Finish the Race

I have been consumed with planning for the upcoming summer ministry opportunities. The amount of details can be overwhelming and I’m thankful that I do have an administrative streak in my personality. But that being said, the details do get exhausting and it would be easy to just throw up my hands and say “enough is enough, that detail can go by the wayside”.

After a 14 hour day in the office yesterday, I made it a priority to get out today for a run and some running prayer time.ben running I was 3.25 miles into the run with .75 miles yet to go and I said, “I’ve had enough. I’m texting my husband to come get me”. Now that in itself would be a miracle because I don’t generally get cell signal here but I sent the following text message regardless, “Come get me. End of road”. At that point my phone went dead. There was no more battery. Was that a sign from God. Was I also done? How would my husband know what road? I hadn’t told him my route. I couldn’t call or text any further details. I sat down hoping beyond hope that he had received my text but I had my doubts so I did the only thing I could in the current situation. I got up and began walking, up the .75 mile incline to our house. This is the same hill that my kids would ride down on their bikes to go to their grandparents house and then call us to come pick them and their bikes up so that they wouldn’t have to pedal or push their bikes back home. I kept telling myself, “I can finish this. I can make it to the house”.  12 minutes later I was in the driveway and pretty proud of myself for pushing on and finishing the run, even if the last .75 miles was walking. I had finished the race.

Acts 20:24 says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” This summer for me is about finishing the race and completing the task that Jesus has given me – the task of sharing the gospel with kids. The details can be overwhelming and exhausting but they are part of the task. No race is easy and not all tasks come without effort and challenges. I am honored that Jesus has given me the task of sharing the love and forgiveness of Jesus with children and I will run the race until He has told me that I am finished.

 

Credit for the runner in the pictures goes to a good friend, Ben Emmons. He’s not only a marathon runner but a spiritual runner and is impacting lives for eternity.

Encourage a Missionary Today

Stephen Covey wrote in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

When a person receives encouragement they move forward in who God has called them to be and what He has called them to do. Hebrews 3:13 says,

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

In my opinion there is nothing greater than the encouragement that comes from a child. It is pure and expressed from a heart that is learning to think and value others above themselves.

boy writingTeach the children in your lives to encourage someone today. Give them a post card that is addressed and stamped to a missionary that you or your church supports. Let them know that everyone struggles with temptation and sin, even teachers and pastors and missionaries. There are no “Super Christians” and everyone needs encouragement to live for God. Ask them to write a note of encouragement to the missionaries that these post cards have been addressed to. Encourage them to write a note of encouragement and sign only with “someone who cares” or “a friend in Christ” or something that lets them know someone is praying for them.

Option: If you are asking your children’s class to do this as a group, have them write the cards, collect them and have the church office add the postage and mail so that you can monitor what was written before mailing.

Today they could make a difference in someone’s life. Don’t miss giving this opportunity to a child!

 

Coffee vs. the cup

mugs verticalA group of successful college alumni got together to visit their old professor, and the conversation quickly turned into complaints about stress of their demanding jobs. The professor brought out a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – ranging from exquisite porcelain, crystal, and glass cups to some plain paper and Styrofoam cups – and told them to help themselves to coffee.

When everyone had a cup of coffee in their hand, the professor said, “Did anyone notice that all the fancy, expensive cups were chosen, leaving behind the plain cups? While it’s normal for us to want only the best, that is often the source of our problems and stress. The cup itself adds no quality to the coffee, rather it often just makes it more expensive and can even hide what we drink. All you each wanted was coffee, not the cup, but everyone desired the best cups, and even began comparing and envying each other’s cups.”

Here’s the way I see this Christmas season: Christ is our coffee. All the decorations, gifts, party preparations, are the cups. The type of cup we have does not define or change who Jesus is and why He came to earth, yet all too many of us concentrate on only the cup and fail to enjoy the coffee. The happiest people don’t have the best of everything – rather they have Jesus and everything else is irrelevant.

Priceless!

I’ve been in the process of reporting how the “Homes of Hope” funds were spent and as I was giving account of the cost for every item purchased, in the end all I could say to what happened on that Apache Reservation was “PRICELESS”. I want to thank each and everyone of you for praying, giving, and going so that others might have HOPE. Because of you, lives have been changed for eternity. That is “PRICELESS”

instrumental collageTake a look at what your generosity helped provide in the community of Whiteriver AZ, White Mountain Apache Reservation.

Washer
Dryer
Gas range
Refrigerator
CD player
2 Burner hotplate
2 floor fans
Slow cooker
Cookware
Dinnerware
Utensils
Bathroom towels for 7
New Windows
Protective bars for windows
Outdoor shed
Laundry room addition
Bathroom renovations
Bathroom fixtures
Kitchen plumbing
Bedroom renovations
Carpet
Paint
3 bunkbeds
6 mattresses
6 sets of bed linens
6 pillows
6 blankets
Electrical repairs to church
Block for retaining wall
Block for room foundation
Masonry tools and supplies
Cement
New laminate floor for 4 rooms
School uniforms for 8 kids (5 sets each)
Winter coats for 8 kids
Drywall
Nails
Roll roofing
Felt paper
Basketballs
PomPoms
Sculpting balloons
Water coolers
Sports camp snacks
Exterior door
Light fixtures
Fender portable sound system
Speaker stands
3 weeks employment for 3 families
and much more…..

In total $30,962.48 was invested in the community of Whiteriver AZ, touching more than 10 families with renovations and/or building supplies, 2 families with school uniforms and 3 families with employment during our 3 week stay in that community. Not to mention the many families that allowed their kids to attend MegaSports Camp or Extreme VBS where each child had opportunity to invite Jesus into their hearts and lives.

God is not done in that community and there are still people that need the hope that only Jesus can give. As we look forward to next year we are planning to return with another team to continue the work of the ministry that God has called us to.

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

 

HELP THE PROJECT

You can help us continue to bring hope to children and their families by donating to “Homes of Hope”. When designating funds to this project be sure to indicate “Class 43-Homes of Hope” in the COMMENTS area before submitting form.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW

In The Masters Hands!

It’s been about 2 months since the teams completed their work on the Apache Reservation in Whiteriver Arizona and I am still sharing testimony of what God was able to accomplish through 66 obedient men, women and children. It still amazes me that God orchestrated 3 teams in such a way that I saw sheer perfection in how we were able to complete 2 weeks of sports camp, 1 week of VBS, a bathroom renovation, a laundry room addition, repairs to the church, the building of an outdoor storage shed and the complete renovation of a room that would provide a bedroom for 6 children. Let me share how God’s hand was on this team from the very beginning.

As teams were submitting their applications to be part of the 3 weeks in AZ, I could not have purposely organized the teams with such strategy and wisdom. Each week seemed like random selection to me but in the hands of the Lord the teams were created into a masterpiece.

The projects we would undertake were determined in advance of the teams arrivals. Week 1 of the trip we needed skilled laborers in the areas of masonry, flooring, and drywall. We had people on the team that could perform those tasks and we had no one skilled in plumbing or electrical. Yet we had the people needed for that week

wk2collage

Week 2 we were ready for rough carpenters, inside carpenters, and plumbers. We had people on the team that could perform those tasks and no one that could do masonry or electrical. We had the people with the skills needed for that week and no more.

wk3collage

Week 3 we needed an electrician, painters, inside carpenters and room decorators. We had people on the team that could complete the projects that had been started and no masons, or plumbers as part of the team. But, we had everyone we needed to finish that work. No more or no less.

God had orchestrated the team with members that could perform the skills needed on each particular week. What I thought was being left to chance was “The Master” orchestrating every detail so that His will could be accomplished.

I stand in awe of Him!

Homes of Hope Launched

HomeOfHope logo-01Homes of Hope was launched this past week as part of iRock Ministries. We saw a need after visiting the Apache Reservation in 2011 and it is our desire to give families a chance to raise their children in an environment where they can thrive and feel secure. By providing a hand up to those currently living in homes that are unsafe, we are showing them how God cares and provides for His children through the generosity of others. I’d like to introduce you to Ronnie.

ronnie

Since the age of 12, Ronnie was lured  by satan and his life led him to alcohol and drugs. He found himself on the ‘other side of the tracks’ where he had no hope and his life nearly ended tragically.

24 years ago, following a near fatal stabbing, Ronnie gave his life and his heart to the Lord. Ronnie now ministers to teens that have been deceived by Satan and fallen into a similar trap.

Life is hard on the reservation and often times when young parents feel trapped and without hope they will drop their kids off with anyone that is willing to take care of them. That is how Ronnie came to have five of his grandchildren living with him. Wanting to protect his grandchildren from going down the same path he did he took them into his home and is providing for them as best he can.

ronnies houseRonnie’s life has not been easy and although he works full time delivering propane, he is living in a 24′x30′, 2 bedroom house that has been condemned by the Apache Tribe Housing Authority. Currently the children sleep wherever they can find a space, there is no functional kitchen sink, the windows have all been broken out by vandals, and scorpions in the house are not uncommon.

This story is all too common on the reservation. Every day parents worry how they are going to provide for their families and where they will get food. Needless to say, home renovations are not high on their priority list. And that’s how Homes of Hope became part of the mission of iRock Ministries.With all the other things that worry parents, you can help bring hope to the least of these so that children and their families can go to bed at night and not worry about the repairs that are needed on their homes.

God’s word says, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

Here’s a few ways you can get Involved with Homes of Hope.

  1. Join our mission team
  2. Join our construction team
  3. Donate toward building materials

We have construction teams ready to go and build 2 new homes and make countless repairs but are in need of funds.

Your donation will purchase materials that will stop a leaky roof, bring water into the house, repair walls and ceilings that have been water damaged, provide safe bedrooms for children and so much more.

Don’t hesitate, Donate NOW!! Homes of Hope teams build more than shelter – they build hope.

 

 

I Have Cancer. Please Pray!

I feel as if I fell off the social grid from June through September.

For a children’s missionary the summer months are the busiest. God did great things! We rejoiced with a minimum of 121 first time decisions to follow Jesus, 8 baptisms in the Holy Spirit, 12 children called to ministry, 28 healings and countless lives changed for eternity. In all that was done over the summer I can only credit Jesus with the transforming power I saw working in the lives of kids.

The following story will give you an idea of what God was doing in the heat and humidity of these four months.

It was the beginning of the fourth week of kids camps. God had really spoken to my heart as I traveled the hour and half to Gore VA. This was the year to focus on the fact that “Jesus Saves”. The staff had been oriented, preparations were complete and we anxiously awaited the arrival of more than 250 campers and chaperones. As each church arrived, kids were greeted, chaperones given instructions and Jesus was invited to be part of all that happened that week.

Right before service, I was handed a letter, written on the back of a Sunday School paper, and it read,

As I read the letter tears came to my eyes and I was hit hard with the reality that Isaiah, more than anything needed the healing power of Jesus. As I shared this letter with Josh, the other director, I could see the wheels turning. The next thing I heard was let’s call Isaiah and have the entire camp pray for him over the phone. And that we did.

Two weeks later, while ministering on the Chippewa Reservation in Minnesota, I receive an email from Isaiah’s children’s pastor. Here’s what it said, “First off, his mother told me that when we called him from camp and had the whole camp pray for him, there was a nurse (an unbeliever) taking Isaiah’s vitals while we were praying. The nurse began crying and told Isaiah’s mother that that was the most beautiful thing she had ever witnessed! God used the prayers of children to touch this woman’s heart!!!

Second, Isaiah went in for a PET Scan yesterday…they couldn’t find any evidence of cancer in this chest, lungs, etc. The only thing they saw was that his spleen was enlarged and looked like it had a spot. The doctors were going to run another scan on Monday, but today they decided to go ahead and scan the area again…they couldn’t find anything!!! They have declared him cancer free!!! The spleen is still enlarged, but no cancer!! As a precaution, the doctors want Isaiah to have 2 more chemo treatments…but, we’re believing that God will complete the healing so that he won’t have anymore treatments.

Please share this with your kids and keep him and his family in your prayers!

Can you say…….GLORY!!!! Blessings, LaDona”

Isaiah continues to be cancer free. As I’m traveling I take every opportunity to share Isaiah’s testimony. We need to be reminded that God not only hears but also answers our prayers and the prayers of children.

Isaiah is not the only kid that faces difficulties, struggles, hardships and yes, death. We can’t forget that adult issues are becoming more and more prevalent in the lives of children. We MUST pray for children and through the knowledge of Jesus, give them hope and a future. Thank you for being part of our ministry. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for your words of encouragement. But most importantly thank you for sharing Jesus with others.

 

Children’s Pastors take Vacation?

Being a children’s pastor myself, at one point, I found it very difficult to actually take a vacation where I wasn’t preparing for the following Sunday. I would even plan to leave on a Sunday and return Saturday so that I wouldn’t miss a service. Why? Mostly because I wanted to make sure that every service was delivered with excellence. You knew the importance of those two hours each week and you wanted to make sure they connected with Him.

There were certainly other members of the ministry team that could oversee the service but when you invest in the kids the way a children’s pastor does you want to make sure everything points them to Jesus. Besides, it was my responsibility, not my teams. Or that’s the way I would think. (That’s a lesson for another time)

Now that my role has changed to a Children’s Missionary, that’s when I was blessed to be able to help. One of the great joys of being a missionary is being able to fill the pulpit when a children’s pastor wants to take a vacation. That’s why I’m glad God informally added “Assume the role of the children’s pastor while they are on vacation” to my ministry description.

I love coming into a church, partnering with the ministry team and serving alongside of them to conduct service. I know that I’m helping to bring some much needed rest to a servant of God. God himself rested but often times our Children’s Pastors don’t find that rest frequent enough. I am able to focus full-time in preparation for that service thus relieving the anxiety of the children’s pastor trying to make sure everything is covered that day.

Even when I do assume their role they are still checking in with me to make sure everything is in place and people have showed up on time and I have everything I need. They want the best for the kids in their congregation. They exemplify the saying “Ministry is a lifestyle, not a job”.

Thanks to all those who serve in a full-time role as Children’s Pastors. May you be renewed in strength, mind and spirit as you occasionally take the opportunity to rest from your responsibilities of pastoring children.

Fish Tank from Heaven

Has God ever provided you with something you needed without even asking? Well, in my case it was a 10 gallon fish tank. Let me explain.

I had been planning to speak at a girls retreat for three weekends in June. As part of my planning I generally have a long list of props that I need to gather together that will help demonstrate my message. This year the topic was “That None should perish” and God gave me this great object lesson using fish which naturally needed a fish tank and in this case I needed two 10 gallon tanks. I had one tank stashed away in our garage but needed a second.

I began my search by asking family, friends and Pastor LaDona at my home church. But, to no avail. After exhausting my resources I had reserved myself to the fact that I would just have to buy one. A $30 investment to help the girls understand the importance of sharing the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, a small price to pay although I certainly didn’t like the idea of spending $30 on a tank that I might never use again. Oh, well.

Pastor LaDona was helping me with some of the other props on my list as well as some much appreciated printing and laminating. You’ve got to understand that I will beg, borrow and steal, well not steal, but I will beg and borrow anything I can to avoid buying an item that I might need. I’m pretty well known for that. Anyway, I knew that Pastor LaDona had been gathering together some items for me and out of the blue I called one morning to see if I could stop by and pick them up. Without hesitation she told me to come by and what she didn’t have gathered together we would go retrieve from their wealth of props in the church.

When I arrived we pulled everything together and she said that as she drove in that morning she happened to notice something outside of the “Shoe and Clothing Drop” container in the back parking lot. I’ve used this container in the past and it is clearly marked “Shoes and Clothing ONLY”. LaDona had seen what appeared to be trash placed outside the container. She drove by to see and thought she’d have to take it to the dumpster but upon further inspection thought it was a fish tank and suggested I drive by and take a look before leaving. She knew that I was looking for some type of tank.

Knowing that LaDona would never lead me down the wrong path, I loaded up my stash and headed to the “Shoe and Clothing ONLY” container to check it out. To my surprise there in front of the container was a 10 gallon fish aquarium, exactly what I needed. God had placed a fish tank in front of the “Shoe and Clothing ONLY” container on the very day and time that I would be gathering up other props. Perhaps this could be considered the “steal” part of the beg, borrow and steal because right there and then I scooped up that tank, put it in the back of my prius and off I went as happy as a clam. I proceeded to call my closest friends to share in the excitement and jubilation of knowing that God provided a fish tank just for me.

God cares about the details and wants to give us every good and perfect gift from above and on this particular day that perfect gift happened to be a fish tank.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Operation INASMUCH

What happens when you give over 600 volunteers, 35 churches and 6 community agencies the opportunity to serve their community as one? Well, homes get repaired, landscaping is completed, blood is donated, food banks are stocked, clothing is distributed, the elderly are appreciated and the love of Jesus is shown to an entire community. It’s my second year being part of Tappahannock Operation INASMUCH and to see so many people come together, crossing denominational lines, with one goal, to serve as Jesus served, gives us a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven one day.  To see people come together to meet the needs of people exemplifies the goodness in humanity.

Each year brings new hope. Seeing the commitment of Gleta and Steve as they dedicate countless hours to reaching the children in Tappahannock with the love of Jesus is such a source of encouragement. Watching the kids as they give their time making crafts to bring joy to the elderly and seeing a community join forces as one demonstrates the spirit of unity in Christ.

As part of that day I was given the privilege of spending some time teaching the kids the importance of serving others. I encourage you to raise up your kids to serve others as Christ served us. Let Jesus be the everlasting example of how we should commit our lives to meeting the needs of others. Allow them to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, make new friends, give clothes to those in need, take care of the sick, and visit those imprisoned.

As it says in Matthew; “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, INASMUCH as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.”