Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Peters fly away

photo by kevinmarsh

Yesterday I was priviliged to drive the Peters' family to the airport. We packed everything in their mini-SUV. Tom drove us briskly to the airport.

Tom charged me to park and to come inside after dropping them off at curbside check-in. He wanted to make sure that each piece of their luggage was under the fifty pound weight limit. Otherwise, I would have to take things back to the Mazda and transport it back to Smithville.

God answered our prayers. The luggage made it. One piece was 51 pounds, but the others were under 5o pounds. So the ticket agent approved them all.

As I was sent off with parking lot money, I marveled at how amazing God is. My friends were departing for ministry to the Central African Republic.

In twenty hours they would be arriving to serve the people of the Central African Republic. They were doing this as a family. Sue, J.P., and Mike were traveling with Tom. What a blessing to witness these fully-devoted followers seeking to serve God in Africa.

May God give their family a positive witness to the local Christians and to the unsaved in Bangui and beyond. I hope to get an update from them soon. We serve a mighty God on mission through us!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Ant Got it Right

photo by contraption

In the spectre of "chicken little" despair regarding the economy and the economic crisis, I am so glad that God's Word gives guidance. In our new series, "Surviving your own economic crisis," Pastor Bob offered five habits that will produce financial freedom in your life from the Bible.

These five habits shared yesterday, I adapted into my own words (you can hear yesterday's sermon here):

  1. Keep good records

  2. Prepare your budget

  3. Start saving

  4. Practice tithing

  5. Engage contentment

Each habit is grounded in Scripture. Keep good records means know where your money comes from and where you spend it (Proverbs 27:23). Prepare your budget means plan for your spending (Proverbs 21:5). Start saving means prepare for the future (Proverbs 21:20). Practice tithing begins with giving to the church at least 10% of your income (Malachi 3:10). To engage contentment means pursing contentment (Hebrews 13:5).

The one illustration that sticks with me today is the ant. In Proverbs 6:6,8, the Bible says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest."

The ant is diligent and wise preparing for the coming winter by storing food during the summer. National Geographic Kids has a great, short clip to illustrate ant power and diligence. (be sure to pause the video at the end or you'll see another clip about butterflies :).

As this new year begins, I know that God has prompted me to begin establishing a new pattern for the coming year. I need to keep better records and to stay within a budget.

Yes, even a pastor needs help. Doesn't everyone need help with finances?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections of what God did through us

photo by swamibu

~Each peron who is fully devoted to God is a diamond jewel~

At our recent staff meeting, we shared what we most appreciate about doing ministry at Wooster Grace. We desire to stay true to our mission: developing all people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ!
We launched our comments from the life of Hezekiah who was a fully devoted follower of Jesus. Hezekiah stated that he wanted to do what is right, good, and faithful (II Chronicles 31:20).

Therefore, the staff rehearsed many things God did in His church. I will share just a sample as we step into a new year.

One highlight for the year is creating consistent opportunities to reach out into the community. Second Saturdays was mentioned and its outreach through Sowing Hope. One person, Susan, is now attending the church regularly and desires to follow God. Praise to God's glorious grace!

photo by never cool in school
Another highlight is our volunteers. Without faithful people who give their time and sacrifice it for the sake of God's Kingdom, our church would be ineffective. Two guys were mentioned. One who dedicated his time off during his vacation to offer his expertise as an electrician to work on the parking lot lights is worthy of note. In addition, another man spent five hours acquiring a trailer to tow a car, using a blow torch, and helping another man in his time of need to move a vehicle. Both men did so willingly and offered to help some more if their services were needed in the future. Our God is an awesome God! His people are awesome in service.

That's what being fully devoted means. Act in service for others, not for yourself. Acts of service is one of the core values at Wooster Grace. What a great and mighty God we serve who moves in peoples' lives to bless others. Let's keep reaching out to others into 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Never Too Late

Pastor Ivanildo shared this Christmas Eve story with me just a few minutes ago (10:00pm on 12.24.08). One family in our church called our senior pastor Bob Fetterhoff to inquire if he could help a family or two with needs. He was compelled to do something.

Although we have already completed many of our outreach ministries for the Christmas season, he insisted on doing something to help. Pastor Ivanildo and his assistant, Juana made a few calls and discovered two families who could use some encouragement and some help with food.

One family (we will call them the Jonas family) is facing a broken family situation. The father Jonas was taken away from the family today and put in jail. He will be gone for awhile. The mother Jonas came to our 8pm Christmas Eve service with her eight children. She did not sign up for our Give-A-Christmas Outreach. But her name was kept by our staff as someone to reach out to if help were discovered.

Help came in the form of one Wooster Grace family. This Wooster Grace family came with two gift cards. When presented with a gift card, the mother Jonas couldn't believe how she was blessed in this incredible way. Glory to God in the highest!

It's never too late to help someone out. So, if God prompts you to do something in His name. Go do it! A blessing awaits someone out there. You could be the messenger of hope and love.

May God prompt you to do great things for His fame!

Christmas in Cleveland Slavic style

Rich & Reida Barltey serve the Lord faithfully in the Slavic Village of Cleveland. Wooster Grace partners with them every Christmas to collect Christmas Boxes for distribution in the schools around Village Grace Mission Center.

Recently the city of Cleveland issued a Resolution of Appreciation for Village Grace. The resolution was certified and authorized on November 11, 2008 by the Cleveland City Council.

An exceprt from the certified copy of the resolution states, "BE IT RESOLVED, that Cleveland City Council proudly acknowledges the commitment that the Village Grace Mission Center has demonstrated in making a difference in the lives of the families in the Broadway-Slavic Village neighborhood. This Council applauds the ministry's ourstanding efforts in fostering solutions for children, youth and families in our communities throughout the City of Cleveland, and further extends best wishes to everyone involved for much continues success in the future."

Way to go, God's fully devoted followers!

One great story from the Slavic Village Christmas Box Distribution, Rich tells involves two boys who received their boxes. Inside each one there is a five dollar bill. A small monetary gift for each child to spend in whatever way they'd like. But these boys chose a different way than normal.

Each boy put their monen into an envelope and gave it back to Rich. They said that they were blessed to have a Christmas box and they knew that others were less fortunate than themselves. So they decided to give their five dollars, ten dollars total so that more kids could receive a gift at Christmas.

That is the true essence of Christmas! Giving, not just receiving. As Christmas Day comes again, please seek to give as much or more than you receive. Anyone can do it!

Take God as your heavenly example, "For God so loved the world, that He GAVE His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16)."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Heavy Metal for the Lord

My friend Matthias is a metallurgist. He trains men to learn the metal trade and to support their families in Moundou, Chad. Yes, I'm talking the middle of Africa.

Matthias returned to Moundou after a couple year hiatus. He wondered if the men he had trained were practicing their craft and improving their skills. He was not disappointed.

In his own words, "What a joy it has been to see their personal, spiritual and professional development. Most have had opportunities to do internships and various jobs to practice and expand their skills (Love In Action Newsletter Vol. 8 Issue 2 [Nov-Dec 2008], pg. 1)."

Praise God for faithful men who are able to train others also (II Timothy 2:2)!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Asia's Hope Cambodia

Asia's Hope: Cambodia from Clay Productions on Vimeo.

Please check out this video from my friend, Josh Fronduti. He is an awesome videographer and unleashes his talent for the glory of God.

He took this video in Cambodia. Our church is also partnering with an orphanage in Battambang just like the one portrayed in the video above.

I can't wait to see how "our" kids grow and mature in their country as fully devoted followers of Jesus. Wooster Grace seeks to develop all people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ in all the nations of the world.