Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Pray for Kate in Peru

After a long holiday break, a new post...though it is more of a teaser. I will be writing very soon with a longer update, but for now, I wanted to remind everyone to be praying for Kate deFuniak, as she is in Peru on a mission trip. Pray for safety from harm and illnesses, team unity, and most of all for the relationships they are building on with the kids as they show and tell of Christ's love! Another fuller update soon to come!

Friday, 19 December 2008

How to walk...

This has been one of those weeks for me where the "things" of life, and "life" itself, as we know it in this flesh-driven world, seem to grab for my attention at every single turn. The hard part is that these aren't even all bad things. They are the things that we surround ourselves with and must take part in: jobs, family, travel, holidays, relationships, details....and the list goes on. And yet it is so easy for me to lose sight of what matters in the midst of these things. And I would venture to say that I am not alone in this problem. How do I balance all of these things with living out my Christian walk in the radical way that Christ seems to demand? Or maybe a better question is, "What does my life look like when I am truly dying to self and living solely for Christ, not Christ and other things?" It seems to be something we all struggle with at times, and this week has brought these questions to the forefront of my mind. So often, I seem so preoccupied with the things that don't matter-the things that won't live past tomorrow. And I somehow lose sight of things eternal, or at least add them to the list of "important" things in life. As I have been reflecting on these struggles and questions, the Holy Spirit pushes me to The Word. In 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 Paul discusses the same struggle to look past the things of this world, whether persecution, material possessions, or any of the things that easily entangle us. In 4:18, he says "...we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." This helps bring clarity and even simplicity to many of my questions. Live for the things unseen, the things eternal. In Matthew 10, Jesus sends out his disciples to spread the Gospel. He tells them to "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Not exactly a clear-cut recipe or step-by-step manual. Yet, it is all we need- Keep my eyes on the eternal, walk in the Word and with the Spirit, and He will guide.

During this week, I have mostly been contacting and attempting to meet with supporters and visionaries for my position. It has been so encouraging to see the Lord provide, both financially and with direction for this role. And yet I am pushed to trust Him more and more for continual provision in both of these ways. Please pray for me as I trust the Lord to provide for this role, and to grant me discernment as I seek ways for our church to get involved. Yesterday I met again with people from Cornerstone, the Christian school in Woodlawn. We have been nailing down more specific ways that we will be working together in the New Year, and I am soo excited these amazing opportunities that I will be sharing more soon! Until next time,
Learning how to walk,

Friday, 12 December 2008

Morning Prayer

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." Ps. 143:8, 10

This is my prayer today, as I seek to submit myself to the Lord's will for me today. That I may be of a mindset to listen where He leads. That I may have the eyes to see and the ears to hear the people and opportunities that He brings in my life today. That I will have the discernment to know how to follow Him and the courage to do so in spite of all that seems to stand in my way. May this be true for each of us today, as we seek to obey the Lord and redeem our own area of the city today. Lord, help us.

Monday, 8 December 2008

A week in Fairfield

On Thursday afternoon I had the opportunity to attend a special luncheon at Restoration Academy. This monthly meeting is part of an effort to promote the school and garner support. There were over 50 in attendance (as has been the pattern): local businessman, financial investors, educators, Christian outreaches, and church representatives. As a complimentary meal was served by several kind women in a local church, Carl Lynn (the Executive Director) explained the heart and vision of this mission to the young people of Fairfield. As I continue to learn more and more about this amazing school and the heart of its people to reach a needy generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the crucial avenue of education, I continue to be blown away. This school that has now been around for 20 years has managed to continue to increase its vitality and effectiveness by being submissive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, learning from its past mistakes, and seeking partnerships with other "body parts" of Christ's church. Every year, they increase their ability to actively create lasting change in lives, as is evidenced in dynamic growth, improving testing scores, continual 100% graduation and college attendance rate, and continued provision from the Lord in every way. This school is helping to rescue children and youth from generational cycles of poverty, violence and gang activity, broken families, and alcohol and drug addictions. Most importantly, young people are being reached with HOPE-life transforming hope. Hope that changes their lives and gives them a suddenly new and bright look at the future. This hope is revealed through real relationships that offer a small picture of the love and relationship found only in Jesus Christ. I am soo excited about the beginning of our wonderful relationship with this school and its people, and the opportunities that we will very soon have so as to partner in this life-giving ministry. To learn more about Restoration Academy, visit their website here.

I was also privileged to attend a block party in Fairfield on Sunday afternoon. To the best of my knowledge, the afternoon was spearheaded by Dawson Baptist Church, with the help of Christ Episcopal Church, and some other local churches and individuals. This community event provided live music (compliments of Dawson's youth choir), fun games for the children, face painting, a free dinner, and a Gospel message. Many people from the churches came out and were able to interact with the people from the community. During this time I was able to meet several more people with these churches and ministries, and discuss possible means of partnerships. It was a cool event to reach out to the community, through the established faces of Christ Episcopal, Restoration Academy, and others.

As we move into the new year, we will begin to act on some of these new relationships and partnerships and find opportunities for our church body to help in Fairfield. I look forward greatly to these coming moments, so stay tuned!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Girls Inc. Opportunity

We have a second opportunity to get involved in the community around us as a church body! As most of you know, we currently meet on Sunday nights in the Girls Inc. building in Crestwood. While we are attempting to grow our relationship with our leasers and find ways to serve them, we haven't had a lot of opportunity...until now. Girls Inc. has let us know that they will be having a holiday assistance program for some of their young girls called "Giving Tree". This event is for girls ages 6-18 who are involved in the Girls Inc. program and whose families do have have the necessary funds to give their girls Christmas presents. Individuals can sponsor a girl by either agreeing to shop for some specific items on the girl's wishlist or by simply giving the money for that specific girl to Girls Inc. and they will shop for you. The program estimates that sponsors will spend around $125 (possibly less) per girl if you do your own shopping, or asks that you donate this amount for them to purchase the gifts for the girl.

While individuals in our church may sponsor girls on their own if you wish, we are encouraging this to be something that we do as community groups. Therefore, we ask that this week each community group discuss and pray about sponsoring at least one girl together. You can choose to shop for the items on your girl's wishlist as a group (or elect a group representative to shop) or to bring the money on Sunday and Girls Inc. will buy the gifts for your girl. On Saturday, December 13th, they will have an event at Girls Inc. where all of the presents will be given to the girls. Additionally, there is a need for female volunteers on the day of this event, if anyone is interested.

While Girls Inc. is not a Christian organization and thus, this program is not Gospel-oriented, we have the opportunity to display the Gospel through this situation. As a church, when we sponsor young girls through the Giving Tree program, we not only reach out to the needs of the less privileged and love these young girls, but we are also sharing a great testimony with Girls Inc. Therefore, by making this our Christmas outreach, we not only bless these girls and their families, but we also show our leasers that our church reaches out to those around us with the love of Christ.