Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I've never been more thankful...

I trust everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving! And I really hope you are as excited as I am for Christmas! As the holiday season is passing I am reallizing that I've never been more thankful for my life, my family and my friends. It's quite an amazing feeling really. I have the awesome priviledge of ministering to and fellowshipping with some of the most incredible people on the planet (I may be prejudiced, but probably not)! Everyday I wake up and I am excited to see where God takes me and to see how He uses me. I really never know what kind of turns and twists my day will take, even when I think I have it planned out things can change with one phone call. I've seen some fantastic blessings take place and I've watched the answers to prayer unfold before my eyes. I've also dealt with tremendous heartbreak and devistating disappointment. I honestly think that I might not be far off by saying that I shedd some tears daily, and for those of you who know me you know I'm not lying. I have had days where I've experienced nearly every emotion in the book but through it all I've been blessed. I know because I know because I know that I am right where God wants me. He is teaching and training me in every situation I go through and every trial I encounter. I finally realize that this time of the year is not about anything but being thankful to Him for being who He is! It is not about gifts but about love and demonstrating that love to others. Sometimes we do that through gifts (personally I love gifts) sometimes its done through kind words, through hugs, and through quality time spent with loved ones, oh and don't forget FOOD! So, no matter what we may be going through now is the perfect time to take our eyes off of ourselves and put them where they really belong. ON GOD! Let's all get to the place where we can say with our whole heart that...I've never been more thankful!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

My Birthday

Today is my birthday, my 32nd birthday! Praise God! I am so blessed I almost can't contain myself, but at the same time I still have to fight through the temptation to dwell on the things I don't have yet and the things I haven't achieved yet. Isn't that kinda funny? I know it may sound silly, but I'm just keeping it real. I am amazed daily at the things God is doing through me and I'm still dumbfounded as to why He chose me. I don't ever take for granted the call He has placed on me or the results that He is bringing forth through me. And yet there is still so much more I want out of life and in my life. It's a fine line we walk. But today I choose to praise and thank God for allowing me to see my 32nd birthday! I choose to rejoice in the fact that I am even still alive today (when I honestly shouldn't probably have survived a number of stupid things from my past)! I make the choice today not to quit or give up or dwell on the trials I face and I shout because I have the victory and I am more than a conqueror! I thank God for using me as an inspiration to the ladies in jail, letting them know that if He can make something out of my life He can definitely do something with theirs! I am grateful that He demonstrates His unconditional love and forgiveness to these women through me! I am humbled and yet I will remain hungry for more! I also thank God for the support and encouragement from my Summit family...Pastor and Ms. Carla thank you for never giving up on me! I love all of you, Tomi

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bearing Fruit

As many of you have heard, the Rebuilding Women Winning Group is bearing much fruit. We are experiencing some phenomenal things and we are having a blast! We are experiencing Amos 9:13 where is says "Yes indeed, it won't be long now." God's Decree. "Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won't be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I'll make everything right again for my people Israel." And that's exactly how its happening! Happening fast, one thing right on top of the other, hard to keep up, overtaking us, blessings, blessings, blessings! The neatest thing to me is that I truly believe that we've only scratched the surface. Seriously, there is so much work to be done and the harvest is sooooooo ready! What we need is more laborers. If anyone reading this is interested in joining us we would love to have you. We need men and women who are willing to help pick up members for Winning Group and for Church. We need people with a heart for God who are willing to sacrifice some of their time to be there for someone in need. People who are compassionate and forgiving and believe in the restoring power of Gods love. If you are that person let me know and I will find something for you to do (and that something could mean life or death for someone very special to God)! I thank God for all He is doing...Love ya, Tomi

Friday, September 28, 2007

Favor Overdrive!

The ladies in my Winning Group are experiencing what I like to call Favor Overdrive! Their prayers are being answered right and left! I already shared about how the one lady got that incredible job last week. Well that same lady had some fines to pay that totaled about $500. She had been working really hard to earn the money but despite all her efforts she was $60 short the night before it was due. She called me that evening nearly hysterical. I did my best to calm her down and remind her of what the Word said and how God had been working in her life and that He loves her too much to let her fail now. By the time we got off the phone she was much better and we agreed that we would cast this care on God. She went to a NA meeting that night and 2 other recovering addicts blessed her with $20 each and when she got home there was a blank envelope on her pillow with another $20 in it! She called me hysterical again but only this time it was a different kind of hysteria!!! We celebrated and praised God together on the phone. After we hung up I just started crying...it is amazing to watch God work in others' lives. Then just yesterday another one of my lady's got her answer as well. Her sister had decided that she no longer wanted her to stay at her house and gave her a week to get out. She had nowhere else to go. Now normally she would have used something like this to relapse and start using again. But this time she made a decision to try Gods way and believe Him for her answer. It was not easy for her or me. She would call me everyday about to breakdown. She would say "Ms. Tomi its Monday, Ms. Tomi its Tuesday, Ms. Tomi its Wednesday" and each time I would encourage her to STAND. Well she called me yesterday to let me know that she held the keys to her new place in her hands. She had never felt anything like the high she was on at the moment. She told me no drug ever made her feel like that! We are moving her in to her new place tomorrow! As I share these testimonies with the other lady's they start to believe that it really can happen for them. They want to be the one calling me and telling me how God came through. It's almost like they are trying to out do each other, but not in a bad or negative way. It's more of a look at God working in my life type thing. I like to call it "Favor Overdrive"!!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A First for Me

Something really neat happened to me last week at the jail. One of the young ladies came up to me at the start of class and said she wanted to talk to me because she had something she wanted to ask me. So we sat down at the back of the room and she explained to me that they had watched a video in class that talked about Spiritual Parents and she wanted me to be her Spiritual Mother. She went on to talk about how her natural mom turned her back on her when she was young and how she never really had a mom after that. She now has two young kids and CPS is trying to take them away from her. I was kind of taken back by her request because that is the first time I've been asked to be someones spiritual parent. But, despite that, I said yes. She started crying because she was so happy that someone actually wanted to be a mom to her. Every since that day each time I see her in class she calls me 'mom' and each time I feel so honored. We talk about the things she is going to do after her release and the things she is going to be involved in. She asked if my being her 'mom' meant that I was her kids 'grandma'...I told her not to push her luck! We both laughed, but I can tell that she already feels better about herself now that she has someone in her life to look up to and loves her unconditionally. What an honor to be her Spiritual Mom!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Off to a Great Start

We started the new Winning Group semester on Tuesday and I just wanted to share that our Rebuilding Women group is off to a great start! I had 6 different women who were in my classes at the jail call and want to come to group, 5 of which needed rides. After many calls I finally secured rides for all 5. Three of the ladies had their schedules change at the last minute but we ended up having 3 first-time guests! It was a great meeting! We all had an awesome time with the lesson on The Favor of God! All 3 of our guests were believing for new jobs. We prayed and I encouraged all of them that when they go in for their interviews that they imagine themselves getting the job and to confess and believe that they had the favor of God on them. I'm happy to say that 2 of the ladies were hired on the spot and the third one is going back for a second interview next week!!! One of the ladies hired on the spot was going in for and interview for a factory position...but God is so good, listen to this - during her interview the lady conducting the interview was looking over her resume and noticed that she had some cleaning experience (little did she know that my lady's passion is cleaning and she hopes to one day own her own cleaning business). It turns out that the company's cleaning person quit 2 days before this interview and that they had a big need for someone new. They asked my lady if she would be interested in that position instead of in the factory. Her answer was of course YES!!! She was hired on the spot and her pay is TWICE what she would have been paid on the other job!!! She called me and she was sooooo excited, she couldn't wait to tell me how God moved in her interview. I look forward to sharing many many more testimonies just like this in the future as we come together and watch God rebuild these women's lives!!!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Keeping Me Busy

Wow...the ladies have really been keeping me busy lately! Don't get me wrong, I love it and I wouldn't change anything about it (except to have maybe one or two more of me)! Keeping busy with the ladies means that more and more of them are coming around and needing/wanting me to be a part of their lives. I have been able to take them to and from court appointments, to visits with their children, shopping, out to eat, to church and to and from work. I have even started picking up one of the ladies and taking her to the gym with me in the mornings. I just love having the opportunity to spend time, quality time fellowshipping with them and really building and deepening our relationships. I am so blessed to be a part of these women's lives! I thank God daily for calling me to something so wonderful!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

An Amazing Evening

I had the priviledge of leading Chapel (or Church) Service last night at the jail. Each time I get to do this I always bring my D. Montrell CD and play it for the ladies. One of our favorite songs is "God Can't Fail." For the last month I have been telling the ladies that I had a big suprise for them the next time I do Chaoel Service and they were so excited they were acting like it was Christmas! My big suprise was that I brought in Canaan White to sing "God Can't Fail" and a few other songs for them. Every one of the ladies was so blessed by his singing it was awesome to witness. I just stood back and watched the Spirit move in that place. Then after praise and worship we got into a Dreaming Session where I had the ladies reach deep down inside themselves and pull out those dreams that they had let fade out or even die. We shared our desires and our dreams with eachother. I was so blessed by how the ladies encouraged eachother and lifted eachother up. Then Canaan shared how he likes to draw and the ladies asked him if he could draw something for them so I gave him a piece of paper and a pen and he started drawing. We finished up our Dream Session with me sharing about how God has made so many of my dreams come true. Then I extended the invitation for salvation and every woman in the place made the confession. It was awesome! Then the ladies wanted Canaan to sing one last song before we closed, which he did and it was one of the most annointed songs I have ever heard!!!! I swear there wasn't a dry eye in the house! He also finished the picture for the ladies. They were amazed that he had drawn such a detailed and beautiful picture in such a short time. It is a picture of Wonder Woman and SuperMan. I am making copies of it for all the ladies to keep. Overall it was an amazing evening! I just love being a part of the ladies lives down there! I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Testimony - Michelle Hofstetter

In November of 2006 I was sentenced to 38 days in the Allen County Jail. I felt so alone. Somehow I ended up going to church with some of the inmates, mostly just to be able to get out of my cell. When I got there I thought "oh, boy!" This young beautiful woman was there. All smiles and I'm thinking ok, she's never been in trouble a day in her life! When she gave her testimony I was kind of taken back alittle. She seemed so put together and so beautiful inside and out! Everything I wanted to be! When she was done speaking she played this song and my heart just broke. My heart opened and our Lord came flooding in! I was like a sponge just soaking it up! But I had no control to stop it, it was just happening and it was happening to me. The next song was also perfect. I don't remember much after that. I just remember being so full of the Lord I felt like I was beaming with light from my heart, my soul and my spirit - just beaming with light! This beautiful young woman was Tomi. None of this would have happened if I hadn't been touch by you Tomi and your testimony and your sharing with me. Just what I needed when I needed it. Thank you! I truly love you! God used you to bring me home again! God bless, Michelle

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Somebody is always watching

Over the last few monthes I have noticed that I keep getting told the same or a similar version of same story. Sometimes by members of Summit sometimes by people that work at the Jail and sometimes by strangers. The story, in a nutshell, goes like this...people keep running into people that have either been in my classes at the jail or know someone who has been. And the overwhelming majority speak nothing but praises about the work that is being done there. I am often told of people that I didn't even actually spend any quality time with and probably couldn't pick out of a crowd sharing about the positive impact I had on their lives. They could tell you something very specific that I taught or a story that I told or even an outfit that I wore. The point is this...somebody is always watching! It may not be who we think it is but SOMEBODY is paying attention to what we say or how we act or the way we carry ourselves. People can tell a difference between a person who genuinely loves God and a phony. They can tell who really cares for them and who is faking. They know 'real' not church. I may not always hear from my ladies when they leave the jail but when someone I know crosses their path and somehow my name or Summit comes up they can't stop talking about it. When a person is touched by God through us they will never forget it and often times they can't stop themselves from talking about it given the opportunity. So this is an encouragment to all of us to never forget that...somebody is always watching!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

They are starting to come back

I have been filled with tremendous joy lately due to the fact that a number of my ladies have reemerged into my life over the last month! I have had the privilege of bringing 2 of them to church with me. One has started attending my Winning Group. Another 3 I am in almost daily contact with over the phone. They are just coming from every direction and I couldn't be more pleased. Continue to lift all of them up in prayer in the Spirit because it is working. We are baring much fruit - and this fruit will last throughout eternity!!!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Praise Report

I got a wonderful yet bitter-sweet answer to my prayers this week. Remember last month when I was honored as Volunteer Chaplain of the year and how earlier that day I was kind of depressed because one of my ladies had gone back to the streets. Well as you know I had a rather rough time when that happened but I purposed to pray over her continually and I knew I would see her again one day. I did! She is back at the jail and in the same block that I teach Bible Study and I saw her Wednesday! She was so ashamed and embarrased by her actions and she was nervous but excited to see me again. When I saw her I gave her the biggest hug ever and I told her how much I loved her and missed her. She went on to share some of her struggles with me and we prayed together that she would have the strength to get her life back on track. She told me that she would walk past my house on a weekly basis and yet couldn't bring herself to stop. I am so thankful that God protected her in her struggles and I truly believe that she can make the changes she needs to make to better her life. God will never give up on her and neither will I!!!! Praise God!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Poem by Bunny Pranger

I disappeared one morning
Left without a warning
Some thought I was finally gone for good
But those doubters just got rattles
'Cause I'm back in the saddle
Doing better than a body should.

Suprise, suprise I'm back again
Who says I've lost too much to win
That wouldn't be too safe a bet
No you can't count me out yet.

My self-seteem diminished
They said that I was finished
Just a washed up piece of history
But some things needed changing
I did some reaffanging
My recovery ain't no mystery.

Took some time to clear my head
I was lost but I'm not dead
I'm feeling good as good can get
So you can't count me out yet.

Been knocked down a time or two
From blows I didn't see
But I'm up off the canvas
You ain't seen the last of me.

So if you feel defeated
Put down and mistreated
Got to show the world there's something more
Just get yourself together
No storm you can't weather
And come back stronger that you were before.

Look at me that's what I've done
Still raising cain and having fun
I live my life with no regrets
So you can't count me out yet
I'm feeling good as good can get
No you can't count me out yet!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Letter From Prison - Shelly Hackworth


I wanted to say somethings to you. I appreciate you sharing your story, it really meant alot to me. Everyday you were in class I look at you and think how much of a beautiful person you are inside and out. I also think I want to become like you, full of confidence and love for yourself as well as God. I never thought you'd been where I was, cause you'd never guess by looking at you or listening to you. But knowing you have been and seeing how far you've come gives me strength to continue and the strength to not give up. I know I can do all this, but seeing results in others lives, like yours, makes my knowing even stronger. I want to tell you, thanks so much. You are a wonderful, beautiful woman and I hope I can be like you and strong in Gods love like you. Thank you so much Tomi.

Sincerely, Shelly Hackworth

Friday, May 18, 2007

Testimony - Shaton Vaughn

I am a member of Tomi's Winning Group. I've been received into the group by grace. I am seeing new revelations of God's word. I have a feeling of belonging. We experience touching and agreeing through corporate prayer. And we are inspired to experience more intimacy with God.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Testimony - Michelle Morton

I, Michelle Morton, am a member of Ms. Tomi's Winning Group. I've learned being in Ms. Tomi's Winning Group that God loves me whatever comes in my pathway as long as I have faith and believe in Him.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What an honor...

This week has been packed full of blessings. I have to say that it has been one of the most rewarding weeks of my life so far. The outpouring of support and encouragment regarding my being selected as the ACJ Volunteer Chaplain of the Year has been tremendous. This experience reminds me of two of my favorite scriptures that I often meditate on for encouragement.

Psalm 92:4 (New Living Translation)
4 You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.

Psalm 94:19 (New Living Translation)
19 When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

This week they pretty much explain my entire life! I truly give all the glory to God for allowing me the opportunity to minister to the women at the jail. I thank Him daily for calling me to this ministry. Sometimes I am still dumb-founded that He chose me, but He did and I will not let Him down. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with support and kind words, I appreciate all of it more than I can express with words. I want you to know that I will continue to walk this mission out and I look forward to seeing where it takes me. I will keep you updated of the progress along the way.

I love you, Tomi

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Testimony - Cindy McMillen

Miss Tomi:

I just want you to know how proud I am of you and I'm so happy I was with you tonight at the Chaplains jail banquet. For those of you who aren't aware of what happened tonight at the ceremony, I'll fill you in. Miss Tomi was presented with a plaque tonight and chosen as Honorary Chaplain of the Year, she was chosen out of 53 other chaplains. Tomi is the youngest female that goes to the jail and teaches bible studies to the inmates.She was recognized for her gift of communication and interaction with the female prisoners and for her passion and love for ministering to the inmates. "The inmates really love and respect Tomi and are willing to receive from her". were some of the comments made. Tomi feels strongly that this is her calling in life. She commented that, "Nothing could keep her from doing what she's doing at the jail." The comment was also made by the senior chaplain who presented the award, that it wasn't easy at first to get Tomi into the jail ministry. She was denied access into the jail the first time she applied. The senior chaplain commented that she had a "colorful" past. He also said that those with a difficult past are usually the best ones to reach the inmates, they seem to connect better. The seed Pastor Al planted in her years ago is obviously bringing forth much fruit.

Keep up the good work Tomi!!

Your supporter and intercessor,


God is AWESOME!!!

A few hours ago I was questioning myself as a leader and mentor and second-guessing myself and my abilities to help people in the things of God. As I was sitting there crying my phone rang and it was one of the very 1st ladies I had the privilege of ministering to at the jail. She wanted to let me know that she just finished her finals was about to get her degree from college. She wanted me to know how much she loved and appreciated me and everything I did for her while she was in jail. She said that she looked forward to becoming a part of my winning group and helping other women like she was helped. Then about an hour later my phone rang again and it was one of my ladies who back-slid a few months ago. She wanted to let me know that she got herself checked into a rehab house and that she was alright. She thanked me for my continued prayers while she was out on the street. She said that even though she knew she was doing wrong she could feel my prayers for her pulling her through. Then right now as I am typing this my phone just rang again. It was another one of my ladies that just got back from prison. She wanted to let me know that she was home and that as soon as she finished with the intake procedures at the half-way house she is staying at she wants to go back to church with me and come to my winning group. She wanted me to know that she loves me and missed me and prayed for me everyday while she was gone. In a matter of a few hours I've gone from crying tears of disappointment to uncontrollable tears of joy! GOD IS AWESOME!!! What else can I say...

It hurts when they go back out...

I found out this morning that one of my ladies went back out to the street (that's how we say that she went back to her old life or that she back-slid). This isn't the first time that something like this has happened, actually it happens more frequently than I would like. But the thing is...it hurts me so bad when this happens. I know that I can't make the changes that need to be made for them - they have to do it themselves, but I almost always feel like if I had just tried harder or did something different or did something better that this wouldn't have happened. I pour everything I know into these women and I open my heart and my home to them and allow them to be a special part of my life. It hurts when that's just not enough. Some of the other volunteer chaplains at the jail told me that this gets easier as time goes by but honestly I hope I never get to the place that when someone turns from the things of God and goes back to darkness that it doesn't faze me. I know I am relatively new at this (I've only been a volunteer chaplain for 2 1/2 years) but I am so sold out to helping these women that it really does hurt my heart when they don't get it right away. I really do sincerely and genuinely love them and if I hurt this bad when this happens I can only imagine what it does to God's heart. I think of the time and effort He put into getting them to this point only for them to turn from Him but then I also think about how He immediatley gets to work on getting them back to Him. And when they do find their way back I think about how He will be waiting with open arms and the same unconditional love that He had for them before any of this happened. And that's how I will be too. I will continue to pray for every woman that has turned back and be eagerly anticipating her return. But until that day I will continue to do the work that God has called me to do at the jail and I will continue to believe the best of every woman down there...no matter how much it hurts when they go back out!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Catching Up

I apologize for the long break since my last post; I will do my best not to let it happen again! But just because I haven't posted anything new doesn't mean that nothing exciting has been happening. Here are some of the high points from the last few weeks...

On Tuesday, April 24 I had the privilege of overseeing Chapel service. There were two services and I am please to say that every woman in both of the services either received salvation or rededicated their lives to the Lord! We had a fantastic time of worship and fellowship! I just love those ladies and it is so much fun to watch the Word come alive to them and in them...

Our Jail Ministry Support Winning Group had our first 2 visitors that were members of my Bible Study in the jail. It was awesome to see them outside the jail. One of the ladies has visited Summit multiple times since her release and she loves it. The other hasn't made it to Summit yet but I believe that she will very soon.

I was made aware of an email that was sent to the Jail Chaplaincy by the sister of an inmate. It turns out that the family had been praying for years for the sister who was incarcerated. She had been leading a life full of mess and destruction and they wanted nothing more than for her to receive salvation and turn her life around. I knew none of this until long after the fact, but the girl ended up being a member of my bible study and received salvation in one of our classes. She finished the Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels of the Winning Track while she was there. She has since gone on to prison but she continues in developing her relationship with God. Her family just wanted to let the Chaplaincy know that what happen to her during her time at the Allen County Jail was an answer to their prayers. I do not know this family nor have I ever met any of them but to hear from the Jail Chaplain that the family of a former inmate took the time to send an email thanking God for me for the work I had done in their sister was a blessing beyond words. It's just another confirmation that I am in the right place doing the right thing - whether I am aware of how it is all working out or not!

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement! Awesome things are happening at the ACJ and I believe that this is just the beginning!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Sometimes I wonder if God is punishing me?"

"Sometimes I wonder if God is punishing me," that was the question asked last night at Bible Study that really got our discussion going. We were in the middle of our lesson that was based on Deut 30:19. That scripture talks about choosing life not death, blessing not cursing. In response to the question asked I was able to show her that many of the tests and trials that she has faced in her life were the direct result of the choices she made, and ultimately what making those particular choices kept her from. I shared with the ladies how the devil likes to throw the stones (tests, trials, challanges and circumstances) at us then hide behind God. So when we turn around we see God standing there and think He was the one who threw the stone. When actually He is waiting there for us to come to Him and receive His help out of our trouble. We also talked about how God allows us the freedom to choose any life we want. He doesn't force us to love Him but He always loves us (He may not necessarily like our actions/choices)! We talked about Psalm 91 and the covering of Gods protection, like wings or an umbrella, and how some of our choices move us out from under that protection. When bad things happen to us it doesn't mean that He doesn't love us it just means that we may have made some wrong choices that moved us out from under His protection. The ladies were really blessed by our discussion and I believe that they will examine more closely the decisions they make in the future. Choose life not death, blessing not cursing and always know that God is never the one punishing us...He's there to help us!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dreaming without Limits

Last Wednesday at Bible Study we had a Dream Session. I do this periodically with the ladies and every time I am so inspired and encouraged by what they have to say. After we finished our lesson I had them close their eyes and imagine their dream life. A life where money is no issue, education is limitless and there is no criminal record to take in to account. Then we went around the table and each woman shared what she had dreamed. I had to help them along in the beginning with some encouragement because this was the first time many of them had done anything like it. We talked about dream homes, cars, clothes, and careers. We had so much fun with each other. We were laughing and high-fiving each other just having a blast. For a moment even I forgot that we were inside the ACJ!!! One lady really tickled me. She just wouldn't/couldn't get with the dreaming big thing. I kept encouraging and pushing and pulling trying to get her to just go with it but she always came back with something negative to complain about. So finally I decided that ultimately she would run for public office one day and she could change the system that she so despised. With that idea she finally broke and ran with it. We were imagining the platform she would run on and her entire campaign. All the ladies were in on it. We even convinced her that she would live in a nice house and drive a nice car. All the while we were having a blast! When it came time to close I gave them the assignment of going to bed each night dreaming about this life. I told them that God has big things planned for them and that no man can stop what God created them to be. I told them not to be afraid to dream big, to push themselves to dream big. And NEVER put the limits of man on God. He is bigger than anything we could ever come up with in our minds. How awesome it is to watch the Light come on in these ladies!!

Monday, April 9, 2007

You know I love you...don't you?!?!

At the bible study last week I had a chance to explain unconditional love to the ladies through demonstration. As we were finishing up our lesson we were sitting there laughing and fellowshiping and this incredible urge came over me to tell the ladies how much I loved them. I stopped everyone from talking and asked them to listen to me I had something important to say. Everybody was quite. Thats when I said, "you know I love you...don't you?" Every one of them nodded their heads some had already started crying. I went on to explain that I love them not because of anything they've done or will ever do. I told them that nothing could ever stop me from loving them, that I am rooting for them, I am praying for them, I have their backs. I told them that when I look at them I don't see them were they are I see potential and promise. I don't see what they did to get where they are I see what they could be. I see beauty in what God created them to be. By this time we were all crying, me included. Then I dropped the bomb on them. I said through my tears that the love I have for them is NOTHING compared to the love that God has for them! I spent the last few minutes we had together lifting them up in prayer and encouraging them. It was an awesome move of the Spirit that took place on the Q Block that night. I hugged each one of them and left for the evening, but I believe that none of them will ever forget the meaning of Unconditional Love!

Touch of Spring 2007 has hit the ACJ

Last week I took about 50 TOS flyers to the jail and the ladies devoured them! They were really excited about it and the fact that it is free was a huge blessing to them. The ladies that know they won't be out at that time took flyers to mail to their family members. I am taking more back this week to distribute to the men and guards. I believe we will see awesome things happen as a result of this conference!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is it REALLY possible?

As I was sitting with the ladies on Q Block tonight discussing our lesson on obedience one lady stopped me and said she had a question. She looked me straight in the eye, her eyes were filled with tears and she asked me point blank, "Is it really possible?" I assumed she was talking about obedience to the word of God so I started to answer her along those lines but she stopped me and asked again but this time with more detail. By this time she had tears streaming down her face when she asked, "Tomi, is it really possible that I can change?" Of course after this question our discussion took a dramatic turn. She explained that this was her 5th time in jail and that she knew Jesus as her savior (she even completed the Winning Track during her last incarceration) but each time she got out she would do good for awhile and then fall away from the things of God. There were many things I wanted to share with her but the examples of the power of God to change someones life that I am most comfortable sharing are my own life experiences. So I shared with her and the rest of the ladies my story of change. I told them that they were looking at a real life example that change is most definitely possible. The most important thing about allowing God to change you is that you never do it alone! I opened up to them about my former self and the life of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and promiscuity that I used to lead. They had a hard time believing me at first but I eventually convinced them that I used to be that person (pretty cool when God transforms you so much that people almost refuse to believe how bad you used to be, huh). Most of our discussion ended up focusing on the importance of having a support team, or Winning Group to keep them on track. All of the ladies already have a relationship with God - now they need a good church home and some one to hold them accountable. We talked the rest of the evening about Winning Groups. I told them about all the different ones we now have at Summit and how I can remember most of the people that were at the first Touch Group I ever attended (Eric, Tomeka, Koby, Danielle, Secily, Cannan, Tabby, and it was at Shelton and Nina Stevens' house). I shared with them that when I got my DUI (six months after I received salvation) Tiffany Shannon picked me up and made sure that I got to church. And when I found out I was pregnant (1 year after I received salvation) it was Pastor that told me I would be a great mom. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for other believers helping me stay on track. So at the end of class I looked at the lady who asked the question and said to her, "Yes you can change! Put God first in your life and surround yourself with people who encourage you to love God more not less (I got that one from you Pastor, thanks) and in no time you will have to convince others of the person you used to be!" There was much much more to our discussion but I think this gives you a decent summary. :-)

Thank you Summit family!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Perspective on Impossible

Last week I shared a little nugget with the ladies @ the jail that I had been meditating on for the last few weeks and something PA said today at church reminded me of it. Not too long ago I watched Mission Impossible 2 on TV. There was a part in that movie that has stuck with me every since and I still receive comfort and encouragement from it. Well here goes: Tom Cruise's character, Ethan Hunt had just received the details of his mission from Anthony Hopkins' character (can't remember his name - but it's not really important). Anyway, after Tom received the information his boss asked him what he thought of the assignment and if he chose to accept it. His answer was that it was going to be very difficult and the response of his boss is the part that still ministers to me. His response was "this is mission impossible, Mr. Hunt, not mission difficult. Difficult should be a walk in the park." I know that sometimes the challenges we face seem impossible but most of the time they just seem really difficult - but what we need to remember is that both are no problem for God! He is the God of the impossible...difficult is a walk in the park for Him!!! When tests and trials rise up against you this week remember saints, with men it may seem impossible but with God all things are possible! And difficult should be a walk in the park! :-)

Be Blessed, Tomi

Friday, March 23, 2007

PA Video Teaching @ Jail this week!

This week I was given the opportunity to show the video teaching Pastor Al did on Success Secrets from the Life of Joseph at the Substance Abuse and Recovery Class (or better known as Drug Class) at the Allen County Jail (ACJ). There are about 40 ladies in this class and I can say with confidence that nearly every single one of them really enjoyed the video. Only a few of them had ever seen the Word taught like that. By that I mean, in a funny and real-life/up-to-date manner. They laughed and agreed and some were even brought to tears but mostly they praised God for His Word. Many of the ladies were excited to come visit Summit (when the opportunity presents itself) and see the teaching of Pastor Al in person. They were encouraged by the teaching and believe me - in a place like that there is not much encouragement going on. I can't wait to introduce these women to the members of Summit and in-turn introduce them to their new life in Christ!

Be expecting, Saints!!!!

Getting Started

This is my first foray into the world of blogging...and I must say I'm kinda excited. And a bit overwhelmed. I have to continually remind myself to take a deep breath and give all the information time to sink in. I see this blog as an excellent tool to enhance the effectiveness of our Winning Group.

Let the fun begin....