25 January 2010

Devil's Playground

"I've been to the edge. There I stood and looked down."
- Van Halen

"It reopens my wounds. But I never want them to heal
completely, because I never want to forget."
- Susan Kelley

One of the occupational hazards of being a therapist is that you gain insight on a little secret. Namely, things are worse in the world than many people suspect. Police officers know it. Social workers know it. Some journalists and some pastors know it, too.

Without a doubt there is beauty in our world. But like I wrote in an earlier post on trust, these are islands and occasional subcontinents in an ocean of heartache.

We reach out for love. We desperately stretch out our hands for inner peace. But left to our own devices, these desires seem to float just a fraction of an inch beyond our fingertips.


In the book of Matthew, just before Jesus sends out his disciples, he tells them, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

I love this verse. Throughout scripture Jesus tells us the world is not as it should be. He knows many suffer. He knows you suffer, too.

But, because He loves us dearly, because we are His children, He has come to fight for us, to tip over tables for us, to literally bleed for us, and to rescue us. ... And, He is sending out His disciples to do His work.


In Daytona Beach, there is an area I call, the devil’s playground. Here human suffering is an open wound. In the middle of the devil’s playground is the Daytona Outreach Center (D.O.C.), led by two of Jesus' disciples, Ray and Susan Kelley.

From time to time I visit the D.O.C., and never leave without asking Ray to pray for me.

Prostitutes, drug dealers, addicts, homeless people, and too often their children, surround the Daytona Outreach Center.

Ray and Susan were once inmates of the devil's playground as crystal meth addicts. That was before Jesus rescued them.

Ray and Susan are not Jesus-is-my-boyfriend type Christians. They are battle-scarred, former hostages of the enemy, who now belong to Jesus Christ.

Ray and Susan could have returned to the peaceful existence of suburban living or moved out to the country. They could have taken normal jobs or went back to school. Instead they rejoined the battle. They returned to the devil's playground, this time as disciples of Jesus Christ.

The kind of peace the world talks about is an illusion, a lie. Lasting inner peace is only possible through Jesus Christ. But until He returns, the battlefield is active and real.


Please watch this video about my friends Ray, Susan, and others at the D.O.C. ...


  1. thank you for this.
    truly good.

  2. Russell -- Jesus is in that video, in this story. He's there. Wow.

  3. Thanks Glynn and nAncy ... I wanted to post this Tuesday, but messed up and decided to leave it.

    Jesus really is at the D.O.C. ...

  4. Hope is a life preserver indeed.

  5. very impressing job which Susan and Ray are doing. it´s so true that we need somebody who gives us hope.... sooo true! Thera

  6. God bless Ray and Susan.

  7. They are meeting a strong need in Daytona. It is always good to see people helping people.

    I'm struck by the idea of "Jesus-is-my-boyfriend Christians." On the one hand, I completely understand what you mean by that. Faith is not puppy love.

    On the other hand, I'm a big fan of John of the Cross and The Long Dark Night of the Soul. Even Song of Solomon can be read as partially metaphoric. These are filled with images of Jesus as lover/boyfriend.

  8. Hey Marcus ... I'm with you on that. And, no matter what, the statement was judgmental in nature on my part. I was leaning more toward the puppy love thing.

  9. My first real job was for a public defender in Volusia County. I delivered papers to the jail, listened to so many callers in tears, read more than I ever wanted to know, saw how easily the innocent are caught up in things they don't understand. I know this place. My prayers for all working with those who need us most.

  10. "For those who want their lives changed, Jesus is waiting."

    I've read this post twice now. I read it last night, and thought the only post I'll remember longer is "Run to the sounds of the guns."

    That was before I saw this video. It occurs to me that we all have situations in our lives that seem not quite right, but they're familiar, so we accept that this is simply something we've got to live with. We compensate, and don't have the courage to believe it can change.

    Our Father loves us enough to let us suffer until we ourselves see our need for change. Because only then, I suppose, are we ready for the work of change through which He longs to take us.

  11. Paul - Hey Brother! I miss seeing yo at the 'Y'. I guess I need to come in and work out.

    Marcus - Thanks again for calling me out.

    Melissa - You, "saw how easily the innocent are caught up in things they don't understand." Bless you for being their witness.

    Anne - Courage and Wisdom. Courage to change and believe change is possible, wisdom to let our Father guide us ... Bless you.

  12. Kathleen - Faith - HOPE - Love ... :-)

    Thera - We are agents of God's love and offer hope that way ... Greet Germany for us ... :-)

  13. Praise God, that He never leaves us where He finds us. Thank you for the awesome reminder of that vision. Bless DOC!!!

  14. In his book No Perfect People Allowed, John Burke said, “No longer can we afford to stand on the cliffs high above the cultural mudslide, chastising people for not climbing out of the mess to come up to higher ground. No longer can we feel content throwing our heroic lifelines of propositions intended to save…”

    Ray and Susan get that. Thank God for them.

  15. bringing peace to the front lines ...

  16. These words are powerful... (as is the video)

    "Lasting inner peace is only possible through Jesus Christ. But until He returns, the battlefield is active and real."

    Great post, Russell.

  17. JenniLee - Bless you, too ... :-)

    katdish - That is a powerful passage you shared ...

    S. Etole - Hey :-)

    Bridget - Thank you for hosting us ... :-)

  18. This is awesome. Your words and the video. Thank you all for working so hard for the ones who get forgotten so often.

  19. I love stories about real people making an impact and taking the difficult road because it's where Jesus is. It inspires me and challenges me. Thanks Russell.

  20. What a wonderful, inspiring story! Those people are truly gifts from God to mission to others.

  21. I work at a homeless shelter and every night we sleep over 300 people high on drugs and alcohol.

    In the video, Ray said, Some people want to be saved for a little while.

    Ain't that the truth.

    But... every time they come in from the cold, the last time they have to make that journey gets closer.

    I believe.

    Thank you for sharing this. very powerful.

  22. Ginny -Thank you for everything you do, too. :-)

    JasonS -The difficult road is often the peaceful road ... thanks bro.

    Heather - thank you so much for reading and commenting ...

    M.L. - Bless you for your work with the homeless ...

  23. I just prayed, "Thank you, Jesus, for Ray and Susan!" ... God's heart sings for them!

    So glad you shared, Russell.

  24. I love your blog, Russell. I just got done reading the last 5 posts, and now I realize the time. I was going to go back and comment on them, but it's time I get to the bank!

    I'm now following you, and look forward to reading more.

  25. thank you for posting this! it is true the harvest is bigger than we know, and the workers are few. May God Bless us with all we need each day to continue in this battle. Peace to all.

  26. Ray and Susan are the real deal. I was down there the other day and Ray was just teaching folks right out on the sidewalk... It was amazing. They amaze me so much. louie

  27. Bonnie - Ray and Susan appreciate your prayers so much.

    Marty - I checked out your blog as well. Coo. I'm following you now as well.

    Anonymous - thank you for your blessing. Bless you back in our Lord Jesus name.

    Louie - What up Brother! Remember ... Reframe ... :-)

  28. What a moving post Russell. Sometimes it's hard to remember that the prostitutes, drug dealers, addicts, and the homeless are human beings too. I was especially touched by your friend Kathy's words, "It re-opens my wounds." Having my first adoptive father die from alcoholism and not being a part of my life since I was the tender age of 6, it helps give me better insight to what he must have been struggling with. Thanks for sharing! I hope my comment won't disappear this time :)!

  29. wow....just wow. Tears were streaming watching that video. Such raw TRUTH. Putting faces to the faceless group labeled "the Lost".....praising God for Ray and Susan.

    This also is a great reminder and lesson when people ask that question....'why does God allow people to go through valleys and dark times'...because it is through them that He can shine His Light.

  30. Wow, Russell, you got to me with this post and video. I don't always watch the videos b/c of time, but something told me to watch this one. Glad I did. I'll be sending this post around.


  31. The "God if you're real" line is the same one I prayed at one point in my life. Love this story and video.

    Thanks for posting Russell, and thank you Warren for pointing me here.

  32. Reposted: http://westcoastwitness.com/2010/01/28/saved-sanctified-sent-daytona-outreach-center/

  33. JoAnne - It is so hard growing up with an alcoholic parent. Love and blessings to you ...

    *Michelle* - Every tear is a prayer ...

    Warren - Blessings to you brother ...

    WestCoastWitness - Nice blog ... I was born in Fort Smith and have a ton of family in Arkansas ...