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Church on the Front Porch

Church on the Front Porch

After spending lunch breaks driving through an impoverished Nashville, Tenn., neighborhood in search of an investment home, Thom Hazelip began feeling an undeniable burden for the people in the community. Forfeiting his upscale home with a pool house in the backyard, he decided to move his wife, Michelle, and four young children to the drug-infested area of McFerrin Park.

“What changed it from being a business venture, to us moving down here to be a part of the community was God,” Thom says. 

Michelle admits she thought her husband had “lost his mind” when he first proposed the idea of moving to McFerrin Park. But after she saw the numerous needs of the kids in the area and their parents, some of whom were only 13 or 14 when they became parents, she felt a change of heart.

As the family began spending more time “eating Popsicles and painting” with the neighborhood kids on their front porch, it became obvious why God had prompted the move. 

“We [now] know all our neighbors,” Thom says. “We know all the kids, what’s going on in their lives.”

The Hazelips have created the nonprofit Front Porch Ministry to offer financial and volunteer support (frontporchministry.org). The organization provides scholarships and rehab assistance to children and their parents respectively.

McFerrin Park resident Armentria Kelly is grateful for the Hazelips’ ministry:  “They have touched many lives ... and it’s helping me to want to change and want to be able to do what they are doing, to be able to give back.”


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Church on the Front Porch

Humbled In Haiti

Humbled In Haiti

How did you respond when you heard about the magnitude 7 earthquake that rocked Haiti in January? For Maribel Landis, simply offering a prayer wasn’t enough. A registered nurse, Landis grabbed her scrubs, medical kit and Bible, and boarded a plane bound for the impoverished country.

It didn’t take long for her to join in with other volunteer doctors and nurses treating wounded people at the Harvard Humanitarian Relief Initiative/Love a Child field hospital in Parisien, Haiti.

“It was painful to hear the screams of burn victims who had undergone skin grafts to get their wounds cleaned,” Landis says. “But I tried to show them God’s love by treating them and praying for them.” She says she left the country “humbled” by the resolve of the Haitian people.

Landis, wife of pastor Randy Landis of Lifechurch in Allentown, Penn., is no stranger to Haiti. Lifechurch operates Rescue Children Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, where the majority of the estimated 230,000 earthquake-related deaths occurred. Fortunately, all 11 of the ministry’s orphans made it out alive as their home crumbled around them. read more

The Face of Love in Southern Sudan

The Face of Love in Southern Sudan

Born without her left hip, leg and kidney, Michele Perry, 32, has faced adversity from birth. By age 13 she had already undergone 23 surgeries.

Not allowing her disabilities to sideline her, the Florida native went on to become a missionary in the slums of Bangladesh, India and, most recently, Yei, Southern Sudan.

“My visible sign of need opens doors ... to share Jesus,” she says. “People want to know why I am here and how I could possibly be happy, so I tell them about the One who is the love and joy of my life—Jesus.”

Perry is the founding field ministry director for Iris Ministries Sudan (IMS), a ministry that works in conjunction with Heidi and Rolland Baker of Iris Ministries Inc. in Mozambique.

She and the indigenous IMS team now care for 110 children in residential care and around 90 children in their community care program.

“I’ll be honest, I do miss hot baths and 24/7 power and the Internet, but in the long run, it is a small price to pay.” For Perry, these challenges can’t compare to living God’s dreams for her life. read more

Finding God During a One-Year Airport Layover

Some people dread airport layovers that last longer than an hour. Imagine a layover for more than one year where you're unable to eat for days at a time, and are forced to drink toilet water and fend off sexual predators.

Nigeria-born Elizabeth Woleta was left stranded for more than a year in a terminal in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport after her passport was stolen in March 2007. The 15-foot section of this unique airport is considered a "legal no man's land"-it is couched between Russian and international territories and is governed by neither. Despite her peculiar predicament, Woleta, now 31, found Christ when a missionary told her God loved her. She later used her unique situation to minister the gospel to people from more than 50 nations. read more

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