Use Your Clout – Stop Exploitation

At the end of Sunday’s message on Confrontation, an opportunity was mentioned to Raised From Ruins“use your clout to help someone out.” We are privileged to live in a country where we can petition our law-makers to encourage them to do the right thing. Please consider using your voice to help those who are being exploited.

The following information on the progress of PA Bill 851, the Safe Harbor Act, is copied from the website of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, dated November 2016. You can find more details about Bill 851 here.

The 2015-2016 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly officially closes on November 30. Here is the status of the several high priority bills that were on the legislative agenda of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

Human Trafficking – Senate Bill 851 would have ensured that juvenile victims of human trafficking are not prosecuted as criminals and that support services are made available to them. No action was taken by the end of the session, but legislation may be reintroduced next session.

 

How to write a letter to your PA State Senator, to encourage him or her to reintroduce and pass this legislation:

To find the name and address of your State Senator, please visit “Find Your Legislator” and fill in the relevant information.

Click on the name of your Senator to be taken to their personal page.

You may email your Senator by clicking on the image of the envelope under your Senator’s picture.

If you prefer to mail a letter, you can find your mailing addresses for your Senator’s offices listed on the lower, left-hand side of the page.

You may also want to contact Senator GREENLEAF who was the prime sponsor for this bill.

In your letter, let your Senator know you support them in doing all they can to stop the exploitation of innocent victims.

 

Why I Attend the GLS

For the last several years, I’ve had the privilege to attend the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit simulcasted live at Bethel at Philadelphia Mills. Even though I’ve attended via satellite simulcast, it has become a highlight of my year. I’ve assisted with some of the technical aspects to help Bethel’s GLS event run smoothly. Bethel has a great tech team, and it’s a pleasure to work with them.

Here are five reasons why I look forward to the GLS:

  1. Serving alongside other churches – We’re all in this together and I love the
    Photo from Instagram.com/wcagls

    opportunity to serve alongside fellow Jesus-followers and help leaders become better leaders. These men (and fellow technicians) are awesome!

  2. Great content every year – From Bill Hybels to leadership experts Patrick Lencioni and Dr. Henry Cloud, the Global Leadership Summit always brings the best speakers to share lessons for leaders in all spheres of life.
  3. The Local Church is the Hope of the World – Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church has been known to say from time to time that the local church is the hope of the world. That’s because we have the gospel of Jesus Christ, who can change lives and change the world. We need to stop playing church, and be the church. Each year, this is a great reminder of our calling.
  4. Seeing outside the box – I love to see the technical artists at Willow and at Bethel at work. From the stage lighting to the set design, these artists understand what it takes to create environments that draw you in, and hold your attention. Their careful use of lighting, color, and effects is inspiring.
  5. Photo from Instagram.com/wcagls
    Photo from Instagram.com/wcagls

    Investing in my own leadership – This may go without saying, but we are all leaders. We all lead in various capacities from the home to our work, from our community soccer leagues to our churches and ministries. Everyone benefits when a leader gets better. I want to be the best leader I can be, and the GLS helps me do that.

While I’m often managing multiple screens, the weather, technical liaising, and other duties while I serve during the GLS, it’s always great to attend and serve at the Global Leadership Summit.

When was the last time you invested in yourself as a leader?

Would you consider attending the GLS next year? I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and come out a better leader!

It’s not about numbers…

Often times in ministry we hear the phrase “it’s not about numbers.” I whole-heartedly agree with that statement – ministry is about people, relationships, and helping others learn more about God and the gospel – not numbers.

But…there’s a number of extraordinary ladies who love ministry, and have collectively completed a multitude of projects. The number of projects and people who have been touched by their ministry is impossible to count. I’m talking about the faithful ladies of the Women’s Fellowship.

Below is a summary of their work from last 12 months or so, and these are impressive numbers. We praise God for these faithful servants of the Lord and the many lives who have been impacted by their work.

OUTREACH PROJECTS

Child Home Community
11 Baby blankets, knitted/crocheted
3 Baby hats, crocheted

Child Evangelism Fellowship (C.E.F.)
2000 “wordless” zipper pulls

Esperanza Medical Center
748 Christmas – Jesus “stockings”
1000 Wordless Zipper Pulls – Easter
140 Easter crosses
1440 Spanish stickers: Jesus Loves Me
198 Various Summer handouts
623 Back-To-School bookmarks – God’s Rainbow Promise
128 Children’s books donated to their library
Toured facilities

Good Shepherd Ministry
42 Cans filled with cookies
333 Candy favors
50 Sunshine bags
54 Walker bags
23 Lap Robes
29 Knitted slippers
8 Knitted shoulder wraps
55 Pair Men’s white socks
154 Assorted Sunshine Bag articles
605 Christmas cards/envelopes

Philadelphia Bible Clubs
275 Tree Christmas party favors
32 Jewelry and jewelry boxes
32 Misc. household gifts
27 Baskets filled with travel/cosmetic items
60 Christmas-craft kits for mothers
16 Hats/scarves, knitted Towels/sheets/blankets

Pickering Manor (Bible Study)
10 Fall Favors (Fall in Love with Jesus)

Restoration Church
90 Fall favors (Fall in Love with Jesus – Kids’ classes)

Money Collected and Donated
$57 sent in memory of Marian Taylor to Immanuel Mission in Arizona.

GRACE POINT MINISTRIES

Short Term Trip to Bridesburg, Philadelphia, PA 
100 Wordless Bracelet Kits assembled

On Eagles’ Wings (ministry to Nursing Homes)
60 Winter favors (snowmen)
62 Valentine’s favors
62 Spring favors
60 Summer favors (Patriotic)

Quilting
47 Quilts for kids – St. Stephen’s quilt project
64 Homemade stuffed animals
27 Purchased stuffed animals
12 Preemie Hat/Bootie sets
32 Knitted hats

Short Term Trip Unidos en Cristo, Bolivia (Compassion Int’l)
350 Necklace kits (Fruit of the Spirit) assembled

Money Collected and Donated 
$168 given to GP library for children’s books in memory of Helen Jones.

Bolivia Team Update

Many of you have been praying for our team in Bolivia. Below is an abbreviated update that came in earlier today.

Hola from Bolivia!

The team is having a wonderful time in Cochabamba and have had so many great experiences. God is doing beautiful things through us.

Photo Credit: Joan Zeberlein

Saturday was our fun day and the team and our sponsor kids had a day full of sweets, rides, and play! The team definitely bonded with families. It is amazing how the relationships with the families were built in such a small amount of time. At the end of the day we debriefed and talked about how great God is and the things he is doing in Bolivia.

Praise God! During a home visit on Friday, it was discovered that the father of one of the sponsor kids had left 2 months prior and hadn’t been seen since. A member of our team prayed the salvation prayer with the mother and the mother accepted Christ. The team gathered at that home visit then prayed for restoration of the family. Sure enough, God provided! On Saturday morning when the children arrived for the fun day, the father was with the mother and the children! The power of prayer and trust in the Lord was certainly revealed from this experience. What a blessing to the family and our team!

Sunday we attended church at Unidos en Cristo. We were welcomed by a group of kids playing drums and trumpets. The service was very nice, Pastor Dave gave a message how we are all the same which was very moving.

Grace Point then stood up and received handmade bags and plates. We sang lots of songs throughout the service too. We have a worship pastor with our team from Minnesota and he led our team in the performance of two songs to the congregation. We planned for one but they asked for an encore. We laughed as we weren’t sure we even had a [good start] to begin with but God provided the words and the time was very special.

The team is all happy and working very well together. We appreciate your prayers. Please continue to pray for our health as a few on our team are battling upset stomachs. Nothing that is keeping us down but would enjoy being delivered from the feelings.

We start VBS today! Pray for the interaction with all of the children and these special moments that we have with them.

Through Him,

A.Z. on behalf of the team

10 Years in the Making

This is a monumental year for our Urban Mission Project.  Ten years ago this summer we took our first group down to the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia to partner with ReaLife/Soma Church.  This project consists of various work projects during the day and a Kids Club program in the evenings.

Throughout the years our teams have had a major impact on the kids and the community.  This partnership has also had a profound impact on one particular student who ten years ago attended his first missions project with Grace Point.  The impact has been so great that the student eventually completed his student teaching in the local elementary school and now currently lives next to the church in Bridesburg.  Mike Nichols fell in love with this community and its people during his first visit to the community.  Ten years later it is a privilege see Mike lead this Grace Point team in continuing efforts to impact the community on so many different levels.

Photo Jul 10, 10 02 23 PM (1)

Every year we spend a portion of our time serving the Recreation Center in Bridesburg.  This past Monday, as I and other students were weeding the sidewalks and playgrounds, a small car radically pulled up next to a section we were working on.  She rolled down her window and motioned me to come closer.  Very cautiously I approached the vehicle and smiled hoping that what was about to happen would be positive.  To my delight the woman in the car talked about how much she and her family appreciated what our group did every year.  She proceeded to tell us how much better the Recreation Center and community is because of our work.  She said that her daughter went to Kids Club as a teenager and now brings her child to the program every night.  She bragged on how the community Facebook page had various people anticipating our teams’ arrival and the Kids Club program.

Photo Jul 10, 7 06 02 PM

In the moments of pulling weeds, singing songs, and playing games the work we do seems so minute and unimportant.  But it is moments like the interaction with the woman in the car that give us hope and restore confidence in that no small act of service goes unappreciated by someone, somewhere.

I have been on this project for six of the ten years and it has been a privilege to see this partnership grow to the tremendous impact that it has on the community.  Not only are the people of Bridesburg impacted but our students come away personally challenged and stretched as well.

What small acts of service are you engaged in this summer?  Who are you personally impacting? How have you been challenged to invest into someone else’s life?

Things to pray for as the team comes home Saturday:

  • Many team members are sick. Pray for their health and rest so that the team finishes strong.
  • Pray for more moments of encouragement as our team serves the community.
  • Our goal is to help Bridesburg families connect with ReaLife Ministries through Kids Club. Pray that many connections will be established and that others will be strengthened.

Stop Trying…

I have a Virtual Mentor, Michael Hyatt. He makes me think twice about stuff that matters. In a recent post entitled “The Difference Between Trying and Doing,” he said Tony Robbins once gave some advice to a woman who was struggling in her marriage.

“She stood up in one of his seminars to ask a question. She complained that she had “tried everything” to improve her relationship with her husband but nothing had changed.

Tony went on to make a distinction that I think is vitally important. He asked the woman to try to pick up the chair she was sitting in. She turned around and picked up the chair.

Tony said, “No, you picked it up. I said try to pick it up.”

The woman looked confused. Tony reiterated, “Try to pick it up.” The woman just stood there, not knowing what to do.

Tony continued, “No, now you’re not picking it up. I said try to pick it up.” Again, she picked up the chair.

Again, Tony, said, “No, you picked up the chair. I asked you to try and pick it up. You either pick it up, you don’t pick it up, or you try to pick it up.”

The point is that when we say we are trying we don’t really have to do anything. It also provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t accomplish the outcome we say we want.

Do you understand the difference? You either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.

It made me stop and think…what am I “trying” to do? Wouldn’t it be better to ask, “What am I committed to doing? I’m trying to get in shape? Really? Or am I just trying? I’m trying to please my wife? Really? Or am I just trying to please my wife…and then complain about her to my inner self and others.

Bottom line…maybe it’s time to quit trying and just do it.

Romans 12:10, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

VBS – A Great Week!

We had a great week at VBS! Thank you to the many volunteers and leaders who helped our 135 (average daily attendance) kids to have a great week!

Joseph helped us to learn that:

  • God gives us hope – even in our darkest, saddest, and scariest days.DSC_4335
  • God gives us special abilities – things that help make us special and we all have a spiritual gift from God.
  • God gives us wisdom – when we ask for it, God promises to give us wisdom to make good, wise decisions.
  • God gives us forgiveness – we don’t always get things right, and need God’s forgiveness when we mess up.
  • God gives us family – whether it’s our immediate family or a large family like a church family, God gives us special people to love and care for us.

DSC_4341What was your (or your kid’s) favorite part of VBS?

 

VBS – Midweek Update

We’ve had a great week at Vacation Bible School, as we’ve followed Joseph’s journey from prison to palace!

Joseph in Prison
Joseph in Prison

The kids have enjoyed making their own multi-colored “coats” – just like Joseph’s! Today we worked on shoebox dioramas depicting Joseph’s jail cell and the palace. Also, today was water day for games and from the looks of it, the kids had lots of fun! (I think the leader’s did, too!)


We love the music and lessons we’ve been learning. Parents, we’re anxious to show you what we’ve been learning. Join us Friday for our closing program at 11:00AM.

Each morning we’ve been hearing from Joseph, himself, as he tells his story and truths from the Bible, including: God gives us hope and wisdom. Tomorrow we learn about……I guess you’ll have to wait and see!

Children’s Volunteer, You Are The Awesome Secret Sauce

Dear Children’s Volunteer,

Thank you. Thank you for being on the frontlines of ministry each week. You play a unique role to help shape the future of a child’s life. There are not enough thank-you cards to say how grateful we are. Week by week, you plant and share God’s truth in a relational way kids can put into practice. You prepare before you arrive on Sunday. You meet kids in their world to help them talk through and embrace faith. Thank you for choosing to develop relationships with kids to have influence in their lives.

Thank you for taking the time to love and know these children. This is no ordinary volunteer job you take on. There are some not-so-nice things, and some wonderful things happening. We know that at every phase in a child’s life there is culture to contend with. Look at you . . . taking time to learn what’s happening in each age and phase of a child’s life that you serve. You become relational by engaging them in what’s happening in their world. You know that fun matters. You are being and showing Jesus to them. Thank you.

Thanks for doing your homework to learn about things like what current shows kids are watching. You listen for songs that kids are singing. You use this to stay “in tune” (sorry) with a child’s world to have influence. Thanks for learning that Terraria is neither a plant, nor a disease—but a game elementary kids love right now. Thanks for helping understand kids are now wired, and take devices to school for education. Being aware of what’s happening in a child’s life is important. You know this. Thank you.

By staying tuned in to each phase of the kids you serve, you help support the vision of Grace Point. We know that “having common ground with kids to engage them helps create trust.” (Quote from Not Normal.) You meet kids right where they’re at. And then you speak into their lives and apply and introduce them to God’s love through conversation. You help give them a Monday through Saturday faith that they can own and live out. Way to go!

And Volunteer, you bowl us over by how you take a step to reach out to meet and engage parents. You are another voice in a child’s life to help partner with them. You follow up with kids and parents during the week. Why? Because you care about the kids and their families and how you can support them in their faith.

Children’s volunteer, you are the awesome secret sauce to impact kids in our church.

Thank you.