agreeing in solidarity that something must change. It seems different this time. It appears as though racism and police brutality are at the national forefront, and they’re not going away.

It’s one thing to respond personally. It’s another to be responsible for an organization’s response. Man Up and Go has, for nearly a decade, worked with the world’s vulnerable and/or disadvantaged. Our very mission is to get men off the sidelines and to care about the marginalized. While we don’t have objectives around race specifically, we are burdened with injustice of any kind.

As the optic raises for people of color and the racism they have endured for literally hundreds of years in our country, the idea that we must respond is obvious. But how? What is a godly response, and how can we be sure we’re not advocating for fleeting guesses of secular wisdom when Christ is the only lasting answer?

It makes me think of the following verse in James:

For today’s #PRAY127 request, will you join with us in praying for wisdom that is pure, full of peace, gentle, and willing to yield? Will you pray we have hearts full of mercy and good fruits, and that we would not engage in partiality or hypocrisy?

And please pray as we pursue this wisdom, that God would give us a clear picture of our role in promoting racial reconciliation in our land and all over the globe.

Jesus said, “To whom much is given, must is required.” We sense that burden at Man Up and Go, and praise God you are joining with us in prayer for “wisdom that is from above.”

Regards,
Jeff Ford, CEO
Isaiah 1:17

P.S. Please pass this email on to those who might be interested in praying with us each Monday. They can sign up to receive these emails here: https://manupandgo.org/pray127.

#PRAY127 06.01.20

If you’re watching the news or social media feeds, it appears the world is on fire. In many respects it is.

The bible tells us that for the time being, God has handed a certain amount of authority over to Satan as the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).

The bible also tells us that with this power, he is “the god of this age [who has] blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4:4). Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised when the world has seemingly gone to hell – after all, that’s where Satan dwells.

Jesus called Satan the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). A world without Christ is hell on earth, as we are seeing.

When Jesus was tempted in the desert, Satan offered Christ “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory… ‘if You will fall down and worship me’” (Matt. 4:8-9). Surely the Scriptures indicate that Satan’s dominion is this earth, and he must have some kind of temporal authority or power over it.

Unlike the jokes we tell relaying the equivalency of lying lips and politicians opening their mouths, Satan’s actual language is the language of deception. Jesus said, “there is no truth in him [and] when he speaks a lie, he speaks from his native tongue, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Putting the pieces together provides us a clear picture – Satan is a liar, he has been given some kind of power on this earth, and he is using his platform and window of opportunity to sow discord, hatred, confusion, disinformation, distrust, gossip, and yes, even murder, in his “kingdom.”

Many in the evangelical space want to give Satan credit for everything bad. Or they want to ignore him altogether since Jesus defeated him on the cross. The reality is, somehow, Satan is wreaking havoc on the earth, and he’s doing it under the complete dominion and overarching governance and sovereignty of God. Remember, Satan had to ask permission to do anything to Job (Job 1:9-12).

God controls it all, from beginning to end. “All my days were written down in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).

What does this have to do with today’s #PRAY127 request? As you know by now, Man Up and Go works very closely with one of the most marginalized groups in human history – the fatherless.

Over and over again we see that God has a special place in His heart for the fatherless. Having designed the family, He obviously knows the important role Dad plays. From our vantage point, when Dad’s absent, the world burns.

Racism is a poisonous scourge on America. There were, unfortunately, far too many men in our nation’s history whose daddy’s didn’t teach them the heart of God. In essence, these men were fatherless, and they bought into the lie of the ruler of this world, rather than look to the ruler of the universe.

The great thing about the bible is that it provides the character of God for us to model. He’s the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Yes, He’s revealed Himself to humans progressively over the ages, in His own perfect timing and wisdom.

But the God who eternally existed before space and time imbibes same qualities as the God of the Old and New Testaments. The bible word for that is “immutable.” Unchanging. And our unchanging God has a particular quality about Him that we must acknowledge as we see the world burn with racism and its effects.

That quality is this – impartiality.

Moses said it this way in Deuteronomy 10:17-18,

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.”

Elsewhere Moses told the Israelites,

“You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty” (Leviticus 19:15).

Jehoshaphat brought the people, who had strayed, back to this point as part of his reforms,

“Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes” (2 Chronicles 19:7).

Right after our favorite verse about caring for orphans (James 1:27), James 2:1 instructs us to,

“not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.”

When we elevate someone because of their wealth, social status, rank, ethnicity, or race, we,

“show partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4).

The book of Colossians reminds us that we cannot hide from God and will answer for our sins, because with Jesus,

“there is no partiality” (Col. 3:25).

In talking how to conduct oneself in a master/slave relationship, Paul reminds them both that,

“there is no partiality” with our Master in heaven (Eph. 6:9).

In speaking of our salvation, we are reminded salvation and judgment are both saved for us all,

“For there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11).

Clearly, the topic of partiality is important to God. The inherent dignity and worth of all human beings is God’s idea (Gal. 3:28, Col. 3:11). We cannot, in good conscience, elevate the intrinsic value of one human being over another based on any single characteristic, personality trait, or ability.

Irrefutably, from God’s perspective, this includes race.

All humans bear God’s image (Gen. 1:27) and thus are equally valuable. Likewise, all human beings are sinners (Rom. 3:23) and thus are equally in need of God’s saving grace.

The wonderful (yet initially terrifying and uncomfortable) truth of the Scriptures is that we all need a Savior. Yet because we’re made in God’s image, He does not withhold this Savior from any one of us (Rom. 3:22).

Ironically, when we peel back the nuances of God’s impartiality, we find that He actually IS partial to those, who, in Satan’s demonically-influenced world, become marginalized because of the selfishness and sin of those who buy into Satan’s lies.

Turns out that children without parents and elderly women without husbands are high on God’s list (James 1:27). They’re still responsible for their sin, and they don’t have any more intrinsic worth to God than the major league baseball player, Hollywood actress, or world leader. But they do engender a particular advocating for which others don’t.

Our hearts grieve over the racial injustices that have purveyed this nation for too long. Without minimizing this injustice, we also grieve over the marginalization of the fatherless and the widow, so often cast aside as dispensable in a world system devised by and influenced by the evil one.

Our #PRAY127 request this week? That we as Christ-followers may do what the Lord asked of us through the prophet Isaiah:

Regards,
Jeff Ford, CEO
Isaiah 1:17

P.S. Please pass this email on to those who might be interested in praying with us each Monday. They can sign up to receive these emails here: https://manupandgo.org/pray127.