Zambia 2017

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By Deb Boscaljon

The Zambia Mission Team just returned home from our trip to serve Family Legacy in Lusaka, Zambia where Danny Lightner and his family now serve. Before we left, we collected books to take with us to fill one of the Family Legacy school libraries. Thanks to your generosity, we collected over 1,000 books! Thank you! Pastor Danny and his family are doing very well and they send their love, hugs and greetings.

This is the first mission trip I have ever been on. I have never flown across the ocean and visited other countries and had no idea what to expect. What I experienced was both eye-opening and rewarding. Eye-opening in that I saw and experienced things I have never seen before – other countries as we flew over them, jet lag, driving on the opposite side of the road, new culture and landscapes – but the thing that affected me the most was when we took a tour of the slum areas of Lusaka and saw third world extreme poverty. I’ve heard about it and even seen pictures, but nothing could prepare me for the actual experience. I had no idea how to process what I had just seen – there are no words, really. This grandmother’s heart broke for the children who called this home.

Mobbed!

The trip was also very rewarding in that we were able to accomplish all that we had set out to do. We were able to set up a library at one of the schools where there had not been a library before. There are 23 Family Legacy schools around Lusaka, but only 6 have a library. When we arrived at the school, the children all assembled in the common area outside and provided a program for us, quoting their verse for the year, school rules, singing their national anthem, a skit about books and several special choirs singing for us. I’m not sure who was blessed more! They were extremely grateful.

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We conducted an afternoon VBS for the children of Chelstone – the intake home where the children first come until they have a home they can go to in the Tree of Life Village. This has got to be one of the hardest jobs, being a mamma at Chelstone. Some of the children do not know how to use the bathroom, eat with utensils, and most of the children come there sick, malnourished, and even some already suffering with the aids virus. Barbara Hammel wrote a beautiful poem for the mammas of Chelstone. I’ve included it at the end.

The children will learn English at school, but for now, we mostly had to communicate through interpreters. However, we found that hugs and laughter are universal languages that everyone understands!

Dorothy after footwashing

One of my most rewarding experiences was on the last day that we were there. The ladies on the team went to Chelstone to serve the mommas there by washing their feet. We then proceeded to pamper them a little by massaging their feet and calves with lotion and painting their toenails. I have never been part of a foot washing before and was not exactly sure how I should feel about it or what my response would be, but as my knees hit the floor and I began to wash Mamma Dorothy’s feet, I was the one who felt honored. She felt the same way and the bond between us was complete. In God’s upside-down kingdom, the more you bless others, the more you are blessed. The more you give, the more you receive. This concept was evidenced over and over again throughout the week. I don’t know who was blessed more!

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Of course, when you go on a mission trip, they always set aside a day to have fun. We were able to go with the Lightner family to Chaminuka on a mini-safari. We got to see giraffes, elephants, antelopes, zebras, warthogs, cape buffaloes and many other animals on safari, but the best thing for me was when I got to walk a cheetah on a leash and pet it – amazing!

We saw God meet our needs on this trip and the needs of those we went to serve. The people and sights of Zambia will live long in my heart and my heart is full!

 

GOD’S LOVE
by Barbara Hammel

Oh, mamas of Chelstone,
My heart goes to you
Who work on the frontlines
With all that you do.

Jehovah be praised
For women so strong
To love these dear children
All day and night long.

They come, little soldiers,
Some fighting for life,
All grown up they are,
From their world of strife.

They had to be grown up
To live like they did.
They couldn’t have survived
Just being a kid.

God grant you all patience,
Sweet mamas of Chelstone.
You nurture these babies
Though their bodies are grown.

You take back the power
They needed to live
And show them God’s love
Has good things to give.

Powerless, these children
Feel secure and free
To revert to the toddlers
They didn’t get to be.

For yesterday’s soldiers
Are babies once more
That you must now grow back
To eleven or four.

And now you surround them
With God’s love and care,
Kind mamas of Chelstone
Who now must prepare

These vulnerable children,
Who’ve trusted in you,
To stand on their own
With a whole different view.

They need not depend
On themselves any more
To get their needs met
Like they had to before.

You’re Jesus with skin on,
To teach them His ways,
As you tend to their wounds
In these beginning days.

For these precious treasures
You cherish like your own,
As God’s love shines through you,
Dear mamas of Chelstone.

Fear Not

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By Pastor Mike Rose

Fear is something that I’ve become well-acquainted with. I am often confronted by a brother or sister in Christ who is experiencing fear because of the dire circumstances that surround us in a world that has become so unsettled. Fear that our religious freedoms are on the brink of being taken away. Fear that non-Christian religions are gaining ground in America. Fear of our national debt. Fear that North Korea will launch an attack. Fear that a cataclysmic economic collapse looms on the horizon. Fear that life will never be like it used to be.

A little closer to home is a fear that has gripped me about my own life and ministry. When I was younger I had so much more confidence… some might say cockiness! I thought I was invincible, that I had the answer for everything… that as long as I worked hard and held faithfully to the Gospel, life and ministry would be a continual incline of ever-increasing success. And don’t get me wrong, God has been so good to me, so generous and kind. But in His wisdom He has also allowed me to bloody my “ministry nose” more than once in recent years. Discovering that I am not invincible, that I don’t have all the answers and watching fleshly confidence fade away like the evening sun has created within me an unexpected and uncomfortable fear. Do I have what it takes? Can I actually continue in ministry?  Am I washed up and if so, what’s next for me? Yes, I know what it’s like to live in fear. I can sympathize with all who look at their life and the world and wonder if they have what it takes to make it another day.

Despite my ability to sympathize, I must call myself and any other believers into account. Fear is NOT the path for a Christ-follower. Now, apart from Christ, there is every legitimate reason in the world to be afraid. Without Him, we are left to our own abilities to deal with life’s complex issues. That in itself is enough to generate fear. Our natural abilities are no match for all the turmoil that surrounds us. But in Christ, there is never a legitimate reason to fear. Our lives are in the hands of the One who created all things and sustains them. He is the one who allows nations to rise up or causes them to fall down. Despite the chaos around us, God’s hand is sovereignly upon this world and upon our lives. We are safe in Him. I’m not saying that we may not encounter difficult times, loss of job, wealth, health or even life. We may in fact suffer, but we will never do so apart from God’s loving hand moving us through difficulty for His ultimate glory and our ultimate good. That’s what the Apostle Paul is talking about when he writes: “All things work together for good, for those who love God, and are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28  He does not say that all things work together for our “comfort” or “Convenience” or even for our “happiness.” But as the children of God, everything our loving Father allows us to go through, it is for our good.

So here’s the big question: What good is Paul talking about? It’s found in the next verse, Romans 8:29: “For those whom He foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son…” Everything a child of God faces, both those we would call “positive” and those we think “negative” have a purpose to fulfill. Molding us into the image of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Yes, my head-on collision eleven years ago was a transforming event. The breakdown I suffered last December, a transforming event. Even the birth of my first grandchild, a transforming event.  All things work together for my good.  I praise God for that.

I’ll close with this…  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7  Christ-followers have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within. We have the love of Christ that has been poured into our hearts…and we have the Word of God that transforms our minds to live and see life from God’s perspective. Yes, the world can be a scary place and life’s unexpected turns and twists will threaten to dredge up fear. But let us keep our eyes on Christ, holding to the reality that He is bigger, stronger and able to make all things work for our good. Let us not fear, but live life with purpose and faith.         

God’s Calendar

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By Tracy Griess

Can you feel it?  It’s that time of year again.  Kids are heading back to school, it’s football season and everywhere we look there are reminders from God that the season is changing.   This time of year is familiar to all of us.  We go through similar routines and traditions every year as we gear up for what many call the busy season.  This year is no different.   I, like you, am gearing up for the “busy season”.  And this year I also looked back at my post from last year.  Every year much is familiar.  We look at the school calendar, we get excited for football, there are back to school shoes and supplies.  Some things never change and then some things do.  

As I put pen to paper I am reminded that last year at this time, there was more than just the routine of back to school.   I lost one of my very best friends to cancer.  Over the last week as the anniversary of her passing was approaching I was reflecting on the memories, the life well lived.  This year, back to school season has been different for me as well.  I sent son #2 off to college.  Since it was the second time it should have been familiar and somewhat easier.  Well, it is anything but easy.  This one actually “left” and lives far enough away that I can’t have lunch on a random Tuesday or tell him to zip over for spaghetti and meatballs.  He has also chosen to play college sports so even if he was a bit closer his schedule is such that our conversations happen via text or at midnight when he’s done for the day.  It’s another busy fall season where emotions seem to be all over the map.  So, as I embrace all that life has in store, I look even more to the Father for strength and endurance.  

I could easily interject at this point to hang on to your little ones and cherish every moment.  And you should.  Or, I could say enjoy those teenage years with your kids even if they are moody and messy and sometimes unbearable.  And you should.  But I won’t.  I won’t simply hand out cliché advice.  All of it is true and I would sure give that advice, but there is more as we color code our calendars, make decisions about which activities should get priority and hunker down for the roller coaster of the season.  Even if your children are all grown and you aren’t sending anyone back to school, you know the “busy” of this season.  You might be gearing up for fall ministry or a winter season in a different state.  Perhaps your grandchildren are heading back to school and your calendar is filled with their activities.  Whatever life stage you are in, I am sure you can relate.  

First of all, I will tell you to embrace the busy-ness.  Embrace all that life is throwing at you.  Don’t necessarily look for ways to cut something out or lighten the calendar.  Embrace all of it.  Seek God first and ask Him to lead you as you carpool, do laundry, go to dance class or football games.  Seek God and ask Him how you can bring Him glory through your daily activities.  How will you use your time to bring glory to Him?  

Sometimes we have to rest, and sometimes we don’t.  What we must always do is be in communication with the Father.  We must always remember that our sole purpose is to bring Him glory.  As I reflect on the last 21 years of back to school seasons and as I remember my dear friend Joyce, I am reminded that I have one job.  That job is to bring glory to God.  I don’t always get it right, but I will continue this journey and strive to do better.  I will look more toward the Father, I will seek His direction more, and I will meet with Him more.  As we think about sending our kids off to school and ponder the advice we should give them, perhaps it is us that need a reminder.   As tired as we are and as full as our calendar becomes, don’t get bogged down in the busy-ness of life.  Embrace it!

So in this busy, back to school season, yes, I have learned a few things over the years.  Plan ahead, set the alarm just a few minutes earlier, expect the unexpected, buy extra folders (they will rip or get lost), and enjoy the ride to school while you play that music loud and laugh with your kids.  But beyond all of that, I have learned, and today I am reminded again, that I serve a God that is 100% always on time.  My plans may appear derailed, I may struggle to find the answer and I may not understand or even like everything that is happening around me.   But, I can trust that God has already shown up, He’s just waiting for me.  His plan is good and I can rest in knowing that He will work all of it out for His glory.  So today as you are preparing for your particular busy season, take a moment to be reminded that God is good, He is on time and if you ask, He will lead you down His path.

Table Talk

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By Julie Denger

By nature, I’m an introvert. When walking into a room, I prefer to come in unnoticed, rather than “make an entrance”! I function best as a “behind the scenes” person; I am most at ease when working hard in the background to accomplish a task.  When in a group setting, I prefer to sit back, let others speak up. It’s uncomfortable for me to share my life with many people.

That said, I know that God created us to live in community. His desire for us is to share our lives with others… including all of the ups, the downs, and challenges of life.  I believe God uses the challenges in our lives to allow us to encourage others going through similar situations.  But for me, this is a stretch.  Even though I know this is God’s desire.

When asked to be part of a Table Group, I reluctantly said yes, knowing that God wanted me to be part of it, but also knowing that it was outside of my comfort zone. So for the past two years I’ve been in a Table. I have grown to know and truly love women of various ages and life stages.  We share, we laugh, we cry and we love and encourage each other.  We are growing and deepening our relationship with each other and the Lord.  And it’s interesting…despite our wide range of backgrounds, ages and life experiences we have so much in common.  It’s amazing!  God uses all of our life experiences, as we share them, in other’s lives.

It has been a stretching, but extremely positive part of my life.  Do I still love opening up and sharing my life?  It’s not my favorite thing to do; but honestly, I know that’s what God wants me to do.  He made us with the desire in our hearts to love others and be loved, to share our lives with others.

If you are looking to make a connection, find new friends, or join in fellowship, I would encourage you to check out the Table Gathering for the fall kick-off on Thursday, September 7. If you have questions or would like more information, there will be a signup table in the foyer on Sunday, August 20 and 27. Please come, enjoy a meal and a taste of what it’s like to be part of a Table Group.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)

For the Sake of the Gospel

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By Adam Evans

There I stood, in a room, soaked in sweat, in front of 150 children who were staring at me.  We had zero in common.  They were Dominican, I was American.  They spoke Spanish, I spoke English.  They were poor, and I, well, I was rich.  They had never been outside of their village, but I came from a different village that very day. By all intents and purposes, there was absolutely no reason for us to ever interact, ever meet, or even talk to each other.  But there I stood, in a wood-framed hut with a tin roof and no air circulation.  It should have been awkward, but it wasn’t.  I should have been miserable, but I wasn’t. I should have been hot. Okay, I was hot – extremely hot.  But I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  That was exactly where I needed to be, that is exactly what I wanted to be doing, and I couldn’t picture a better day.  Why? Why was a day so perfect in such miserable and awkward conditions? The Gospel.

You see, in February, when I came to First Federated and learned that the youth were going on a mission trip to the D.R., I was excited.  I had never been there, it would be a new experience, and I would get to be a part of something a lot bigger than myself.  That excitement quickly turned to fear.  Plans kept changing, we didn’t know what we’d be doing, and so we didn’t quite know how to plan for ministry down there.  Is this going to be a failure? What if we have a bad time? Are we going to be ready in time?  That fear, over a few months, turned into peace.  At all of our training times, we worked diligently to plan for this trip.  We tried to figure out what we could, but there were still many questions left unanswered.  Finally, our group came to this conclusion:  whatever we may be doing, even if it’s completely different than what we planned for, we will share the Gospel.  The Gospel became the prime focus of every decision we made, every plan we worked out, and every question we had. And even if our plans flopped in a dramatic fashion, we were determined to share the Gospel with everyone we came into contact with. This reliance on the Gospel drove within us a peace that was absolutely amazing.  So what could have been awkward situations of unpreparedness turned into opportunities to share the Gospel.  Miserable conditions of heat, exhaustion, and pain (hammers and thumbs don’t mix too well) turned into times for us to rely on the Gospel.  The Gospel became the focus of every facet of our trip – for us personally and for those we were serving.

I can’t help but think about how we need that same focus now.  A lot of things have gone down in the past month that could easily get a lot of us distracted, frustrated, angry, sad, and miserable. We have a new church name, some people were for it, others against it, and still some indifferent.  We have some upset that we’re even moving at all, others for it, and still some others who are indifferent.  We have changes in staff, budget, focuses, and even future plans.  Again, some are for it, some against it, and others indifferent.  How in the world do we move forward when there are so many distractions and divisive issues in our midst? The only way – The Gospel.

Even though that time in the D.R. could have been awkward, it wasn’t. Even though I could have made it miserable for myself, and everyone around me, it wasn’t. Even though we had nothing in common with most of the people we served, we were connected with them. How? The Gospel. The Gospel has this ability to break down barriers, walls, awkwardness, and even struggles.  It has the ability to penetrate the human heart to the point that we stop thinking about what divides us, and we start to focus on what unites us.  That’s what we need as a church.  Moving forward, every decision we make as a church, every decision we make individually, needs to be based on The Gospel.  Each one of us needs to be so focused on advancing the Gospel that we don’t have time to think on anything else.  We can let things get awkward, we can let opportunities pass us by because we’re afraid, or we can choose together to submit to the work that God is doing through us, both individually and corporately.  There are amazing times ahead of us as a church – hard, but absolutely amazing.  However, it has nothing to do with the name we have, the building we’re in, or even what color the new carpet is.  These times are solely based on us coming together under the banner of Christ, focusing on the Gospel, and striving to share that sweet message of salvation with everyone we come into contact with.  Not for us, but for the sake of the Gospel.

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”- Philippians 1:27

 

Home

Luxury house with beautiful landscaping on a sunny dayBy Susan Bullard

Home is the best place to be!
Home is a place of joy, happiness, and hope.

This is the opening stanza in a poem I wrote as a nine-year-old.  The bulk of it sounds a little childish, so I’ll spare most of its details.  I’m no stranger to new places. I’ve lived in a handful of different states throughout the years and have considered many of them “home.”  However, as I age, I wonder more often about what my Heavenly home will be like.  I don’t dwell on it too much, but it’s a pleasant curiosity to ponder at times.  I have loved ones there now, and realizing the limitations of my own physical being reminds me that life is far too precious. I need to remember to enjoy it.  The duration of our time here is an unknown, and yet, life itself is eternal.  We all have a destination. (John 5:28-29) For those who know Jesus Christ as Savior shall enjoy all the splendors of Heaven one day (1 Cor. 15:51-54), plus should we desire it, we can know the “Kingdom of God” in our present lives. “… the kingdom of God is within you.”  (Luke 17:20-21) (Matt 6:33) Unfortunately, we so often forget to tap into this reservoir from day to day as Eternity fast approaches us.  So, here are a few things I try to remember:    

  • JOY

Joy appears to be a result of peace. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace:” (Isaiah 55:12) It can actually be present in happiness or sorrow.  Even in the midst of tragedy, when we don’t understand, this is the kind of strength that endures while providing a sense of “security.”  Through each trial we know Him, and thus, He has provided us with a greater confidence; His confidence at best!  (Psalm 89:15-16 / 97:11-12.) 

  • HAPPINESS

Happiness is fleeting. It’s emotional in nature.  While this is based upon momentary feelings, it’s likened to “contentment” and reveals merriment, (Prov.17:22) godliness (1 Tim.6:6) and trust. (Prov. 16:20) That’s why we can still laugh some during those trials, too.  We must choose to be happy even when the road gets hard and arduous.   “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  (Phil 4:11)

  • HOPE

 Hope is a knowledge.  (1 Peter 1:3) That’s a “know so” faith, (1 Peter 1:13 / Col. 1-5) not a “hope so” faith.  It shows Him our faith, because we trust Him, and this is what pleases Him the most.  “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God (…) and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  (Hebrews 11:6) (Matt 17:20) We can choose to live this eternal life right NOW.    

Upon this reflection, I sense a rest in my spirit. Much like the wisdom found in the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23) (1 Cor 13:1-8), we can surely have a confidence as we walk through our daily lives.  Jesus Christ has already prepared the way to secure our residency as citizens of His heavenly home.  Now, I have no anticipation to arrive there anytime soon, but to anticipate THE CALL when eventually… it’s time to finally move Home.   (John 6:47 / 11:25-26) This is a comforting contentment (Psalm 138:7) that produces real joy in everyday life. (John 15:11) “Who by him do believe in God, (…) gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” (1 Peter 1:21) 

Home is not a mere address of where you live.  No…
Home is not only a place, but it is a knowing within you revealing that this is home.

Ready To Go, Wherever, Whenever

D.R. Mission Trip - 2017 (FLAG)

By Jon Kalvig

One of the most enviable traits of Jesus was his willingness and obedience in going when, and where, God directed. Isn’t it difficult to release that to the Lord? I know the struggle, despite my desire to walk with the Holy Spirit. Think about how the Spirit of God led Jesus into… and out of… the wilderness. Glance through the gospels and you’ll witness numerous mission trips Jesus went on immediately following a time of communing with God. Imagine having that perspective on life – always tuned into the Spirit’s prompting to go wherever and whenever He leads. But this spiritual discipline wasn’t only practiced by Jesus, this was evidenced by Paul as well. The founding father of missions also sought discernment from the Lord on where and when to travel. Consider the following examples from the book of Acts and take notice of how Paul was sent.

  • Paul and Barnabas were instructed, by the Holy Spirit, in the middle of a worship service to be sent on a mission (13:1-3)
  • Due to division and threat of persecution and possible death, Paul leaves Iconium for Lystra (14:5)
  • After preaching the gospel and doing the initial work of making disciples, Paul saw it fit to leave Derbe and return to Lystra (14:21)
  • Paul and Barnabas decide to strengthen the churches they helped plant. Though they split due to a strong disagreement, the effort was multiplied and they further equipped the new believers to carry on the mission (14:36-41)
  • The Spirit of God prevented Paul and Silas from doing the work of the gospel in Bithynia. Instead, they went to Troas (16:7-8)
  • After receiving a vision from the Lord, Paul heads to Macedonia. It says in Acts 16:10, “And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
  • The Ephesians requested Paul to stay. He seemed interested but felt called to sail on noting “I will return to you if God wills” (18:20-21)

When I take notice of the examples of Jesus and Paul (not to mention others in both testaments) I have pondered how this should impact the way we do missions. While I believe that planning for trips months in advance is a healthy way to launch into global ministry, should we not consider an alternative route as displayed by the pioneers of missions?

What if we made ourselves available for God to send us on His timeline? What if the Spirit of Jesus directed you to leave in a few weeks rather than a few months? What if you were always prepared to present the gospel, both in word and deed, at the call of the Lord?

This is the posture I desire more and more for myself, not only in terms of global missions but also neighborhood ministry. Most of us would agree that difficult circumstances often put people in a place ready to receive the good news. Whether that’s a natural disaster in a different state or a house fire in your community. What would it say about you as a Christian, and perhaps more so us as a Church, if we were ready to GO at the Spirit’s prompting? As I have been praying along these fronts in recent months, I was surprised (though shouldn’t have been) that God has told me to go with our Dominican Republic team, despite the narrow two-week window to prepare. Yes, that means I have a lot of catching up to do, and my faith is being tested in raising funds. But there is a peace in the midst of surrender when it is my Savior calling.

May we position ourselves in prayer and anticipation to be sent. To GO… whenever… and wherever… the Spirit of God would guide.