Helping Lola Help Others

Jan 31

In Austin churches partner together more than any city I’ve ever lived! Together several churches have discovered a remarkable woman who has allowed us to partner with her as she meets the needs of those she serves in East Austin.

After being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, cost Lola moved from New Orleans to Austin. She opened a restaurant called Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food Cafe. Not only is the food delicious, abortion she gives it away to those who cannot afford to pay.

Lola has been nominated as a finalist in the Say Thanks Austin campaign. For every vote she receives, order she will receive $1 to help her help others. The finalist with the most votes will win $10,000!


Watch below to see and hear from Lola along with Steve and Karen Markham, the Gateway Network Leaders who have mobilized us and inspired us to serve with her.

“I Hate Church As Usual” by Randy Elrod

Aug 16

Randy Elrod, medical author and founder of the re:create Conference and Thinktank, sickness wrote an article on his experience with Just Love! our Gateway Central experiment in downtown Austin. Here is what he wrote:

“I hate church as usual.

There, I said it. I’ll admit I’m cynical, burned out and hurt deeply…by a church that prepares her followers to engage a world that no longer exists.

Even the word “church” conjurs up visions of my tongue licking a razors edge.

Most of my therapy dollars (and there have been thousands) are spent uncovering and attempting to heal the deep wounds caused by this misguided institution.

So imagine my surprise last week when I “accidentally” limped into a church experience that actually seemed, well…uh…real.

JUST LOVE is a downtown church experiment of Gateway Church in Austin, TX ( Twitter: @g8wayaustin).

Each Tuesday JUST LOVE convenes at The Arthouse and features:


The week I attended it was loosely and beautifully lead by non-alpha leaders Ramy and Tiffany Antoun, Eric Bryant, and the 1211 band.

JUST LOVE features stunningly beautiful and haunting acoustic music, thought provoking short films, poetry and stories in a setting any creative would die for. The time was expertly woven together by impromptu but focused narration.

One soundbite:

“When you don’t know what to do….default to love.”

But, that was only the beginning. It still seemed like a very cool emergent church service.

Until all of a sudden, you’re assigned to a group leader with three other unfamiliar people, each handed three bottles of water and asked to go out on the street and hand them out to people you feel need them—in downtown Austin.

I met Darlene on 6th St.

An African-American woman in a wheelchair with a lot of spunk. She gratefully took the water, told me she just had surgery—so of course—I promptly told her I just had surgery as well. She told me, “Honey, make sure you go down the street to the Austin pain clinic and they will pump you full of morphine. It’s the only way to fly.”

As we all laughed, three other rather fragrant and large homeless men surrounded us and took water. The conversation continued very naturally and for the first time in my life—except maybe one time just north of Afghanistan—I realized I could possibly be doing church the way God intended.

Gulp, the way it’s supposed to be done?

Afterwards, limping painfully back on my knee still recovering from surgery,  hot and sweaty in 100 plus degree weather, we headed back to a downtown restaurant for a hang out together.

As many of the JUST LOVE attenders converged on Congress Avenue all excitedly talking about their experiences—a girl in front of us still had one bottle of water and warmly handed it to a young lady hastily walking by—when suddenly the lady angrily slapped it out of the girls hand, and as it flew through the air seemingly in slow motion, everyone hushed to stunned silence. (To read the first person account of this story, go HERE.)

Fear, anger, disappointment, and myriad other emotions leaped to the forefront of each person’s humanity.

“When you don’t know what to do….default to love.”

Is this a radical new concept in doing church?

Or is it a revolutionary, ancient and timeless concept that we’ve somehow forgotten? Or ignored? Or…?

Question: What do YOU think?

If this post caused you angst, glee or gulp, caused you to think, please share it with others by going here.”

What new things has your community attempted to engage your city?

Just Love! in Austin

Jul 26

Join us at 7:00 pm on Tuesdays from July 26th-Aug. 30th

Location: Arthouse at the Jones Center 700 Congress Avenue Austin 78701

“Just Love!” is a gathering of creative and innovative Austinites engaging in life (arts, seek community, food, and service).

Each night includes worship & the arts; a brief message; a taste of service experience; and conversation over dinner in local downtown restaurants.

Bring $ for parking and dinner.

Bring friends for community.

A Church & Non-Profit Garden Party Featured on Local News

Jul 07

Check out this recent story by Jim Bergamo from KVUE Austin News:

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“Two faith based organizations have teamed up to help refugees in Austin. They’re doing it with, of all things, a garden.

There was music and balloons, so you know it’s a party. However there is also a garden smack dab in the middle of this celebration, so a garden party it is.

Two months ago, the Grow Together Team from Gateway Church along with Mobile Loaves and Fishes broke ground on this garden at the Capital Village Apartments in Central East Austin. The complex is home to numerous refugees….

‘What a great way to remember our new fellow citizens than by helping them out and people transitioning in’ said Michael McKee, the Director of Grow Together

The garden allows them to grow food and relationships with other refugees.

‘Like know each others feelings and what kinds of plants they grow in their country,’ said Kalpana Kharel, a refugee from Nepal. ‘Just working together.’

Even youngsters like Thangtinuk Sakawthang from Burma like working in the garden.

‘To do is fun,’ he said.

Besides Burma and Nepal, there are refugees from Africa, India, Iran and Iraq. On a wall surrounding the garden, refugees made chalk outlines of their hand prints. They wrote the names of their home countries as well.

Also participating are men like Danny and Jose. They used to be homeless, but now, through Mobile Loaves and Fishes, help cultivate the garden so the refugees can plant their food.

‘It makes me feel good that I’m giving back into the community and seeing the progress and smiles on people’s faces,’ said Jose Coronado, who works for Mobile Loaves and Fishes.

‘It’s not necessarily a bunch of different communities, homeless, refugees, whatever, it’s one community coming together,’ said McKee.”

“Action or Words” by David Sandler

Oct 12

David Sandler has served the world’s underprivileged in places like Los Angeles, store Indonesia, tadalafil and now Haiti. He writes:

“One of the more intriguing pieces to the puzzle of my spiritual journey of trying to know the one God has resided in my heritage mixed of Jewish & Catholic upbringing but modernly defined as more “Protestant” in nature.

For me, capsule the lessons instilled in growing up were ones of effort, discipline, sacrifice & servanthood. My parents are amazing models of dedication & devotion to caring for not only their loved ones, but all of humanity.

When, at 19, I came to believe in all the things I’d been taught as a youth, it was forged in a belief that the invisible was real, the ethereal was concrete, and that love did not have to be so mysterious. But it was natural for me to keep doing things. I knew the words and practiced them, but had to play the game of real life too.

I have faith, but how will anyone else – myself or Jesus included – know it if I don’t actually apply it?

I try to do it. Just like Mother Theresa. Just like Jim Elliot or Martin Luther King.

Say it? Do it. Be the change, don’t just talk about it.

James 2:14-26
Matthew 7:24-29
Luke 10:25-37

Love everything: ‘Do this and you will live.'”

“Activism” with Charles Lee (Origins Event DVD)

Oct 07

Charles Lee serves as an ideation strategist, cost networker, and compassionary who founded Ideation, Idea Camp, Just One, and NewHope South Bay among other entrepreneurial adventures. 

Charles contributed an article for the Not Like Me website. Here is an excerpt from Charles at the Origins Event 2010.

The Origins Event DVD includes 2 discs with speakers, panels, and small group questions based on the July 24th Origins Event plus a round table discussion with several leaders of the Origins Project. The Origins Event DVD would be great for leadership development and for small groups!

Some of those included in the Origins Event DVD include:

Amena Brown
Margaret Feinberg
Dan Kimball
Dave Gibbons
Alan and Debra Hirsch
Rick McKinley
Eric Bryant
Marlon Hall
and many others…

To see other clips from the Origins Event DVD, go here!

To order The Origins Event DVD for $49 (includes shipping and handling to US addresses), contact