So what does a recitation, 7th grade, Applebee's, Mexico, and four guys who love Jesus Christ have to do with the formation of The L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry? It might not seem normal, but then again, is our God normal? The same God that turns water into blood, and brings down manna from heaven, is the same God that took four guys from totally different backgrounds and formed them into L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry.
Why Pittsburgh? Why the Homeless? Why L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry?
"Who has never been in a recitation?" That was the question that Mike Ichimura's Teacher's Assistant (TA) asked while Mike was sitting in his class. Mike raised his hand, signaling that he didn't know what a recitation was. The TA then proceeded to ask Mike where he was from. It was at this point that Mike was about to share with the class his powerful testimony of how the Lord had called him to Pittsburgh to be a missionary to the homeless. Sitting in the back of the room was Kyle Dague. Kyle was heavily involved in Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, which is one of the many Christian campus ministries at the University of Pittsburgh. Upon hearing Mike's testimony, Kyle spoke to Mike and told him that he had a friend that Mike should talk to... In 7th grade, Charles Chapman went on his first mission's trip where he worked with the homeless. From that point on, God would continually work in his life to develop the skills and talents necessary to be able to minister to the homeless. After choosing Pitt over NYU, Charles was eager to get involved in some homeless ministry in the city. He attended Cornerstone Christian Fellowship at Pitt where he was involved in a bible study with Kyle Dague. He shared his unrelenting passion for the homeless with Kyle, and was told to keep praying, because something was going to happen. God was faithful, and didn't bring Charles to Pittsburgh for nothing! God was preparing something big for Charles. It was his job to be still and trust in God's faithfulness. In the meantime, Kyle met Mike Ichimura in his class, and gave Mike Charles's phone number. Through divine providence, God was setting the foundation for something greater than anyone could ever imagine... | So the two decided to meet and prayer walk the city to find exactly where God was interested in using them first. So they went to the Hill District, Wilkinsburg, and the North Side. They carried hot chocolate with them, and ministered to the people on the streets. Though the work may have seemed small, God was accomplishing much, and there was so much more that would get done... || In the late fall of 2002, Mike Ichimura began working at Applebee's on Saturdays. Because of this, him and Charles were not able to meet until Saturday nights. By this time the weather in Pittsburgh was extremely cold, and not very many guys would be standing out on the street corners. So they went looking for a shelter that they might be able to go to. Through God's great grace they found one on Brighton Road. As they went up to the door, an older man named Will Terrell came to the door and asked the two what they wanted. They said that they were both missionaries wondering if that building was a shelter. Will said 'yes' and invited the guys to come in. He also said that there happened to be a bible study going on that night, and that the guys were welcomed to join. On that Saturday in November, Mike and Charles first entered the doors of Pleasant Valley Shelter. They have been going back there every Saturday since... | But that's not the end of the story. In fact, it was just the beginning. God, in His sovereignty, was preparing others to come along to serve with the ministry. The first of which would be Mike Gallo. | For much of Mike's life, he had been introduced to Christ. He knew who God was, and even believed and confessed Christ. But the biggest thing for him was making his faith practical. Service was a part of Mike's faith that God wanted to address. In high school and college, Mike had gone to Mexico to work there as a missionary. This was great work, and he really grew closer to God, but it wasn't enough. It was too easy. It's easy to give God 2 months of service, and live the rest of one's life selfishly. But to live a life of service, now that's a totally different thing. Mike knew this, and God was really pulling at his heart when he began to hear about what Mike and Charles where doing. So Mike Gallo starting coming to the shelter with the guys, and it was so much better... || In the early fall of 2003, Mike, Charles, and Mike were all sitting in a coffee shop one evening after having just been to the shelter and were wrestling together with what God wanted to do with the ministry. They were at a crossroads. While going to the shelters and preaching the Gospel was great, was it enough? How did God want to use these three to meet even more needs and further spread the message of Christ? It was there in that coffee shop that the three, discovered God's desire for them to develop into a full-fledged non-profit organization. They knew that this would be a very difficult thing for them to accomplish, but with God all things are possible! The three decided on the name L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry, because of the idea that their lives would be ministry. Too often people view ministry as separate from day-to-day life, but these three knew that the ministry should always be alive and is an integral part of life. It was soon after that meeting that they came up with acronyms for L.I.V.I.N.G. (love initiated ventures investing in neglected groups). | But there was one more life that God was molding to use in His service. His name was Zach McCoy and he was especially fired up about knowing Jesus Christ and making Him known to all people. Zach also attended Cornerstone Christian Fellowship and got interested in the ministry by the reports that Mike, Mike and Charles brought each week. He didn't know how, but he knew that God wanted to use him in the furthering of the ministry. Now, the beginning pages of the ministry's life are complete. Through Charles, Mike, Mike and Zach, God had formed a solid foundation with Christ being the cornerstone, that has made a significant difference within the city of Pittsburgh.