GP Men’s Ministry (by Jeremy Davis)

Men’s Ministry Mission:  Our mission is to equip men to be strong in their faith in Jesus Christ and be His disciple-makers at home, at church and in the world.  

My goal for this blog post is to share the men’s ministry’s heart for equipping the men of God to be disciple-makers. What does it mean to equip? First, we need to establish that equipping is a biblical principle. Let us look at Ephesians 4:11-13 to see God’s heart for the equipping of the saints.    

Ephesians 4:11-13  

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…  

Clearly, Ephesians 4:11-13 teaches us that equipping is a necessity within the Body of Christ. The Greek Word for equip is Katartismos which means to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something. In this case, the text teaches us two things: who is equipping us and what are we being equipped for. Let’s take a look at who God gave us to help with equipping us.  

Who Equips? (Ephesians 4:11-12a)  

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds/pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints…  

The Apostles – These men were a gift to the church, first hand eye witnesses of Jesus, commissioned by Jesus to carry out God’s Mission. God used many of these men to record the Scriptures, to be a vector of transmission for the Gospel to spread throughout the world. These were the first believers, many faithful in the midst of persecution and martyrdom. Even though the days of the apostles ended when John on Patmos passed away, they still are a gift to the church because we read their teachings as they were carried on by the Holy Spirit.  

The Prophets – These are the men who proclaim God’s Word, speaking on His behalf namely through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. The term prophet has two meanings. The first meaning points us back to the prophets recorded in the Bible. They spoke on behalf of God prior to the closing of the Canon of Scripture. The second meaning refers to those who always point us back to God’s Word, often in powerful and personal ways, since the closing of the Canon of Scripture. As has been said, prophecy is sometimes foretelling, and other times forthtelling (pointed exhortation based solidly on God’s Word). These men serve as a gift to the church, studying God’s Word and presenting God’s Word for the flock to feed on corporately. They also provide a steadfastness to the flock as they always point us back to the Word of God.  

The Evangelists – These are the men who would go from place to place proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Often times going to places where the Gospel was unknown. Romans 10:15, And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Someone had to bring the Gospel to you, therefore we are to bring that Good News to others.  

The Shepherds/Pastors – These are the men responsible for supplying care and guidance to the local church body. Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd, leading the sheep and protecting them from any predator. These are the men who have direct care over the flock. They are a gift to the church, living selflessly to care for the good of the flock.   

The Teachers – These are the men who provide instruction. They instruct the body of Christ through their study of God’s Word, lessons God has taught them, personal testimony and instruction on how to live a godly life. They are invested and supporting their pupils in the instruction of the Lord.   

Believe it or not, all of these are equipping the GP Men’s Ministry in one form or another.

oThe Apostles have served faithfully as caretakers of God’s Word, writing it down for our study to this day. We have the inerrant Word of God because of God using their faithfulness. The Prophets speak God’s truth and always direct us to the Word of God. The Evangelists, those who travel bringing the Word of God, sometimes stop by GP Men’s Ministry as speakers to challenge and equip us. The GP Pastors/Shepherds supply care for our Men’s Ministry flock guiding us to pasture on the Word of God. The Teachers leading the small groups in the study of God’s Word, and providing wisdom on godly living.  

We established the who equips, now what are we being equipped for? We look at verses 12-13 for this answer;  “12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”  

The Work of Ministry –  We are equipped to serve one another, the word ministry often connotates a ministry that is humble or menial in nature. We are equipped to care and caring for one another can often be unglamorous. This is the life on life daily grind of loving one another.  

Building Up The Body of Christ – We are equipped to build one another up, a large construction project to raise up the believers, ultimately being fulfilled in the Christ-likeness of the Body of Christ at Christ’s return.  

Unity of Faith – We are equipped to have a oneness and unity amongst us. We are to be of one mind and one accord. Philippians 2:2 “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”  

The Knowledge of The Son of God – We are equipped to have content and knowledge of Jesus Christ, of what He accomplished, of who He is, of His redemptive works in restoring us to Himself.   

Mature Manhood – We are equipped to have a mature behavior recognizing the purchase that Christ made in His Crucifixion and our Redemption.  

Measure of The Stature of The Fullness of Christ – We are equipped to be more like Christ day by day, progressing in our sanctification day by day.   

Our mission is to equip men to be strong in their faith in Jesus Christ and be His disciple-makers at home, at church and in the world. Our mission is rooted in the Word of God as we long to see the men of Grace Point live out their calling as men of God. We believe God has equipped His people with spiritual gifts used for the building up of the body (Romans 12:3-8 see below). GP Men’s Ministry desires to see the men of Grace Point exercising their gifts for God’s glory. What are the practical ways we carry out these theological pillars?  

1.) We long to see men get connected in small groups, where they have an opportunity to have authentic godly relationships with other men. We desire to see men get into the Word of God together, to share the trials of life together, to pray together, to evangelize together, to fellowship together, to hold one another accountable ultimately loving one another.  

2.) We long to provide opportunities for all the men to come together, perhaps for a Men’s Breakfast, Men’s Retreat or other event. The goal remains the same, in this case corporately equipping all the men to be strong in their faith in Christ and be His disciple-makers.   

3.) Lastly we want to come alongside of Men encouraging them to get into the Word of God individually, providing resources to equip them in their study of the Scriptures.   

Our mission is to equip men to be strong in their faith in Jesus Christ and be His disciple-makers at home, at church and in the world.  

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.  

Romans 12:3-8  

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!

12 Months Later – Water Wells in Cambodia

Many of you may remember that last year’s combined Thanksgiving and Christmas offering was designated to help build fresh water wells in villages in the country of Cambodia by partnering with Samaritan’s Purse. We had set a goal of raising $20,000 for these wells.

Not only did we meet our goal, but we surpassed it! In the end, we raised $60,000 for the fresh water well projects. Wow!

Many of you have been asking, “What happened? Did they build the wells? Is there an update?” I have good news! Last week, I received an update from Samaritan’s Purse, and it included a video from the village!

Over the last 12 months, the staff and personnel with Samaritan’s Purse have been actively working to build and complete the wells in three villages in Cambodia. Below is a video from one of the project leaders thanking Grace Point personally for our generosity in helping to build these wells, and bring much needed fresh water to these people.

Thank you for your generosity and for helping to bring fresh water to the 300 families (1,500 people) in three villages of Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia.

Dirty Water
Previous water supply for the village.

Completed Water Well
A completed fresh water well in the village.

Children from the local school who live in the village.

Serve: Step Up to Grow Up!

As we learned from Ephesians 4:11-16, there’s an awesome WIN-WIN when we choose to step up and serve using the gifts God has given: we mature as individuals, AND we build up our Grace Point community of faith.

Serve

So take a risk, step out of your comfort zone, and get off that spiritual sofa to see what God has in store…link over to our webpage that shows areas of ministry you might consider – and take a test drive!

SERVE opportunities online

FOCUS Survey Trip Prayer Requests – Thailand

Thank you for praying for our FOCUS Survey trips! We had a great trip to Lebanon and now we look ahead to our Thailand Survey trip. Here’s how you can pray for our team!

Prayer Requests for Grace Point Survey Trips
Thailand Trip / August 21-28

  1. Pray for the FOCUS Selection Team as they get better acquainted with the ministry of Converge in Thailand. Pray for the director of the Thai Buddhist Initiative, Rick Berry.
  2. Pray for the spiritual preparation of the survey team going to Thailand: Steve Weir, Dave Wolf, Denise Nichols, and Ellen Livingood. Ask God to give them spiritual discernment, clean hearts, and minds yielded to the Lord. Pray for good health and safety before, during, and after the trip. The weather will be hot and humid, so pray for endurance during long days.
  3. Pray for each of the missionaries and national Thai pastors and leaders with whom the GP team will meet. Ask God to use the GPers to encourage and be a blessing to these men and women. Pray that each conversation will help to give a clear picture of what God is doing and how partnership might contribute.
  4. The team will leave on Wednesday morning, August 21, for Newark airport and a non-stop, 16-hour flight to Hong Kong. After a 2½ -hour layover, there will be another three-hour flight into Bangkok, arriving Thursday evening at 11:30. Pray that each person can get some quality sleep on this long trip.
  5. Pray for stamina for the team on Friday, August 23, as they spend the day seeing English centers with Converge missionary Steve Cable and then attend a church service in the evening. Ask God to give each person the ability to focus and absorb lots of new information despite jetlag. Pray that the GPers will be guided to ask insightful questions.
  6. On Saturday, August 24, the team will meet with leaders of the ministry that is teaching English to women who have been caught in the sex trade. Ask God to give the team the ability to understand some of the complexity of ministry to women caught in this vast evil that unfortunately is a trademark of Bangkok. Pray that our Grace Pointers can be an encouragement to those who work with these women.
  7. On Sunday, August 25, the team will take a short flight to Udon to see a training ministry that Converge is involved with there. Pray that our GPers can begin to understand the leadership needs for the new house churches that God is raising up all across this land and what the opportunities are like to be a part of serving church leaders in training.
  8. On Monday, August 26, the team will spend the day learning about the background of Thai culture and Buddhist religious beliefs and practices. Pray that they will be able to see the implications for ministry in this nation where only an estimated ½ of 1 percent are evangelical believers.
  9. On Tuesday, August 27, the team will spend a portion of the day meeting with local Thai leaders. Pray for good translation and clear communication. Ask God to help GPers grasp the big picture as they are exposed to so much new information.
  10. Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, August 27, Steve, Dave, and Denise will start their journey home. Pray for the connection in Hong Kong and for rest on the long journey. Ellen will take a short flight to Singapore where she will spend the next three days doing training with a number of sending-base leaders, board members, and volunteers who serve with the mission agency World Outreach. Pray that each of these sessions will be highly valuable to these people who are mobilizing sending churches in places as different as South Africa, the Netherlands, and Malaysia.

FOCUS Survey Trip Prayer Requests

As we look ahead to our FOCUS Survey trips, we invite and need you to pray for our teams and for God’s leading in the FOCUS process.

Prayer Requests for Grace Point Survey Trips
Lebanon Trip / July 25-August 1

  1. Pray for the FOCUS Selection Team as they meet on Wednesday, July 10, to prepare and to get better acquainted with the ministry of Kinship and its partners in the Middle East: Horizons International (HI) and Ananias House (AH). Pray for an expanded understanding of the complexity of the context as well as the exciting ministry opportunities.
  2. Pray for the spiritual preparation of the survey team going to Lebanon: Steve Weir, Amie Kiryluk, Denise Nichols, and Ellen Livingood. Ask God to give them spiritual discernment, clean hearts, and minds yielded to the Lord.
  3. Pray for the staff of the Kinship partners in Lebanon as they prepare to host our survey team, specifically Christine, the HI visit coordinator; Khalil, in charge of developing church partnerships across Lebanon for HI; Louis, HI’s director of expat ministry in the Middle East, and Maggie, onsite AH ministry coordinator.
  4. Pray for good health and safety before and during the trip. The weather will be quite hot, so pray for endurance during long days. Pray that the team can stay focused despite jet lag and weariness.
  5. Pray for good translators and clear communication everywhere the team goes. Pray for good communication within the GP team too. Ask God to help them be discerning as they are exposed to so much and to encourage each other all along the way.
  6.  Pray for each of the pastors in Lebanon with whom the GP team will meet. Ask God to use the GPers to encourage and be a blessing to these leaders who are always stretched thin by the demands of their congregation as well as the immense physical and spiritual needs around them. Pray that each conversation will give a clear picture of the church’s vision, the current ministry, the potential for partnership, and concrete ways GP might contribute.
  7. Pray for the day trips that GP will make to tent camps in the Beqaa Valley and to children’s camp ministry in the Tyre area. Pray for a good understanding of the diversity of ministry that is based on the diversity of needs and opportunities.
  8. Pray that the GP team will be able to enjoy worship with Arab brothers and sisters, sensing the joy of their spiritual life that is deeper than the daily problems they face.
  9. Pray the team will be able to gain an understanding even of ministries that they will not have the opportunity to see firsthand. For instance, the School of Hope that provides an education for dozens of very poor refugee children will be on summer vacation.
  10. Pray for the time the team spends with two church leaders who will be coming out of Sy_a to meet with them. Pray that these men’s hearts will be encouraged by the interest of the GP team. Pray for the ability for the GP team to grasp the difficulties and the opportunities that describe the situation inside this war-torn country today.

Women’s Outreach and Fellowship – Annual Report

At Grace Point we have a stellar group of ladies who work tirelessly to advance the Gospel in very tangible ways. Our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship group has been working over the last 12-18 months creating, quilting, collecting and assembling thousands of items that are given out and used by local, regional, and global ministries.

Here’s a snapshot of their work in 2018-19.

Outreach Projects:
  • Child Evangelism Fellowship (C.E.F.)
    • 2000 “wordless” key chains
    • 14 Baby quilts (Florida fire)
    • 9 Flannel sheets (Florida fire)
    • 6 Blankets (Florida fire)
    • 3 Comforters (Florida fire)
    • 18 Knitted blankets (Christmas)
    • 59 Small toys/stuffed animals (awards)
  • Converge Panama City ~ Nate/Jendi Korpi
    • 12 Bookmarks: Walk By Faith
    • 17 C.O.F.F.E.E. hangings
  • Esperanza Medical Center
    • 820 Christmas ornaments: small nativity, foam crosses, JESUS stockings on magnets
    • 16 Foam nativity scenes (Christmas)
    • 215 Sheep: Trust in the Lord
    • 630 Easter crosses
    • 510 Bookmarks
    • 175 Hearts: Jesus Loves Me
    • 112 C.O.F.F.E.E. with John 3:16
    • 22 Travel toiletry packs made
    • 11 Knitted baby blankets
    • 11 Pair knitted baby booties
    • 20 Knitted baby hats
    • 22 Baby quilts
    • 256 Children’s books donated to their library
    • 2 Large coloring books
    • 24 Puzzles
    • Toured facilities (Tara Mothersbaugh)
    • 989 Children’s books (Collected from GP’s VBS Kids)
    • $474 donated by VBS kids (Collected from GP’s VBS Kids)
  • Good Shepherd Ministry (Christmas Cheer)
    • 50 Coffee cans filled with cookies
    • 50 Candy favors
    • 25 Sunshine bags
    • 7 Walker bags
    • 29 Lap robes
    • 17 Knitted slippers
    • 3 Knitted shoulder wraps
    • 22 Men’s white tube socks
    • 131 Assorted Sunshine Bag articles: shampoos, soap, wash cloths
    • 19 Toys/games/stuffed animals
    • 773 Christmas cards/envelopes (new)
  • Philadelphia Bible Clubs
    • 275 Bell Christmas party favors
    • 55 Jewelry in boxes
    • 6 Assorted Christmas decorations
    • 105 Misc. household gifts/ornaments
    • 24 Baskets of travel/cosmetics/gifts
    • 19 Sets of knitted matching hats/scarves (Beverly Weir)
    • 7 Toys/books/puzzles
    • 1 Box assorted snacks for volunteers
Grace Point Related Ministries
  • On Eagles’ Wings
    • 38 Fall favors (foam)
    • 30 Christmas favors (foam nativity)
    • 30 Winter favors: snowmen
    • 26 Easter cross favors
    • 31 Summer patriotic favors
    • 17 Summer favors (foam strawberries w/tea bags)
  • Quilting
    • 75 Quilts for kids
    • 1 Crochet baby blanket
    • 29 Handmade stuffed animals
    • 32 Crocheted baby booties
    • 35 Crocheted baby hats
  • Vacation Bible School
    • 1200 Bible verses cut/holes punched (2018)
    • 120 Pac Man decorations cut (2019)
    • 310 “Ghosts” decorations cut (2019)
  • One Winter Night
    • 24 Rolls of ribbon cut into 12” pieces
  • Young At Heart (Valentine’s Dinner/Evening)
    • 40 Valentine table decorations
  • $62 collected and given in memory of Pearl Fulton to Good Shepherd Ministry
  • Love Gifts Given ($350 total)
    • Jendi Korpi
    • Abby S. (GP Missionary)
    • Joan Zeberlein
    • Eileen and Allison Sarver (Panera Gift Card)
  • 9 Meetings/36 hours
  • 1 Summer Party/4 hours of fun!
  • 8 Quilting workshops/32 hours

Countless hours of homework and sewing at home!

Total Items: 9,629 made or collected

Thank you to Lori Wilson and our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship team! They do amazing work and bless countless others through their ministry!

To learn more about Women’s Outreach & Fellowship, visit the Women’s Ministry page on our website (look under What We Offer) or contact Lori Wilson at lefty31@comcast.net.

Bolivia Team Closing Thoughts

Over the course of eight days our team experienced something truly miraculous. Twenty-six of us boarded a bus in the wee hours in Newtown, PA to travel to one of the poorest communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We left with a singular purpose – to bless the children and families of two Child Development Centers (Unidos en Cristo and Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina).

You can find summaries of our trip in our two-part series here and here.

Little did we know that it would be us who would be blessed beyond measure. Words cannot describe the feelings and love that we have for the Bolivian people. They possess a joy and a contentment that is not based on material possessions, luxuries, Starbucks, or everyday stuff. The joy these people have is based in the Lord and His divine provision for their needs.

Over the course of the week we saw God “show up” more times than we could count. From little unplanned encounters to a few encouraging words that were perfectly timed by God, our team has been forever changed by this trip.

My heart is forever changed

Each evening we would have a “debrief meeting” at which time I would ask each of our team members to reflect on something that God taught them that day or something they experienced. But, they had to do it in 3-5 words. Some words that were shared included, “My heart is forever changed”, “God bless the translators”, “You guys get it”, “Miraculous divine appointments.”

Early Tuesday morning we caught a fight from our beloved city of Cochabamba to the busy city life of Santa Cruz. The two cities are like night and day, but both still lovely. Once we arrived to our hotel, we enjoyed lunch with some special guests. One of our teammates, Stacey, had an opportunity to meet her 4 year-old sponsor child in addition to his 17 year-old mother. They joined us for lunch and a sight-seeing tour in Santa Cruz. Having had a full schedule all week of work at the Centers, church, VBS, home visits, and all the emotions with it, it was nice to have a bit of a “slow day” – even if it would end up being the longest day with travel.

It was clear that despite having a good night’s rest into Tuesday, our team was tired. Tired from ministry. Tired from the emotional rollercoasters of meeting new beloved friends and then saying goodbye. Tired from the wear and tear of a full schedule. But, it was good tired. The opportunity to see firsthand the impact that our love and sponsorship has for these children was incredible.

The journey home was to be a long one. Our 2:30 AM flight from Santa Cruz to Panama City was smooth, or at least it seemed that way – most of us were able to get some sleep, even if it wasn’t restful. With a three-hour layover in Panama, we were reminded of God’s work in our lives and our team. Many of us, again, shared stories and pictures from our phones about our experiences and the various “God sightings.”

What seemed like the longest day ever, Tuesday/Wednesday (whatever day it was) was a day of reflection and contemplation. What will we do differently once we return home?

Will we continue with life “as is?” Or will we see our worlds differently? Some have already said that we “live with too much in Pennsylvania.” Some have shared that they will get more involved in missions or global endeavors, whether at church or elsewhere. Some have shared that they will start now to train and educate their own children about life in another culture, how blessed we are, and how much we take for granted.

What will we do differently once we return home?

Some have already made an impact as a result of our trip. At least four additional children have been sponsored by our team alone. I can tell you that this team is passionate about what they experienced. Informal recruitment for future trips has already begun. Regardless of whether or not you sponsor a child through Compassion, this trip and trips like this one are life-changing and God can/will use these trips to open your eyes to what life outside of our bubbles is really like.

We’ve all seen that sponsoring a child is one simple step, though an important one. It is the building and nurturing of a relationship with your child and their family that can last a lifetime.

Silly Faces!

My experience this week, and I’ve been to Bolivia before, was such that I came away with a bigger heart for God’s work and what He’s doing. Bolivia has become like my home away from home.

One of our fantastic translators, Jacob, made an endearing observation on Saturday when spending time with me and my sponsored kiddos. He said, “You have two boys in America, and you now have two daughters in Bolivia.” While I hadn’t made that realization myself, I knew instantly that it was true. Our Dayana is so special to us, she has become like a daughter to me and our family. Visiting her home, having fun together on Saturday, seeing her at church on Sunday, then VBS on Sunday, this guy’s heart is full.

Me and the Girls

Then to meet Deysi, a young teenager who is sponsored by the Grace Point staff. Joan, Chuck and I got to meet Deysi at her home, spend fun day with her on Saturday, worship with her on Sunday, and then party at VBS. I quickly learned that there was more genuine love to go around. Being the Missions Pastor, and most likely the guy who will write most of the letters to her, I found that Deysi, just as Jacob observed, quickly became like a daughter to me. I don’t know that I’ll be able to easily share the letter writing responsibility with the other staff. Deysi is a dear young lady who I’m certain will grow to be a strong woman of God.

At that evening’s debrief meeting, my 3-5 words were simply, “two sons and two daughters” – a phrase that even now causes my eyes to tear up.

Is there more to share? Absolutely. Is there more work to be done in Cochabamba? Absolutely. Do we have an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child, in a church, in the surrounding community, and in the country of Bolivia? Absolutely. And it is humbling.

It is our turn to step forward and answer the call of Jesus. To minister and love the poor, to step out of our comfort zones and make an impact in the life of a child. How will you respond and what will be your 3-5 words?

Bolivia Team Update – Part 2

This is Part Two of our Bolivia Team Blog update. To catch up, read Part One.

Day 4 – Saturday

Today was our fun day and it lived up to its name. We woke up (a little later than the past few days!) to rain and a forecast that did not permit us to go to the amusement park we had planned, but in God’s grace, Plan B was even better!

Fun Day!

Through connections of one of our Compassion Staff, we were able to go to a retreat center that was much more intimate and because of this we could all see and even interact with each other throughout the day. It was very cool here today but the rains stayed away (Praise God) and we could be outdoors playing volleyball, parachute games, soccer, frisbee, and just hanging out.

Parachute Games!

Each of us who had a sponsor child were able to spend the day together with the total purpose of having fun and building bonds. The children’s tutors were with them and many of our children brought along members of their family as well. It was really special!

We received a bagged lunch from Chicken Kingdom with french fries and yummy sauces. All of this is such a treat to many of these families and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

Later this afternoon we had a few hours before dinner to rest or shop and then we walked to a local steak restaurant called Paprika where we were served an awesome dinner and dessert. It was a nice treat to be outside of the hotel and experience some local flavor.

One of our teammates description of the day was very appropriate and resonated with each of us: “church picnic/family reunion!”

Day 5 – Sunday

Another amazing day in Bolivia!  We boarded two separate buses—going to two different churches—for worship this morning. Grace Point headed to Unidos en Cristo while Restoration Church headed to Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina.

The GP Crew at Unidos en Cristo

We were warmly welcomed by the congregation at Unidos en Cristo and as the worship music began to play, the church started to fill.  With a God-inspired message, Steve Weir shared from the heart to trust God in and with ALL things. There were special musical performances by the dear women of the church and the youth.  And yet another special, impromptu musical performance by our team when asked/told, “Grace Point, don’t you want to sing us a song or something?” Sure we do!  And we did. To end the service, all 16 of us were asked to stand in front of the church to receive a heartfelt prayer from Pastor Angel and a beautiful, colorful vest as a gift, as well as kisses, hugs and handshakes from the entire congregation.

The RC Folks at Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina

Restoration folks had a similar experience today as we visited the Marquina church.  This is the first time that a team has ever visited this center and church.  The smiles, hugs and kisses, tears of joy, and overwhelming warmth of welcome was something that I will truly never forget.  We had the opportunity to listen to Pastor Jhonny [different from the Pastor Jhonny at Unidos en Cristo] preach from God’s Word as well as play the guitar during worship (remind you of anyone we know at RC?!).  Our entire team was greeted by every member of the congregation – from the smallest babies to the kindest little old ladies you have ever seen.  Our entire team was so blessed to be a part of this church this morning.

We enjoyed a delicious and filling lunch with the pastors and leaders of both churches before we headed off to visit the Cristo de la Concordia statue.  The views of this beautiful city were absolutely stunning and it is certainly a scene that will never leave our memories.

The Team at Cristo!

This evening our team continued to prepare for the two sessions of VBS tomorrow.  We are so excited to share God’s love with the children – sharing the message that “When you worry… Jesus rescues!”

Day 6 – Monday

What an amazing last day in Bolivia!  We showed God’s love through a day of VBS at Unidos en Cristo. We broke into four stations – Music, Bible, Crafts and Games – in a morning and an afternoon session.  There were about 40-45 children in the morning, ages 6-9, and the afternoon session had about 80-90 children ages 6-12.

Music Team Having Fun!

The Music Team taught a Bible verse in Spanish, Psalm 34:19, which says in the kid-friendly version: “The Lord comes to the rescue each time.”  They also taught two songs with motions.  The theme for today was: When We Worry, Jesus Rescues.

The Bible Team taught a lesson about Mary and Martha.  Katie Beth was able to deliver the story in Spanish. The Craft Team made a toucan out of foam and feathers.  This was the Bible Buddy for the day. The Games Team was able to use the beautiful turf field a block away from the Project.  The kids enjoyed playing dodge ball with multiple beach balls.

Games Team on the Turf

We gathered back as a large group to perform the songs together and create a rainstorm using only our hands.  And then it was time to say goodbye to sponsored children and new friends.

The team traveled back to the hotel in our two trusty buses and some tears were shed as we said goodbye to some of our beloved translators:  Jacob, Evelin, and Peter.

Thirty minutes later, we headed to the hotel restaurant and enjoyed our final dinner in Cochabamba with Pastor Angel, Pastor Jhonny and their families.  One of the Compassion translators, José, created a highlight reel of our time here in Cochabamba.  It included almost everything we did, everywhere we went, and every cheek kiss we received!  This video reminded us of all the ways that God is at work here.  Yes, there were a few tears as we relived our experiences in a place that we will hold forever close to our hearts.

The evening also included comments and prayers by Pastor Jhonny, Pastor Angel, Pastor Angel’s wife Dina, and Steve Weir.  Each one expressed their gratitude and appreciation for our mutual love for the children and service to the Lord.

Day 7 – Tuesday

Tuesday morning we headed to the airport to begin the first leg of our journey home. After a short flight from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz, we ate lunch at our hotel and headed out for some sight-seeing and souvenir shopping. It was quite the experience to learn about the rich history and architecture of Santa Cruz, and to get to try on some traditional Bolivian attire. After a fun-filled dinner out, we headed back to the hotel for the last remaining hours in our beloved Bolivia.

Cathedral in Santa Cruz

Twenty-four hours before our final bus delivered our team to the Grace Point entrance, two Bolivian buses left with our team members heading for the Santa Cruz airport.  Every connection on this trip was smooth, every passport and visa in order, all of the means of transportation on time (or very close—our bus was delayed at the beginning on July 17) until the very end.  We had some delays in customs upon our return to the U.S. (it seemed that most of the airplane-riding world converged on Dulles at the moment that our plane landed) and then the “monsoon” weather in the DC area led to flooded roads and accident-related delays.

Flooding on I-495 Getting Home

So, ultimately, we arrived at Grace Point at 11:00 pm, which was a few hours later than we had hoped for.  Having traveled over 4,000 miles in the past 24 hours, we were all ready to be climb into our own beds and get some much-needed rest.

You could say that the trip is over and that our arrival home is the last of this tribe of very close sisters and brothers.  But that would be wrong.  We are already planning get-togethers and reports to our sending churches, Restoration Church and Grace Point.  And I can tell you from being a part of this Spirit-unified, cohesive team that we are going to be looking for fruit of transformation that will come from the seeds that have been planted in two relatively small churches perched on the sides of the hills surrounding Cochabamba, Bolivia…and in the hearts of each of our team members in the process of serving Jesus faithfully.

Thank you for supporting and praying for us!

Bolivia Team Update – Part 1

In the wee hours of Tuesday, July 17 a team of 26 people (a mix from Grace Point and Restoration Church) headed to Bolivia for 8 days; and it was amazing. It is difficult to share all that our team experienced while in Bolivia – including the many God-sightings and the emotional roller-coaster ride of visiting our sponsored children and their families, our friends at Unidos en Cristo, and making new friends at another Child Development Center. Our trip with Compassion International was incredible beyond words. Our schedule was full and hectic at times, but we had a great team that was flexible and willing to adapt.

The Team is Ready to Go!

Compassion’s mission statement is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name, and we saw that firsthand. Below are small snippets from our daily prayer updates, in case you weren’t on our list, or you simply want to relive our trip with us. 🙂

Day 1 – Wednesday

Lots of Letters to be Translated and Processed!

Today was nothing short of amazing, encouraging, emotional, and inspiring. Cochabamba is a fantastic city and sits at the feet Cristo. After arriving at the hotel and grabbing some lunch, we had some time to refresh before we made our way to the national Compassion office for all of Bolivia.

Our team split into three groups and heard all about the ministry, philosophy, and process that Compassion employs in Bolivia. Each of these wonderful Compassion employees view their work as a much-needed ministry to not just change the lives of these children, but to ultimately to bring about life change to their entire country. Next was dinner at which we were joined by Pastor Angel and a few members of the governing board at Unidos en Cristo. After dinner, Pastor Angel shared his vision for ministry and church planting. He closed by providing an update on his and his son’s recovery from an automobile accident several weeks ago.

It was long day, but worth it.

Day 2 – Thursday

Today we visited Unidos en Cristo,  the first of what will be many gatherings planned for this week. Here we received a warm welcome complete with waving flags and handmade welcome signs! We had a service together in which we sang and prayed. A young lady at the age of 13 spoke to us of her favorite verse (Rev 2:10) and how we must be faithful to God in all circumstances. Then, the pastor’s wife prayed for us, their visitors, asking that God bless us and protect us. She gave thanks to God for our love of her community and home country of Bolivia. She prayed all of this through tears of love and appreciation. It was truly humbling. We came here in hopes of being a blessing to the community and these people beseech the Lord to bless us!

A Warm Welcome at Unidos en Cristo!

There were two teaching opportunities this day. The first was for the women of Unidos en Cristo in which Barb Brown spoke about the importance of living in community as Christian women and developing relationships that provide support and spur one another on to growth in Christ.  Then Sherri Wolf spoke candidly about the kinds of things women and mothers struggle with and how we can seek forgiveness and ask the Lord to help us sow good seed into our children and families.

Pastor Chuck Teaching the Adolescents

The second teaching opportunity was led by Chuck Arnold who spoke to the teenagers about what it means to be an adolescent and how to succeed even while they face many pressures growing up.

The Ever-Enthusiastic GAP Students in Concert!

Dinner tonight was pizza spent with fifteen of the 48 students enrolled in the GAP program.  GAP is a selective program in which students, age 18-22, apply to develop leadership skills.  These young people were so excited to meet with us.  They greeted us with music, provided a concert for us during which they implored us to dance.  We later met in small groups and learned about the various experiences of these sponsored children.  GAP provides small group connections and support. It was awesome!

Day 3 – Friday

The Kids at BO-707 Welcoming the RC Crew!

Today was the first day we split teams; Grace Point went back to 703 (Unidos en Cristo) for a service day, and those of us from RC had the amazing opportunity to visit a center that has never received a visit before. As they pulled up to the gates of Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina, we could see the children and staff had made a beautiful welcome banner they strung along a second floor balcony. The children all ducked behind it when they saw us approaching and when we got off the bus they all popped out to shout “BIENVENIDOS! (Welcome!)” As they walked down the stairs, each child holding a brightly colored balloon, they sang a song for us. They let the balloons go as they reached out to embrace us each, one at a time. It was a beautiful, heart-warming welcome!

The RC folks had a day filled with home visits, a special opportunity to tag along with the Compassion staff for a home-based program visit for mothers and infants. Then, they had a chance to meet with the staff at BO-707 and enjoy games and activities with the children.

The GP Crew Hard at Work

The Newly Installed Computer Lab

The GP folks helped to sand and repaint the furniture for the classrooms at Unidos en Cristo. We also installed a new computer lab for the students, with 12 desktop computers. Additionally, we brought seven laptops with us for the students to use for homework and other computer training. The staff and students who were there on Friday were extremely grateful and excited about these new resources!

 

Be sure to read more about our trip in “Part Two.”