Thursday, July 5, 2012

Store Closing

I figured this would be the easiest/best place to give all of our friends an explanation on the store closing.  So here ya go...

Store closing:

After nearly 12 years for us and nearly 30 years of there being a Christian bookstore in this location (previously The Shepherd's Place), we will be closing our doors.  During these years, we've made lifelong friendships with some of Walker County's best people, something we cherish deeply.  We've had experiences where people would walk in off the street saying that something drew them here ... seen a number of decisions for Christ right here in the store ... saw a marriage restored by God, using the store as a catalyst.  Those are the experiences we will take with us... These are also the experiences that have made this decision excruciating.  This store has never simply been "a business", it has always been a ministry.

We've decided to close simply because in today's Amazon/iTunes climate, we simply can't convince enough people/churches to support local business.  The past couple of years have been a constant struggle and it is time to move on.  Starting soon, we will have store wide sales to move out the remaining inventory.  Right now we expect to be out by the end of September, but it could be sooner than that.

Thanks for the support over the past 12 years ... we love you all.

Jim Odom

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Note from London

This is a short note I wrote during my layover in London....

Heathrow Intl. Airport .. 8:40 am

I sit in a small cafe all alone, just finished up my mocha coffee, reading from the book of James, reflecting on the past 2 1/2 weeks. The rest of the guys have ventured off into the streets of London, but i feel the need to be alone with my thoughts and my Lord. I am feverishly fight back tears, my mind has finally slowed in order to begin processing all I have just experienced. For the first time in my life I feel like a man, a man that has tasted a life of adventure that God intended for us to live. I hoped for adventure, I found it.. I hoped for an experience that would stretch me, it found me. All in all, I feel as if my entire life has been planned and executed for this one moment, this moment of time that has forever changed me. The excitement I feel is the same as when standing on a cliff, looking down at the water, water that will be my final destination in a journey that needs but one step taken, the rest will take care of itself.

All previous journeys I have taken in my life have always... always... left me with a sense of dissatisfaction, not being able to taste and see the true identities of the cultures I attempted to immerse myself in. This time things are different, I connected with a people group, they connected with me and showed me what it is to love my Jesus. I spent time in their homes, ate at there tables, embraced their children. Peered into their almost black eyes and there I saw the face of Christ. I will never be the same ...

Missions is not merely about taking a trip to see how the rest of the world lives, nor is it simply a means of humanitarian acts, it is the ultimate adventure. You never know what will happen, who you will meet, what you will experience.

Thank you, India ... Thank you, my God

Grace and Peace be yours in abundance.

June, 11… part B… “We’re All Gonna Die”

So, Friday night rolls around, great dinner, the start of the World Cup, just a great night to relax and enjoy our surroundings. Before I go any further, I must say that right now is ‘monsoon season’ here in India. It comes on the heels of the Indian summer, so it rains quite a bit… pretty much like the summer showers we see in Alabama, just with a lot more water.

That night it had been raining for several hours, the first World Cup match (Mexico/South Africa) had come to a close and the satellite feed was going in and out due to the weather and we had no internet, so no one was able to contact the states. We then decided to go to the movies, Grace and Alyssa were pretty fired up about seeing the new ‘Karate Kid’ movie.

We all pile up in the cars and head out… Mind you, from the moment we get in the car I start telling Eddie about the experiences I’ve had on this trip that I’ve never had. I begin to list off everything… then it happened… about that time we pull into the street and see water everywhere. Eddie says, we can get through this (after all, this aint his first rodeo), but the further we go down the street the higher the water gets. We then realize that we can’t go back… we MUST go forward or get stuck.

As we move further down the street, in the dark, I start to get a little nervous, not too nervous, but nervous none the less. About that time, we are forced to stop. Immediately in front of our car is was looks like a rushing river, it looked like the road had completely washed out. What makes matters worse are three guys who are stranded, hanging on to a pole yelling at us, “Go back!! Go back!!”. The water is getting higher and higher, so the panicked discussion heightens. Joel says, “guys, we need to get out, get out now!” and before you know it, he and Haefs are gone. I never heard there decision to go, I just heard the car doors open and shut. The problem for me is, I’m on the passengers side of the car, the very spot where the whole force of the rising water is directed.

I try to open the door… nothing… I can’t open it! So, I roll down the window and go flying out the car. The strength of the water is so much more than you expect when you jump out. Water is up to my waist and I can feel debris, dirt, rocks, limbs and branches hitting my legs. The water is so strong, it’s forcing dirt and rocks in between my feet and my Chacos (sandals). We make our way nearly all the way out of the river when we make the decision to go get the car. Probably not the best idea, but we didn’t want Eddie to lose his vehicle. Joel and Haefs go back and get inside the car, I can hear the engine roar and the brake lights go on and off. We make our way slowly back up the street trying to push the car out of the water. All the while trying to tell people, on scooters mind you, DO NOT GO FURTHER.

The whole ordeal seemed to take hours, but in actuality, was only a half and hour or so. I came to India for adventure, and adventure I have found.


Here is a link to a quick video we shot…!/video/video.php?v=715535409698

June 11… part A ... boys home cleanup

One of the primary focuses of this trip to to help the Aldape’s in the boys home they started. The started the home in 2007 for young Banjara Gypsy boys who cannot afford education.

Even though the Indian government will tell the world that the ‘caste system’ is dead, the environment and culture tells of a different story. The Banjara are considered one of the lowest caste, the only caste lower would be the people who ‘break the rocks’, they are supposedly looking for god in the rocks. Aside the obvious problems with the caste system, the one major problem is, people who are in these lower castes have ‘zero’ shot of advancement. So, many times people who live in these castes, live a life of complete defeat, because it doesn’t matter what they do in life, they will be the lowest of the low. Even if someone breaks out of their environment, and say they become a doctor, people will not go to them for treatment because they know that the doctor is from the lower caste. Sounds insane to my ‘American’ ears, but it is a harsh reality of India.

In the Mumbai area, there are around 600,000 Banjaras and an estimated 98% of these people are completely illiterate. So the fact that this boys home takes in children to give them a free ecucation is HUGE. These boys live at the small facility, they are given nutritious meals, education, and Jesus.

The boys are finishing up their summer vactation (summer lasts from April to June) and will be returning to the home this coming Sunday/Monday. So today, we spent time at the home cleaning and getting it ready for the boys return.

An incredible young pastor named, Manohar (31 yrs. old), runs the school. We have been able to get to know him a bit over the past couple of days. After spending a few minutes with him, he makes me want to be a better person, a better man. After we finished cleaning the home, we headed upstairs to Manohar’s flat to eat. They prepared us a true Indian lunch, A-MA-ZING. The coolest thing about eating here is the use of one’s hands, forks are not required, nor are they used. It’s actually quite nice.

June 10 ... Banjara Gypsy kids ...

Today, I was honored to spend time with the Banjara Gypsies that live behind the Aldape’s home. We took several Frisbees with us and invited the children to come out and play. I didn’t know what to expect as we walked down the street toward the camp, I’ve seen pictures of people who live in these conditions, and in driving around town you see the these little communities everywhere.

When we first arrived, the mothers seemed a bit reluctant to let their children play with us, but it didn’t take long to convince one or two kids to play. As we tossed the Frisbee for the first time, I turned around and saw little kids coming from everywhere. One of the older little boys was a natural, this kid is an athelete, he could throw and catch much better than I can, I was truly impressed. It doesn’t take long, in honesty, it takes only seconds for the these kids to steal your heart. When you see their smiles, hear their laughs, and watch them light up the first time they catch the Frisbee, your heart melts.
I did, in fact, have these moments of clarity. One such moment was when I looked down at what appeared to be an old, large ant mound. Alyssa and I began, the best way we could, to ask one of the little boys what lived in these holes. It took only seconds to understand that the hand motions he gave us, told us that the holes were snakes, cobras to be exact! Immediately, after the initial shock of seeing this boys little hand make the shape of a cobra, I realized how closely these people lived to this. Literally, a few feet separated their homes, with no doors mind you, and these people from one of the deadliest snakes on the planet.

When you spend time with people who live in these conditions, it begins to put clarity on what we, as “American Christians”, define between “needs” and “wants”. You realize that the things we think we need, are nothing more than comforts, and when we put our lives in the context of these people, these needs become nothing more than luxuries.

Scripture has taken on a whole new meaning to me, even after a day and a half in India. I’m beginning to realize how I’ve spent a lot of my life white-washing, and dumbing down scripture in order to make my life safer, simpler, easy. Using excuses justifying complacency and my desire to live a life for myself, advancing myself, for things of this life that Do. Not. Matter.

The whole process of getting to India; fund-raising, paperwork, shots, pills, writing large checks; every bit of that was pure joy, because of these little kids. Their faces and smiles have today, made me a better person.

Day 1... June 9... we've arrived

It’s 6:00 in the morning, I have been awake since a little before 5. My body is still feeling the effects of 18 hours of flight, the 12 hour lay over in London and on top of that, my legs are extremely sore from all the walking we did in London. My body is obviously not accustomed to walking with a back pack that weighs 30 lbs.

I’m sitting here in the living room of Eddie and Macarena Aldape’s home. I’m so blesed to have made friendships with these two precious people... people who have a true heart for God, His people, and the people of India.

I’ve been blessed in my life to travel to different places around the world, but I’ve never been to a country quite like this. There is a beauty to it that I can’t quite put my finger on. A “laid-back hurried-ness”, if that makes sense. I was hoping for a trip that would stretch me and I have a feeling that India is just the place to do that.

After leaving the airport, Eddie took us to lunch at a local Indian restaurant, the real deal! It was really good, they had the BEST pitas with either garlic or cheese. At lunch we talked with Manohar, a local pastor the runs the boys home we are going to be serving at the next couple of weeks. Manohar told us the story of how he came to Christ, incredible story of faith, healing, redemption.

Oh, and I did get to see some cool stuff in London...

More to come ….