Missionary Updates in Light of COVID-19

At Grace Point, we are passionate about fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We believe that we are called to share the Gospel through words and actions in our community, in our region, in our country and beyond our borders. We are committed to giving our Grace Point family opportunities to participate in what God is doing by partnering with ministries and organizations in outreach endeavors as well as sending teams on short term mission trips.

Another way our Grace Point family remains “on mission” is by supporting our 21 missionary families around the globe through prayer, encouragement and finances. We are so grateful for the obedience and faithfulness in which our missionaries serve within the United States and beyond our country’s borders. They provide us with such inspiration and cause us to reflect on how we’re fulfilling the Great Commission in our spheres of influence. The work they do, in the name of Jesus Christ, is filled with extreme challenges when life is “normal.”

Nate & Jendi Korpi serving as church planters in Panama City, Panama have also been affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Can you even imagine how much MORE challenging it must be to be on the mission field within the United States and outside of our country in these unprecedented times? Consider the adjustments we have had to make in our daily routines. Consider the fears we’ve had as people are becoming infected and dying around us. Consider the despair and deep sadness we’ve faced as we’ve experienced loss of people, loss of income, loss of milestone moments and loss of purpose. I’ve always viewed missionaries as extraordinary people who challenge me to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Ephesians 4:1) During these difficult times, especially, they serve as my heroes. I bet they do you as well.

We have heard from several of our missionaries and they’ve shared how this pandemic is affecting them and their ministry. As you would expect, they briefly shared some of their personal challenges, but they were more focused on how they were seeing God amid it all. Again, they are my heroes.

I want to share a small sampling of how they have seen the fingerprints of God:

  • The gratefulness for the gift of technology was voiced from all our missionaries! Due to the relational aspect of ministry, WhatsApp, email, Zoom, texting, etc. has kept them connected not only to their families and friends, but also to those they’ve been cultivating relationships with as they serve. Technology provides the means to connect, but it is also proving to encourage more authentic and real dialogue as sometimes it’s easier to share vulnerabilities through a device as opposed to an in-person small or large group gathering.
  • Out of Bolivia, the day that the Bolivian Minister of Health declared all classes NATIONALLY would be suspended, they were in session which allowed the teachers to send their students home with all their books and materials needed for online schooling. This has made online schooling more successful.
  • Out of Central Asia it was mentioned that the fear of COVID-19 and the “cultural fear of death” has opened many doors to share about the saving grace of Jesus. They have reported that there is an openness to hearing about God and there is more opportunity to correct false thinking and share the Truth.
  • Out of the Middle East, it was shared that there is a sense of a “prayer movement” happening. There is some exciting activity stemming from a group of new believers (less than 6 months) connecting weekly and praying together!
  • From the United States, it is exciting to see that people are continuing to inquire and fill out applications to go overseas and join in transformational education around the world especially with so much up in the air right now!

I suspect you are encouraged and inspired, as am I, seeing even more evidence that a worldwide pandemic is no match for our great God! It is a blessing to hear from our missionaries and partnering with them through prayer by supporting the work that God is doing through them and beyond them.

Speaking of prayer! If you would like to sign up for our Daily Focus prayer list, where prayer requests of our missionaries are shared, please do so by emailing go@gracepointpa.org with your name and we will add you to the list.

Enjoy this video, sent by Katie Beth Wilke, our missionary in Santa Cruz, Bolivia as she shares how her day to day life has been affected by COVID-19. However, as you’ll see, her joy in serving the Lord hasn’t been affected one bit!!

April 2020 Update from Katie Beth Wilcke, serving in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Elder Prayer (4/19/20)

Before we pray, let us read a few words from the apostle Paul written to the church at Corinth –

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” 2 Corinthians 1:8b-10

Let us take the opportunity now in coming before the Lord in prayer.

Most gracious and loving heavenly Father, we want to come, and we want to worship You in spirit and in truth. We want to lift-up our hearts, and souls, and our voices in the praise of our God, for You alone are worthy to receive the honor and the glory and all that is within us.

But Lord we know at this particular time, Lord there are times when we can look back and see that You have delivered us and that You will deliver us again, but there are those within our family that are hurting. There are those that feel they are despairing, that they are feeling they are destitute and even as the apostle Paul sensed that all of his strength had gone from within him and that he was almost despairing of life itself, I’m sure that there are those within our church family that are sensing almost that same feeling that Paul did. I pray Lord that You will come to them. For those that are battling the corona virus itself, would You grant a healing touch, for those Lord that are wondering where the next paycheck will come, will You provide for their every need, Lord we think of those parents whose children seem to be under their feet all of the time because they are locked-up because of this situation, we pray Lord that You would cause the sun to shine that would allow them to be placed out in the backyard that they could run about and to have fun. Lord we know there are many other situations, those that are dealing with loneliness, those that are dealing with mental health challenges, Lord those that are dealing with financial burdens, we pray Lord that You would cause them  to realize that will not get through it on their own strength but on the strength of the Lord.

We trust in you God, for You are the one that specializes in turning crucifixions into resurrections. This world would cause us to despair but Lord remind us we can sing with a certainty, even as we considered last weekend … up from the grave Christ arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes, Christ arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose, He arose, hallelujah, Christ arose.

Oh, gracious Lord, give us a sight of the risen, ascended and reigning Christ.

Lord we know we may not have the faith to move mountains, but we can pray as one did of old, ‘Lord I believe help my unbelief’. Lord we can make a difference, I pray Lord that You would help us to see the needs of others, not constantly looking to ourselves but looking out, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Lord we can make a difference, we pray that You would help us to do what we can that Your name might be glorified.

Lord we worship You this morning, it is our choice to rejoice in the God of our Savior. Lord we pray that You would help us to trust in Jesus, who is our hope in this life and in the life to come. We pray Lord that You would deliver us in the coming days, we look to You Lord, not despairing, not being in a place of destitution but Lord being in the arms of our God, who watch over us, protect us and meet our needs.

We thank You Lord that we can ask all of these things, for You have given us the name of Jesus, in whom You have given authority in heaven and in earth and we look to the one who is able even to silence and to quell the sea and the storm. We believe Lord that even through this storm that we are going through that He will give us peace for it is in His name we ask and pray all of these things, for His honor and for His glory amen.   

(David Holmes)                         

Exploring the Resurrection of Jesus

Colossians Series-title2“Come, see the place where He lay,” the angel said (Matthew 28:6). He’s not there any longer! You too can examine the evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection.

The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

Also a movie, included with Netflix and available to rent on Amazon Prime.

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona

Scholarly:

The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N.T. Wright

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, by Michael Licona

Devotional:

He Chose the Nails, by Max Lucado

What Jesus did for you:

Elder Prayer (3/29/20)

Father, we acknowledge that we owe our every breath to You, and by Your Spirit You sustain and encourage us (Job 12:10). We’re humbled to admit that we’re helpless without Jesus who holds all things in this world together (Colossians 1:17). But that’s where we are—helpless and vulnerable—and we’re especially aware of it in these days.

Our faith is in You, who delivered us out of sin’s dark night and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son You love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). We have so much in common in Christ that even this COVID-19 social distancing pales in comparison with what we share with all of our brothers and sisters in the LORD (Hebrews 3:1; Galatians 4:4-7).

But we do confess that we have not been as loving toward Your people as we could be. And maybe not as attuned to the opportunities to love. Please forgive us for thinking too much about ourselves, watching too much on our screens, and missing out on the relationships that count—with others and with You, our gracious Father (Matthew 22:37-40).  

Help us, in courage and with wisdom, to extend appropriate help and encouragement to those who are physically weak, emotionally strung out, or spiritually bruised. We see and hear lots of fear around us, and if we’re being honest, within us, as well. These are trying times. 

We know that a crisis is a turning point, the fulcrum at which the trend of future events is determined, so we humbly cry out to You, our Almighty Father. We cast the weight of these days from our shoulders to Yours (1 Peter 5:6-7). Turn the hearts of people everywhere, so that the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the biggest pivot point in history, would go forth to the whole world, bearing fruit and increasing (Colossians 1:6).

We think of the nation of Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-14), and we implore You to do a mighty work…to heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14)…and people throughout this world, to help those who have been infected to receive the help that they need, and to slow to a standstill the spread of the virus…while at the same time increasing the spread of the Gospel. 

Please help us by giving us wise thoughts inspired by Your Spirit within us, wise words that help others and heal relationships, and wise counsel that is consistent with Your word (James 1:5-8). Thank You for our pastors, staff, and leaders at Grace Point who serve with devotion to keep our eyes on You.

We pray for all missionaries serving You around the world. We ask that Your Spirit would be moving to encourage, protect, and defend Sam and Amy, as well as Abbey, who are faithfully sharing the light in Middle Eastern societies—where Your truth is often suppressed.  Please release doors for these and all of our missionaries as they must find new avenues to be Your ambassadors to people who are, like us, facing their own mortality and so are feeling unsure of the future.  

We pray Your mercy on Christians in places like North Korea who are under constant attack and many are imprisoned for nothing other than their faith in You. Help them to persevere in their devotion to You and in their trust that Your grace is sufficient for them, for Your power is made perfect in weakness (2 Chronicles 12:9). 

Spirit of God, may You miraculously and with power blow the doors open so that the ones who are positioned to step through them—those we have sent to the ends of the world, and all of us right here in this community—would be enabled and emboldened to step into the new opportunities spawned by this worldwide pandemic to share the reason for the hope within us, and always to do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Help us to turn questions about our swirling circumstances into questions that point to ultimate reality.

At a time when everything seems to be radically shifting, we want to remember together as we worship Jesus that He is always and will always be a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19), a hope that isn’t dependent on the shifting sands of material prosperity, or religiosity, or “positivity,” or social connectivity, but on the Rock of our hope in Your eternity.

Pour out Your Spirit so that—in our individual lives and as Your church—we will “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). We are confident that Jesus is with us—His Spirit is here right alongside us—and He has forever overcome the world (John 16:33).

And so, we thank You and praise You in the name of our Savior Jesus—AMEN!

(Keith Brown)

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship – February 2020

Our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship met on Wednesday, February 19. They enjoyed fellowship and lunch together while assembling Easter handouts for patients at Esperanza. They also created key chains to be used by a local ministry to share the Gospel.

The women also enjoyed signing and sending greeting cards to a few people who are recovering from illness or surgery. Their time of prayer was concentrated on Grace Point missionaries.

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship meets on the third Wednesday from September through May. If you are interested in more information about Women’s Outreach & Fellowship, Lori Wilson would be happy to hear from you! women.fellowship@gracepointpa.org

They always welcome more women to join in the meaningful fun and fellowship!

Elder Prayer (2/16/20)

Heavenly Father, You are a God who calls.

You called forth order out of chaos, and worlds were created and life began.

You called Abraham, to leave behind all that he knew, his comfort and safety, to go and follow You not knowing where he was going. And he obeyed.

You later called him to give up what he had hoped and waited for his entire life. And he obeyed.

You called Moses, from within the bush, to an assignment that he did not want or feel equipped to do, to a true mission impossible. And he obeyed.

You called Your prophets, to share Your truth with people who didn’t want to hear it, at the cost of their reputations, relationships and very lives. And they obeyed.

You called Jonah to share Your grace and truth with a people that he despised, and though he initially ran, he obeyed.

You called a young peasant girl named Mary out of utter obscurity to carry and care for the infant Savior of the world, and though she paid a high cost for doing so, she obeyed.

You called 12 to leave behind all they knew to follow You. It cost them their occupations. It cost them their dreams of what a new Kingdom might be. It cost them their peace and safety and eventually their lives. And they obeyed.

You called a man named Saul, to lay down his arms, and follow You and suffer for You immensely, so that the message of Your grace and truth would spread. It cost him everything.

You’ve called so many ordinary people in the past who heard, responded and obeyed, even though they very often did not see promises fulfilled in their lifetimes, but welcomed what You promised from a distance.

You are calling some of us here this morning Lord.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to quietly and patiently trust You in the face of unsettling uncertainty, or relentless and intense pain and suffering. We’re going to need to leave behind our expectations of how we thought our lives would be, our frustrations, as well as our sense of hopelessness.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to reconcile and restore what’s been broken and lost. We’re going to need to leave behind our sense of right and fairness, and the hurt we feel that is all too real.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to reach out and get into the mess of the poor and hurting all around us. We’re going to need to leave behind our comfort, our time, our pride.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to a spiritual assignment that we don’t feel ready for, to step out in faith and courage in You. We’re going to need to leave behind our sense of self-protection, maybe our hatreds, our sense of inadequacy and fear of what the future holds.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You, to lay down our arms, and follow You for the first time, knowing that we’re going to need to leave behind our doubts and self-righteousness.

Your call is not something we add to our lives. It’s never exactly what we expect it to be. It always requires that we leave something behind. Our expectations, our fears, our doubts, our comfort, our safety, our pride, our very wills. To lose what we think life is all about, in order to gain real, true life, the life we’ve really always wanted, in You.

We’re not being called to a creed, a cause, a condition, a solution, a promise, a place, a state of mind or even a victory. We’re being called to You.

You often don’t tell us what lies next Father. We only know that You are so incredibly glorious, that to run from Your call is pointless. You ask us to simply do what lies before us, to do the next thing. 

To obey is our objective, because You obeyed Jesus. To suffer, for You, is to be expected, because You suffered for us so that we would not have to eternally. Your glory is our reward.

Help each of us this morning Father to respond to Your call on our lives, no matter the difficulty, no matter what we may need to leave behind, knowing that the only real and lasting happiness we will ever experience on this earth comes through the doorway of quiet, humble submission and trustful obedience to and acceptance of Your will.

In acceptance of Your will there is Your peace.

In Your great name we pray,

(David Kneller)

Elder Prayer (Sunday 1/26/20)

Dear LORD, we thank You for being our great God, and for allowing Jesus to be our salvation—You have paid the huge debt that our sins had racked up for us by Your death on the cross. And You have made the way for us to inherit eternal life. 

Our loving Father, You allow us to grow through the questions that we ask of You, and of ourselves, and those that others ask of us. And like a sword that penetrates to the depths of our souls for healing purposes, You ask us questions in your Word [Hebrews 4:12-13].

So, we invite You through some prayerful questions to remind us of how great You are and how amazingly merciful You are to us.

You asked of Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” [Job 38:4a] and “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?” [Job 40:9]”

And through the prophet Isaiah You asked: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him?” [Isaiah 40:18] and “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.” [Isaiah 40:28]

Yet, despite being Almighty, You told us: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart [Jeremiah 29:13]”

Our Father, we are so prone to wander! You know every sinful thought we are harboring in our hearts, every wrong we have done, all the good we have withheld from others, and all the blame we have been shifting onto others, and so we fall on Your mercy and ask Your forgiveness. And we rest confident in the truth that You refuse to remember any of these [Hebrews 8:12; 10:17], choosing to remove them from us as far as the east is from the west [Psalm 103:12], and to hurl our sins into the depths of the sea [Micah 7:19]!

Jesus our Lord, while on earth You asked questions like: ”Who do you say that I am? [Matthew 16:15]” and “Why are you so afraid? [Matthew 8:26]” and “Are you also going to leave? [John 6:67]” and three times You asked Peter, “Do you love me? [John 21:15-17]”

Help us in this day and the days to come to answer these questions and to choose well—to trust You and to love you [Joshua 24:14-15]. May we follow You and not the world [Luke 16:13]—those things that would entice us away from our first love [Revelation 2:4]. Embolden us to help others to know the truth, believe the truth, grow in the truth and share the truth about You, Lord Jesus.

Why would frail and fallible people like Tim and Jacki Faulkner in Italy, or Abbie in the middle east, or Val and Cassie in east Asia, give of themselves by going to the ends of the world to tell about Jesus our Lord to people whose hearts are often hardened fields?

The answer is “because they are following You”—in Your love for this world, You generously gave Your Son so that whoever takes the one step of faith to believe in this truth will take a giant leap into Your eternal kingdom [John 3:16]. We pray for these missionaries that they would trust You and ask insightful questions as they share the Gospel. 

Please guide us, Spirit of God, in this worship service, to know more of You as we praise Your name together, as we bring our offerings, as we hear Your Word proclaimed, and as we go into Your world this week.

Whose very presence in a life gives freedom and release from anxiety and burdens of sin? [Psalm 55:22; Matthew 11:29-30; I Peter 5:6-7]] It’s Your Spirit within us! We ask You for the healing of hurts and diseases, of losses too deep for words, and of relationships broken or locked in bondage—please transform and deliver us. Your mercies are new every morning[Lamentations 3:22-23]—please bring us grace and peace [Philippians 1:2]!

Who is it that has purchased for us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for each of us who have been born again through faith? [I Peter 1:4] He is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  To You be all of the praise, honor and glory! [I Peter 1:7] 

We ask that these questions would stay with us, goad us into action, and bring us back for more of You.

And we pray all in Jesus’ matchless name—AMEN!

(Keith Brown)

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship Update

Our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship meets monthly on the third Wednesday from September to June from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Room 403 – The Clubhouse. (We do not meet in December.)  

This month, the group completed 275 key chains, 48 winter favors and 42 hand-written notes. All of these items are being given to local ministries to use in outreaches.

We would love to have you join us! We have women of all ages and all skill levels of crafting. There are a variety of projects we work on together each month. 

If you enjoy keeping your hands busy while sharing in sweet fellowship, then this group is for you. We share the Gospel by supporting missionaries and local ministries. We create, collect, and donate tangible items to assist them in reaching others for Christ. Bring lunch for yourself. Dessert and beverages will be served. Childcare is provided until 11:45 am.

If you would like to connect with Lori Wilson, our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship coordinator, you can reach her at women.fellowship@gracepointpa.org. You may also call the church office at 215.968.2354, and we will connect Lori with  you.

If you are unable to join us but would like to participate, here is a list of items we currently need for donations.

CURRENT LIST OF DONATION REQUESTS:

  • Complimentary/travel-sized soaps, shampoos, etc. 
  • Gently used costume jewelry
  • Small gifts for women
  • Gently used toys, books, puzzles (for all ages of children)
  • Men’s NEW white tube socks
  • Remnants of NEW cotton fabric and flannel
  • Leftover NEW Christmas wrapping paper
  • Leftover NEW Christmas curling ribbon
  • Medium sizes of shaving cream, deodorants, lotion, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Knitted or crocheted baby blankets, shoulder wraps, slipper socks, preemie hats and booties

To read more about all that is happening in our Women’s Ministry, click HERE.

Thanks for stopping by the Grace Point blog!

Pastoral Prayer (Sunday 1/19/20)

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:1-3)

God of the universe, You know us personally and care about what is on our hearts. Thank You for being completely trustworthy. Give us Your vision. Call us to bigger things beyond ourselves.

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

Father, every soul is valuable to You; we are made in Your image. Give us Your heart of love for every people and every nation. Equip us to proclaim Your Gospel locally and throughout the world.

“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with You.” (Psalm 139:17-18)

God, You care perfectly about every detail of our lives. Please comfort those who are experiencing grief or suffering. Thank You for those who are in a season of experiencing joy. Keep them close to You. Bless our junior high teens and leaders at retreat this weekend. Grow them in their walks with You. Guide the leaders of our country in Your ways. Give us all hearts to honor You in private and in public.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Lord, as we continue in worship today, draw our hearts to You through Your Holy Spirit and Your Word. Reveal to us any sin interrupting our personal connection to You. Bring it to light and give us humility to repent and be led by You into repentance, holiness and obedience.

Faithfully lead us in the way everlasting.

We ask all of this in the name of Jesus our Lord.

(Dave Wolf, Lead Pastor)