Friday, June 27, 2008

Receive Jesus

One of the great things we do for the Sowing Hope kids is feed them lunch. A few of the children have parents who work second shift or parents who are absent in their kids lives, thus they don't get a good meal at all. So we share God's love in a real way. I take to heart Jesus' words in Matthew 18:5, " And whoever receives one such child in My name receives me."

boys will be boys

students of great potential

There is so much we can do for these kids. Pastor Ivanildo shared how one little girl Gabby screamed with glee on the bus, "I LOVE V-B-S!"

Joyce Atkins is on her way home

photo by octoberdog

Joyce is on her way home from Cambodia. The team leader, Sherrod Fields, sent this update from Vietnam.

I'm now in Taiwan on my way back to the good ol' USA. I left Phnom Penh earlier today and over all it was a great trip. The team that I had with me worked very hard and didn't complain about anything at all. A very "go with the flow" bunch, which made it much easier on me. Even though it was a shorter trip than I usually do, it seemed like I was gone for a month and a half. I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm busy 18 hours every day. We accomplished a lot, saw lots of smiling kids, got way out of our comfort zones and served others with a selfless attitude (which isn't always easy).
I will try to get some pictures sent out when I get back. Thanks for
taking an interest in what I'm doing. SF

Joyce will take over 30-hours to return to her home in Wooster. Please pray for her safe return. Likewise, pray for Betty Burke who is returning from Quito, Ecuador today.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We can do it!

photo from SMN

Pastor Ivanildo shared some stories during VBS about children who are taking the offering very seriously. After viewing the ICDI video, one girl went home, put up a lemonade stand, gathered the money, and brought in $30.

photo from jimwhimpey
Another boy went home and dumped his piggy bank onto his bed. His mother walked in and asked with a quizzical look, "What are you doing, son?" He looked up with determination and said, "Did you see the water those children have to drink? No one should drink yucky water like that." He wanted to give his money so that other children could drink cool water.

An anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $4,000 for the children's offering. At first the thought was the donor was merely going to double the offering, but in actuality the donor wants to triple the offering. So, the church could be funding a new water well in the Central African Republic. Wow!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On mission heroes

Please keep in prayer the Plasters who are taking a missions team to Brussels, Belgium. From their blog and latest email update that I received today, I am excited for them. You can even see a short video previewing what they will be doing.

It is great to read how they are using their leverage points to advance the Gospel. Using the service ethic of young university students they have created an extended discipleship opportunity. I see a parallel to the Four14 roadtrip that is occurring on the same weekend. Although there are twenty-five going from Wooster to West Virginia and only four heading to Brussels from Paris, God's church is on mission for Him.

I wonder if you saw Kevin & Jill Kane serving in VBS today at the refreshment area talking with children and sharing God's love in a real way. They have shared how blessed they are to be from this church. They wanted to serve this week at VBS, just like they did prior to their call to go to Cambodia. Again, God's people coming to Christ, getting established in their faith, growing in service, and then staying on mission for God.

What a mighty God we serve! Amen!

Reaching out to children

It all starts with a bus ride

I just returned from a trip dropping off children to Perkins Apartments on the Southside of Wooster. I heard the girls I sat near share how their favorite part of the days' events is the singing. They sang a few bars of the songs and teased me that I did not know the motions for the songs. It was a memorable day for them.

Conversely, one of our girls was feeling ill. She rested yesterday and felt good enough to come--so she came today. At the end of the day, she was tired and started feeling ill. But she made it to the end of VBS, ate her lunch, and then we took her home. Please pray for J. She would love to come back tomorrow and hear more about Jesus.

Overall, the team of volunteers and our interns did a wonderful job of serving these kids. Yes, they are rowdy just like any children, but we get to offer them a fun time at VBS and a chance to hear the Gospel and to learn more about Jesus this week. Check out how we are developing fully devoted followers for Jesus by reaching out to the children on the southside.

"I am cool ridin' da bus"

Scottish Highlands Outreach in pictures

Praise the Lord for awesome teamwork. God's people came to serve--setting up a tent, manning a grill, greeting people, serving the food, and engaging in conversation. Even after the storm blew in and blew over the hospitality tent by blowing out the main tent pole, the team improvised and regathered themselves and reunited in the clubhouse to talk and to make conversation. Thanks to all who served. I heard that conversations occurred and follow-up invitations offered. I wonder if you heard about a soccer match gathering or an extended conversation happened. Please make comment and share your story from this event. Thanks.

Setting up to serve

Ready to serve

After the Storm blew thru

Set up once again

495 Kids!

Today I witnessed and amazing gathering. I observed a church filled with children, students, and adults praising Jesus and excited about learning more about Jesus.

Vacation Bible School has arrived. I was so proud to see Pastor Ivanildo featured to open the day with prayer and to introduce the ICDI well-drilling video. The donations collected from the children will go to drill a well for a community in the Central African Republic where water is scarce and a high commodity. Clean water is even more precious. Most villages use unsanitary water for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. But what ICDI helps to do is to educate the community about safe water practices, hygiene, health, and responsibility. It is a great partnership we have with ICDI. I can't wait to see how much money the children donate towards the $15,000 goal.

Our summer interns, Jacob Kern & Elise Rabatin, have helped get 33 children here today from the southside of Wooster. We chatted about the bus challenges and the everyday skirmishes between kids in a neighborhood. Then they escorted me around the campus to visit with the children in their groups. Not only were the children integrated but even felt included in their groups and felt cared for by the adult and student volunteers.

We even had the opportunity to give a child from our group her first Bible. When we finally tracked down a children's bible, Elise wrote a dedication, both Jacob & Elise signed it, and then we found her in her class. Elise said that this little girls' "eyes lit up" when she saw that she got a bible as her own. May God speak to her through His Word today and everyday of her life.
photo by theogeo

In a few minutes I get to help serve lunch to them and hear how their day went. May God bring each one to Christ through our efforts. I hope to post 2 or 3 pictures later today.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And the winds came up...

photo by Chris Pfeffer
The children's song of the wise men building on the rock came to my mind as I heard about the outreach at Scottish Highlands. The winds came up, the floods came up, but the house on the Rock stood firm.

Praise God for the faithfulness of the team. Pastor Ivanildo shared that about 30 people were served before the storm and after the storm as well. Many contacts were made. In fact, many Hispanics live in the apartment complex (about 45).

Despite the wind, the rain, and the storms, God allowed the team to minister. May God use our contacts to further His kingdom and to spread His light into the world where people in our community live.

I wonder if any pictures were taken. I have not checked my email this morning, so there may be pictures to post. Please let me know what your reflections are on the outreach at Scottish Highlands.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thanks from the Neighborhood

Jeana forwarded email messages received by our contact at the Wayne County Children's Services describing their feelings toward being recognized for their hard work and oftentimes thankless labor.

One person said, "Can we start a thank you card around for those to sign that attended the lunch? I have thank you cards in my office if we need one. The lunch was unbelievably wonderful!"

Another worker mentioned to our contact in regards to door prize sign-ups, "WOW!!! How awesome is that! I was meaning to email you back yesterday & tell you how kind and generous that is of Grace Brethren to show support to the "unsung heros". It is really heartwarming to know that someone out there in the community recognizes the importance of the work done here. And KUDOS to you for getting this all organized!! So, "You ROCK!!!"
thanks again!!!!

Lastly another worker shared, "I just wanted to thank Grace for the AWESOME treats... That was so nice."

Way to go, team!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Breaking News from MSNBC re: Chad

photo by
I just watched the news scroll on MSNBC running below in the footer of the screen sharing news from Chad. As I recalled the AP news report, a Chadian soldier shared that 161 rebels were killed in fighting in the east of the country.

Please pray for our missionary partners in Central Africa--Tom & Sue Peters especially because they are presently in the C.A.R., south of the battle zone.

What does Pastor Ivanildo and Cindy McCain have in common

Trips to Vietnam Are a McCain Family Affair - Washington Whispers (

The answer is SE Asia.

I find it interesting that our church's mission initiatives mirror the charitable interests of Cindy McCain. You can read more from the article and follow the links to see her bio, a link to Operation Smile, and her travels for international charity work.

In fact, Cindy's daughters and friends are blogging about the trip to Vietnam. And I quote from the blog (read and see the post on Tue June 17), "We appreciate your patience, as internet connections here are somewhat hit or miss." I wonder if Pastor Ivanildo would agree with this statement of 'hit-or-miss' internet connections.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

South Bend Recap Rap

I did not get a chance to visit with Josh Atkins today. But I came across this post by Pastor Boucher regarding the week of outreach for his church. Our student ministries shine for Christ well--"The most amazing registration team ever." I loved the picture as you open up the blog.

For fun: Check out Josh Atkins gettin' busy in his rap session from last year's trip. I give him phat props for his rap. Peace out. I wonder if you could pick up the words and get the overview on the first time through.

Philly Rewind

Check out the video from the Philly trip. I like the video testimonies in the middle of the video. I wonder which one inspires you. I like the one where pastor Mark Richmond speaks of the impact that the team had on him, his church, and his community (6:00 min into the video). Way to go student ministries! You are truly fully devoted! You can read more and see still pictures of what God did at the Student Ministries webpage.

I missed the post-trip recap on Sunday, June 15 at 11am. I wonder if anyone got a chance to hear it.

Grace in the Neighborhood

Linda Kline begins the first Neighborhood Bible Club (NBC) at West Salem--one in the morning (10-11:30)and one in the afternoon (1-2:30). Please pray for fully devoted followers to come to Christ during these sessions this week. I will ask Linda to send me some pictures to post.

Check out the promo video.

Tom & Sue Peters begin their l-o-n-g journey to Bangui. Jeana estimated that it may take about 34 hours to go from Cleveland-Hopkins to Bangui. So, they should arrive on Thursday, June 19 at 1am (Wooster time), which is 6am (Bangui time).

Pray for their travels to proceed without delay and with their luggage in tow. :)

Snakes, elephants, it's hot, oh my!

photo by Go Climb a Rock

I received this update from Chiang Mai where Joyce Atkins is serving with Asia's Hope. After their waterpark adventure with the orphanage children.

Hey everyone. Another update on what's going on over here in Chiang Mai. This will be short because I am pressed for time. I spent today shoveling rocks, cleaning, and working on a fence. It's HOT here.
Yesterday was a fun day. We went and saw an elephant and snake show and went into the mountains and visited a hill tribe village (very remote, very cool) and I gave
them some bags full of medicine (thanks for the meds Vista church). It will be teaching, labor, painting and hard work from here on out for the most part.

Keep me, the team and the rest of the folks here in your thoughts and prayers. I'll try to send some pics soon.
Thanks for all your support.SF

So please keep the team in your prayers.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Featuring Missionary Partners on Sundays

I helped the Kane's proceed through the day at Wooster Grace with the following schedule below that wearied me as I originally typed it. Now that I've experienced it, I was right.

A number of things confront me as I reflect on the day at Grace with the Kane's. I experienced the challenge of getting them in as many venues as possible versus letting them mingle and get reacquainted with those who attend Grace. I struggle with the demanding schedule. Yet I know that Grace comprises a whole spectrum of people; from the unchurched, first-time visitor to the absolutely churched, all-time faithful saints.

I wonder how I could harness technology to advance further and on-going exposure of what God is doing through the Kane's. I wonder how to help enhance the ABF experience to feature the Kane's. I wonder how to leverage the mission moment in the services. I wonder how to get our missionary partners into the lives and perview of the children and student ministries.

Today was about the adult ministries area. I wonder how I can harness technology to provide access to the Kane's for our young adults, students, and children.

I may record an interview with the Kane's and post the interview online or burn it for ABF distribution or post it as a podcast for future use.

What I experienced in the ABFs is community. I felt it in each one; whether the Bereans, the Truthseekers, or the Connections ABF, I sensed God's people engaged and asking very good questions. Questions like what are the barriers to the Khmer people for coming to Christ, why do you use a knife and cut up meat by hand rather than a meat grinder, or what are the giants you are facing so that we can pray for you.

Each ABF venue encouraged me greatly. The Kane's truly felt energized. Yet it was a taxing morning. Read the schedule below and give me your thoughts on what we could do better, differently, or improve. Thanks for your input.

8:00am prayer and review of any last minute adjustments in the worship center before traditional service, Be seated down front.
8:30 worship songs begin
8:37 announcements by pastor Steve, then interview
Question: Kevin and Jill Kane share with us how you are developing fully devoted followers for Jesus in your ministry in Cambodia and then one prayer request.
8:43 exit worship service for Berean ABF Room 142
8:45 share in Berean ABF (15 minutes sharing update of what you are doing, what you intend to do, prayer requests)
9:00 Return to service for sermon
9:30 During final prayer after the sermon, Jill will exit and meet me to go to the Contemporary Service. I will escort her to service and back to Truthseekers.
9:45 Sit down front
9:45 worship songs begin
9:52 announcements by pastor (Steve Traditional--Dave Lawson Contemporary), then interview with question from above.

9:58 dismiss you to exit worship service for Truthseekers ABF Room 421
10:00 Truthseekers ABF
10:55 Gather at the front of the contemporary service
11:00 Worship begins
11:09 announcements by pastor Steve, then interview
11:15 dismiss you to exit worship service for Connections ABF Room 423

Tear down projector, return to Greg Brenneman

Friday, June 13, 2008

To Prague and Back Again

Linda Kline and I talked this morning about her visit with the Swain's. She is part of the Global Task Force. But one thing that I did not know about Linda is she dedicated her life to be available for being on-mission for God over forty years ago. As a senior in high school she went forward at district camp to dedicate her life saying to the Lord, "I am available."

She shadowed the Swain's this trip, especially Cindy. In fact, on her arrival into Prague she was escorted right into an English class at the Academic Language Center.

She has a great interest and passion for the people she has met over the years on her trips to visit the missionaries. She used all means of transportation; from airplane, to bus, metro, trolley, walk, train, even bike.

I marvel at her stamina. On a day of fasting the heat was up into the 80's and she helped distribute invitations for the Jesus video for two hours, late that evening. "My feet were tired and ready for a rest," she related to me. I encouraged her that she cut George's flyer outreach time in half with her presence and her help.

She got to visit a few of the students the Swain's are working with in their homes. She rode the metro, walked to the homes, and visited with the families. I can learn much from Linda's passion to remember people; their names, their life situation, and how to pray for them.

In fact, she prepared gifts for her Czech friends. With the help of her sister, she prepared 18 rice bags. These are used by heating the bags in the microwave, the rice heats up, and acts as a soothing heat source for your neck muscles or wherever heat may soothe your soreness. She laughed as she said, "Cindy and I went to the store and bought six kilos of rice (20 lbs. of rice) to finish the gifts for her friends.

She shared how in Prague, you are allowed to put things in mailboxes. Here in the U.S. its a against the law to do that. George has distributed over 500,000 flyers. He has canvassed the whole city one time and concentrates his energies in targeted parts of the city.

Linda also shared how George is also using texting and youtube (George has recorded, edited, and posted various videos)to create and maintain contacts. Check out the link above and browse through the various videos he has posted. Some are short clips of football highlights, an infomercial for the Language Center, and one where George shares Christ (posted on June 7).

Prayer requests for the Swain's:
  • Ask God to give strength, discernment, and wisdom as George acts as interim director of the Academic Language Center (Campuse Crusade missionary, Terry Brown is returning to the states for six months support discovery).

  • Ask God to give them on-going perseverance in spite of hate mail as they "stuff mailboxes" with their invitation to receive a free copy of the Jesus video.

  • Praise God for the many contacts but ask God to help George and Cindy establish these contacts into new disciples and growing disciples so that a growing and strong church can emerge in Prague.

  • Praise God for a family vacation in July. George hopes to come to Wooster on Thu July 10. They are returning to also visit their first grandchild, born here in the states recently.

I trust this gives you a quick update on one of our many short-term trips. I have asked Linda to share at our Global Task Force meeting on June 22 with the focus of delineating how her trip revealed the development of fully devoted followers of Jesus in Prague.

Serving our community--Outreach value at work

In my short time here in Wooster, I have had the privilege of serving many people. But today at lunch I got the opportunity to say thanks to a group of people who truly need appreciation. The men and women of Wayne County Children's Services work hard to intervene and to protect children and promote families. The organization has been doing its service since 1882.

Big thanks to Sue Rumburg for her labors in preparing a great meal to cater to the Wayne County Children's Services staff. A great job to Jeana Harley and Juana Hernandez for facilitating the event. Regina Schwartz needs accolades for her work as liaison for serving those who serve the neglected, abused, and voiceless in our area.

I was pleased to be on the team with Pastor Bob Fetterhoff, Pastor Dave Lawson, Pastor Ivanildo Trindade, Jeana Harley, Juana Hernandez, Scott Simms, Beth Sorg, Elise Rabatin, Jacob Kern, and myself.

Our team served them lunch. We had cuts of meat, pre-sliced so that each person could make their own sandwich. We provided trays of assorted fruit and cheeses as well. We had two soups for them to choose from--vegetable beef and chicken noodle. We served iced tea and lemonade. Sue's homemade cookies were a definite hit as well as Scott's sno-cones.

I was proud watching our team interact with the staffers. We spread ourselves around the room with each of us sitting and talking at each of the tables. I enjoyed watching Elise and Jacob help people with their beverage and then offering to take the cookie trays around to offer goodies to the team. I appreciated how Juana, Jacob, and Elise helped serve drinks, Pastor DL and Beth served soup. I praised God for how overwhelmed the people felt. At one table, Rachel said out loud, "I really feel appreciated!"

Pastor Bob gave them a plaque with the verse; Isaiah 1:17, "Learn to do good, seek justice, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." Gloria, the stand-in for the director, was visibly taken aback with the presentation. She is a good leader because she deferred the accolade to those who work with her.

My other favorite recollection is the atmosphere. I guess, the best way to say it is that each person was in shock that someone would come and show them appreciation. They could not believe that people would come and serve them.

Overall, we honored God. We were His light. I can't help but recall the words of Jesus. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16)." Together we shined our light and people felt God's warmth.

Way to go team!

I wonder what you thought or learned about this outreach event. Share your story in the comment section. I wonder how you perceived this event within our church's vision. How did what we do develop all people to become fully devoted followers of Christ?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blogpost--34 hours from home to baggage claim

My Spiritual Journey

Please follow the link above (my spiritual journey) to my post on Joyce Atkins journey. Please pray for her safety and her leadership of five students who are joining a team in LA. She is the travel chaperone from Hopkins to LAX.

Prayer Requests:

  • Ask God to help her gain the confidence of the parents who will meet in Cleveland tonight for their all night flight.
  • Ask God to give them health as their bodies adjust to the climate, food, and new (no) sleep patterns.
  • Ask God to provide them enough rest on their journey to be ready to minister as waterpark chaperones for 100 kids from the orphanages in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Mega-impact: 21 saved

Boucher's Blog: Great day!

Pastor Tim shares a brief update about how our team did during South Bend Missions trip.

South Bend '08

The team departed with the old church bus for a six hour bus ride in 90-degree weather and high humidity. They intend to help a church plant in South Bend.

The reason student ministries does missions trips is defined:

"Missions trips help launch spiritual growth in the lives of students by making memories and friends that can last a lifetime. Sometimes this requires leaving home behind for a period of time--Pastor Nick's challenge (Family Meeting; 04.27.08)."

The Team is helping a church plant in South Bend, IN. Grace Community Church's pastor is Tim Boucher. South Bend proper has a population of 108,000 with recent temperatures in the 90's. Please pray for the team as they conduct a soccer camp outreach to under-resourced children in the community where the church plant is located.



Pause to Pray for the team. Tonight, Thursday, June 12 the team will assist in a children's outreach. So at supper time, say a prayer for God to visit the team and the church with many children and many contacts for follow-up.

Our team of fully devoted followers are developing skill in personal and corporate prayer, inviting others, and conducting outreach in their community. Pastor Jim Brown who is passionate about urban church planting in metro philly. Our team is at the Northeast Crossroads GBC. Way to go Christ-followers!