Thursday, July 31, 2008

Neighborhood Bible Clubs

Seven thousand words about NBCs

Gathering the crowd

Discovering God's Word

Explaining the Gospel
Having fun!

Running the water-balloon gauntlet
Making the craft with a purpose
Getting a pie in the face

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

District Missions--Kent, OH

Wooster Grace values reaching out not only in our community but also in our district. The Northeast Ohio District of Grace Brethren Churches has a new church plant emerging in Kent, OH. The church plant pastor is Jonathan Herron. The name of the Grace Brethren Church is Catalyst.

On July 31, 2008, Catalyst will be officially recognized at National Conference as a Grace Brethren Church. Catalyst's was born from people sensing the need for a church that reached people far from God. Discovering that Portage County is the least-churched county in all of Ohio, its largest city-Kent-was quickly chosen as ground zero for this new movement. Catalyst is a start-from-stratch church plant. Wooster Grace is partnering with Catalyst through our NEO District to advance God's reach to those in the least-churched county in Ohio.

Presently, here is some encouraging news about the work God has called him to do--In His Own Words:
I just wanted to send a quick update from your friends in Kent! As of this past weekend, we have seen 10 baptisms via trine immersion in 2008. God is changing lives through our Grace Brethren church plant!

"I need to pray to receive Christ!"~taken from Jon's blog, posted Mon July 28.

An hour before Catalyst this morning (Sun July 27), 17-yr-old Shelby of Kent walked into The Kent Stage lobby and uttered those words to me.
We prayed together.
During worship, she stood up and was baptized as a brand new believer.
And she just started coming to Catalyst 2 weeks ago.

Only God.
Listen to her testimony here. (You will need to fast-forward the podcast to 20:00-24:00. You can hear her getting triune-baptized in the background!).

May God continue to build His Church through new church planting efforts in our district and around the world! You can check out the renovations being completed for next week in the Nursery/Toddler area here.
"(Jesus) told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (Luke 10:2)."

Four14 completes the trek~Hallelujah!

photo by james gordon

Heidi Biehler shared this report via email from RAD:

So the Spain team has completed their hike! They even got certificates of completion yesterday!

This morning they went to the Pilgrim’s mass at the Catholic church in Santiago; it’s a beautiful building! Today (Wed July 20)they are doing some tourism and just resting & refreshing from the exhausting hike. I talked to one of the team members this morning and she said she’s really tired. Tonight they are camping and tomorrow they are taking a bus to Porto Portugal. They have a couple days there, and fly out on Sunday.

I can't wait to hear their stories from the journey and how God spoke to them and through them to those on the hike.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sowing Hope at Perkins

Volunteers Getting Ready

The Grill-azzs in the Mist

Sowing Hope ministered to the Perkins Apartment Complex in South Wooster with a summer barbeque. We invited the people of the apartments to enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, and neighborly conversations.

Our volunteers did an incredible job. They helped get the food, put up the tent, take down the tent, grill the food, serve the food, and interact with the people. We shared God's love in a real way to everyone who could attend. Even those who did not venture out, definitely saw the crowd, smelled the food grillin', and heard the din of conversation.

Elise Rabatin, one of our Sowing Hope Interns, said that she met new children. Jacob Kern, the other Sowing Hope Intern, related that he met these kids last year, but had not got a chance to visit with them. Our other volunteers engaged in conversations with the adults and served them for a nice Monday evening grill in the neighborhood.

Two great highlights was the caricature artist and sno-cones. The line was dozens deep all night. He did an excellent job. He was invited and created pictures for free. What can you say about sno-cones!

But the greatest value is reaching out to others with the love of Jesus. We desire for everyone in our church to be on-mission for God! We pray that each person, each family will seek opportunities to redemptively relate to people in our community. Wow! What a great outreach! God's people are doing it again! I will post pictures later of the Towers barbeque when I get 'em.

Monday, July 28, 2008


photo by lizmarie


We are not the only ones seeking to show appreciation to our teachers. Check out the above website. I am so thankful for Acme Sharing in sending me this link. I love their pitch for adoptaclassroom.

The average public school teacher ends up paying around $1,200 out of pocket for classroom supplies each year, and that is just so uncool.

Adopt a classroom is a non-profit website that lists the NEEDS of classrooms across the country. what about making a donation to this organization in honor of your own teacher?
or, if you think your teacher might fall into the category of having to shell out for your kids supplies, a gift certificate to LAKESHORE LEARNING is ideal.

Then you can present them with something very personal. we are writing dramatic and heartfelt cards. did i mention dramatic? and perhaps a small pampering kind of gift, like a pedicure.
just think of all the candles that don't have to live in a constant state of re-gift.

I praise God that we are doing this for the Burbank Elementary School. May God get the honor and the glory as we show appreciation to those who labor so hard and dedicate time, emotion, and even money to educate our children. "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Grace in the Neighborhood

photo by yeesh23

Linda Kline shared with me an update on one of the four Neighborhood Bible Clubs being conducted this week in Wooster at the Vandergrifts.

Today is the last day. On Wednesday, forty-two kids came. On Thursday, thirty-five kids came.

With her three helpers, Linda Vandergrift was able to reach a lot of children with the Gospel through games, songs, crafts, and snacks.

Wooster Grace values equipping Christ-followers to be on-mission for God. We pray that each person in our church is redemptively involved within our communities in Wayne County. As Jesus declared, "I came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10)." Praise God for these heroes in the faith who obey God's truth and live on-mission for Him. Way to go, Christ-followers!

Four14 needs prayer

photo by jule berlin

Day Two of the St. James Way continues. Please pray for the team as they trek. Heidi Biehler updated us at Four14 last night.

RAD asked us to pray for strength and stamina. The first leg of the journey took longer than expected but all made it pretty well.

Ask God to bring relief to Steven Starkey who is ill. Ask God to give His strength to Andy and Keith as well.

Pray that the team is not discouraged. They haven't seen too many people along the way to begin conversations yet. May God bring divine appointments.

God has provided good weather and the team is growing in the Lord. The team is reading Louie Giglio's book, "I am NOT but i know I AM." RAD loves the book. If you'd like to read along with them here is a scheduled.

7.25 Became
7.26 Big River
7.27 The Little Leader
7.28 Be Still
7.29 Furious Rest
7.30 Embracing Smallness
7.31 You can trust Him

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Time to stop and praise the Lord!

photo by hjl

Asia's Hope has great news. I received this email from Dave Atkins. You will be captured how God is working in those who are prepared to move forward when God moves.

Secure your seat belt. Get ready for an exhilarating ride! Our God is awesome!

In His own words~ Dave Atkins, Director of Sowing Hope

Hello, everyone!

It's 1:30 AM and I just got back to my hotel room...but I just gotta bless God! I just GOTTA tell you what God is doing now...

Just when you think God can't BLESS you any more...

A couple of weeks ago, we were BLESSED by God to receive a gift of over $40,000 from a man in Canada who sponsors one of our orphans at our big Doi Saket home near Chiangmai. He recently was married and asked all of his wedding guests to give a gift to Asia's Hope instead of he and his bride...he asked us for a proposal months ago. We suggested a computer/learning lab for the orphans. He agreed!

NOW, we will be starting to build that building soon...and by the fall, we will have it full of new computers and learning software...and books! PRAISE GOD!

So tonight, Joyce and I are on our way to Florida for the Grace Brethren Church's national conference...and we stopped off at Cedarville University for an event for 1,500 Grace Brethren teenagers called, "Momemtum". This used to be called, "Brethren National Youth Conference". It's a great conference and attracts kids from all over the country.

We stopped by because tonight's speaker, Pastor Jim Brown of Goshen, Indiana, pastors a church that already sponsors TWO orphan homes with in Thailand and one in Cambodia. Pastor Jim, his wife, their 3 kids and their team from Goshen was JUST with me two weeks ago visiting those homes!

So, when I found out he was speaking to 1,500 teenagers tonight, I thought I'd set up a table outside...who knew what might happen...

What I DIDN'T know was that God was going to BLESS US TONIGHT - BIG TIME!!!
Pastor Jim delivered a marvelous sermon about the orphans, the widows and the poor. It was an amazing sermon and he challenged the students to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT - NOW! ( I had no idea he was going to challenge them to give an offering.)

He DID challenge them to give an offering with a goal of raising $15,000 to give to an organization called, "Feed My Starving Children". He told the teens that if whey could raise $15,000, they could feel 100,000 people for a whole YEAR! A great goal!

(This was not a part of anything Asia's Hope is doing, but that was OK with me. I was so excited to see these kids get involved in something to bless the poor.) he challenged the kids, up front they came...bringing their ones and fives and tens, and twenties....and they were putting the totals up as the kids came. As they put up the running total of what had come in, the cheering started....$600....$1,200.....$1,800....and then...things got OUT OF CONTROL!

The total jumped to $3,600.....and $8,700....and then $12,000....and the cheering continued to get LOUDER!!!

Then $14,000....and then....over $15,000! In less than 5 minutes, the goal was reached!

Then Jim and the directors of the conference, Ed Lewis and Dave Rank, were huddling on the stage. Students kept bringing up money....

$16,000....$19,000.....$23,000....$27,000....more cheering.

All of the sudden, I see written on the big screen, "Dave Atkins come to the platform." So I got up and met them at the platform...

"How much is an orphan home to sponsor for a year?" they asked. I told them....and they anounced to the crowd, "Now, we're going to sponsor an orphan home in Cambodia for a year...we've got enough money to do that!" More cheering!

And the students kept coming... big lines now...waiting to give...the band started playing worship songs, "We bless you, Lord...we bless you...."

$36,000....$49,000....$67,000....CHEERING LOUDER!!!! LOUDER!!!!

They asked me, "Could we sponsor TWO homes? For TWO YEARS?" I said, "Sure,we'll do whatever you guys want to do!" Can we call them, "Momentum orphan homes? (that's the name of the conference) I said, "I don't care what we call them...lets just HELP THE ORPHANS!"

$75,000....$82,000.....$90,000.....FINALLY, when the last person was finished...

OVER $92,000!!!!!!!

They asked me to say a few words to the students. I thanked them for the kids and I told them what a difference they were making in the lives of these precious orphans in SE Asia. I told them they could come on teams and MINISTER with these children. I told them I was proud of them...I had a hard time keeping it together, I was so moved by God!

The leaders of the conference asked the kids to give MORE money over the next few days so they could completely SPONSOR TWO ORPHAN HOMES FOR TWO YEARS!!!!!!

After the meeting was over, I was MOBBED by nearly 100 students and leaders at our table wanting to know how they could GO and how they could GIVE and how they could be INVOLVED in helping orphans!

It was the most INCREDIBLE THING I've been a part of for a LONG, LONG TIME!

That's why I just got back to my hotel room...

Wow, this has been an incredible month for Asia's Hope!!!!

I am going to bed. I am not even sure HOW we're going to put all of this together...exactly. I don't think we need to know that tonight. Tonight, we just need to say,


...and say, "Goodnight." I just couldn't go to bed without telling you guys the good news!

Wow...what a GOD WE SERVE!!!!!!

Taking God's hope to Asia,

You can get a summary report of the event at fgbc blog. I still like how Dave describes it as it happens :) I want to thank Liz Cutler Gates who provides this link for you to read more about what happened at Momentum that night. Still, all the praise to God for His movement among His people!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Our friends arrive in Porto where the journey begins

In her own words, please read an update from Heidi about the Four14 missions team as they prepare to begin the spiritual journey walking the St. James Way.

Good afternoon! I spoke with RAD earlier this afternoon on the phone. What a cool experience it was! (if you’ve never talked to someone in another country, I recommend it!)

photo by gaetan lee

Here’s a little update:

It took longer to get to Portugal than expected, due to a flight delay here in the states. Because of this, their luggage was behind schedule, and they got it this morning. They have had a lot of team time together the past couple days. Last night they had a “big dinner” (RAD’s words) with the Hawkins. Then today was beach day…lots of swimming! Tonight they are eating dinner with the Hawkins & Plasters, and are meeting people from the International Church. RAD said they have a nice place to stay, and that the team is connecting well with each other. As a team, they are reading a book by Louie Giglio, which they started today. Tomorrow they leave for the hike, by catching a train ride to the beginning location. Then on Thursday, they begin the hike! While they are in Portugal they are 5 hours ahead of us, and once in Spain, they are 6 hours ahead.

The InfoLine has been updated, too. J (ext. 723 or RAD)


Six thousand words

Ministry has its sacrifice and its rewards

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jim & Stephanie Fish are Home!

In their own words--

Hello All,

We are back and up and at 'em! What an experience! There is soooo much to share.

We want to thank you for your prayers, love and support. We apologize for not being able to keep in contact. Unfortunately, we did not have internet hardly at all. If it came up at all it would usually come up around 10 am for a couple hours, which of course we were out and about doing other things by then. I did try the one day, but by the time I got the email typed up and addresses in it booted us off again and we couldn't get it back at all for a few days. (Problems with SIL)

Electricity was another problem. We were VERY lucky if we would have it for 12 hours. At one point we went without for 36 hours and then it came on for only one hour and 20 min. It did come on a couple hours later again for a bit. It just made life a bit more interesting! And with the time difference it was very difficult to reach someone. And calling a cell phone was out of the question, which are mostly the numbers we had of people. From what I was hearing it was quite costly. I certainly wasn't doing that unless I had to. I just surrendered to the idea God had other things he wanted us to do with our time.

Sun goes down around 6 pm and a lot of times we would loose electric shortly after. It made eating dinner and keeping food and water bottles cold a challenge at times. The neighbors had a backup generator on their fridge so we could put meat in there if we had to. It would be nice to have a schedule as to when the electric would be on or off. However, they (powers that regulate) don't seem to see it that way.

It will be good to see you all and share what God is doing in CAR and in our lives through this experience! To share briefly, Jim and Tom worked hard to make repairs to the current "garage" door and worked at getting in the second at the ICDI orphan care mission center. This was difficult with the electricity going off and on. They were needing to weld and drill metal. They did have a back up generator, but it becomes quite costly to use. It becomes very time consuming. They had success overall. Steph helped Sue with her English classes, helped in the clinic, and observed the sewing class. Jim and Tom also helped in English the one day teaching the Africans the parts of their motorcycles in English. We went to some of the orphan care weekly groups. There are 8 groups which meet various time throughout the week. We had the privilege to meet our sponsored orphan and Tom and Sue's gals in home visits. We went to the Pygmy village, saw a water well repair, a Seminary graduation, a wake, visited the "markets" and artisan shops and had opportunity, of course, to eat CAR food in some of their homes. We celebrated the 4th of July at the GBIM center with grilled chicken and a "bonfire". No fireworks though. It was relaxing, especially since we were suffering from jetlag.

It was good to meet some of the missionaries from various denominations and see the GBIM guest center and new orphan care center/school. Their new facility is wonderful! We also met many ICDI workers who are from Africa. We had opportunity to hear them share what God has laid on their hearts.

In some ways words cannot really share what we experienced. We are still sorting through some of that. We have prayer requests that we will pass on soon too from many working there. Please continue to pray for the work of God's people in CAR, the Africans who live there and their government.

Love you all,

Stephanie and Jim

Friday, July 18, 2008

Homeward Bound or On the Field

photo by chuuken haichiquo

People to pray for regarding missions:

  • Please pray for the High School Missions Team as they travel back to Wooster from San Francisco on Saturday.

  • Likewise, pray for Jim & Stephanie Fish as they return from the Central African Republic on Sunday.

  • Furthermore, pray for the Four14 team as they depart for Portugal & Spain on Sunday morning at 11am.

  • Keep in prayer Kallie Dravenstott who is serving with Asia's Hope in Thailand--ask the Lord to continue healing her ankle injury.

  • Pray for Kevin & Jill Kane as their daughter, Jenny gets married on Saturday. Ask God to help them discover time for rest and spiritual refreshment during the last month of time here in the states before departing for Cambodia at the end of August.

  • Pray for Bruce & Lisa Triplehorn who are presently in Norton, OH informing people about what God has done, is doing, and will do through them in Brazil. Ask God to help them raise the needed additional support.

  • Pray for George & Cindy Swain who are in Warsaw, IN visiting their new grandchild. Ask God to give them great family time and a restful vacation while in the states.

May God continue to help us develop all people into fully-devoted followers of Christ.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is Your Church a Good Neighbor? | Outreach & Evangelism

photo by bruce turner

Is Your Church a Good Neighbor? Outreach & Evangelism

I came across this article and the title caught my attention. Our next year of emphasis is "Grace in the Neighborhood!" I wonder if we can measure what we have done recently with the article's "measuring sticks."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A new way to look at the unchurched

photo by david wiese
The way churches define who the "unchurched" are is needed a review, say the Ellison Research Group. They offer a unique perspective on who the "unchurched" may be. The results will make you think. Read the article here.

I haven't made my firm conclusions yet, but I do know that what I thought about the so-labeled is now morphing. If our target is the unchurched, then who are they in our community? I wonder where they are. I wonder if they know they are unchurched. I wonder what you think of this article~please post your comment below.
I want to thank my friend Walt Mueller for directing me to this article. Walt is the Director of The Center for Parent Youth Understanding. - Residents come together to help build house for family in need

photo by tukanuk

 - Residents come together to help build house for family in need

I came across a family that is making a difference in our community. Pastor Steve Kern and Celeste seek to be fully-devoted followers who reach out to others in our community. Way to go, pastor Steve and Celeste.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Children are coming to Christ

photo by Kara McCune

Linda Kline provided me a written report with the following facts:

So far two children have prayed to receive Christ!
  • 6 clubs conducted in West Salem, Wooster, Dalton, & Ashland with 86 total children attending

  • 5 clubs are being conducted next week (July 21-25) in Creston and Wooster (one in Scottish Highlands)

2 are scheduled for August in Wooster

Over twenty helpers, hosts, and teachers have minstered so far.

The Scottish Highlands group urgently needs one more helper, according to Linda Kline. If you know someone who could help, then please call Linda at 330-262-6787.

Linda shares how to pray for next week's clubs:
  1. Pray for good contacts and canvasing as host families and neighbors hand out invitations

  2. Pray for teacher and hostess' as they plan to utilize one another's spiritual gifts to minister as a team
  3. Pray for thorough preparation and flexible organization.
The Host Homes next week are:

  • Linda Vandergrift 3467 Heyl Road (9:30am)
  • Fay Graham 207 Evergreen Drive, Creston (6:30pm)
  • Scottish Highlands Wooster (6:30pm)
  • Teri Lottes 1550 Christmas Run (1:00pm)
  • Christy Durham 6761 Weilersville Rd (evenings)

photo by hoyasmegan

San Fran Witnesses Go Homeless

photo by Mark Coggins

Kim sent a link to the blog that is updating what is going on as Pastor Nick has time to write and to upload pictures. View page here. Please say a prayer for them re: pray for courage and safety in trusting God.

On Sunday our team joined for worship the First Baptist Church of San Francisco. The FBC also conduct a ministry called InnerChange where they seek to connect with the homeless and disenfranchised as well.

Pastor Nick shared how the Tenderloin district got it's name. You can read the answer here and get a snapshot of what area that our team is ministering in. In fact David Karner shared that it may be a place to avoid. But i praise God for our youth leaders and their commitment to provide safety and a great discipleship experience in the lives of students.

Youth With A Mission has a discipleship training center in the Tenderloin district. Our team is partnering with them as they create memorable and life-shaping ministry opportunities for them in San Fran. I love the idea of packing two lunches--one for you and another for someone else!

Pastor Nick mentions the Haight-Asbury district, or Hippie Hill where they conducted a "bucket brigade (see the July 14 post)." I wonder if we could add that concept to our Second Saturday ministry opportunities. I wonder what you think.

Photo of street mural in Haight by jay galvin

Junior Highers impact Cleveland

Josh Atkins had great things to say about the Junior High missions trip to Village Grace in inner city Cleveland. Twenty-one people comprised the team. I am posting several pictures of their departure.

Josh shared at staff meeting how the adult leaders were a great help. They guided the students in devotions, lead them in service projects, and interacted with them throughout every activity. Two leaders of the adult leaders, Mike & Denise Molter, were impressed with the character of the students on the trip. The students inspired them as adults.

Mike shared how neighborhood clean-up ministered to both our students and the community around Village Grace. I agree with those who pick up trash compulsively, "For most people, picking up trash is an unwanted chore." Read more how trash pickup impacts society here.

As the team picked up trash and removed debris, a very huge African American man walked through the lot. He stopped. He towered over the students and said, "Thank you very much, you don't know how much this helps our community." Rich Bartley informed the group how community care is one thing that gets overlook. In fact, many have given up trying to pick things up and throw things away. Yet this act of service by our kids demonstrated God's heart in a clear way.

Pastor Bob also shared at a district board meeting this past week, Rich spoke in appreciative words about how grateful Rich is that our church sends people to help in his ministry.

May God continue to help us develop fully-devoted followers of Jesus every day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In My Own Words--Beth Sorg

Beth Sorg shares the following:

We had more people than we expected. We even met quite a few people for the first time!

The weather predictions scared us, but God answered our prayers and it was sunny and hot a good majority of the time. We got to boat, swim, hike, play outdoor sports, and even have a campfire after the short 1 hour of rain that we had for the weekend.

We had wonderful food and lots of great fellowship. We enjoyed many fun workshops such as scrap booking, knitting, gardening, birds for kids, flower pounding, science and faith, american history, soccer, cooking, and the list goes on and on!

Forty-three people attended. Thirty of them were internationals. I was very happy about the great weather. I was expecting to have to improvise and stay indoors for the majority of the retreat, but God really awed me again and gave us beautiful weather!

We were able to have the camp fire thanks to Pastor Ivanildo's hard work finding some slightly dry wood and persistence in getting it lit. Pastor Ivanildo also shared about Jesus' miracles after we enjoyed some yummy s'mores. It was wonderful to see the Internationals interested in the stories and participating in the discussions.

God tells us in the bible directly to go and share the good news about Jesus. I believe that he has brought the world to us here in Wooster with the many International families. It is an awesome opportunity to serve the Lord, share about Him with others, and to befriend and love others for His glory! Many International people will return home to there own country eventually, and if we were able to share with them and help them have a personal relationship with Jesus, then they can take that home and continue to share it with others! What a great and powerful, yet simple way to share the gospel with the world!

Wooster Grace values reaching out. "We believe that lost people matter to God and ought to matter to us!" There is no better way than to gather lost people together, to love them, to eat with them, to share stories and stuff with them, and to share Christ with them. May God plant the seeds of the Gospel in many hearts!

We are all witnesses!

photo by erik holmberg

The junior high team's itinerary:

  • Thursday: AM--Help at Cleveland Food Bank; PM--Clean up grounds at Village Grace; EVE--Park Ministry helping with games, bible stories, and refreshments.

  • Friday: AM--Play with children at Rainbow Babies @ University Hospital; PM--Intercultural experience at West Side Market; EVE--Attend Cleveland Indians game.
  • photo of west side market by craig hatfield

  • Saturday: AM--Distribute fliers for upcoming Village Grace community event; PM--Prepare for community cookout; EVE--Conduct community cookout.

  • Sunday: AM--Join church at Village Grace; return home by 12 noon.

The adult team consists of: Pastor Josh Atkins, Amber Atkins, Mike & Denise Molter, Andrew Simms.

The students on the team are: Mariah Cruise, Brett Ferrell, Erin Friday, Brett Hartman, Savannah Johnston, Nathan Kline, Michelle Landon, Ariel Larson, Evan McCory, Sara McCune, Emily Poulson, Nessa Shoup, Josh Tiano, Ellie Vandergriff, Joel Zook, Emily Ream, Aaron Richardson, Mitchell Buckwalter, Jenna Roberts, Wade Lawson, and Ellie Kauffman.

Please pray for God to allow them to galvanize team unity, to be wildly unselfish, to passionately serve the community, and to share God's love in a real way in all its forms so that fully-devoted followers of Christ emerge.