Each week in the BLESS podcast you will hear new stories, inspirational conversations, and best practices as well as meet authors and national leaders. The purpose of this podcast is to equip you and inspire you to join Jesus where He is already at work where you live, study, work, and play.
In episode 3, Host, Gary Kendall, interviews his neighbors, Lorenzo, and Kassie Castaneda. They share how God got their attention and led them to share Jesus in their neighborhood. They talk about blesseveryhome.com, how to use it, and why it matters.
Hi, my name is Gary Kendall. I have the privilege of leading the BLESS every home podcast. Each week we take on the idea that we want to join Jesus where He is already at work where we live, study, work, and play through a ministry in Kansas City called Love KC. We work very closely with Chris Cooper, the founder of blesseveryhome.com.
It’s Chris’s desire, and it’s my desire, that each one of us becomes comfortable in our own skin–living for Jesus where we live, study, work, and play. We can naturally pray for those around us, our neighbors, even co-workers, we can care, and we can share our story. We can share the story of Jesus. We can share our influence. We care in the way that the Holy Spirit directs us. Some people use the shotgun approach, and I’m not against it–just care for as many people as you can as often as you can. But I prefer the laser approach where we have Holy Spirit guided things that come into our mind and heart, and we act on those. Then we see Jesus work in some really special ways.
This podcast is for you, the listener so that you can find real life in Jesus and share that real life in Jesus with others. And I have some guests with me today. I’m excited to introduce Lorenzo and Kassie Castaneda. You guys are here today. I’m thankful for you. These guys are actually neighbors, not just friends, but neighbors, and we’re trying to do the very same things that we are talking to you guys (the listeners) about today.
In just a moment I’m going to have them introduce themselves. But first, I want to speak to you, the one who is listening, and just say that we believe in you. We titled this particular podcast, “Yes You Can.” And the reason why I chose that title is that so often people are telling me, they don’t know if they can do this or not. I just want you to know, you can.
My mom was a great model for me as I was growing up. I grew up in Alaska–it was kind of the last frontier. That’s what Alaskans say anyway. Often, after school, I would get home, and I would go to my mom and say, Can I play outside? Almost always she would say, yes you can. She was a liberating leader. She believed in us, and she gave us the privilege to fail. Sometimes we did get in trouble. But more often than not, we were just exploring the world that God created. We loved it and enjoyed it. We learned a lot from that process.
I believe that God gives us a similar kind of challenge where we’re actually sent to the world to be His witnesses– to be salt and to be a light–and He trusts us. We’re his children, his sons, and daughters, and He says you can do it. I believe in you. And so today we’re going to talk about that–you can do it. So Lorenzo, tell us a little bit about who you are and about your family.
Lorenzo: Thanks for having us. We really appreciate you inviting us here. We’re just honored to be here. We’re honored to share our testimony, to give our story. My name is Lorenzo Castaneda, and I live here in Kansas City. I’ve been here since January 1st of 2002. I was born and reared in western Kansas, and I have a big family out there. My mother still lives out there. My brothers and sisters still live out there.
I’m married to my beautiful wife, Kassie. We have two beautiful boys Jacob and Ian who are 17, or almost 17, and nine years old.
Kassie: Yeah. Gary, it’s an honor to be here and to share our heart and what God is challenging us to do–actually, He challenges all of us to do. As Lorenzo said, we are blessed with two wonderful boys. I have a cleaning business. And it’s interesting because at first I was very insecure about that business and the Lord really had to change my perspective. He helped me to realize He had me there for a purpose and that I was making an impact, of course for God. It’s a very private thing to do. People trust their house cleaner. Yeah, they really do. So it’s a blessing to be able to minister, even at work, to my clients and do ministry and our church. And we just love doing life with the Lord. It’s an adventure.
Gary: It’s great to be neighbors and do this podcast. We like to tell stories. Each day we tell stories and talk about tools. Our purpose is that people would feel equipped. We want to get better at what we do. As a result, we grow in our own discipleship. We become disciples of Jesus, but we become disciples who make disciples. We’re looking for a movement here. We’re replicating the life of Christ. As He lives in us, we want to allow Him to live through us, so others become disciples too. So we’re going to talk about that today.
Lorenzo I’ll let you go first. Tell us a little bit about the story you told me. I was telling you about what I do with Love KC and what I was doing in my neighborhood to pray, care and share. When I did, you got a tear in the corner of your eye. You got kind of quiet. So I asked you what that was about. Tell the listeners what you said to me that day.
Lorenzo: The story that Gary is referring to is, I began to ask the Lord for a new home. I started to talk to the Lord about this big decision. I just laid it out there and prayed about it. I can remember where I was. It was in my garage. I was just looking out the into the driveway, and I said, Lord, I said I’m not really hearing anything. I wasn’t getting any direction or answer for buying a new home. I felt like the door was shut and I kind of pressed the Lord on it. He spoke to me and said, Are you going to leave your neighborhood ill and unaffected for me? It stopped me dead in my tracks. It did. It was sobering because that told me that I needed to do more to reach our neighbors and to show them the love of Christ. Something that my wife says is that we represent Christ. But she says it in a way that we re-present Christ. It’s just an awesome way to share Jesus.
I immediately repented (for my thought to leave my neighborhood) because, apparently, I felt like the Lord wasn’t pleased with me in that area. I went to Cassie, and I told her what I was praying about and what the Lord had said. I believe she repented too. But immediately I repented. Then I began to ask the Lord for creative ways to reach our neighbors. And that’s where I think I’ll let Kassie take it from there.
Kassie: Lorenzo is practical really in every area of his life, very practical, so when he was praying, I said, let’s find an easy, simple thing for us to do. He had the idea of getting some cards. We wrote a handwritten note to them to welcome to the neighborhood. We reached out to a couple that was new. One note said you know we’ve been neighbors for quite some time. But sorry, we’ve not been the greatest of neighbors. But you know we’re glad you’re neighbors. Then we baked some cookies. We took over some plates of cookies and a card, and you know, just let them know that we were there and available. That opened the door for us. Yeah. It wasn’t a super spiritual thing. It wasn’t going over to preach a whole gospel to them. But we went over made ourselves available. We blessed them with some sweets. Who doesn’t like sweets? And we just talked.
Gary: Yeah, we’re always talking about how that the best witness we can make is the natural witness. I love the idea that Jesus was incarnated, He came in the flesh. He could have come in a lot of ways to tell us this wonderful message. But what Jesus did became like us. And I think when we become like our neighbors we’re serving them. Sometimes even allowing them to serve us. Sometimes the humility of letting someone else serve us is a powerful statement. We don’t have to have it all together. We are just regular people. When we let our guard down it enables other people to drop their guard. They’re not thinking of us as a salesperson they are thinking of us as a friend which we are. So that’s exactly what we want.
A friend of mine said, you know we need to learn the art of the 30-second witness. The idea behind it is, you share something in the form of a witness or a testimony in about 30 seconds or less. Then you just be quiet, and you listen to see how they’re going to respond. If they respond positively, then you keep the conversation going. If they respond negatively, or they stop responding, you just ask God whether you should share more now or later. I think that’s a great great way to go because many times people will test you to see if you’re going to try to preach a sermon. And if you don’t, they might actually have a conversation. So I think you did a really good job with that. People don’t tend to care what you say until they know that you care.
Kassie: That is so true.
Gary: So listening to them and hearing their heart, just getting to know them, is a key. Discipleship is being a witness by your life or your words. It is so important that you plant seeds and that you realize that every seed goes through a process. It is going to have to incubate. There is going to be some time that passes. Usually, you need some sunlight. Eventually, when it cracks the soil, it needs water. You know maybe it needs some nutrients. We’re planting seeds, and sometimes we see the harvest, and sometimes someone else sees the harvest. But it’s it’s great to be one who’s the sower. You’re out sowing sowing the seeds.
I want you to kind of skip forward and go fast-forward now and tell a little bit about the time you guys invited me to come over and talk to your small group. After you started seeing some neighbors respond positively and you learned about that website: blesseveryhome.com (which is one that we promote regularly), and you began using it you were able to pray for your neighbors by name. You could designate if you were praying for them, caring for them, or sharing with them and if they became a disciple of Jesus. There is even a place for notes in blesseveryhome.com. You wanted me to come and talk about that to your community. So how did that go?
Lorenzo: Yeah. Well, Gary if I could just back up just a little bit when we began to get involved with this and take these cards and cookies some really neat things happened with our neighbors. It just opened up a window. We’ve found our neighbors and people are hurting. And you know, there’s an old song we used to sing in church, “People need the Lord.” It’s just such a great song, but people do–they need the Lord.
Many times they do not realize that the problems that ail them, the Lord has allowed them to surface so He can solve them. There’s a spiritual hunger, so they ask. And so we came across neighbors that just were having issues in their marriage. One lady, she had cancer. We were able to minister to her. And so just the list goes on.
We began to talk about that with our with our Life group who were leaders our church. We started to share stories. From there we were essentially casting the vision for what we were doing in our own neighborhood. And you know, the Bible says to love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your strength with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself. Truly, we Christians, we need to be doing better than with that. You know one thing that I like that you mentioned in your book (Love Your Neighbor by Gary Kendall) is in the Bible, Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor. He teaches us to love our neighbors.
Gary: Yeah. That’s His strategy for love.
Lorenzo: And so we shared that that vision with our life group. We asked you to come over. And it turns out that once we got in there and got to talking with our life group that the Lord had already been dealing with them about neighbors and how they could reach their neighbors. And so it just really spawned off to a lot of neat things and a lot of good conversation. They just needed a tool.
Gary: Yes a lot of them were already ready, willing, and practicing this lifestyle. But the tool actually gave them a little more confidence. They were a bit more informed, and that’s one of the reasons we do this podcast is to talk about tools and blesseveryhome.com is a great tool.
Kassie: And you know Gary, one thing that I really appreciate about blesseveryhome.com is that it is not a church program. It’s not that there is a list of things to do. It just is a lifestyle, a lifestyle that keeps you mindful of being a good neighbor and loving your neighbors.
Lorenzo: You know it really causes you to be intentional in your home. You know what I love about that tool is how it’s more personal when we’re getting the list, and we see what neighbors by name. It makes it more personal. And so your heart is really drawn to that person more so than it was before because you’re calling them by name.
Gary: I love that daily reminder, the five names that come to your email every day. That’s super helpful. What I typically do when I get it is that I’ll pray right then. I’ll pray for those five names and then I actually skip down to the bottom where there’s scripture. I’ll pray that scripture because the discipline of doing that will keep me from just routinely saying the same thing every day. So I pray that scripture that I’ll go click on the “pray from the map.” I’ll see the little circles where they are in my neighborhood so I can kind of get a visual for where they live. That helps me tremendously. If I have some kind of a note or something, I’ll add that (in the note section).
We have a common neighbor. I was at her house not too long ago, and she was mentioning to me, she said, we’ve been here for nine years, and we’ve never had our neighbors over, and I said well we can change that. I actually thought of you guys. I think I even used your name. That’s the beauty of being conscious of the others around you.
Kassie: We can help.
As we come down to the end of the broadcast, I want to give everyone an invitation, and a challenge, if you haven’t signed up for blesseveryhome.com, I want to encourage you to do that. But many of you who are listening have already signed up, and that is why you are getting the invitation to this podcast. But the challenge has a second part too and may not be quite as obvious. I would encourage you to reach out to friends like Lorenzo and Cassie who are also believers. This is what I call the second generation. And as they and their friends reach out, I’ll be the third and the fourth and the fifth generation.
We have this vision that every person who wakes up in the city of Kansas City would have someone who’s praying for their family by name. That they have someone who’s caring, as the Spirit leads and then sharing–sharing their lives, sharing their influence, sharing their stories, and sharing the story of Jesus ultimately.
This can only happen if it goes from person to person it’s like a flame that jumps and creates another fire, and then it jumps again and jumps again. I really think this is the way that will reach this city. There are 21,000 neighborhoods in Kansas City. So this is a big job. And I actually believe that believers are already there just waiting to be activated.
When people start this lifestyle, usually within 30 days, they’re telling me about their answers to prayer. They begin to see God’s fingerprints on something. Maybe a neighbor shared that they (the person praying, care and sharing) stepped in to help. Or even, someone chose Christ. That’s happened in several of my own stories.
Thanks for being a part of this podcast where we tell stories. Where we equip and where we send. We want to be a sending ministry. So this is the BLESS podcast. My name again, is Gary Kendall, the director of Love KC. My guests today were Lorenzo and Kasey Castañeda. Now we want you now to pick up where we’re leaving off. Let’s join Jesus where He’s already at work where we live, study, work, and play. Let’s keep this conversation going.