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:

Prayer for New Year and New Decade

Hello GP Family,

As we enter a new year and a new decade, I encourage you to join with me in prayer over the ministries of Grace Point – it is only by God’s grace that we will see Him do exceedingly abundantly more than we ask or think! Consider devoting a day this next week to fasting and concentrated prayer.

Pray for Grace Point Staff and Elders

  1. Pray for unity in decisions about our church’s ministry in 2020.
  2. Pray for clarity and smooth transitions for staff who are moving to new roles.
  3. Pray for effectiveness in meeting ministry goals of 2019-20, and for God-honoring goals for 2020-21.

Pray for Small Groups and Hospitality

  1. Pray for an enthusiastic, united, faithful team to welcome our GP family and new guests into our church each week.
  2. Pray for our GP family to embrace and know that we are ALL part of the Hospitality Ministry as we ALL have a part in creating a welcoming atmosphere.
  3. Pray that our Hospitality Ministry team provides an easy, yet essential place for those new-er to GP to serve.
  4. Pray that our strategy for a “one-stop shop” WELCOME CENTER is effective and served by appropriately-gifted volunteers.
  5. Pray for God’s Word, truth, love and grace to do His beautiful work within our small groups and that they would bear fruit for His glory and purposes.

Pray for Missions

  1. Please continue to pray for Tony Martin and his daughters as they continue to grieve the loss of Gwen.
  2. Please pray for each of our missionaries as they have added responsibilities this time of year. Pray for those who are serving in security-sensitive areas, considering the seeming unrest in many countries.
  3. Please pray for the launch of our FOCUS and that our entire church family would engage in meaningful ways in missions.

Pray for Care Ministries

  1. Please pray for our all of our Care Ministries and for the leaders of each.
  2. Please pray for Barnabas Care Ministry as they provide personal support to individuals.
  3. Please pray for those in need of specialized counseling.

Pray for GP Finances & Operations

  1. Please pray for us to be excellent stewards of all God has given to us at Grace Point.
  2. Please pray that God would be honored in our building, on our property, in our hearts and in our lives.
  3. Please pray that He would bring fruit for His purposes and glory through all the Bible studies, fellowship events, outreaches, retreats, etc., through the year.
  4. Please pray for His continual wisdom, discernment and discretion as we make decisions
    regarding finances and operations.
  5. Please pray for humility, unity, devotion to God, good health and God’s love throughout our staff team and their families.

Pray for Children’s Ministry

  1. Please pray for team building and training happening for the Rainbow Class. Pray specifically for the families ministered to by the Rainbow Class who have great need. Pray they will find respite with us at Grace Point.
  2. Please pray for continued efforts to mentor and grow our 5th – 6th grade boy ministry.
  3. Please pray for evaluation of Children’s Ministry transitions and how we can further support families through mentorship/small groups and healthy transitions from age group to age group.
  4. Please pray that parents and new parents continue to become fully engaged in Children’s Ministry. Pray for ways we can partner to disciple families.

Pray for Student Ministries

  1. That our teens would seek to abide in Jesus so that they may bear fruit that honors Him.
  2. For wisdom and direction for our seniors as they are sending out college applications and making decisions regarding their future.
  3. That our students will have the privilege of seeing their friends come to know Jesus as Savior.
  4. For God to strengthen our adult leadership team.
  5. Praise God for new volunteers with the Student Ministry.
  6. For the parents of students as they seek to model for our students a Christ-centered lifestyle.
  7. For Tony as he seeks to keep a healthy balance between his work schedule and his ministry.
  8. For God to lead the Student Ministry Director/Pastor search process and strengthen all
    aspects of ministry to our teens.
  9. For the winter retreats overall. (7th-8th grade retreat is January 17-19, 9th-12th grade retreat is February 14-16.)

Pray for Worship & Preaching Ministries

  1. Please pray that JESUS ONLY is seen and lifted up. Pray the worship team is behind the
    cross and that God alone is glorified.
  2. Praise the Lord for the addition of Paula Sharik (violin)!
  3. Please pray for the physical strength and health of our team and their families.
  4. Please pray for Shelley as she retires and is planning to move to Florida in the spring/summer. Praise God for her service to Him and to the Grace Point family on the worship team. Please pray the Lord provides for this loss on the worship team of a vocalist and keyboard player.
  5. Please pray for a worship intern over the summer weeks while Darrell is away.

Looking forwarding to what God will do among us in 2020!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Praying with you and for you,
Dave Wolf
Lead Pastor

Elder Prayer (Sunday 12/8/19)

Heavenly Father,

At this time of the year when we remember the first coming of Jesus into the world, we lift up our hearts and voices in praise to You, for sending Your Son to us to be our Savior– so that through Him we can be brought back into right relationship with You and receive Your gift of an eternity with You – by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Heavenly Father, we rejoice when we call to mind the glorious truth that the eternal Light of the world came to earth to become our Redeemer – to give His life for a lost world and to pour peace and hope into the hearts of a people who were estranged from their God. We stand in awe when we recall that He set aside His glory and majesty and closeness with You to take on the form of a man and be born into this world as a tiny, helpless baby, in such humble circumstances. He humbled Himself in obedience to You, and suffered and died a death He did not deserve, so that we can be saved.

Father, may our lives reflect Jesus’ obedience and love as we look back to the first Advent – but help us not forget that there is a future Advent – a second coming when the earth will be filled with Your glory. Lord Jesus, You are returning not as a tiny baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes, but as a conquering King, with power and great glory, to fulfill all promises, to judge with justice, to rule in righteousness.

Lord, I pray that You will find us, Your Church, ready and working, prepared for Your return. And, as much as we pine for the sentimentality of this season, help us to remain mindful that we have a job to do. Purify our hearts and sanctify our lives so that we may serve You in newness of life not only in this special season but every day of our lives.

We come to You this morning with many needs Father. And You already know each and every one. In fact, You have allowed each one into our lives to help us mature and become more like Jesus, and to drive us to dependence on You.

We lift up to You the hurting this season. The grieved, the discouraged, the depressed, the suicidal. Help them know that You not only came near through Jesus so many years ago, but You are near, with them, now. Help this to comfort them.

We lift up to You those with physical ailments of many kinds. Some are irritating, some are life threatening, all are not what we planned for. Help them know that You are able to heal, but that even if You don’t, You are Sovereign and worthy of our praise, and even in sickness, we can be witnesses of Your love, mercy and grace.

We lift up to You financial difficulties of all kinds. Help us not be fearful of or mastered by money, but to place our treasure in Heaven, remembering that You will provide all that we really need when we need it, and if we don’t have it, then it’s a safe bet we probably don’t need it. Our church has a significant budget shortfall Father, move on hearts and provide what we need to do the ministry You have called us to do.

We lift up to You the many events this season. We are thankful for a wonderful turnout and time together for the Women’s Christmas Tea this past week. We humbly lay before You our desire to serve this community this coming Friday night through One Winter Night. So many hours of preparation, so many hands sacrificing time and energy. Use it all Lord, including the parades, to help those who need You to feel Your love, to draw our community to You, and for You to be glorified. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the numbers, regardless of the last-minute glitches, take this our humble offering, be in it, and make much through it.

We are hopeful this season Father. Hopeful that wrongs will be righted, hopeful that hurts will be healed, hopeful that relationships will be restored, hopeful that lives will be changed. You are the God of hope. You have planted hope deep within our souls. By the power of Your Spirit, help us abound in hope. We watch, we wait. Knowing that You are Faithful to complete all that You have purposed. Just as You were Faithful to send Jesus to us that first Christmas, even though the world waited so long. Remind us this season that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by letting us have our own way and getting all that we want, but by allowing us to wait, bearing in love and patience, carrying many unanswered questions, so that we can come to the place where we truly can pray, ‘Thy will be done’.

Thank You, Father, for the Living Hope that we have through the resurrection from the dead of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. It’s in His name we pray all this, Amen.

(David Kneller)

GP FOCUS Process – Update

Thank you to the many folks who have been praying for the FOCUS process! It has been an exciting journey seeing God work and lead us over the last several months. A lot has been happening behind-the-scenes and it’s time for an update!

First, I thought I should give you a brief overview of the FOCUS process and what we hope it will accomplish for our church. We hope and pray that the FOCUS process will allow us as a church to bring some clarity and focus to our missions efforts, and address how we can engage in missions – locally, regionally, and globally.

FOCUS is an acronym that stands for:

  • F – First Priority – The selected FOCUS project and/or initiative will be the missions project that we talk about the most – whether that is from the stage on Sunday mornings or in our regular publications. When it comes to mission-related opportunities, we’ll consider our FOCUS first, then look at other ideas. This will include short-term mission trips, potential new missionary candidates, special offerings and other opportunities.
  • O – Objectives Oriented – The FOCUS will be based on specific objectives that are established by our global partner(s) and/or missionaries. A major aspect of a FOCUS is to come alongside them and help them accomplish their ministry goals and objectives.
  • C – Collaborative – We will select and work closely with ministry partners to help them accomplish their goals and determine what we can learn from them in true partnership. There is much we can learn from this process as well.
  • U – Unleashed Potential – We have many people within our church family who are highly-skilled and gifted in a number of areas. We hope that our FOCUS will provide multiple opportunities to engage and mobilize our people for significant missions impact using their gifts, skills and expertise. That may include you!
  • S – Strategic – We don’t ever want to engage in any missions project without a strategy. Our FOCUS will have a determined strategic emphasis that will help us all to stay on task and prayerfully focused on what God would have us to learn and accomplish through this process.

The FOCUS process began last fall, and in January the FOCUS Selection Team was assembled with the specific task of selecting GP’s next missions FOCUS project. Over the last several months, the FOCUS Selection Team wrestled with a number ideas and issues, attempted to map our missions DNA as a church, conducted research and narrowed our many, many options down to two.

While there were many worthy missions projects from which to select and with which to engage, we had to evaluate multiple factors and make a decision based on what we believe would be a good fit for Grace Point at this time. It was not an easy task!

The FOCUS Selection Team has narrowed the potential projects down to the following:

  • Lebanon – working with the Kinship Network to equip church leaders and reach refugees and Muslims from both Lebanon and Syria.
  • Thailand – working with Converge International missionaries in Bangkok to help start and support English schools – each of which are tied to a local church. Other opportunities may include assisting with a ministry that helps victims and those rescued from the sex trafficking industry.

Personally, I’m praying that our FOCUS will engage our entire church in meaningful and impactful ways – so much so that all of us become more missions-minded to reach our friends and neighbors and to help us accomplish our FOCUS, and live out our vision of building bridges for life change through Christ.

What’s Next?
The next step in the FOCUS process is to send survey teams to each country with the goal to evaluate things on the ground, meet with the national leaders, identify national facilitators, and gain a clearer understanding of what God is already doing in their ministries. We will be sending two small teams made up of members from the FOCUS Selection Team this summer. While some logistics are not confirmed at this time, we have the dates for our trips.

  • Lebanon – July 25 to August 1
  • Thailand – August 21 to 28

For now, you can join our prayer team. You can sign-up online using this form, in the foyer at the Missions Wall or send an email to “go@gracepointpa.org” to be added to the list.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is exciting! I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made and look forward to what God has in store for us as a church!

Lastly, I’d like share our appreciation for Ellen Livingood, who has led our FOCUS Selection Team and really helped us prayerfully wrestle with the key ideas and issues related to missions. Ellen is a tremendous asset to us as a church and many other churches through her ministry. You can learn more about Ellen’s work with Catalyst Services on their website here: https://catalystservices.org/

Thank you, again, for praying! More details to come!

Resources for the Great Commission

Link to video used in 4/28 messageWorld map – What is a UPG?

Joshua Project – organization that tracks evangelism progress around the world, specifically Unreached People Groups.

Operation World, a classic book continually updated to inform our prayers for the peoples of the world.

Information on the FOCUS Process, in which Grace Point is currently prayerfully engaged, as we ask the Lord where He would have us concentrate our outreach efforts regionally and globally over the next 3-5 years.

Converge Worldwide (the church association with which Grace Point partners) is asking God to create a gospel movement among every least-reached people group, in our generation. Read more about Converge Missions here.

Perspectives Class at Cairn University. Perspectives is a 15 week life and learning opportunity that will change the way you view the world around you. In it, you will have your eyes opened to the heart and purpose of God, and how you can take part in His work all over the world, from the urban streets of America to the rain forest and deserts of distant lands.

Examine the Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection

387196_SERMONgraphics_031819

“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

Advent Conspiracy – video

Here is the link to the Advent Conspiracy video we watched together in Sunday’s service!

Advent-Conspiracy-for blog

Consider having a conversation with your family about “doing Christmas differently this year.” Here are some discussion questions you might use to engage your family in the decision:

  • What do you like, or not like about the idea of giving each other fewer presents this year?
  • What are different kinds of gifts we could give to one another that don’t cost a lot of money?
  • What activity could we do together to make a memory that lasts longer than a physical gift?
  • How could we collect the money we save from shopping in a visible way (maybe a container in the kitchen) to give toward clean water for people in need?