Called To Be Sheep!

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Bill Naron

Image courtesy University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The other night, my wife and I began talking, and not just small talk. We were talking about the topic of service. I know, so typical, let’s talk about service the week going into Thanksgiving. Well, give me just a few moments to be super cliché. So, back to my wife (Sam) and my discussion, which went super late into the night. We talked about what it may look like to begin to try to infuse attitudes of service into the fabric of our family. So, wouldn’t you know that after this conversation my biblical character calendar would be talking about hospitality/service, and I would stumble upon a story in one of my favorite blogs about a family who began serving together. I just have not been able to stop thinking about this topic!

Mark 10:45 (KJV) says, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” It says that Jesus Himself came to this earth to minister, or serve. He did not need to be served, but was sent to us to serve us people who were not worthy, people who were undeserving. He came to meet us in the place that we were in, no matter where that was. This makes me think of how every morning I drive down Portland Avenue, and it comes to a point where the road goes under an overpass of I-5. At this point, at any given point in time, there are numerous homeless people, and it just seems that more and more are filling the area day after day.

As a passionate follower of Jesus who desires to grow and change to be more and more like my Father and less like the world, I believe we must pull back the curtains and examine our hearts. I get the hindrances; there is just not enough time—we have soccer, piano, violin, and the list go on. Maybe we just do not feel called to do so, it is not in our ability, or maybe we feel it poses a lot of risk and danger. But Jesus Himself says that even He did not come to be served but to serve. And 1 Peter 4:10 says that with the gifts we received we should serve others.

If I am a passionate follower of Jesus, serving those around me is my calling, serving those in need is in my abilities, meeting people where they are at and serving and giving is something that is commanded of me! For Sam and me, the discussion has been, What would be a practical application of serving and a way that we can speak this core piece of the gospel to those around us? I believe that this is what needs to be done, especially if you have a family with small children. Find simple, practical things that can be done, such as making up care bags to keep in your car to give to those in need as you cross paths with them.

The next thing that was a huge epiphany for me was that I need to be willing to help and give to anyone who expresses a need, not expecting anything in return. It means that homeless guy on the side of the road. It does not matter what he does with what I give him; what matters is my heart in giving it to him. We are called to give and to serve and to not worry about receiving thanks or about whether they are really in need of it or not. Jesus served us, and we did not do anything to deserve it, and by that He set the example for how we are to serve.

In Matthew it talks about the Father separating the sheep from the goats in the end; He says to the sheep that when He was hungry, they fed Him, and when He was naked, they clothed Him, and when He was a stranger, they took Him in. To the goats He says to depart away from Him, for they did not do these things. And when the righteous asked when they had seen Him in these states, He said that what was done to the least of his brothers was done also to Him.

The challenge I see before us is this: if we view people through the eyes of a loving and caring Savior, then whatever service we do unto them, we are also doing unto Him, out of obedience to Him, and out of an abundance of love for our Father. So, the question is, Are we going to be sheep or are we going to be goats?

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Living and Leaving a Legacy

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Beau Leaman

What do you get when you add up the following?

  • monthly Jeep cruises
  • shooting guns
  • telling scary Sasquatch stories
  • a yearly men’s retreat at Evergreen Bible Presbyterian Church
  • a website with the exact coordinates of Noah’s ark
  • driving down the freeway with the blinker on
  • teaching children the Greek alphabet
  • pointing and shooting a gun at a kitchen table to see if it’s loaded
  • lip-syncing worship songs because people lost their place in the song
  • helping me put my flipped jeep right-side up
  • the love of God

What do you get? My dear friend Edward Crawford.

Psalm 99:6-7 says: “Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.”

This week, as I was processing through Psalm 99, I realized that these men — Moses, Aaron, and Samuel — all lived a legacy. A legacy that David remembered. A legacy that David found worthy to write about. These men lived lives faithful to God. Their faithfulness reached beyond just their own generation. Each of their lives was such a powerful testimony, a legacy reaching down generation to generation, touching a whole nation. Their testimonies taught others that obedience, faithfulness, and a relationship with God is not only vital, but is who we are.

Edward Crawford died a few years ago; the cause of his death was unknown. It is a mystery how a man in good health and full of energy, a man who had just climbed Mt. Ararat, could pass away suddenly and without warning. I truly believe my dear friend had great love for his Savior and had made it his mission on earth to proclaim that love. He made it his purpose to shout God’s glory and ensure all around him knew God’s faithfulness. Although my friend didn’t finish what he had started on earth, God decided it was time to take him home, ending his life on his earth. But one thing Edward did leave was his legacy.

We’re not given the exact time Christ is coming back, or when our lives here will end. I continue to go back and look at the life of my friend because I desire what he had. I desire the way he would communicate with Jesus. I desire the way he knew God’s Word. In thinking about his legacy, I wonder what kind of legacy I am living today. How will I finish the race? How am I impacting my neighbors, coworkers, community, and friends in an intentional, purpose-driven, and Christ-centered way? My hope is that I leave a living legacy even after I have left this earth.

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Refugees of the Eastern Congo

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Written by Nubako Selega and posted by Cal Kierum

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Greetings from me and my family here in Kinshasa! Undoubtedly, some of you have been following the news of the situation in eastern Congo. As a bit of background, since 1990 and the fall of President Mobutu, a former President of DR Congo, our country has frequently been involved in wars that have affected numerous people in different areas of our country. Because of that there are many related problems.

About six months ago, in May 2012, some people in eastern DR Congo, just north of Kivu, which lies along the Rwandan border, became victims of this fighting and in need of immediate assistance. One of the rebellions in that area was begun by a group called M23. They began fighting with the Congolese army and eventually took control of a portion of eastern DR Congo. After three weeks of fighting they then seized the city of Goma. In response to both national and international pressure, the group agreed to pull out of Goma on November 30.

The fighting in eastern DR Congo has created over 700,000 refugees, all situated around the Goma area. Most of them live in refugee camps while others have gone to live with extended family members. A single camp can have as many as 40,000-60,000 refugees. Other people have fled to Rwanda. For those who are refugees, living outside is horrible. They are subjected to the sun and rain. They have no medical assistance. There are no toilets. There is no food. Those who are most affected by this are the children who fall sick and have no medical care, no medicine and often, no one to care for them.

Churches, NGOs and humanitarian organizations are doing their best to assist, but the needs are immense, especially for food and medicine. The Church of Christ in DR Congo (ECC), directs 67 different protestant denominations in DR Congo and I have been working with them to assist them in training church planters and youth workers. They are also helping minister to the needs of the people in the east through a ministry called Crisis Refugee Assistance; however, what they are able to provide is entirely insufficient.

I am sharing this with you today first, so that you will pray for these people in eastern DR Congo. I also ask you to consider helping with food and medicine. I am convinced that sending assistance to these people through this ministry of the ECC will do great good. I believe that this demonstration of the love of God to these people in this time of need could bring many to faith in Jesus Christ.

Just this morning, I spoke with a pastor who lives there. He is a friend of mine and came to the training this past summer given to us by Life International on the sanctity of human life. He shared with me that people are now selling their clothing and household goods to help buy food and medicine for those in need.

Donations to assist with this effort may be made to: Africa Crisis Relief – Account #3988
Online – www.EFCA.org
By mail – EFCA ReachGlobal, 901 E. 78th St., Minneapolis, MN  55420

Together for His Kingdom!
Nubako Selenga
Director, ReachAfrica
+243 81 71 77 630
+243 99 73 30 663
Skype: Selengan
E-mail: Nubako.Selenga@efca.org
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

From missions to holistic outreach

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

by Dan Amos

For many years Elim’s ministries outside the walls of our building have been growing and changing. It began with enabling missionaries to go to foreign lands and spread the gospel, but is rapidly becoming a ministry of personal involvement for our people. This is partly because the face of missionaries is changing; countries once served by Western missionaries are now sending out their own, some even to the United States and also partly because the need in our own community is so great.

As the missions team and the Elder Board have been seeking to adapt and serve in the new environment, we have been placing a greater emphasis on our personal action and growth in sharing the good news and serving others. Several years ago the Elder Board directed the missions team to begin the process of evaluating supported missionaries for effectiveness in reaching unreached people groups and ways in which we can partner with them and emphasizing short term missions as a means of growing our people in the process.

We can see this in the Democratic Republic of Congo where we have already sent two teams in life-changing experiences for our people and real support to the ministry in the Congo which is on the frontline of reaching unreached peoples. Rich and Marla Henderson and Ernest Dyck both have recently shared how we can partner with them in the future, potentially tying in with the Congo, too.

Last year, two missions we had previously supported discontinued their ministries such that we discontinued financial support. This has been part of the process of refocusing our limited financial resources towards partnership ministries and unreached peoples. With this has come a name change to Holistic Outreach and efforts to organize and connect locally. Last year we supported a local ministry in Bill Bowers who helped connect Elim with local compassion and outreach opportunities.

This coming year we are proposing to take a giant leap. We are in the process of finalizing the 2012 budget and you will see a number of changes. The first change is to rename “Missions” to “Holistic Outreach” and to move it to the ministries section of the budget. In the past it had been a separate part of the budget and symbolically it was not part of Elim’s ministries.

Support for the Herrs, whose ministry is supporting AWANA, is being moved from the Holistic Outreach section to the Children’s Ministries section under the AWANA line item. This better reflects our partnership with the Herrs. The Holistic Outreach team began the process of thinking through these changes in discussions with Linda Sauke who helped the team shape actions including redirecting support for her, Bill Bowers, and the Glenhaven Youth Ranch in Arkansas to local outreach efforts.

This is being achieved by partially funding an internship for a Holistic Outreach Director. Stan Peterson is completing ministry training and is seeking ordination through the Evangelical Free Church. This is a fairly rigorous process and requires candidates to be in full-time ministry of at least 32 hours a week. We are proposing in the 2012 budget to support this position with $7,500. Additional support, just like the other missionaries we support, is being raised independently.

In this position, Stan will lead and equip Elim’s people in the Holistic Outreach ministry. We will be saying much more about this in coming weeks and are planning an informational meeting on Holistic Outreach for October 23 after the Sunday morning worship service.

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

GO and serve, South Hill and beyond!

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Larry Short

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to “Your God reigns!” Isa. 52:7

If our mission statement were only the first two lines, which we’ve covered in this space the last three weeks … KNOW God, GROW together in Christ … as important as those are, it would be woefully incomplete. We would be ignoring the purpose which God has created us to achieve! This coming weekend Pastor Martin is preaching on the following portion of the Lord’s prayer: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

It’s clear from Christ’s final instructions in Matthew 28 that “going and making disciples” is ultimately how God will fulfill this prayer of Christ’s. Without disciples making disciples in each generation, the Kingdom will decline rather than advance.

As the Strategy Team was crafting this new vision statement, we debated many different words that we could have chosen for the third line of the statement. Here is why we chose the words we did:

GO – We cannot simply sit on our duffs in our comfy church, waiting for potential disciples to come to us. That’s never been how it works in God’s economy. He’s always moved His Church outward … into Jerusalem (the community around us), (neighboring regions outside our comfort zone), and then, ultimately, to the uttermost ends of the earth – WAY outside our comfort zone! “Going” is about taking action: using our feet and moving out. We must be both strategic and urgent about how we are going to move into our community and beyond. At Elim, one key way we do that is through our Outreach and Missions team, led by Dr. Cal Kierum, and through the teams they support. We as a church really need to ramp up our involvement in these teams! If you can’t find a team that fits what you feel God is calling you to do … start one! And if you feel God calling you to be more involved in shaping the growth of this ministry, talk to Cal about serving on the leadership team.

SERVE – In recent Christian history there has been much emphasis placed on proclamation. But proclamation is just one part of Christ’s strategy. Christ was sent to the earth, humbling Himself, as a suffering servant. He modeled and demonstrated servanthood as the primary way we should express God’s love for the people around us. We have focused on the word “serve” in our vision statement not to say that there should not also be proclamation (for telling the truth to someone who needs and is prepared to hear it is indeed serving them), but to recognize that service is the key way that we will build relationships in our community and beyond, and win a hearing for the Gospel, raising questions (such as, “Why do you love like this?”) to which Jesus alone is the answer.

SOUTH HILL and BEYOND – The holistic nature of our target audience is reflected in this statement. We are to bear witness both locally and globally, just as the first Christians were called to do the same. We continue to wholeheartedly embrace foreign missions, while recognizing the need to also focus on our community. For years churches have made it “too easy” for themselves by visualizing missions only as something that happens “over yonder.” We could live whatever way we wanted to in our communities (not seeking to know or serve our neighbors) because we comforted ourselves in the fact that we were paying professionals to reach the Pygmies in Africa. But the truth is that our next-door neighbors (not to mention the people who live in tent cities all around us) need Jesus just as badly as the Pygmies do … and we are responsible to be reaching out to our neighbors even as we are supporting efforts to spread the Gospel in fertile soils throughout the rest of the world.This third part of our vision statement is the hardest, because it is ultimately the end goal. Christianity is always one generation away from extinction, and may also be one generation (or less!) away from Christ’s imminent return. We don’t want to be caught sleeping when He comes! And because it is the hardest, it will require the most prayer. The need for “more and better” prayer, both personal and corporate, is the single largest gaping hole in our church uncovered by the Reveal survey. If we fail to become the praying people that Christ is calling us to become, we will fail to achieve the purpose to which He has called us. For the truth is that we cannot, in our own strength, “Go and serve.” We need His power, His leading, His passion … and these things come only through prayer.

God is calling us to faithfulfulness … faithfulness in knowing Him, in growing together in Christ, and in going and serving, South Hill and beyond. Will we respond to His call?

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Monday’s Freezing Night

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Larry Short

I wanted to provide an update on our second “Freezing Nights” project, which took place last Monday evening.

We hosted 26 local homeless guests here in our facility, offering a warm place to sleep, good food, and a listening ear. This ministry is being undertaken in conjunction with the work of the Puyallup Homeless Coalition.

In addition to hosting nearly twice as many guests, there were the following other contrasts to our first event, two weeks’ earlier:

  • Almost twice as many volunteers participated, and we were substantially better organized.
  • We had a more intentional focus on evangelism. Bob Hedge shared pocket New Testaments (courtesy of the Gideons) and sat down and chatted with those guests willing to talk with him about the Bible. Brian Holthe (our new coordinator) shared his testimony during a pre-breakfast devotional. And Bob Walsh and I were privileged to lead our guests in worship in the sanctuary for nearly an hour on Monday evening.
  • Where our first event was pretty quiet and uneventful, this event was quite different due to an altercation that had occurred between some of the guests at one of the pick-up points. Several individuals were seriously inebriated, which created some unique challenges for the evening and late night shifts.

I want to thank all the volunteers and donors whose efforts and prayers made this event possible. (We really felt the impact of your prayers, especially between about 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.!) I don’t have space here to list everyone (and would probably miss someone anyway). But you know who you are … and you are deeply appreciated! I believe the heart of God is pleased by this very rubber-meets-the-road ministry to our community. I have no doubt you will someday hear His “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”

I also want to thank the children of this church, who created beautiful and thoughtful cards for each of our guests. We placed these in lunches. What a great love offering!

So, what’s next? We are debriefing with Freezing Nights leadership (and other churches) next Tuesday on how to help moderate the behavior of some of the more disruptive individuals. We have committed to them that we will host the group one Monday night per month. Our next Freezing Nights is therefore scheduled for two nights after Christmas, on December 27.

Please continue saving warm clothing (especially socks); gently used top sheets, towels, and wash clothes; personal (hotel-sized) toiletries; used Christian books and Bibles; and other items for this ministry, not to mention food. You can bring these items any time during regular office hours to the church office, designated for “Freezing Nights.”

In addition, please pray about joining with us on December 27 to pray for this ministry and serve our guests in whatever way you can, even if by simply “being present” with them and providing a listening ear.

Thank you!

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.