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.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sharing Christ's love with a decorated tree

photo by superturtle

One couple delivered a Christmas tree to an international family. The Japanese couple was totally surprised and delighted to get a completely decorated tree; American style.

They invited the couple into their home for tea and snacks. Shoes were taken off at the door and placed with the toe of the shoes facing out the door. They sat on the floor around a rug and enjoyed sipping tea and sharing about what Christmas means.

Extended time to be with new friends in our community. Way to go Wooster Grace! You are grace in the neighborhood.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Second Saturdays at Wooster Grace

Our church pursues our people to be IN the community as lights of Jesus' love. We constructed a monthly outreach on Second Saturdays to get our people out into the community.

We mobilized 112 people yesterday to do acts of service and kindness: nursing home visitation where teams sang Christmas carols, presented a free Christmas ornament, and offered to pray with residents; delivered gifts and decorated trees to families of single-moms and their children as well as the physically challenged and elderly; conducted home repairs for those who could not afford repair work or who need "helping hands" to fix things for them; and moved a family into a new home on short notice.

Many stories were shared about how our people were grace in the neighborhood. I can share a couple of stories now and one later this week.

At the nursing home one lady began crying as a family entered the room where she stays. The family noticed only a couple of Christmas cards on the window sill and no notes or pictures drawn by grandkids on the walls of her room like the other residents. The lady shared how her family has forgotten her.

The family spent time with her. Talked about her life and presented her with a Christmas ornament. She immediately released tears down her face. Tissues were provided and she kept crying.

Then the caroling team entered to share a few Christmas carols with her. She kept tearing up. She soooo appreciated the visit and the caroling. She commented, "This is the best day in my life in a long time."

Way to go Wooster Grace! You are grace in the neighborhood.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Sowing Hope-Style

photo by futureshape

Sowing Hope celebrated Christmas in the downtown Wooster Recreation Center. Festive tables covered in green, holly decorated plates, cookies in yuletide tins, and a Christmas dinner with scalloped potatoes, green beans, and ham, together greeted our friends at the Towers.
With the help of the Wooster Grace choir and many volunteers, our church invited the residents around the towers with caroling. The night was frosted with icy roads and slippery walkways. Still our friends made their way across the street to the rec center.
Our program shared fun seasonal songs and reflective carols. Everyone sang with Pastor Randy and Allen Hodgdon. The choir and an ensemble sang for our friends to raucus applause. We even gave away gifts to those who were present: bibles, coloring stencils, stuffed animals, fragrant candles, an iron, and a mixer.
We had 84 people in attendance. Our senior pastor joined in our festivities. We served 81 people and provided another 43 meals, so we served 124 meals.
I got to meet Billy and Jessica, Eddie and Sabrina his daughter, Lisa and Kim. We ate together at the table.
One highlight occurred as we were preparing to close our program. A lady named Sandy from the Towers interrupted the closing with an impromptu thank you to our church, the volunteers, and the pastoral staff. She thanked the Sowing Hope team fr coming faithfully every Thursday this year to do crafts and to talk. She named those in attendance that she knew--Celeste Kern, Michelle Sorg, Mary Misner, and Connie Benchoff. We have many more who help out on this team.
It is one thing to serve faithfully and its another to receive a word of thanks. Praise God that we heard a word of gratitude in our faithful service. We direct these words of thanks to God, because He is the One who gave us hope so that we can sow hope in other people's lives. May the Lord continue to gain fame from our acts of kindness and friendship.

Friday, December 12, 2008

On Mission to West Virginia

photo by tukanuk

This evening a team of fully devoted followers are traveling to Rosedale, WV. The Wooster Grace puppet team is reaching out to the Appalachian people.

The median income for the surrounding communities ranges from $24,000 to $26,000. About 20% of the families in the region are below the poverty line.

Our puppet team leaves tonight around 6pm to arrive at about midnight. Please pray for their safety; driving in the mountains. They will make Gospel presentations and return to Wooster on Saturday around 7pm.

The leaders are Pam Leonard, Jenise Woodward, Helena Falk, and Allison Steiner. The team shares the following:

Thanks for your willingness to give up a weekend at Christmas for those who are less fortunate. Be in prayer for safety traveling there and back and for the gospel to be heard.

One of their contacts in Rosedale, Patty McCumber and her family lost their home to a fire last Friday. The entire contents were lost. Nothing was salvaged. Yet the puppet team is gathering things to help the family in any way the team can.

Wow! How awesome for a multi-generational team to minister for God together and to truly seek to be God's source of help for a hurting family and an avenue for hope to everyone who hears the Gospel presentations.

Way to go! Puppet Team~you are Grace in the Neighborhood!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Encouraging our Missionary Partners

As this Christmas season proceeds, please consider sending an encouraging note to those fully devoted followers who serve the Lord as missionaries in our communities here and abroad. You may send an email, a Christmas card, a postcard with a prayer of encouragement, or you may even give them a brief one-minute call by saying something like, "Hi, this is Larry from your home church. Our church wants you to know that we are glad that you are part of our missionary partnership which chooses to develop all people into fully devoted followers of Christ. I thank God that you are developing all people into fully devoted followers of Jesus in all the nations of the world. May you be encouraged with this brief call."

Please consider taking the time to encourage those who sacrifice time away from their families this Christmas by seeking to reach the world for Christ. Let them know that you care and think of them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Catalyst Church reaching Kent, OH

photo of Catalyst 125 newly renovated kids space

Wooster Grace seeks to develop fully devoted followers of Jesus everywhere. We partner with local and global ministries. One of our local partners is Jonathan Herron of Catalyst Church in Kent, OH.

Jonathan shared a link regarding what God is doing at Catalyst. Diane Smith from the Record-Courier of Portage County highlights the church's new office renovation, its education emphasis, the gallery space, and the new worship leader.

Jonathan is grateful for our prayers and encouragement. Please pray for Jonathan's recovery from back surgery. May God bring complete healing and determination for Jonathan to complete his rehab regimen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

REACHing NE Ohio College Campuses

Ben & Sandie Dyke write:

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving break! It was very relaxing and good
to reconnect with extended family. We also went to our annual Great Lakes
staff conference in Indianapolis. We enjoyed this as well as it was a
refreshing time in God’s word. We hope you continue to enjoy reading
about the happenings in our ministry to college students here in NE Ohio.

Please pray for them as they minister to college students amid the chaos of midterms, projects and papers due, flu season, and developing fully devoted followers of Jesus in all the campuses of NE Ohio. Pray specifically for the annual Christmas conference on Dec 27‐Jan 1, 2009! "Pray that our students would attend and that the Lord would speak to them and challenge them to live authentic lives for Christ."

If you'd like to receive their newsletter, then please contact them:
Ben & Sandie Dyke
Cleveland MetroCampus Crusade for Christ

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sowing Hope Christmas Celebration

photo by krisdecurtis

On Friday, December 12 at 6pm we are ministering to the families on the southside of Wooster. We are inviting them to a meal and a Christmas concert at the Wooster Community Center.

Please pray for God to speak through the lives of those who help serve food and who offer their voices and talents in music to direct people to consider the birth of Jesus, their Savior. May God bring all the logistics together to bring people to Himself.

Battambang Orphanage Moves Forward

photo by fletchy182

Wooster Grace is moving ahead on launching our orphanage in Battambang, Cambodia. We are going to use a rented house as the initial site for housing the orphans. Then when our orphanage is completed, the orphans can move. We want to save as many of these orphan children as we can. May God bless our efforts as a church to develop fully devoted followers of Christ in all the nations of the world.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pray for Thailand

photo by mvi
Our friends in SE Asia ask you to pray for the ongoing protests in Bangkok, Thailand. The anti- government group has successfully blockaded and shut down the airports in Bangkok, and the police seem unwilling to help resolve the situation. Also, a pro-government group is amassing and mounting their own counter-protests. The situation is becoming very serious and sometimes violent, with no solution forthcoming. Especially pray for our friends who live in Thailand.