I apologize from being absent from the blogging world for a bit. Circumstances, mostly out of my control, have been keeping me from blogging, mostly technical issues. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they are solved!
C.J. Frazier and I met when I worked at a private day school. He was my boss and young enough to be my little brother. I am a cradle Catholic, he is the son of a pastor and had found Christ again as a teenager. We were working at an Episcopal school and even though all of those could have spelled disaster it worked. Some of our greatest conversations took place over green chili-cheeseburgers at 10:00 in the morning as we took a quick break from the craziness of the day. He taught me a lot about faith, about having a burning passion for the Lord and doing His work. C.J. eventually left his work at the day school to pursue his dream of being a youth pastor at a local church in our small town. I would eventually move over an hour away to prepare for the birth of my third child, but thanks to technology I have had the privilege to follow C.J. as he continues to do the Lord’s work. He has started a church, ministry, service project all wrapped into one amazing concept called Paint This Town Red. The following is an interview I had with him:
Give us some background on how Paint This Town Red, or PTTR, came to be.
I have had the privilege of working at three different churches since becoming a pastor. All of these churches had great vision and intentions for the city they lived in. The hard part was "convincing" people that we needed to get out of the church and serve more. It was a great blessing that I was in a church that encouraged me to dream and believe God for the impossible. Because of that liberty, I was able to really ask God to use me to do the impossible. Little did I know that the impossible would take place away from the beautiful beaches of Florida, and back to the flat, dry, dusty, windy land of Pampa Texas. But, because my heart was ready, I fell in love with this small town that I had left only 2 years prior.
So when I felt the Lord tell me it's time for this vision to be birthed I honestly wasn't sure what it looked like. And maybe it's just how my mind works, but I can't really get vision for something until I have a name for it. A name says a lot about something. So one day I was laying down praying and a song came on called Paint The Town Red, by Delirious. This song made some great statements in it that caught my hearts attention.
"You know I feel there's something 'bout to break now.
You know I feel there's a city here to take now.
And it's not so tough for these ordinary hands,
When we trust someone with extraordinary plans."
"You give us hope where hope is gone,
You fill the streets with a holy song,
We’re gonna paint this big old town red."
"Miracles run from street to street
Rise up Church for a holy meet
We’re gonna paint this big old town red
We’re gonna paint this big old town red
With the blood of Jesus!"
These lyrics voiced what my heart was dreaming for. So...that's how the name came to life in my heart. Once the identity of who we were came to life in our hearts, the rest was pretty easy.
I can identify with that as a writer because often I am inspired by song lyrics for a story idea. I always have to have a working title before I can sit down and start writing and I can spend days figuring out the title!
PTTR is unique in which the people are the Church. You have fellowship times, but your mission is to serve the people of the community and their needs. You have projects in which you “makeover” peoples houses and support them in any needs they have. What are your main goals?
PTTR's main goal is pretty simple. We want to always bring HOPE to the hopeless, encourage DREAMS for the dreamers and give LIFE to the lifeless. HOPE, DREAMS and LIFE. Whatever we do, however we do it, those three things are the back bone of who we are.
And from the many projects you have already done, it looks like you are definitely making these goals a reality.
Every town, whether big or small can present many challenges to starting anything that is new. What challenges have you faced?
To be totally honest, we've experienced a lot of challenges on this new journey. We thought the hardest thing in all this would be selling our homes in faith, quitting our high paying jobs in faith, moving to a place where we didn't know where we would live, and doing all this without any promise, or plans, of being paid. It turns out that was the easy part... The spiritual battles that have come about since arriving in Pampa May of 2011 have been enormous. Small towns have so much charm and beauty to them. The simplicity can be intoxicatingly wonderful. But in the same turn, small towns are not to open for change, especially when it comes to churches. We've taken on quite a bit of persecution from some churches who aren't supportive of us. And not just our church, but me in particular. Because of this, it's been hard to feel accepted by a lot of the community. But honestly, the people we came to serve are beyond excited that we're here. We didn't come to Pampa for the healthy, but for the sick. We're just trying to take our lead from Jesus on this one. Instead of detouring our dreams for Pampa, these issues have only solidified our heart for the people here. And of course, I OFTEN feel so unqualified to be leading something like this. But the reality of it all is this:God used the foolish things of this world to bring His glory to earth. I just want to be part of the solution, and not the problem.
And I think you are doing an amazing job, even when faced with such obstacles. I loved my 10 years in Pampa and I love small towns, but I also know how difficult it can be to introduce something new to such a small, tight-knit community. It’s a challenge, but you’ve captured the hearts of so many people who live there. It’s awesome to watch the difference you are making in so many people’s lives.
In the months since you started this journey, can you describe a moment that just blew you away? Gave you that confirmation that this is where you were meant to be?
From the very first Project Red we did, we were "ruined" from that point on to go back to life the way we knew it. To see the HOPE in the eyes of people that we were so blessed to serve was breath taking. Typically the hardest part about being a church that wants to serve people in their homes is finding someone to let us into their home. Our private way of living can be very embarrassing and shameful at times. Especially when you show me the river of sewage running from under your home because you haven't had plumbing for almost a year. All that to say this, we know we're right were we need to be because people are GIVING us the keys to their homes. They are asking us to come in and see what they won't show the public because of their desperation for help. From day one we HAVE NOT asked anyone to let us help them. They have called us by the hundreds to help them. If that's not confirmation I don't know what is. Either way, we love what we are here to do.
You are an inspiration to me! But I’m curious as to what inspires you?
My inspiration can come from a lot of areas in life. I'm very moved by music, movies and people who have gone before me and paved the way for guys like me to live my dreams. But honestly, it's the single mothers we encounter that face so much opposition and adversity that really inspire me. They somehow sacrifice everything to see that their children are taken care of.
One great example is a women we helped Easter morning. Her name is Donna Williams. She's a single mother and grandmother. She takes care of over 13 children and grandchildren...13!!! And what's amazing, is that they aren't all hers. She's adopted two young ladies who have children of their own and she became a mother and grandmother to them. She has taken it upon herself to bare the responsibility of others who weren't able to, or decided not to. On top of that, she lost 2 sisters and her mother to cancer. This kind of courage is so overwhelming to me. Great speakers and leaders encourage me daily, but women like Donna Williams inspire me to push the limits and boundaries of every day life.
Donna sounds amazing and very deserving of PTTR’s help! But with all this good you are doing I know there is tons of work behind the scenes, not to mention the everyday stress of running such an organization. I hope you make time for some fun. What do you do to relax?
I have to have time for fun. If I don't, I'll burn out quickly and be useless to everyone. Including my most important ministry, my wife Micki. I really do love to spend time on my bed with Micki and our 4 dogs watching movies. I workout 4 days a week. I LOVE good food with friends and family. Really it's simple things in life that keep me happy and recharged.
I agree, it is the simple things that keep you happy. You have a very blessed life, my friend.
I know many people will be inspired by your ministry. What can people do to help you?
We think anyone and everyone can be a part of PTTR in some way. For those that aren't in our area, we covet your prayers like nothing else. We believe the authority and power of prayer can change anything. We also are a non- profit ministry, which means we aren't funded by anything else but donations. Any donations are considered charitable donations by the state and are tax deductible. If you would like to help financially in any way, we would greatly appreciate it. We started PTTR in June of 2011. Since then we have done 7 large Project Reds. (since the time of this interview they have completed another project and are working on number 9.) Multiple Mini-Project red's. We gave out 500 gifts to anyone who needed a present for Christmas. Gave away a 2005 Toyota mini van to a single mother. As well as thousands of dollars in weekly assistance with people's utilities. We don't boast in this, but want you to know that your money goes to serving the people of this community. And we'll help anyone who needs it, but love to focus on widows and orphans. Thank you for any help you can be in serving our city.
Thank you C.J. for everything you are doing and for taking the time to do this interview with me. You are such a daily inspiration and I love watching what you are doing.
I want to leave you with the video introducing Donna’s Project.