Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stand in the Gap Missouri and Life Point Church Ozark

Just got back from the birthing of another Stand in the Gap Spiritual Family ... part of the Foster Care Aging-Out Project between SITG Missouri and Boys and Girls Town of Missouri with Life Point Church Ozark - YES!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kairos International Prison Ministry

The past two days I have been blessed to spend time with 200+ Kairos U.S. and International leaders. Karios exists in 31 states and 8 countries outside the U.S. The Kairos mission is “to bring Christ's love and forgiveness to all incarcerated individuals, their families and those who work with them, and to assist in the transition of becoming a productive citizen” ………… The SITG model, to say the least, was very warmly embraced. Their International Executive Director will be coming to Tulsa in September to begin brainstorming a strategic alliance between our organizations. In the interim, 11 countries or state leaders have requested our implementation manual (see below).

In addition I was introduced to the Prison Fellowship of Canada’s Executive Director, Rick Arsenault. PFI’s mission statement is “ to work through the Christian community to mobilize outreach and ministry in response to the needs of prisoners, ex prisoners, victims, and their families, as well as, to advance the application of restorative justice principles within the criminal justice system”…….. PFI was founded in 1976 by Charles W. Colson. Prison Fellowship feels they are not doing justice to their men and women when they leave prison. Rick and I will be visiting this week.

State Directors requesting our implementation manual:
Illinois, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Washington

Country Directors requesting our implementation manual:
Canada, Mexico, South Africa, UK

God is good!

Buddy Stone

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

SITGA on the move July 2009

Susan from Willow Creek shared the following when asked if SITG had a spiritual impact on her, “It has been an honor to be part of a SITG family and be connected. I have found more connection in my SITG family than in any small group or area of the church that I have served in. It really does feel like family.” (Willow Creek in Chicago is regarded as one of the most influential churches in the U.S.) PTL!

I am also happy to report the Catholic Diocese of Eastern Oklahoma is implementing SITG. Some 61,000 strong in terms of membership.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SITG - would you particpate again?

Another insightful comment from our volunteer survey in response to the question, Would you participate in another SITG Spiritual family?:

Absolutely, how could you not? If it would do as much good for someone else as it has for me, how could I refuse?

Participating in Stand in the Gap is life changing, it is a process that deepens your spiritual maturity and your desire for relational depth and being real and transparent and during the journey it transforms you and brings you closer to Jesus.

Are you interested in joining a spiritual family or championing and starting SITG at your church?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What participants are saying about their SITG experience!

Here are some comments from interviews that we are conducting with Spiritual Family members about their experience - really good stuff:

Impact to you:

I can personally guarantee prayers will be answered if you pray in unity. This is our second SITG spiritual family; I expect miracles.

I think the big word is love, God’s love. Only God could bring together such a diverse group and make us a family. Our group is growing in faith and trust in the power of God.

Impact to your neighbor:

It just totally blows her away to be cared for and loved. She was struggling with a couple of losses that came close together. She is awed that we are there to uplift, love and pray and not tell her what to do better, just do the best she can.

She came to us almost hopeless and through prayer and sharing, she is a reborn believer whose faith has supported her over the last 4 months.

I see things happening in her life that need to happen. Prayers are being answered and we just keep on keeping on. Build our courage up so that we can encourage others.

Impact to other Spiritual Family members:

We knew one another in our church but had never been in a small group together. We have gotten closer, friendships are deeper, we are more open with one another. There is intimacy. We were all prayer people but have a deepening of that intimacy. It is enriching to see God at work, it’s fun and enjoyable.

Everybody is starting to recognize God acting in their lives. Things they took for granted before are now recognized as God sightings.

All have had our prayers answered by the Lord, some in miraculous ways.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Women in Transition

Recently I was in Ohio to evaluate the Women in Transition curriculum being taught in the women’s prison there. I developed the curriculum based on my journey from incarceration to freedom. I was able to integrate back into society with nothing more than the few possessions I had while in prison. After my own Stand in the Gap experience, my heart's desire was to help other incarcerated women transition and be able to place them in a SITG spiritual family. I have been able to do just that when we launched our Women in Transition (WIT) program. We are now teaching the WIT program in Ohio through a Stand in the Gap partnership with Opening Doors and have been working over the past year to improve and enhance the curriculum with the training team in Ohio.

I was prepared for criticism, suggestions, editing and more work to be done on the curriculum as a result of the evaluation. That didn’t happen. The facilitators said the curriculum was perfect. I was amazed. But as I think about it now it’s about truth, reality and the power of the story. Once the women on the yard who are incarcerated read the story they are drawn to the WIT program. It’s so simple, put it all out there; the facts versus the fantasy of transitioning out of prison; how one woman did it and others can choose to do the same. God is good!

Barbara Saunders - Women in Transition Founder

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Passionate Pastor

The driver of SITG success (within a church) is the passion level of the pastor. We have another "10" on the radar screen. Pastor Kevin Stewart with the Muskogee Church of Christ has come out of the blocks flying. I look forward to sharing MCC "God sightings."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Neighbor graduation in Missouri

Marilyn on the UHBC team reports that they "were excited to be able to attend (their neighbor's) high school graduation last evening. We got to see her march in and get her diploma (when we cheered wildly). She finally spotted us in that huge crowd. Congratulations, ....! Good job!"

I'm so excited about how this Spiritual Family is forming and becoming part of each other's lives. It's awesome to have this happening for kids aging out of foster care. To have a "family" to stand and cheer as she got her deploma... well! it just doesn't get any better than that!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Neighbor's Pledge to Take Responsibility - Something We Can All Learn From

The neighbor that we are supporting in our spiritual family has some difficult circumstances and has made some bad decisions to get to this point. But with our prayer and encouragement she is working toward making significant changes to improve her life. At our meeting this week she shared with us a commitment she made that reflects a very healthy approach to life that I think we can all benefit from no matter what our circumstances:

"I understand that during the course of my life I will be required to make many decisions, such as where I want to live, whom I live with, where I work, how much fun I have, and how I spend my money and time, including how much time I spend waiting for things to get better and people to change, and whom I choose to love.

I understand that many events that occur will be out of my hands and that there are inherent dangers and risks in all decisions I make. Life and people have no obligation whatsoever to live up to my expectations; I have no obligations to live up to the expectations of anybody else. Life is a high-risk sport and I may become injured along the way.

I agree that all the decisions I make are mine alone, including how I choose to handle the events that are beyond my control. I hereby forfeit my right to recourse as a victim, including my rights to blame, complain, and whine or hold someone else responsible for the path I choose to take. I am responsible for my participation – or lack of it- in life. And I take complete responsibility for the outcomes and consequences of all decisions I make, understanding that ultimately it is my choice whether I become joyous and free or stay miserable and trapped.

Although people may voluntarily nurture and love me, I and I alone am responsible for taking care of and loving myself."

Signed and Dated by our Neighbor

Monday, May 11, 2009

God on the Move!

At 56 Francois and Monica will tell you I am entering the world of blogging with great resistance. But the God sightings I have encountered in the past few weeks need reporting.
We are the only re-entry model being asked to share at the national Kairos gathering. Kairos mission statement is "to bring Christ’s love and forgiveness to all incarcerated individuals, their families and those who work with them, and to assist in the transition of becoming a productive citizen." Kairos is now active in 33 states and 5 countries. The ministry is active in over 300 sites. Given our recidivism track record we have landed on their radar screen i.e., we have surrounded 50 x-offenders with spiritual families for one year or more in Tulsa, Columbus, and Cleveland and not one, not one has returned to prison. Go God!

I was blessed to attend the Catalyst West conference in Irvine, Ca. last week. 3,300 young (20 and 30 year old) Christian leaders from 48 states and 10 countries attended. And yes I stuck out, but my heart is warm with encouragement regarding the energy and deep faith these leaders bring to the body of Christ. It appears this will be an excellent distribution channel for SITG, these young leaders want to "do the Gospel."

While in Irvine I was blessed to have lunch with our SITG friend Dr. John Townsend and one of his pastors. We were sharing with the pastor the ministry model and why the church should implement SITG. It was kind of like having a color commentator with you—I would share the model and Dr. T would explain the "How People Grow" detail. By the way this church is interested and has over 700 small groups. WOW!

Similar to this California church we are working with the leadership team of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock. When I am with this team it is like being in a Fortune 500 board meeting. The mental capacity of this group is off the charts but they kindly bring it down to my level. Their mission statement is the most crisp, clear, and concise I have ever read: "to equip and unleash Christ followers to change the world through lives of irresistible influence."

I am about blogged out but one more God sighting. SITG-Oklahoma City. My dear friend Scott Manley started SITG under the umbrella of his non-profit Cornerstone Assistance Network last year. Scott first hired a very capable director Doug Mclerran. Doug, Scott, and I presented to 67 hand-picked churches in the 3rd and 4th Q of last year. There has been so much interest we have stopped our initial presentations and have moved into the church implementation stage. Doug is knocking the ball out of the park. Thank you Lord. I am sorry to report Scott at a young 69 years of age has gone to be with the Lord. Our loss.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

SITG at University Heights Church

UHBC Spiritual Family is discovering the power of being in a family group for the team members and for their neighbor. University Heights Baptist Church and Boys and Girls Town of Missouri are great partners for launching the aging-out expression of SITG Missouri.

SITG Missouri

Anne and Andrea, Boys and Girls Town Missouri, and I had a great visit with the leadership team at LifePoint Church, Ozark. We expect to train a Spiritual Family soon! Pray for the church leaders as they recruit a team and team leaders.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


We have had SITG in our church here in Austin for about six months now.  We have four families with neighbors, and have watched God's hand helping the whole time.  It's so funny to see the difference in the groups from the first meeting to the meetings we are having now.  During the first meeting, we all had the feeling of "Are we doing this right?", or even "What exactly are we supposed to be doing ?".  But with lots of prayer, and turning all of our worries to God, our neighbor is changing before our eyes.  Kristin (not her real name) is a single mother of three, with the father of two of her children out of the country, and the father of her other child being the source of most of her pain.   We have prayed through many things with her, mostly for the healing of her pain related to her son's father.  Most recently, she found out that her toddler son was being taken to daycare without ever eating breakfast.  Her son was starving by the time they had lunch.  Because his father was dropping him off, there was no way for her to help her son.  As a family, we prayed about this, praying that this man would live up to his responsibilities as a father and feed his son.
Early the next morning,  we received a text from her saying that her son was sent to school with a bag from McDonalds!!!  God was present, and he wanted to show his love for this little boy, and for his mother.  God is in the details, and no request is too small!  It's so wonderful to know that God is in control, and our job as a family is only to pray and wait for him to act--in big and small ways.  I can't wait to see what God has planned for Kristin, and our whole Spiritual Family. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Stand in the Gap Oklahoma City

It has been a plesure to be a part of the SITG team since September 08. Buddy and the national team have been so able and willing to help me as the presentations, training and follow-up have taken place. As the Program Director for the OKC metro we are seeing God's hand blessing us at every turn. I'm almost scared to post acitvity (don't want to jinx God, ha), but we have presented to 65 churches and organizations with over 30 that have responded with high interest. Out of that group we currently have 7 that have signed the ministry agreement and hope to have 10-12 signed and focussing on neighbors by the fall. Yeah God!
This being my first encounter with the BLOG, I have to say, pretty cool stuff.

making Him famous,

Widows, Orphans, Fatherless, etc.

I was involved in a conference call last night with the Stand in the Gap leadership team from the "rock of Asheville" church ( Asheville, N.C.). What kindred spirits. They were introduced to the SITG model by Brad Lomenick's blog. We sent them our implementation manual and they were off and running. Yet another church that has the DNA to say "send us" to share your love with our neighbors. This is a perfect example of the churches we are seeking. Those that are looking for a safe/proven/tested model to share God's love with the widows, orphans, captives, children aging out of foster care, etc.

Buddy Stone
Executive Director
Stand in the Gap America

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I’m in my second SITG family. With many demands on my time, and seemingly not enough hours in the day, why would I do something like this? I do it because when I think about all the things I have ever done, this seems like the one thing Jesus would like for me to do. It’s easily the most Christ-like thing I have ever done and I think the One who said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” would love Stand In The Gap.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Two O’Clock Awakenings- Listening to God

Stand in the Gap taught me to "listen" for God. I've learned it several times now and continue to learn "how to listen for what God would like me to hear."

See below: 2 O''clock awakenings

The “two o’clocks” are those nights when you awaken at the same time several nights in a row. They are gifts for you. They are your quiet time with your God.

After that first flush of self-pity about being “awake again” in the middle of the night and getting past my self-centered pain syndrome; I wonder, “Who Lord, could need my prayer? There are so many who suffer, who fear, who despair. Who Lord?” And then as I listen in the quiet morning I begin to flip through my mind the list of those I know who are struggling. Slowly, and oh so gently these little things occur to me. “Remember when you hurt Jeane’s feeling on Saturday? Remember when you were lecturing Doris about your concern, your fear on Friday night when what she needed was simply someone to listen? (The lecture was for her own good, of course. ) Remember yesterday when you called Sally seeking a favor and did not immediately hear the fear and tension in her voice? Remember when Buddy needed an Aaron yesterday and you were too weary to even suggest that we all pray?”

Oh sweet Jesus, could it be me that needs prayer? Have I been so caught up in my pride and arrogance and ignorance that I haven’t seen the pain in other’s eyes?

Forgive me Father for I have sinned………

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stand in the Gap Missouri

We are seeing God at work in Springfield, Missouri where we are partnering local churches with the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri to provide spiritual families for kids aging out of foster care. This is one of the great needs in America... to come along side kids who are ages 17 & 18 and are aging out of the custodial foster care programs. There is an estimated 20,000 such kids across the country each year. We are recruiting and training Spiritual Family teams, and teams of 2 for a new project we call the Breakfast Club to relate to kids ages 15 & 16 who will soon be in the aging out category. Everyone involved is exciting and anticipating God-sized outcomes from this new expression of the Stand in the Gap model.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SITG at Sanctuary

We've been running SITG at Sanctuary now for two years, and from a pastoral standpoint I can attest to the AMAZING blessing that it's been to us ... And even more, how far SITG has gone to remind us that divine power for transformation is embedded within in the DNA of the church if only she had eyes to see it.

While I could multiply examples of how God has used SITG to impact the lives of folks at Sanctuary, I'll share just one:

Bob and Sarah (not their real names) had been struggling with a really ugly extended unemployment situation for months. Bob, who had previously held a great position as a business manager for a medical practice, was now in a position of having to work temp jobs and cut lawns just make ends meet. With three kids and a mortgage, things were getting pretty scary. And with a job market here in Tulsa that was not what anyone would describe as booming, Bob's prospects looked pretty thin.

So we formed a SITG community around them. The group began meeting for prayer and within not more than two months a position as a COO at a non-profit corporation up in Green Bay, WI, opened up. Bob and Sarah and the three kids - sadly, but joyfully - moved up to Green Bay where Bob is loving his new position.

Chalk it up to coincidence if you will ... And perhaps it was ... But I'll tell you this and tell it on good authority: The level of such happy "coincidences" seem to rise when a SITG community is involved.

Perhaps Jesus was right when he said, "Where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them."

Imagine that.