Is Summer Just a Memory?

campNow that the majority of people are facing colder weather, what better time to share the warmth of God’s love. God has been doing some remarkable things and sometimes it’s difficult to catch my breath, so let me take a few minutes to recap the summer for you.

  • 36 people from 6 different churches, ranging in age 9 to 58, comprising 3 mission teams, headed to Arizona, Virginia and Maryland to share love and labor.
  • We conducted sports camp and a kids weeklong camp. The teams distributed school backpacks, helped with two community outreaches and performed renovations on a home in Arizona and 2 common rooms at the Peninsula Dream Center.
  • A monetary investment in the kingdom totaled $24,720.
  • The teams also provided employment for 6 people during 2 of the trips.
  • If that weren’t enough, God worked in the hearts of people and we saw 78 first time salvations, 14 water baptisms and 12 Holy Spirit baptisms.

God was working on so many layers during these trips it was awe inspiring to watch. I watched individual’s worldview change as they experienced new cultures. I saw inclusive teams become all inclusive of the new people they met on the teams.father_son I watched youth groups draw closer together and I saw relationships built between team members and the people they met on location. Perhaps some of the most touching moments I was allowed to watch were the relationships that were growing between father and son. As I watched them pray together and share the day’s events or as I watched them work and play side by side, I couldn’t help but think of the relationship that Father God wants with each of us. He wants to be part of our everyday lives. He wants to hear about our challenges, concerns, heartaches and needs as much as he wants to hear about our successes, joys and dreams. When we allow Father God to truly be our father, then we will see our lives become FULL!

baptismTeam members weren’t the only ones to feel the presence and power of God over the summer. One of the most powerful moments for me was the day we took camp to the river side and baptized 14 children in water. Each person chose who they wanted to perform the baptism. Some chose their pastor or a parent but for me seeing some of the kids choose a teen team member to baptize them, now that was special. As the entire camp stood on the bank and watched, 13 children and 1 adult made their way into the water where they were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. What a sweet spirit next to that river. What must it have been like or felt like when John baptized Jesus in a river as the people stood on the bank and watched?

Though summer is behind us, who we have become was impacted by the remarkable moments and memories we experienced. This past summer changed lives for eternity and that is something that can NOT be forgotten.

PDC team

 

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.

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!

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.

 

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.

KidzFest brings in the Harvest!

“Well, howdy folks. It’s so nice of you to come to help bring in the harvest. We have allot to do before the cold weather sets in. I suppose we should start with the corn, then we can move to the potatoes and last but not least the pumpkins. There’s a harvest that needs to be brought in as the impending cold weather approaches. It’s a good thing I have Fearless Fran to help,” says Harvestor Harriet.

Although Fearless Fran made out to be tough and that she wasn’t afraid of any situation we soon found out that she needed more help than she let on and that’s where all the kids came in. They helped teach Fran about courage and in the process they learned that the greatest courage they could show was when they made a commitment to follow Jesus and to ask for forgiveness that only Jesus can give.

For three evenings the kids learned that courage comes from knowing God and asking Him to help in difficult situations. They learned that true courage is being able to stand up for what they believe is right even when other people don’t agree and that courage gives them hope and a future through knowing and relying on Jesus.

50 people, children and adults, had the courage during those three evenings to ask Jesus into their lives and to show them the way to true joy and happiness through a relationship with Him. Ohio Valley Christian Center’s fellowship in Wheeling WV had brought in a harvest that yielded new members into the family of God.

The three evenings ended with a time of celebration as the kids enjoyed, food, inflatables, games and candy. What an evening of rejoicing it was but nothing compared to the rejoicing in heaven over the people that made decisions to follow Jesus.

Job 33:28 “He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.”

One Week to change a Nation!

White Mountain Apache reservation will never be the same! Why? Because 26 people from 4 different churches and 3 states converged in Phoenix to serve the people in and around Whiteriver. The goal was simple; reach the people with the love of Jesus. This goal was three-fold; Mega Sports Camp for the children, a work project to benefit a resident of the reservation and community outreach events to reach children in the outlying areas.

This team consisted of 13 adults and 13 children between the ages of 8 and 16. After spending 8 days with this group of people, I’m convinced that not only was it God led but the team was also hand picked by God. Everyone was focused and driven to complete whatever task was before them. From sunrise to sunset the team gave all they had to impact this community.

Children built relationships with the team as they played together and shared their lives with each other through sports camp and huddle groups. Friendships were forged and at the end of the week many children gave their lives to Jesus.

In the afternoon the team personalized the work project as they took the vision of the children’s minister and applied it to the children’s building. From one end of the building to the other they organized, labeled, constructed a puppet stage and puppet rack, painted ceilings, floors and murals on the wall, scrubbed floors, replaced a toilet, tore out the rotting kitchen sink and counter, replacing it with a utility sink, hung new window treatments and by the end of the 3 days of renovation the building had been transformed.

Evenings took us to the street where we were able to share the message of Jesus in fun and relevant ways and then distributed the Book of Hope to each and every one there.

Lives were changed that week. Children like Tatiyana who received hope as she prayed with the team on Sunday evening. Or Titus that stood on the side lines and wouldn’t join the fun until different people on the team became friends with him. He was accepted and loved unconditionally. There were at least 35 children that made decisions to follow Jesus that week.

An organized and refreshed children’s building provided the encouragement needed for an overwhelmed and tired children’s ministry leader to regain her passion for teaching the children.

And the team members themselves were changed as their flames were turned up a notch and they found a renewed desire to push forward in their own ministries at home.

I stand amazed at how much God can do in the lives of people in such a short period of time. Removed from cell phone signal, Facebook, twitter, and emails the team was able to connect with God and with other people in very special ways.

If you would like to be part of a team in the future, send me a message and I’ll inform you of upcoming trips. But, only send me a message if you are ready for a life changing experience!!

Day of HOPE

“It’s a little relief and a chance to get away,” said Jeannette Bollack, who came with her 5-year-old granddaughter to Convoy of Hope.

Bollack, who lives in Frederick, said her daughter, 21, has cancer, and her dialysis costs $25 every other day. Money is tight, and there are many things her granddaughter, Mckala Swope, can’t have, Bollack said. But Convoy of Hope offered Mckala the chance to run in the kids zone, jump in the moon bounce and get her face painted, all for free.

But the most valuable free gift she had the opportunity to receive was eternal life that only comes from the forgiveness Jesus offers.

Being part of the Kids Zone activities and sharing the message of Jesus’s love is one of the highlights of my year. Taken from the organizations name, our goal was to provide HOPE to those who came through the ministry tent.

Rotating with a team of kids from Damascus Road Community Church, together we presented the gospel in a kid friendly fashion giving all who entered an opportunity to ask for Jesus’ forgiveness and to invite Him into their lives.

We began our presentations of the gospel at 9:45 am and every 15 minutes gave HOPE to all who entered, adults and children alike. We continued until 1:45 pm at which point we realized that over 2000 had heard the gospel and over 200 had prayed a prayer of forgiveness.

It was a day of HOPE!

 

We are Privileged

I was sifting through some old documents and came across this letter that my friend and fellow Pastor Oning Diayon wrote about a year ago. I thought it was worth resurfacing to remind us of all the great privileges we have as a child of God.

Dear Friends,
As we accept Jesus in our heart we receive the privileges that are promised by Our Heavenly Father.  Sometimes we don’t use  these privileges because we are intimidated by other people. But yesterday and today I better understood why find it difficult to stand up for the privileges given to us by God. It goes like this.

I live in Davao city, our transportation is primarily by jeepney. Jeepney is similar to a bus but smaller and seats up to 20 people. Wherever we go, we are going to use this kind of transportation. Many people call this a public utility jeepney.  Our government gives us discounts on our transportation if we are more than 60 years of age or are a student. Therefore the elderly and students don’t need to pay full price. They are only required to pay 80% of the full fare. I am a student and go to college so I can benefit from this discount.

On one of my many trips in a jeepney, I start paying the discount amount. The driver stared at me and gave me a bad look because I only paid the discount fare. I told him I was a student but still he gave me a bad look. I was not intimidated into paying the full fare because in my mind, “I had the right to do this.”  To further prove that I was entitled to the discount  I showed my Identification card to the driver and he finally believed me. I was not afraid of the driver because I knew my rights.  The driver did not believe me because I am a big man and maybe he was thinking that it was impossible for me to become a student. The only thing that convinced him was when I showed my identification card.

As a christian, we feel awkward if people know that we are followers of Jesus Christ. We don’t take advantage of our privileges because we don’t want to be seen as different. We are afraid that people might stare at us and call us wierd.

As we accept Jesus in our heart we are become the first-born and the first have privileges that can’t be imagined.
We have the privilege to teach other people about Christ.
We have the privilege to pray, reachout and many other things that God gives us.

You may not know your privileges or you’re just too shy to use them.
Don’t waste your chances! Use it or lose it
In His Kingdom, Oning

Khamani Meets Jesus today!

Khamani is one of those lives that was impacted for eternity. As I sat and talked with him in the prayer tent and got to know a little bit about he and his family we had opportunity to talk about Jesus. After sharing what we both knew about Jesus, Khamani, 6 years old, prayed and asked Jesus into his life. That is a life that will be changed for eternity. Many more made that same decision today. In comparison, what God accomplished that day in the lives of people all over Hagerstown made all of the work and efforts of the volunteers seem miniscule.

“I have come so that people may live and that they may enjoy life to the full” John 10:10

Among the many tents, the mounds of groceries, the variety of inflatables, the thousands of hotdogs and the numerous carnival games you find God’s most amazing creation…people! Today Convoy of Hope partnered with local churches and volunteers from the Greater Hagerstown area to bring hope to those who may be struggling financially and spiritually. Convoy of Hope is a faith-based organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, disaster response and partner resources.

Families received assistance in the way of food, haircuts, access to various community agencies, clothing and shoes. Today people were given hope and help as our honored guests. From medical and dental care to family portraits, people were shown the love of Jesus. It was a time to invest in the lives of others and Rusty and I were privileged to be part of what God was doing today in Hagerstown.

The Kids Zone is perhaps my most favorite area. There is no greater joy than to see the smiles on the faces of parents and children alike as they race from one fun activity to the other. In a world where pressures of life effect even the youngest of children, today they were allowed to just be kids. Whether they were jumping, running, fighting wanna-be pirates or waiting patiently for a balloon animal, kids brought excitement and energy to the festivities.

Many lives will be impacted today, some for a few hours, other for a few weeks and some for eternity.

Galatians 6:10 “Whenever we have opportunity we should do good to everyone.”