Where to begin? In the last month Christina and I have been blessed with a wonderful place to live, Christina has finished her Master’s Degree in Urban Education, and she has been offered a job teaching 1st grade at Promise Academy in north Memphis. And of course, the most exciting news…We’re only 4 short days away from being married!
The past year just seemed to be one blessing after another for me. I moved to Memphis to intern at a church that my uncle John helped plant, Fellowship Memphis, and to take part in a ministry called DownLine. DownLine is designed for men and women to come to Memphis with the intention of learning their Bible. The goal is for each one of them to reteach or disciple someone else, spreading the Word of God right “down the line”. The call comes from Matthew 28:18-20, the great commission- “18Then Jesus came to them [His disciples] and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Sadly, one of the overwhelming problems with the church today is that this command is very often overlooked. Although many Christians would love to make disciples for Christ, several questions arise, “How do I do it? Where do I begin? What do I teach them? Where do I find someone?” DownLine offers the chance for people to explore what this looks like, and how to live it out. The first step is to know what to teach, so while going through DownLine students are literally walked through the Bible. It is a 9 month program, just like a year of school would be. From August to December they are walked through the Old Testament, book by book. Then from January to May is New Testament.
There are two groups in DownLine. One are older men and women from different communities and churches all around Memphis. Then there is a subgroup called the Emerging Leaders. These are recent college graduates who have made the decision to take a year off to learn their Bible, and learn what it means to live the “Great Commission lifestyle”. We provide their housing, and ask them to volunteer at one of the many great urban outreaches all over the city, as well as be involved in a local church family.
After spending my first 6 months here in Memphis I was offered a job to work for DownLine. I am in charge of housing, and all special projects. This covers a variety of responsibilities. Everything from general maintenance and landscaping for the Emerging Leader housing, to helping the EL’s find their place and ministry upon arrival in the city. As they move to town over the summer I’ll be involved in helping them find jobs, and the ministry that they will serve in, as well as a church that they can call their own for the next 12 months.
DownLine is a non-profit organization that is funded through donations. How can you help? My salary is based solely on donations of people who believe in DownLine’s purpose and goal. This is a HUGE leap of faith for me. Basically, what this looks like from month to month is simple. If I don’t raise enough money to pay my salary, then I don’t get paid. Simple as that.
Last year God provided for me in an AMAZING way! From June 1st 2009 to May 1st 2010 I didn’t miss one single check. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some “close calls”, some scary moments, and PLENTY of prayer asking God to come through for me financially…and He did. Every time.
This year will be no different I’m sure. It will have it’s challenges. It will have it’s struggles and scary moments. But, it will also have me around Godly men teaching me the Word of God, what it means to be a man who lives out the Word, and how to be the spiritual leader in my home that God has called me to be.
I completely realize that finances aren’t what they were a few years ago, for almost everyone. I ask you, if you can’t give financial support at this time, will you pray for Christina and I? Our finances? Our home? Our marriage?
To give financially:
-You can give online- http://www.downlineministries.com/donate Click on “Staff support”
-Or you can mail checks directly- P.O. Box 770296 | Memphis, TN 38177 In the memo line simply write “Jeff Howard Support”
DownLine is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax deductible.
Thank you so much for your continual prayer, support, and encouragement in my pursuit of the Lord and His glory! I thank God for each and every one of you! I’m looking forward to use this blog as an opportunity to keep you updated on our new marriage and our lives together!