April 5, 2016
Nothing Small About the Work You Do
Last year I met with a person that was giving a contribution to Gangland Redemption Ministries. He told me how happy he was to see the gang prevention and intervention work we do with youth and kids in our community, but expressed that he didn’t understand why we also use time and resources to connect with men at the Rescue Mission. I felt led to explain the fact that the LORD was really on my heart to work with men at the Fresno Rescue Mission, because many of the men in their program would be reuniting with their families soon. And whether we like to admit it or not, most of those men have more influence on their children than the “outsiders” from the local church or their school does.
Today is a special day for us at Gangland Redemption Ministries, because tonight we will be launching our fourth Gangland Project at the Rescue Mission led by Rodney Spenhoff who also happened to lead the previous three Projects at the Rescue Mission. Rodney has a heart for reaching out to these men and connects with them in a very special way. This past Saturday was evidence of that, and the timing could not have been more perfect.
This past Saturday, Rodney and his wife Kimmie spent four hours setting up and participating in a Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life block party on East University Avenue at the south side of the Valley Dream Center. As if volunteering four hours of their day was not enough, later that day, Rodney and Kimmie went to drop off furniture that was being donated to the family of a Gangland Project Graduate (we’ll call him “Michael”) from last year’s group at the Rescue Mission.
On Sunday Kimmie was beginning to tear up and it caused a lump in my throat as well as she told me that Michael shared with her that the Gangland Project “changed his life forever”. He was not a gang member but his son was getting heavily involved in the gang lifestyle. Michael was scared for his son, and went through the Project to learn more about what goes through the mind of a youth that chooses to participate in a gang. Michael gave his life over to Christ and has been a faithful attender of Valley Christian Center with his entire family (including his son who he thought he was losing to a street gang). Now Michael’s family have a brand new church family that loves them and offers support in times of need, which seems to be exactly what Michael’s family needed.
I want to encourage all of those out there that may have what they consider to be a “small” ministry, that there is NOTHING small about the work that you do for God’s Kingdom to bring restoration to your community. From the very beginning I have shared with my wife, Tish, “I may not be called to be the next Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Rev. Billy Graham, but there’s nothing that says that Gangland Redemption may not be the tool that helps to discover or uncover that leader”. REMEMBER: “If God called you, He will equip you. If He called you, then others are crying out for you.” God bless you, and God speed my friends.
David J. Standley
February 16, 2016
We Honor the Silent Servant
As we celebrated Presidents’ Day to honor the Birthday of our country’s first President and the Presidents that would follow him, I pondered the Spirit of the people that helped to establish our Independence from British rule. Behind the well-known names of our country’s forefathers like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were people that believed in their leadership and sacrificed everything that they had standing night watches and training up to be ready at a minute’s notice to be ready to battle in defense of our land.
These colonists were out matched by the strength, experience and resources of the British Army and Navy, but the patriots of our land dug their heels in and fought. Not to get their name on a plaque or so that they could be recognized as heroes. These patriots did not concern themselves with getting paid or having a union break with other benefits. They persevered because they believed in the cause of “Freedom” and “Hope” for a better life.
Over the past few weeks I had the privilege to bear witness to that very same Spirit of selfless effort in my community. Men, women and children ranging from age 7-70 pitched in to help the Valley Dream Center settle into its new home in the Ericson Community. Volunteering to carry large desks and other heavy pieces of furniture up and down stairs, and clean-up the landscape of the 4 acre campus. Most of all of the volunteers involved are either still in school or work full-time. Giving up 8 hours of their time on a day off and some showed up on Monday morning at 4:30 AM (with kids) to do a local news station morning show on the campus, before putting in a full day’s work at their job.
These folks are my Christian brothers and sisters that most people will never know by name or face in their community. Despite what I once thought about Christians before becoming one myself, these volunteers do not simply go door to door on a Saturday to invite you to their Easter Service and ask you if they can pray for you (even though I feel that it is important that the Church does it). These folks are boots on the street warriors! With sore knees, shoulders and backs, they show up because they know that their labor of love for their community will produce results. Sacrificing a morning round of golf, hunting for treasures at various yard sales, or even a few hours of sleep before going to work; these are the Minute Soldiers of today. Applying their time and skills toward answering the call of the Great Commission (Matthew 28 : 18-20), sharing the Gospel message of Hope and Freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ; so that families can break free from the bondage chains of Generational Poverty and Generational Violence; which often leads to gang membership.
So to all of the silent servants of Faith out there, I want to say “Thank you”, even though those words alone are not near the honor that you deserve for your labor.
David J. Standley
September 1, 2015
Time Well Served
With music ranging from Newsboys’ “God’s Not Dead” to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” in the background, this past Wednesday night my wife Tish and I roller-skated our way into the distance and out of our positions as Youth Mentors at our church. From summer afternoons selling fireworks in a hot box that felt like it was 120 degrees, to spending a week at camp, to all-nighter lock-ins and Wednesday Night Special games like Ultimate Octopus and Fish head baseball; these past four years have been an experience like nothing else that I have ever been a part of. For the most part, our experience as mentors has allowed for Tish and me to engage with the teens that we served in real ways. Some of them have made us cry and others have made us cheer, but they all made us laugh at one time or another. Their generation is a very complicated and unique group of young people, but each of them possessed a quality or two that would leave me SMH (that would mean Shaking My Head if you’re from my generation). Often the media exposes us to the ridiculous things that their generation do to get a view on Youtube or hear of yet another one of them that dies tragically as a result of violence; but when you get an opportunity to partner with them during their life’s journey and find yourself invited to their Sweet 16 Birthday Party, you begin to view their generation through a much different lens. When you are affectionately referred to a “Big Daddy Dave” and “Momma Tish” by over a hundred different kids, there really is no other honor that is greater.
These kids have added years to my life through their goofy stories and ability to keep up with my competitive nature in a game of Toilet Paper Dodge Ball. From the bottom of my heart and Tish’s I want to say a great big “THANK YOU” to each of my Warriors of Uturn, their parents, the other mentors, Pastors Ben McEntee, Kevin Tyler, Ben Moore and Darrell Miller; many of you will always be heroes to me. It was not always fun and games, but we always knew as leaders how to best share Jesus through each of the experiences that we had with our group of teens. Some of the kids that my wife and I started out with are now mentors themselves and I believe that Pastor Ben McEntee and Pastor Kevin Tyler have a group of mentors that makes this the perfect opportunity for Tish and I to now move forward with what God has in store for us next. So to those of you reading this and perhaps have felt a little like “I don’t have the time or maybe even the talent to serve in my church’s Youth or Children’s Ministries”, all I can say in response to that is, “Try”. Pray on it, and give it a try. Believe me when I say that you will learn more about them and YOURSELF during that experience than you could ever imagine, and you most certainly will change some lives in the process, including your own.
Peace and prosperity,
David J. Standley
June 30, 2015
Faith and works is LIFE!
Once again I felt it was time to share a “Tell the Story Tuesday.” A little over a week ago, Gangland Redemption Ministries (GRM) partnered with the Valley Dream Center (VDC) to have a Laundry of Love event as part of our East University Adopt-A-Block. As usual, our volunteers had an amazing time helping folks out with their laundry and placing quarters into the machines, as well as laundry soap and dryer sheets provided by the Valley Dream Center (VDC) and private donors. But most of all, it was fun to connect with the folks laughing and sharing stories over a brownie baked by Mona (one of our most faithful volunteers) during what would normally be viewed as a laborious chore and boring way to spend a Friday night.
For me however, there was something especially amazing about this Laundry of Love. As many of you reading this are aware of, I am presently bi-vocational as a Police Officer and Urban Outreach Leader. And although the later does not pay me in money, the rewards are priceless. You see early on in my career I had a passion to work gangs, and it just so happens that I was able to spend seven of the first ten years of my career as a Gang Detective working Asian Gangs even though I knew little to nothing about Asian Gangs when I was first promoted to that position. By the end of my tenure as the Asian Gang Expert of my Region, I ended up being involved in hundreds of investigations of violent crimes that involved Asian gang members. That all happened seven years ago before I asked Jesus Christ to be Lord over my life.
During this Laundry of Love event I noticed a Cambodian male that I will refer to as “Lee” (not his real name). Lee was in the laundromat with his pregnant girlfriend and her little girl. Lee stood out to me, because he had a series of tattoos from his neck down. Our volunteers were visiting with Lee and his girlfriend for over an hour, when the temptation of connecting with him personally became too strong to resist. I struck up a private conversation with Lee asking him if he was from Fresno. He said that he was, and told me which neighborhood he grew up in. Immediately I was taken back to my years of enforcing the law in his old neighborhood, and I shared with him that I was once known around his neighborhood as “Detective Standley” or just “Standley”. Shock came across his face when I told him that I had arrested his older brother on two separate occasions, and the second one caused him to be sentenced for one year in a Juvenile Boot Camp facility. Lee confessed to me that he was also sentenced to the California Youth Authority for a gang related felony that I investigated. All these years later, I would best label our conversation as “surreal”. God took charge the remainder of our encounter.
I explained to Lee that I still work as a Police Officer and that I started GRM with my wife, Tish, after God spoke directly into my heart that I needed to make some serious changes in my life. I told him that one of the first changes that the Lord put on my heart was to spread “seed” in the communities that I once focused my efforts on “weeding”. Since May of 2011 I got involved with serving in my local church, wrote a book, established a non-profit and took what I learned about love, grace and mercy inside of the church; and applied those things outside of the church walls and into the community.
Right in front of me was the evidence of why I believe that God called me to this ministry. Lee has a felony record, with no driver’s license, no high school diploma or GED and little in terms of job training or experience. Today, he has a girlfriend with a little girl and a child on the way. Sharing the Gospel is foundational for me, but even if Lee makes the choice to accept Jesus Christ as Lord, how is he going to provide for his responsibilities if someone doesn’t step in and help to encourage Lee one step at a time that he could be an asset in the work place. Deep down I feel that Lee doesn’t believe it himself, so how is he going to convince a potential employer.
It is for the above listed reasons that I am honored for GRM to be a strategic partner of the Valley Dream Center. Their mission is Rescue, meeting immediate needs like food through the VDC Neighborhood Market or Willow Community Garden; Restore, meeting growth needs like the GED Program and job readiness program; and Release, assisting with job placement and long term employment opportunities. Without organizations like this and employers that will be willing to give him a job, people in Lee’s position are left with either a lifetime of public funded assistance or engage in criminal activity for survival. Sharing with Lee the story of Jesus Christ and helping to encourage and equip him for self-sustainability is how we not only lead a person to Christ, but we continue to disciple them so that they will continue to serve the Lord inside and outside of their home. That is how we make a Kingdom sized impact on a person’s life and break the cycle of generational violence and poverty that affects many of the families that GRM serves.
God bless each of you. Please take a moment longer to pray for Lee and others like him in your community that they not only discover the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but they also find the help they need to be self-sustainable raising their families in a home that serves the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
David J. Standley
May 5, 2015
Happy Tuesday! Thank you for taking the time to once again join me for an edition of “Tell The Story Tuesday” (TTST). I know that it has been very long time since I have posted a TTST. Not to make excuses, but my wife (Tish) and I have been extremely busy with fostering a five year old girl, work has been busy, Gangland Redemption has been busy (two book projects and hosting an “Under Construction” event feat. Derek Carr), and I am in my final trimester of Central Valley School Of Ministry. All of that being said I truly feel as though I am blessed in every aspect of my life.
My life has really been making drastic changes and I can honestly tell you that I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit flowing through my everyday tasks. He is empowering me, comforting me, guiding me and even preparing me for what is to come. For some of you this may sound a little hard to grasp, and quite frankly four years ago I would have agreed with you. But if you stick with me for another four minutes, it will make more since to you and I believe that this story is meant specifically for many of you that are still with me.
Becoming a Police Officer came natural to me. After all it has been in my family’s blood for generations, and it is the most realistic goal that I have desired since I was five (since pirate, pro wrestler and truck driving arm wrestler didn’t seem to be as stable). However, over the past four years there has been a deep rooted question within me about what it is that God wants to do with my life. I want to find out how God wants to use my life experiences, talents and passions to BEST serve His Kingdom, and I know that many of you have gone through this or are going through it right now. So that is the purpose of today’s Blog.
My mentor John, who has been helping to guide and advise leaders with questions like I’ve had for over four decades recently told me that I am an “Urban Missionary”. I really didn’t know how to respond to that other than to wonder, “What is the purpose of an urban missionary in a church?” This last Friday I experienced what it is that John was talking about. We were doing our Adopt-A-Block in our East University neighborhood. Some of the volunteers helped to repair 16 bikes, while others handed out Otter Pops to children and played games like Ninja, jumping rope and giant connect four. There was a DJ that set up his equipment at the end of the cul-de-sac and he was playing all sorts of urban Christian music which ended with some more traditional style worship tunes. Even the people from the community that didn’t engage with us at the event watched from the end of the cul-de-sac with an apparent desire to come closer and see what it is we are about. Some of them simply need to be invited and they will anxiously come over to receive an Otter Pop and talk with the volunteers that show up to talk with people and ask to pray with them. The other folks who decide not to come across and join us usually respond with an “I’m good”, then they will step back about four or five feet and continue to watch what’s going on.
So one of my armor bearers (Rick) and I were walking and praying over the neighborhood asking people if they had any bikes that needed to be repaired, and we were returning to the cul-de-sac. One of the volunteers came running towards me followed closely by my wife and five year old. I was worried that my little girl hurt herself falling or something when they told me that a man just tagged a wall right across the street from our cul-de-sac. They described the guy that was covered in gang tattoos on his face, neck and arms and I remembered passing by him less than a minute prior. I could see that the male volunteer was upset and wanted to confront the tagger who was walking with his girlfriend that matched him tat for tat herself.
The Holy Spirit and experience told me that I needed to take Rick with me to talk with this man who wrote his moniker on the wall in three foot letters. The moment that Rick and I got into his car, I began praying a loud as I directed Rick on where to drive based on the condition of the guy and the direction that he appeared to be headed. We stopped at the liquor store around the corner first, and he wasn’t there. Then I spotted him and his girlfriend at the end of the shopping center turning a corner. I told Rick that I saw them and we loaded up back into Rick’s car. As we circle the corner, we saw our guy trying to steal someone’s electric wheelchair that had been parked outside of a Chinese restaurant. The girlfriend was acting as a lookout about 100 feet away.
As Rick and I stepped out of his car the tagger and potential thief hopped up off of the three wheeled zoom-zoom device and was about to go into fight or flight mode as he called his girlfriend over to his aide. Without hesitation I reached my hand out to this man and told him, “We come in peace. But we know what you just did over on the other block tagging up that wall. We are in that community trying to share Jesus’ love with that community and don’t appreciate what you did, and are asking you not to do it again.” The man shook my hand and asked us if we had any paint so that he could paint over it.
That was not the response that I was expecting quite frankly and that just goes to show what God can do under any circumstance, even with a guy that was most likely high or hurting to get that way at the earliest opportunity available. I asked the man what his name was and if we could pray for him. He said that his name was “Junior” and said that he would like it if we would pray for him. Once again, not what I expected. So with my head bowed and eyes wide open, I prayed for Junior who was looking back and forth the whole time because I am sure that he was very uncomfortable. At “Amen”, Junior was away with his girlfriend out of view.
Rick and I went to the Chinese restaurant and contacted the owner of the motorized wheelchair so that he could pull it in front where he could keep a better eye on it, in case Junior had any second thoughts about trying to take it.
When Rick and I returned to his car, all I could think about is how good God is and how much He has done to transform my life. Then my mentor’s words came to me once again, “You are an Urban Missionary”. Just like that I realized that God confirmed what had been spoken to me less than three days before, and in doing so He reassured me of what it is my Heavenly Father has called me to do with my life for His Kingdom.
I am no clearer today than I was before about how God will use me as an Urban Missionary. But I am grateful for the fact that He cares enough for me, that He has answered the question about what I am. As I said earlier, I think that many of us have struggled with discovering where we fit in. Am I gifted in working with small children, or youth, or the elderly? Do I have a passion to work with the homeless, or girls that are being targeted by human traffickers? Or am I gifted with finances or the political influence that can help provide resources for the message of the Gospel to expand in my local community or internationally? Whatever it is that you may be asking of God about any of these things, my desire is that you take the time to pray about it and see how God will answer your petition. God bless you all, and please feel free to respond with stories of your own, or how this message may have helped you.
“One act of mercy can do more to change a man’s life than a decade of incarceration”
~Glenn Burris Jr
President of Foursquare Church
January 27, 2015
JUSTICE FOR JANESSA
Sunday night, about three hours from honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the community of Fresno was struck deeply by gang violence and the senseless murder of an innocent bystander. Nine year old Janessa Ramirez was with her mother standing in front of a neighborhood laundromat when she was fatally wounded in her stomach by gunfire. According to a local news report, Janessa’s final words were, “I love you mom.” There is no doubt in my mind from all that I have learned about Janessa over the past week that she has already gotten started on enjoying her eternal life with Jesus. But what about us that are left behind with a community that has been impacted by this horrible crime against an innocent child? And what about her mother? Her friends and teachers from her elementary school? What can possibly be done to make this kind of thing right?
By Monday afternoon I told my wife that I wanted for our ministry, Gangland Redemption Ministries (GRM) and the Valley Dream Center, to go to the laundromat where Janessa was killed and conduct a “Laundry of Love” for their neighborhood. My wife agreed and we reached out to our volunteers, who all agreed that Saturday would be the perfect day to hold the event. For those of you who may not know what a “Laundry of Love” is, it is an opportunity for an organization to go to a laundry mat and fill washing machines and dryers with quarters for anyone that shows up to do their laundry. The key to an event like this is that it is unannounced, so it is a blessing to the folks who show up to wash their family’s soiled clothes. If you would like to know more about hosting a “Laundry of Love” in your own community I encourage you to look it up on-line, but for the sake of brevity, I will leave it at that.
The Valley Dream Center (VDC) leaped at the opportunity to support our event and generously offered all of the funds necessary for us to host the event. So this past Saturday from 10:30am-12:30pm (while Janessa’s funeral services were being held), over a dozen volunteers from GRM and VDC partnered with volunteers from the West McKinley Assembly of God (a local church in that area) to host our Laundry of Love at the Fresno Wash Station. We also had several volunteers that baked various individually wrapped items so that we could sell them as a fundraiser for Janessa’s family.
By 11:30am, our Bake Sale was doing well, but the Laundry of Love did not appear as though it was producing much results. I am sure that all of the volunteers were feeling the same way that I was at that moment. I give all of the credit to my wife Tish and her friend Kimmie for the most amazing story of the day. My wife went into the apartment complex that is very close to where the shots that took Janessa’s life had come from. Tish spoke with one lady (who for anonymity purposes I will refer to as “Esther”) that said she was too scared to come out of her apartment and use the laundromat. Esther added that she has a nine year old daughter of her own that would play out in front of the Wash Station while her she would do their laundry. Tish and Kimmie left the apartment complex believing that none of the people that they had spoken with were going to come, so they prayed for each of them as they walked back to the Wash Station.
Then when the clock struck 11:50am people were flowing into the Wash Station in such a rate that each of our volunteers had to pitch in with supplying the customers with soap and dryer sheets to be placed into the washers and dryers; while the others came right behind them with the quarters that we loaded into the machines. I get a little teary eyed even right now when I think of how blessed my wife and I are to have such an amazing group of volunteers that wove their way seamlessly through the laundromat taking care of all of the laundry needs of these wonderful people. The owner of the Wash Station, Carol, started crying as she saw folks from the local community being blessed by a group of people in orange t-shirts ranging in age from 13-53. Carol shared with me that she had a very difficult week, and how nice it was to have an event like this in her business.
Tish and Kimmie were moved to tears when Esther showed up at our Laundry of Love with her daughter and her daughter’s friend. PRAISE GOD! My friends, that was a miraculous moment that I can’t take any credit for. Tish and Kimmie were obedient to the Holy Spirit and God opened up the hearts of dozens of people that did not allow for fear and the lies of the enemy to keep them inside of their apartments. GOD REALLY IS GOOD!
End result was over 170 loads of laundry were washed and $440 was raised for Janessa’s family from the Bake Sale. More importantly however, was the experience of being able to love on the Clinton / Marks community. So back to my question at the beginning of this Blog, “What do we as a community do when a crime like the one that took Janessa’s life happens?” My only response is, “Do whatever you are capable of!” God formed us all with a certain level of unique skills and talents that He wants for each of His children to use for the benefit of His Kingdom right here today! Maybe all you have time to do, is bake a dozen cookies, or donate $10 in quarters. Maybe you feel more comfortable praying over the community rather than listening to the story of one of its residents, and giving one of them a hug. No thing and no one can replace Janessa to all of the people that were fortunate enough to have known her. But if we as a community are going to do something in honor of her in an attempt to bring about something positive from this experience it must come through sustainable change. A shift of the paradigm that is significant enough that it won’t just change one neighborhood, but it is strong enough to impact a city for the long term. Whatever it is that God has given you, He did it intentionally knowing that what you have is exactly what your community needs right now. In the words of Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries, “Community trumps gangs”.
Please take five minutes more out of your day to pray for Janessa’s friends and family that lost this precious girl at such a young age. Also be praying for Justice for Janessa (not retribution), that each of the people responsible for her death will be held accountable by the swift hand of God. God bless each of you and yours.
David J. Standley
1 Peter 4:10 (MSG)
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
December 23, 2014
This week’s “Tell The Story Tuesday” (TTST) is unique for me, because I write this one with a heavy heart for my fallen brothers that were killed senselessly by an extremist. Not knowing if the person responsible for the shooting suffered from mental illness or not, I will classify him as an “extremist” because I do not believe that he represents the folks that are peacefully protesting on behalf of Brown and Garner. On that note my family’s prayers go out to the families and friends of fallen Officers Ramos and Liu.
Many of the wonderful folks that are reading my blog have never experienced what it is like to drive around in what is often referred to as a “fish bowl”, which is what a police officer experiences as they are driving down the street in a marked patrol vehicle. Eyes are constantly on the officer from all angles at all times. If the officer happens to be on the phone with the Reporting Party of the call that he or she is responding to, it is witnessed by four or more other motorist assuming that he or she is on the phone with their significant other discussing their plans for later that night. If an officer smiles too much he or she is often perceived as being soft and not cut out for the job that requires them to arrest violent suspected violators of the law. If an officer is rigid, showing little to no emotion on a call, they are often perceived as being uptight and having no compassion for others. Without exception, most officers that I have had the honor of working with are well balanced and have the ability to be an understanding shoulder to cry on in a time of mourning, and have the ability to effectively arrest a violent suspect that is six feet tall or larger.
Either tomorrow or the day after, most of us will be gathering together with family and friends to celebrate the virgin birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is often accompanied by kids tearing open gifts, families sharing Christmas stories from years past, eating your favorite aunt’s tamales or raviolis, and maybe catching a College Bowl game with your cousin that you haven’t seen in a year.
With that in mind, I would like to take a quick moment to share with you my first two Christmas’ as a Police Officer. Like most police officers, I had to work the midnight shift on Christmas Eve during my first two years on the job. My first year, I responded to a call for service of a Domestic Violence assault inside of a residence. It could not have taken my partner and I more than four minutes to reach the call and inside of the residence were several piles of gifts throughout the living room and it appeared that the crying children had just started opening their presents before their daddy who had been drinking too much started “hitting mommy”. Daddy didn’t stick around the “whole” four minutes that it took us to respond to the call so that he could tell us his side of the story, and didn’t return until hours later when the kids had to witness daddy get arrested for the assault.My second Christmas Eve, I responded to a call for service in which a neighbor called about a loud male versus female disturbance in a next door apartment. My partner and I noticed that the front kitchen window was broken in an outward direction. We knocked on the door for about five minutes, until a woman with a bruised eye and disheveled hair finally poked her face out from behind the broken window asking what was wrong. We told her about the call that we received and she said that it must have been another neighbor that the caller heard. With compassion my partner convinced the battered victim to allow us to search her small two bedroom apartment for her boyfriend that she told us had already fled. A quick safety search of the apartment revealed that her boyfriend was hiding in the bathtub/shower with the curtain drawn. At that point the victim admitted to being assaulted by her boyfriend minutes before we knocked on the door and told my partner that he stomped her in the face with his boots. The suspect’s boots were in their bedroom, and wouldn’t you know it, there were long strands of human hair wedged between the heel and the sole of his boot. Suspect was booked.
It is my deepest hope for each of you reading this blog that you and your family have a safe and blessed Christmas this year, and it is not my desire in any way to take any of that away from you by sharing these stories. However, as a Christian, who also happens to be a law enforcement officer, I felt it was necessary to share through the lens of a cop what Christmas may be like for an officer on patrol for the next few nights. I believe wholeheartedly that being a Peace Officer is a calling (Romans 13: 1-6) and I have been blessed with twice as many good experiences as I have been subjected to negative ones. I will never take for granted what it does for a child when an officer in uniform buys them a candy bar or a bag of chips using money from his or her own pocket. But even more than that I will never forget the experience of having to attend the funeral of fallen officers who’s spouses and children are overwhelmed by the loss of their loved one, because it is for that reason that I do all that I can, not to put my family through that experience.
So as you gather together with your family to celebrate the birth of Jesus, please take a moment to pray for our service men and women as well as first responders that will be working hard throughout the night to keep our communities safe. God Bless you all. Merry Christmas and have a Blessed 2015!
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called (children) of God.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 5:9)
David J. Standley
November 25, 2014
1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Good Tuesday friends. Three short versus in one powerful statement. This coming Thursday many of the people reading this will be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends over a large meal, perhaps a Macy’s Parade and a full day’s worth of football (maybe even a traditional Turkey Bowl game with family and friends). Friends I would like you to start challenging yourselves today by thinking deeply and praying on one item in particular that you are thankful for this year, and I would like to share mine with you over the course of the next four minutes.
Many of you that have followed Gangland Redemption Ministries (GRM) and my Blog over the past few months; and are aware of the fact that we partnered with the Valley Dream Center this past year to launch an “Adopt-A-Block” program in a neighborhood that is about 1/8 of a mile lined with apartments on both sides of the street. Faces were painted, ice pops were handed out, bikes were repaired, indoor soccer was played by lots of children, the community was beautified by hauling off discarded furniture items, free laundry services were provided; and our six week project was capped off with free pizza and dessert items were handed out to everyone form the community that showed up (thank you Me-N-Ed’s for your support). Over 30 different volunteers showed up during this project and shared the love of Jesus every Saturday for six weeks straight.
After all of that I’m sure that many of you are expecting that a project like that must have produced some pretty substantial results; right? On the surface of it when all was said and done there has been one family that has shown up all three Sunday’s since we wrapped up the first phase of the project. As Christians we often say the words, “If this only changes one life it was worth it.” But do we really believe that? You see we are often judged by others and ourselves based on the physical results of what we see as the end of a project like the one I described, but can we really see all that God is doing to produce a harvest in that community? I mean even for a farmer, doesn’t he have to cure the soil in preparation for the best results of the seeds that he is about to spread; and when he spreads the seeds does he just throw them all over the ground in hopes that the crop will spring up all over the place, or is he intentional about where he places the seeds so that it will produce the most effective results; and once the seeds are placed into the ground, does the crop spring up out of the ground right away; or does it have to wait for water and an ample amount of time to produce the bountiful harvest that the Good Farmer wills to take place?
I have met with two of my mentors and discovered that the first phase of the University Neighborhood was simply preparing the soil and carefully placing of some seeds in anticipation of the harvest that the LORD is springing up out of their community. In January we will be returning to their neighborhood loving on their community and watching God sprinkle His waters on the seeds as they spring up from the soil with a new belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; and a discovery of who they are in Jesus Christ!
So this year I am so thankful for the early produce of the bold family who walks over mile in each direction to attend church at the Valley Christian Center Church every Sunday. ONE father, his wife, a high school son, a junior high school daughter and infant son. I am joyful of the early results; and thankful in this circumstance, knowing that God’s will is still at work in the University Neighborhood when we get to bless some of the families in their community with Thanksgiving meals provided by the Valley Dream Center and the Community Food Bank!
My vision for this upcoming year is multiple families walking in line with one another to church every Sunday, pushing strollers, caring snack items and bottled waters as they sing the LORD’s praises and joyfully discuss all the wonderful things that He has done for them over the course of that week. All this taking place as they are being led along the sidewalk by “JUST ONE FAMILY.”
Never give up on Thanking God for all that He has done in your life! Think of that one thing that you are thankful for this year, and be ready to share it this year as you gather with your families. Your example might be just that plowing of the soil; sprinkling of the seed; or water of the crop; that your Heavenly Father is producing for His Harvest. Thank you Jesus, Thank you Holy Spirit, Thank you Father! Have a blessed Thanksgiving my friends.
David J. Standley
November 11, 2014
A Veteran’s Heart
Often I have heard people say that their view of Jesus is that he was all about love, peace and acceptance; and for the folks that may not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I see where those folks would have drawn their conclusion from. However, I would like to take a quick moment to explain why I believe Jesus to be the ultimate example of a combat veteran. Although a carpenter by trade, from as young as twelve, Jesus studied amongst the leaders of the church in preparation for his life’s mission (Lk 2:42-52). He swore with a public oath to defend what he believed in from the Jordan River, and “at once” he received his orders to be deployed “out into the desert” for forty days to be tempted by Satan (Mk 1:9-12). In warfare Jesus lead his troops by example; healing the sick (Mk 2:1-12; Lk 17:11-19), raising the dead (Jn 11:1-44), and even defended his Father’s house against wrongful activities (Jn 2:14-17) just to name a few of the things that he did.
Jesus went wherever his orders directed him, and did everything that his Commander-In-Chief (Heavenly Father) asked of him. He never wavered from any order that was directed at him even when on at least one occasion he didn’t want to follow his Father’s orders (Mt 26:39; Lk 22:42). Ultimately Jesus was crucified for us all (Mt 27:27-56; Mk 15:16-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30) “while we were still sinners” (Ro 5:8).
I thank Jesus Christ that he was the Ultimate Airman, Coast Guardsman, Marine, Sailor and Soldier in one person, as an example of someone willing to offer his life in service and in sacrifice for those who may never appreciate what he did. For those of you reading this today who are serving, have served, lost someone that has served, or are caring for a service member that was not able to return home in the same manner as they were before they served (whether physically or emotionally); I say “THANK YOU” for all that you did. As a Navy veteran deployed in the Persian Gulf during Desert Shield myself, I understand “some” of the sacrifices that are necessary to defend our Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, but none of us will completely know what each of you did as a personal sacrifice for this great nation. May God watch over our service men and women as they protect us and our freedoms. God Bless you and God Bless America!
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ~ Jesus Christ
October 14, 2014
“Commitment vs. Comfort”
Have you ever used the expression “I’d be a millionaire if I had a nickel for every time I …”? Well I must admit that “I would have enough money for five Gangland Redemption vans; If I had a dollar for every time I tried to convince myself ‘It really won’t matter if I don’t help out at Youth Group tonight; or no one will miss us if we don’t show up at first service on Sunday’.” However, I don’t allow for myself to make the decision on matters like whether or not I’m going to church on Sunday or serving at Youth Group on Wednesday night, because I can always come up with a reason to justify skipping out “just once”. Those decisions I leave up to the Holy Spirit and in four years He has never told me that my presence is not necessary at Youth Group or I already know everything that Pastor is going to share (because I don’t). As a matter of fact I have discovered that when the enemy is really trying to work on me to miss serving God’s Kingdom or attending church, and I decide to do what the LORD wills for me; that’s when I experience some of the most significant supernatural break-through moments. As Pastor Bill from Valley Christian Center Church (VCC) in Fresno often says, “God is more concerned with your commitment than He is with your comfort.” Does that mean that God doesn’t want me to feel relaxed and at peace? Absolutely not, but God knows that if we aren’t out there doing His work on the streets people like the “Bicycle Guy” may never find peace for themselves again.
Out of respect for Bicycle Guy I will not use his real name or many specific details of his life. I will say that he is a resident of our “East University” Adopt-A-Block community. He is Spanish speaking only and the message that has gotten back to me is that he has an addiction to alcohol and can be verbally abusive towards his wife and children when he is drinking. His wife and daughter actually asked for prayer from our team about this situation and are hoping to attend Celebrate Recovery as a family. Our team members met Bicycle Guy during week one of our Adopt-A-Block, and spoke with him and his family. The team members that spoke with him, shared that we would be conducting a “Bicycle Repair Station” with our partners Feed My Sheep Ministries in the cul-de-sac the following week between 10:30-12:30.
As our caravan pulled up to the cul-de-sac this past Saturday, Bicycle Guy is already standing at our spot holding two child sized bikes that needed repair. Friends, I am almost moved to tears for this man as I am writing this down, because I understand Bicycle Guy. I myself struggled with a gambling addiction of my own at one point, and understand how desperately I wanted to be free from myself during that period of my life. But my question to you is this… “What if our team of volunteers had not followed through on our commitment to be where we said we would be and when we said we would be there?” Speaking for Bicycle Guy, I would think that he would probably feel like ‘I really liked those people and I was really hoping that they would have showed up. But oh well, I guess they’re really not much different from the others that have let me down before’. We’ve all been let down in life, and I can say that when an addict is let down, his only place of “comfort” for his feelings is in the substance of his addiction (alcohol, drugs, casinos, on-line porn).
As a recovered gambling addict and grateful believer in Jesus Christ I have not gone into a casino for almost four years now. I know that there is Hope that can only be found in a loving Heavenly Father that sent His precious Son as a lamb to be slaughtered as a sacrifice for our sins. You see God certainly didn’t make it COMFORTABLE for His own Son to overcome my addiction or Bicycle Guy’s, but Jesus was COMMITTED and knew that “There was no other way”. [Luke 22:39-46]
On Saturday October 25th, Adopt-A-Block is going to vest up to help clean-up trash and cover graffiti in the “East University Neighborhood”. I have a vision of over a hundred volunteers of men, women and children wearing orange t-shirts and vests loving on the neighborhood with pickers, garbage bags and a prayer booth on our cul-de-sac. Please be praying for this and make a commitment to meeting at VCC (4649 E. Shields Ave) on Saturday October 25th at 10 AM. Let’s show the “East University Neighborhood” that we serve an AWESOME GOD and that He loves them right where they are right now, and desires to have a personal relationship with each and every one of them.
This week we are doing indoor soccer for the children in their community, so please be praying for that. Please be in agreement with me in prayer this week for the Celebrate Recovery Ministry and Bicycle Guy along with his family!
God Bless you this week. You are loved!
Dare to wear Orange
This past Saturday morning was special to my wife Tish and I, because it was the day that the Valley Dream Center (VDC) and Gangland Redemption Ministries (GRM) broke ground on our very first Adopt-A-Block project. Seventeen volunteers dawned in vibrant orange, caravaned from the Valley Christian Center (VCC) into the 4800 block of E. University Ave, as we set up two canopies, supplies for face painting, pamphlets with helpful resource materials near their community, and a large ice chest stocked with ice pops for kids of all ages.
I knew deep down in my heart of hearts that the LORD was calling the VDC Team into this community two months prior, when I saw that there were 114 Fresno PD calls for service in that neighborhood in a three month period. The almost quarter mile block is primarily bordered with apartment complexes on both sides of the street; the only exception being three small houses on the south side of the street, and California Christian College on the northwest corner of University and Winery Avenues. I do not want to waste too much time going into details about this, but the enemy was really working on me, to try and find another community to launch this program. However, I knew that regardless of what may appear to be true based on what my eyes and ears may be telling me, God’s plan and timing of this project is intentional and 4800 E. University is exactly where He wants us to be right now!
So with our camp set up on a cul-de-sac in the center of the community, Rick Darling (a GRM Board Member) and I began to walk the block praying over the neighborhood. I was walking in the street when I noticed a shiny object lying on the ground; it was a .40 Cal shell casing. I walked another 8-10 feet and there was another one. Another 10 feet away and guess what… it was another shell casing. I believe that those shell casings, regardless of how long they had been lying down there in the street, was the LORD’s way of telling me “This is why I called your team here.”
As Rick and I were wrapping up our prayer walk of the block, I came upon Gabriel and his older sister playing outside of the front door of his apartment. He is five years old and covered with superhero temporary tattoos and a grin from one ear to the other. Noticing all of his superhero tattoos, I shared with him that I also had a superhero tattoo. Now who would have ever figured that God could have used a Captain America tattoo on a 42 (about to be 43) year old man’s arm as a way to start a relationship, but it worked. I told Gabriel and his sister that the VDC was giving away ice pops and painting children’s faces for free, just 80 yards away in the cul-de-sac. Gabriel and his sister rushed into his apartment and emerged seconds later with his 15 year old aunt ready to go get his free ice pop and his face painted. And wouldn’t you know it… he chose to have his face painted like Captain America.
According to colorsofpraise.com the color orange represents Spiritual Warfare / Intercession, and it references (Eph. 6:10-20) which is the Armor of God. Now I am not sure if the site is referring to verse 16 which is the Shield of Faith (possibly gold) quenching the fiery darts of the enemy (assumed to be orange in color I would guess) that they draw their conclusion of what the color orange represents, but I’ll take it! You see the reason that we wear orange t-shirts while we are serving during our Adopt-A-Block is twofold. First of all, orange is the primary color of the Valley Dream Center. Secondly, it is a color that stands out while we are serving in a community, and helps us to be more identifiable. However, as I look at the shell casings on the street and see the 62 people (consisting mostly of children and youth) that came out to the cul-de-sac to meet us on the 4800 block of E. University Ave, I am beginning to see that there is Spiritual Warfare taking place in that community, as well as physical warfare apparently. And it is up to the Church to intercede for their community, and bring with us a message of Hope while loving on our neighbors. Sharing with them that God has a deep love for each and every one of the residents in that neighborhood, and that love is specifically tailored to fit each individual and what they need from Him as a Heavenly Father.
I know that God always comes through with the resources that are necessary to achieve all of the tasks that He has laid out before us whether it is for Gangland Redemption, UTurn (VCC Youth Ministry) or the Valley Dream Center. But I am also aware of the fact that some of you reading this Tell The Story Tuesday (TTST) may be one of those resources. If you can help fix a bike or a leaky faucet, throw a football, or pour a glass of lemonade, then you can “Dare to wear Orange” and God can use you to help Adopt-A-Block. Or perhaps you truly do not have the time, then please take a moment at 10 AM every Saturday for the remainder of 2014 to pray for the community of “4800 E. University”.
Praise God! Be blessed this week in the name of Jesus.
David J. Standley
Discipleship Is Made Up Of Us All
September 30, 2014
Happy Tuesday friends! I am especially excited about sharing this week’s “Tell the Story Tuesday” (TTST). Many of you may recall me sharing the story of kids in an apartment complex swimming pool playing a modified version of “Marco” – “Polo” and using the words “East” – “Side” (glorifying a specific gang). I was standing outside of the apartment of a 12 year old boy named Buddy while he was getting ready to go to Blackbeards for the day, when that event took place. I remembered thinking to myself that these are probably the kids that Buddy spends most of his time with, and feeling a little grieved over it.
Less than two weeks ago several of the youth from UTURN @ Valley Christian Center were helping Gangland Redemption Ministries hand out fliers for a free outreach event that was to take place three days later on the Valley Christian Center campus. As our group went in to Buddy’s complex we were met by Buddy, his little sister and about eight other kids from the complex that wanted to help us hand out fliers around their complex. I took advantage of the moment to invite Buddy to join us at UTURN later that night for a “Wednesday Night Special” movie event watching “Nacho Libre” and have free ice cream.
Buddy didn’t just show up for the movie night, but he also attended the outreach event called Harvest of Hope and came to UTURN the following Wednesday. Before service, my wife (Tish Valdez-Standley) was sharing about our Adopt-A-Block that launches this Saturday, and letting our youth know that we are in need of a few youth volunteers to help with the project. At the conclusion of service, the other UTURN mentors and I were called to meet with the Youth Director, Ben McEntee. During the ten minute meeting, Buddy poked his head into the room and I could see that he wanted my attention, so I excused myself to join him.
Buddy told me that he was eager to volunteer and help with face painting on our Adopt-A-Block. I explained to him that I was pleased to hear that he wanted to help, but I also wanted to explain the purpose of the Adopt-A-Block. But first off, I had to ask him the often difficult question of “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” His response was, “No”. So I explained to him that he would not be excluded from helping us during the project, but the ultimate purpose of the Adopt-A-Block was to share Jesus’ story of Hope and Redemption (just like the message that Buddy heard that night at Uturn) with folks who may not want to come to a church to hear it.
Next I asked Buddy if he wanted to accept Jesus as his own personal Lord and Savior, and he replied “Yes I do, I want that.” I went on to explain to him that we have to confess to the LORD that we acknowledge that we all have sinned and understand that Jesus died for those sins, (past, present and future) and that we choose to live out the rest of our days for Him in honor of all that he has done. Buddy repeated similar words with me right there in a prayer while I was supposed to be meeting with the Youth Director discussing future events. God’s timing can never be predicted!
If that was the end of the story it would be glorious, but there is one more piece. On Thursday night, Tish went to Celebrate Recovery at Valley Christian Center to share our Adopt-A-Block. Rudy who is usually found working hard serving as security in the parking lot had another person riding alongside of him in the church’s golf cart. It was none other than Buddy!! Buddy was beaming with excitement when Tish approached them, and was eager to share that he was a member of the VCC Security Team.
Discipleship is made up of us all, as a church family. Rudy most likely did not even know what took place the night before, but here was an opportunity to hang out with and share a piece of himself with a kid from the neighborhood and that is what Rudy does best! Thank you again for taking five minutes out of your day to read our TTST and please take another five minutes to pray for the “Buddy’s” in your life and mentors like Rudy. Also please be praying for the Valley Dream Center and Gangland Redemption Ministries as we launch our very first Adopt-A-Block in a community that is in need this Saturday. Praise God! Be blessed this week in the name of Jesus.
David J. Standley
September 23, 2014
Happy Tuesday friends. Today’s “Tell the Story Tuesday” comes off the heels of the Harvest of Hope event that took place at Valley Christian Center Church this past Saturday. The LORD has blessed us with a beautiful campus that has a large grass area which was packed with family fun activities for everyone in the community to enjoy.
Amongst the smell of BBQ’d hamburgers and warm popcorn; the views of kids competing in a large inflatable jousting station wearing freshly placed face paint, or kids with freshly painted nails (from our polish and prayer booth) getting rides on a full sized horse; and the sounds of kids cheering and laughing as they competed at various game stations, or the splashing noise of one of our Pastoral Staff getting soaked in the dunk tank. I am certainly blessed to have an opportunity to serve and witness this event every year.
But this year was especially unique to me, because this year I was reacquainted with “Mike” (his name changed for anonymity purposes). Mike was released from the county jail and accepted in the Men’s Academy at the Fresno Rescue Mission just over a week prior to Harvest of Hope. His head and face were decorated with tattoos (many of which were gang related) and he greeted me with a smiling, “Hey how are you?” Many of you know that Gangland Redemption Ministries (GRM) is very active at the Fresno Rescue Mission Men’s Academy, and many of the men were at the event serving in setting up / breaking down and manning their own Rescue Mission booth at the event.
I figured that Mike recognized me from the Mission, but I couldn’t place him, and I mentioned this to him. Mike told me that while I was on the Gang Unit several years prior, I made several contacts with him and one of them resulted in me taking him to jail. Picture for a moment that I once placed steel handcuffs on Mike securing his arms behind his back before placing him in the back of a patrol vehicle and for an undisclosed time, took away his freedom. Mike, still smiling went on to tell me about how he just got out of jail and was at the Men’s Academy and that he had received the LORD into his heart about one week prior to our encounter. Mike shared his story with me and told me of how the mother of his children finally gave up on him about six months prior. I asked Mike if I could pray for him and his family right there, and that is exactly what I did. Praise the LORD!
I believe that we most certainly serve an Omni-Present LORD who is intentional about EVERY encounter that we have with people in our lives, and can move in powerful ways, even during odd encounters like this one. Mike is on a 30 day blackout and should not have been at the Harvest of Hope to begin with, but God had other plans for Mike and I.
Thank you LORD for your grace and thoughts beyond our comprehension. And thank each of you for once again taking five minutes out of your day to read TTST. Please take another five minutes to pray for Mike (family restoration and life changing results during his one year program) and the Rescue Mission, where I’ve personally seen sustained change in the lives of many men that have been reunited with their families. God Bless you all.
David J. Standley