St. Charles Area FCA's New Director

As school bells once again echo down the halls of area high schools, Christian athletes called "huddle leaders" will hold regular meetings with classmates and teammates.  Connected by a love of sports, they will explore the Bible and discuss what it means to live for Christ on and off the playing field.  Dave Meers recalls how these very gatherings with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), decades ago, helped shape him into the man he is today.

Now, with a total of 30 years of coaching under his belt, this former college-level athlete is fully engaged in this organization at a new level and is crossing paths with teammates, coaches, and players he met over the years.  He is amazed at how God, all through the years, was weaving the details together for His current ministry assignment!

In fact, a career change wasn't really on Dave's radar.  He had recently sold his physical therapy business, agreeing to a lengthy employment contract with the new owners.  He had served on the Board of Directors for FCA, but didn't realize that God had even bigger plans.  So, when former St. Louis Cardinal Ricky Horton and FCA St. Louis Area Director Mike Hansen asked Dave to become the Area Director for St. Charles County, he couldn't help but see the looming obstacles. It would be unlikely that he could be released from his employment contract, and the Meers family income would be slashed considerably.  Dave and Stacy Meers prayed about it, knowing God would have to move those obstacles if it was His will. 

Before long, Dave knew he needed to take a step of faith and ask to be released from his binding work contract.  He was released with no repercussions! Momentum was building as he clearly saw God forging a path.  Dave knows none of the many details that fell into place were coincidental.  Filling just the right number of hours and days on his calendar, Dave was given an opportunity to continue as a therapist part time to close the budget gap for the family! This was just another confirmation that God was at work.  

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Today, Dave is settled into his role as Area Director, and FCA is one of the only Christian organizations that is still allowed inside public schools.  There is resistance, but the students who lead their teammates in "huddles" are equipped by Dave and other staff members to face it with wisdom, courage, and love.  In fact, right now, 35-40 area high schoolers are attending leadership camps for this very purpose.  Dave stresses the need for prayer support as these camps are completed, and the school year gets underway!

For more information about supporting FCA in St. Charles County, please contact Dave Meers at dmeers@FCA.org.

By Carla Fine

Door-to-Door Gospel in Africa

God has given me a heart for Africa, and this trip was the greatest experience of my life. Linda Beaver

Calvary member Linda Beaver has served on many short-term mission trips to Africa. On her most recent trip, Linda had a desire to do home visitations, and with the help of a local woman named Agatha and local translators, the two women visited homes for six days. They took large bars of soap to each home as a special gift to help clean the body and clothes. The gifts were graciously accepted.

Linda and Agatha then asked if their hosts would like to receive a special gift that could cleanse them on the inside.

 Linda (far right) Agatha (wearing striped scarf)

Linda (far right) Agatha (wearing striped scarf)

 Rejoicing during a home visit

Rejoicing during a home visit

Using a wordless book, they shared the life-changing message of the gospel. Some entire families, including Muslim families, said yes to Jesus! As they began to share the gospel, some would only look at the ground, their eyes downcast and faces weary. But as they prayed to receive the gift of life in Christ time after time, their countenance change, the heads were lifted, smiles appeared, shouts of joy arose. God had done the work to prepare hearts for His Word to come and save!

In six days of many house to house visits, Linda and Agatha prayed with 130 people who for the first time heard and responded to the gospel.

More than One Life Changed

In June 2018, we went on our first mission trip as a family. We chose to serve at Project Manuelito in Honduras. We were not completely sure of what to expect, but had heard from others that this would be an experience to be treasured.

The day we arrived at Project Manuelito we heard a few stories of the tough lives that some of the kids had experienced on the streets before living in “The Project." To many, these stories were heartbreaking, however given my profession as a school counselor, I was hearing similar stories of childhood that I hear on a regular basis. That first evening, our group leader asked about our thoughts from the first day. I shared that these kids’ stories of neglect, abuse, and drugs are similar to the stories I hear from students and families in the United States. As I laid down that evening and reflected on that first day, I was feeling a little disappointed in myself for being insensitive and unfeeling about these kids’ lives and stories. I was also a little discouraged that this trip would be filled with sadness and despair. However, as it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We woke up early the next morning to see all of the kids from town arriving for school. The children were smiling and appeared happy to be there, which again is very similar to what I see each day at my own elementary school. During the morning hours our team assisted with moving bricks and sifting sand to prepare for building onto their school. After lunch, we were given a choice of working with the building materials or hanging out by the dorms to play with any kids that were not working on homework. One of my daughters chose to build, while one chose to stay back in hopes of playing, so I opted to stay back with her. Midway into the afternoon, a truck arrived, pulling up to near where I was sitting. Out of the truck came a man and a woman. A child was sitting in the backseat. The young boy had a look about him that was similar to look that I have seen on several kids I have interacted with over my 20+ years in education. The boy was helped out of the truck. As he stood beside the truck, he looked around and began a repetitive rocking motion. I heard his name was Jefri, and over the next few minutes I just watched and listened. It appeared that this child had some “special” qualities about him. It also appeared that he would be staying for a bit, as the woman had a bag containing two shirts and a pair of pants that she gave to the staff. The woman began to talk with the staff about medication instructions. Shortly after arriving, a photograph was taken of Jefri, and he was sent off to play with one of the young adults at “The Project."

Over the next couple of days, my family was able to spend much time with Jefri. By watching his interactions with others and observing his mannerisms, I felt that I was seeing characteristics of a child with autism. I spoke briefly with Jarvin to share my thoughts, and was told that Jefri's behavior at a previous home was too much for them to handle and that was why he had been sent to Project Manuelito. Jarvin explained that while they had encountered kids with physical limitations and learning problems, they had never had a child with needs like Jefri, and had many questions about how to best support him. It was then that I realized why God had sent us to Project Manuelito this summer. My husband and I have much experience with students with adverse behaviors, kids who get overstimulated easily, kids with communication difficulties, all of which seemed to be impacting Jefri. We could share thoughts and ideas to support Jefri and those at “The Project” during this time of transition. We met with Jarvin and Mae (Jefri’s house parents) to discuss behaviors to look for that would alert them that Jefri was excited or anxious, the importance of routine, and to encourage them that their interactions with Jefri thus far was having a positive effect on him. In just a few days, improvements were already being made.

                      The Wolfe Family

                     The Wolfe Family

As each day passed in Honduras, I reflected on what an incredible place Project Manuelito is. “The Project” is a place where ALL of a child’s needs are met - physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. All who enter are considered family. It is a place of genuine love. It is a place of safety. It is a place of hope. It is a place where God is present everyday.

As we had been told, our trip to Project Manuelito was an amazing experience. God put us there to help with the physical, laborious work of building the school, but also to show care and support to the staff and children living within “The Project.” God also showed me something too. I experienced His goodness and love through Project Manuelito.  

By Christie Wolfe

 

Reality of a Mission Trip

Mission trip. The term meant almost nothing to me except an opportunity to spend time with a close friend, which was more than enough incentive for me to accept the invitation. The description my friend gave of the trip sounded like a manly adventure of demo-ing, building things, and helping people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas.

My limited expectations for the trip faded when reality came into focus: an area of the US crushed by massive volumes of rain leaving behind devastated homes and lives still reeling eight months after the event left the front page of the papers.

Reality was a catastrophic event unique in that, unlike fire, earthquake, explosion and the like, flooding is not an insurable risk unless in a declared flood plain, which much of the impacted area was not. Many people were left on their own to rebuild homes...uninhabitable, stripped of furniture, contents and memories. 

Reality was also seeing firsthand the work of God in His people, transforming destruction one nail, one stroke of paint, one sheet of drywall at a time. 

Reality was my initial expectation for the mission trip giving way to a profound sense of awe in witnessing the love of God shining through the devastation at the intersection of faith and need.

By Phil Chronister

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This three-man mission team left for Houston in June:
Craig Dodson, Gordon Stengel and Phil Chronister

A New Picture of “Family”

While visiting the beach community of Punta Gorda in Roatan, Honduras Calvary missionaries Justin and Ashley Guest met 11-year-old Carlos.* After a short conversation they learned that Carlos lived near where they were staying and everyone became fast friends.

Carlos came often to play and just hang out with the Guests, who have two young boys but he seemed to be drawn by more than just an opportunity to play. Carlos was hungry for God’s love and for a feeling of family. He even had to be lovingly reprimanded when it was discovered he was skipping school to come and be a part of the Guest family household!

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Like most children in the community of Punta Gorda, Carlos does not have a father “in the picture.” His single mother works long hours so, in many ways, Carlos is raising himself. Acute poverty, widespread promiscuity and the resulting sexually transmitted diseases have ravaged the families leaving them broken and in a generational cycle that’s hard to break.

One day, Carlos suddenly turned to Justin and asked, “So, how many kids do you have?”

Justin was confused by his question. Hadn’t he just been playing with their two boys? Carlos continued, “I know about those two but how many do you have with other women?”

Carlos was shocked to learn there were no other women with whom Justin had children. He turned to Ashley, “What about you? How many kids do you have with other men?” Of course, Ashley’s answer was the same.

As the conversation continued, Justin and Ashley were able to share with Carlos that they had been married for more than 10 years. Carlos’ eyes grew big in astonishment!

Justin and Ashley are currently raising the additional support that will be needed to start a community center in Roatan, the island off the northern coast of Honduras where Carlos lives. In this center, kids will be able to be in a safe environment to work on homework, build meaningful relationships and enjoy all kinds of activities that will help them understand God’s perfect plan for their lives according to His Word. It’s also the Guest’s vision to let kids like Carlos see a godly example of a family that loves each other, works through problems and stays together.

It’s a privilege to stand with missionaries like Justin and Ashely Guest, who are offering hope to children like Carlos!

*Names changed to respect privacy

Exchanging Disappointment for Dreams

From the beginning, Calvary Church has been a part of Justin and Ashley Guest’s journey as missionaries to Honduras. During their first 2011 visit to the Manuelito Project headquarters in Talanga, Mark Mouser’s team from Calvary was there to greet them.

The Guests put down deep roots while serving with the Manuelito project. God blessed them with two children who have only known Honduras as their home. It was easy to see that God was using their little family greatly in this transformational ministry to needy Honduran kids. They began to believe over time that this was their life’s work and planned to be there forever.

God had other plans.

In the spring of 2018, God began to make it very clear that their season of ministry at the Manuelito project was coming to a close. It was a realization that was extremely hard to accept, at first. Missionaries are not immune to feelings of disappointment, sadness and even grief during big ministry transitions. Justin and Ashley felt the confusion and loss deeply.

“It was like a dark pit and it felt like there was no coming out of it,” Justin said.

The Guests began to wonder what God would have for them in their next chapter. Would they get secular jobs back in the USA? Should they start a new ministry? They couldn’t imagine doing anything they hadn’t BEEN doing and it seemed overwhelming to think of raising the kind of money that would be necessary to move and start over on a new mission field. During all this pain and uncertainty, though, God was reminding Justin and Ashley of HIS faithfulness. The same God who had carried them through many other trials would get them through these challenges.

In a conversation with one of their mission leaders, a new idea surfaced, seemingly out of nowhere. They were reminded of a mission compound that had been developed but later vacated by missionaries on the island of Roatan, a small island off the northern coast of Honduras. It was suggested they go for a time of rest to consider their future ministry.

On this trip, God revealed the deep needs of the people in the beach community of Punta Gorda. As the Guest family moved about the island, they saw the deep poverty all around them as they encountered hungry children everywhere. Eventually, they began to see deeper layers of need: broken families, widespread promiscuity, an HIV/Aids epidemic (1 in 4 are infected with the disease), and more.

As they tentatively began speaking with church leaders, they learned that an entire generation is growing up without a heart for God and that the church feels ill-equipped to reach this new generation. Every person they met with asked for direction, training and leadership to know what to do. They expressed a need for a community center that could be a hub for leadership training, English classes to help with jobs, homework assistance and a safe place for kids to gather.

The empty building and a home for missionaries was there already. The last decade of ministry had prepared the Guests for just this kind of ministry. God was confirming in the hearts of these hurting missionaries that He does, in fact, have big plans for them.

The grieving for what was left behind has diminished slowly and in its place God has given dreams for what can be.

The Guest family is now at 75% of their needed support. They plan to take a short-term team to do children’s ministry in Roatan this summer and hope to be living there permanently by January 2019.

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God's Healing Touch

While doing some hut-to-hut ministry in Zamiba, we came across a hut where an old man, Acson, and a half dozen of his grandchildren greeted us. We sat in an open hut for an hour encouraging each other in the Lord, as he had been a believer for twenty years already.

At the end of our time with him, we invited him to come to our camp, which was about a hour’s walk away, for one of our night meetings where we sing, dance, and share the Word. Acson responded that he could not because he had a bum knee and couldn’t hope to walk that far. I leaned across the circle, put a hand on his knee, and proclaimed that in Jesus name his knee would no longer have any issues, and it didn’t. In fact, at that moment he stood up with me and we danced around in his yard praising Jesus for his goodness and love.

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My team was in the area for another three days, and every day Acson walked to our camp. He attended meetings around a campfire, the leader’s discipleship meeting we had, and even came to watch the local soccer club whoop us at soccer. The last evening we were there, he stopped by our camp and made sure to say goodbye to me as I was cooking our team dinner.

This 85-year-old’s faith and willingness to walk to meet us was encouraging and absolutely beautiful.

By Tim Wong

To learn more, visit Overland Missions

Sharing God's Amazing Love

 

When I’m doing children’s ministry I love to find the kid that doesn’t fit in. William is exactly that, but not because he is awkward but because he’s disabled. William has a limp in this walk, limited arm mobility, and barely speaks. The moment I saw him I was overwhelmed with God’s love for him.

As I went to speak to him, I noticed some kids making fun of him because he was just starring off into the distance. I sat down next to him and smiled. It took him a few minutes to realize I was friendly but once he did, his whole expression changed. He went from sad and disconnected to full of joy and life.

We spent a lot of time that day laughing and joking. Our lesson that day was David and Goliath. I taught the kids that anyone can be a tool for God; that with God on our side anyone can beat a giant. And that includes William. I like to think that my kindness showed William that he is deeply loved by God and God made no mistake in creating him

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Truthfully, I think William showed me that more than I showed him. I will always remember his joy and smile.

By Missionary Brooke VanZandt Wong

To learn more, visit Overland Missions.

A Day in the Life in Haiti

The Mathis family ministers in Haiti. 

Mwen bezwen ou. I need you. I have a love/hate relationship with these 3 words.

In English we’d simply say, “I need to talk to you”, which is what they are saying but it always comes with an ask. I feel my insides tense up. At times I can say “yes”, but so often my answer is some “form of a no”, because we understand the need to help without hurting in a country where aid has created dependency and hopelessness.

Some days it’s simple…

  • I need paper
  • I need to iron my school clothes
  • I need a copy...this typically comes via a message on my phone as the sun is coming up because they need it by 6:30am, before they head to school
  • I need to do research for a paper at school…can I sit on your porch and use your computer
  • I need help with an assignment
  • I have a cold, a headache…can you give me medicine?
  • They show you open wounds from an accident or illness that need over the counter treatment
  • Ban’m ti dlo souple…can you give me a drink of water?

Some days it’s much more complicated…

  • I don’t have money to go to school
  • I need to borrow money
  • Ban’m dola! Give me a dollar!
  • My family is only eating every 2-3 days
  • Can you ‘take’ my child…my children…as they push them toward you
  • I need help with school, which means paying for school
  • They bring you to an injured person or bring that person to you, and they need a hospital
  • Can you ask your friend to take my children into their orphanage?
  • I’m hungry. Give me something to eat…usually accompanied by a little hand movement that looks like they are slicing their throat and then they point to their stomach and put their hands out
  • I need a job

Last Saturday, “mwen bezwen ou” led to one of the better conversations I’ve had. One of the young men in the youth group we do life with said he wants to understand what it means to follow Jesus. He stopped by again last night with the rest of the gang and we’ll meet today. I’ll put a kreyol Bible in his hands and we’ll begin to look at what God’s word says about becoming a follower of Jesus.

BonDye, mwen BEZWEN OU! God, I need you!     

Meet the Mathis Family

Our family consists of Dave, Sharron, Josh who is 31 and Quinn who is 13. We have been married for almost 31 amazing, challenging, character building years.

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We arrived in Haiti in May of 2014 to begin work with ReachGlobal in Gressier.

Like many families, we were active in our church, our community and with our family. We had a passion for and continue to be involved in discipleship making on several levels.  We’d been very blessed as we served on the local mission field with Calvary joining God in His work, witnessing transformation in the lives of people around us.  

However, through prayer, people and circumstances God drew us to the international mission field.  We had prayed that God would make the “desires of His heart, the desires of our hearts” Psalm 37:3-5.  He faithfully did just that, teaching us to love people, to be available…to go.  He hadn’t just been preparing us, He’d also been at work in our daughter Quinn’s heart as well.

Choosing to follow God has been a choice we’ve wrestled with. It isn’t easy for some of our family or friends, yet we trust God to bring comfort and provide peace within us, as well as those we love. It’s become increasingly challenging as we minister to aging parents from afar.

As the City Team Leaders for ReachGlobal Haiti, it’s our desire to use our years on this earth for His purposes.  We hope that this team might be part of something extraordinary here in Haiti, impossible without God, submitting to His will, following His direction.

Lespwa fè viv! Where there's hope there's life.

Our heartbeat is to disciple ‘disciple makers’ and invest in leadership development through holistic ministry, seeking God’s wisdom as to how to "help without hurting" in a country where aid has created dependency. Si Dye vle (God willing) we’d like to be a part of breaking that cycle. Our focus is resourcing national partners through relationships, with the intent of empowering them to meet their own needs and the needs of their communities.

We’re looking forward to staying connected with you and sharing our journey. To receive emails and/or newsletters contact sharron.mathis@efca.org. To follow our blog www.makinghaitiourhome or catch more blogs here.

No Time for Tea

The desperation in his eyes made it clear that he didn't want to wait another moment. During the break, when one of the pastors asked with urgency for a private meeting with him, Joe Cox sensed that God was about to do something big right there in the Eastern Congo. The heavy U.N. presence in the city of Bunia was a testimony to the chaos the villagers had endured, but the weight of every villager's pain seemed to be carried on the shoulders of this man standing before him now. As soon as he began to pour out his heart to Joe, it was obvious why he didn't seem interested when he offered to pour some tea. There was no time for that. The floodgates of relief and hope had opened, and he just needed to be SURE this training really applied to him. He needed every minute of reassurance Joe could provide.

Joe listened compassionately as the tearful pastor outlined the devastating suffering in his village following war and a tragic mudslide. Homes were burned to the ground, and addiction and rape had become epidemic. He had felt defeated as he struggled to give them answers to impossible questions about their plight. But by the end of this meeting with Joe, tears of relief were flowing.

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For the first time EVER, this man had heard the words that would shape his future ministry. He learned through very practical coaching sessions that he didn't HAVE to provide answers. He simply needed to listen, and help these victims learn about and hear from The Lord.

The problems in Bunia persist, but thanks to Enduring Treasures Ministries, there are pastors in the Eastern Congo and beyond who are equipped to provide spiritual guidance and support in a way that points people to Christ as the ultimate Healer and Comforter.

As Joe cried with this pastor who had witnessed so much pain, he realized how many lives could be impacted as he returned to his people with new direction and hope. According to Joe, nothing compares to that feeling, and he “would circle the earth 20 times to help just ONE pastor.”

You can learn more about this ministry of building effective leaders in churches around the world by visiting Enduring Treasures website

Meet the Spencer Family

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Steve and Marian Spencer serve in Malawi where Steve  teaches at African Bible College and serves as Director and Academic Dean. When Steve, Marion and their then 4-month-old son arrived in Malawi years ago, the college consisted of 50 acres of maize fields and wild animals. Today, ABC is a four-year, liberal arts college with campuses in Malawi, Uganda and Liberia where they train, nurture and develop Africa’s next generation of Christian leaders. Marion serves as hospitality and social coordinator for staff and students.

In a recent newsletter, Steve shared:

We are thankful for the ministry of African Bible Colleges.  This year we have 100 new freshmen students.  Our chapel and classrooms are full of enthusiastic African scholars who are passionate about learning the treasures of God’s truth.  We are offering more B. A. degrees than ever – Biblical Studies, Mass Communication, Business, Community Development and Education.  And currently, I am writing the curriculum for a Master of Arts degree in Education Administration.
 
We are thankful for the many off-campus ministries we get the privilege to support and encourage.  We are digging boreholes and showing the Jesus film in Muslim areas along the lakeshore.  We are building bread ovens and irrigating crops in the central region.  We are feeding orphans, providing medical assistance, and distributing maize to villages that are suffering because of food shortages.  And we are working in several of the prisons throughout Malawi.  All this for His glory!

Contact the Spencer family at: spencerhut@aol.com)

Fatalistic Response in Haiti

Within the community we live, on our small street, there is a group of neighborhood youth…some who are now becoming young adults, whom the Lord has graciously allowed us to develop relationship with. We believe they can influence change within their community.

One of the many things we do with them is teach English. Primarily to spend intentional quality time with them each week, while empowering them with a resource to help them find employment.

Over time, we’ve been discovering how to ask questions that allow us to learn more about one another. We often ask them if God spoke to them or if he taught them something over the past week. Recently I had a visitor pose a question to one of our youth that I anticipated a different answer from. She asked, “What’s the one thing you would like to change about yourself?” His response was “That is only for God to know and do.”

I struggled with that response. What I unexpectedly heard from this youth was a fatalistic attitude, common in Haiti’s animistic culture. Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. A passive acceptance, a submissive attitude that the outcome of his life has been determined in advance, and there is nothing he can do. What will be, will be.

I sought the Word before we met the next week. I shared that as we grow up, we learn right from wrong. While God does know all things, and He does desire to do a work in us, we have been given a choice to allow Him to do so. God speaks to our hearts, but we must choose how to respond. In Galatians we learn about sowing and reaping…negative and positive consequences. God reveals truth. He clearly defines right and wrong, and His people are expected to do what’s right. However, just as in the Garden of Eden, while Adam was expected to obey, Adam was given freedom to choose. Cain was warned by God the he would be held personally responsible for his choices. Paul was given the responsibility to share the Gospel with the Gentiles, he still had to choose to do so.

By Sharron Mathis

 

 

 

We’re continuing to discuss our need to ask God what we need to change, allowing time to listen, and choosing to do what He says.

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Revival In My Soul

This was my third trip to Malawi, Africa but my first ever “soul-stirring, life-altering revival.”  I’m not sure I can express my feelings entirely, but here are a few things I want to share.

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The people who live in Katsekera are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. They wake up and spend the day working just to live another day; but they do it with a thankful heart and a joy-filled spirit. They don’t see what they do not have; instead, they use what they do have to the fullest extent possible. What a lesson there is to be learned here!

During our visit, we were served so well by these hardworking people. I remember seeing Chauncey, coming to prepare food for us before sunlight, her 110 pound frame chopping wood with amazing accuracy and without as much as a sound. Our needs were met with a smile with never a complaint. We never ran out of water to flush the toilet. Oh, did I mention that they built a toilet just for us? We had electricity in a guest house with bunk beds that were also built especially for us. Just thinking about the sacrificial love shown to us makes me cry tears of gratitude.

One of my favorite experiences in Katsekera was the sewing class. From the generosity of others, we were able to provide each woman with a sewing kit that included needles, thread, threader, scissors, pins, pin cushion, buttons, and material. I came prepared to teach basic stitching techniques and how to combine pieces of material to make larger items. God was definitely in this class with us and the women had a ball. They all made infinity scarves while talking and laughing like we would do at a gathering with our girlfriends.

This is my prayer for the people of Katsekera…Precious Lord, our Heavenly Father, today I give everything I have and everything that I am to You. I joyfully bring my possessions, my gifts and my talents to you to use however You choose. Lord, I want to honor You with every part of my being. Lord, let Your will be done in my life and in the women’s lives in Katsekera. Lord, be with us. Lead, guide and direct our footsteps so that nothing we do is in vain or with the wrong intent. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen

By Cherilyn Washington

We are Called to Tie Shoes

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After supporting our children’s many mission trips, Gordon and I finally embarked on our own. Nothing could have prepared us for this experience, for the ways we saw God move, or for the ways He continues to work in our hearts since our return.

Through Calvary’s Perspectives class, we gained….well….perspective about God’s heart for all people and learned about ways we could engage in His global purpose. We began by sponsoring a child. Proyecto Manuelito is a haven for Honduran street children--a place of safety, love, support, opportunity and especially a place to learn about Jesus. Maria lives there. Wanting to meet her was part of what led us to take this trip; many things will take us back.

  • Daily hugs from the parade of town children who join the children of Manuelito for schooling otherwise unaffordable.

  • Watching a teammate teach little girls to dance, becoming their earthly father for just a moment.

  • Learning to tie rebar, help with building a new school.

  • Traveling a dirt road to worship alongside a small group of Hondurans, knowing our team’s humble offering would sustain them for a long time.

  • Tandem singing in English and Spanish, This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

  • Hearing from the pulpit that in heaven there will be no language barrier.

  • Touring the project, overwhelmed with, comparatively, how little they have, yet how happy they are.

  • Hearing heartfelt testimonies from young teens of their lives before and since Project Manuelito, their hope for a future, their faith journeys.

  • Seeing the vision come full circle as children from the project grow up and come back as teachers, house parents and workers, to be part of the place that gave them hope.

I learned how to “be,” how to sit beside a child, offer a hug, nod of encouragement, attempt to learn words to communicate, play a game of Connecto Quatro, hold a hand, laugh, and share the love of God with very few words.

As we prepared to leave, Maria pulled our interpreter over to share her parting thoughts. They were simple yet profound: “I will always remember how you tied my shoe.” A seemingly insignificant act, something a mother does without thinking, became a sign of love to a little girl. God used every team member in different ways, each one leaving changed, and He reminded us that though we can’t do everything, we can do something. We are called to tie shoes.

By Kerry Stengel

A CLEAR VIEW FROM MOUNT PERSPECTIVE

Praying for Missionaries Widens One’s Horizons

Psychologists and counselors will tell you that perspective is everything. Each of us has our own set of emotional glasses through which we see the world and the behavior of others, unconsciously comparing them to ourselves.

I found this theory to be true as I started attending a small group of people dedicated to praying for Calvary Church missionaries. My western-minded, suburban-raised, little-traveled, but open-to-learning-mindset, would leave each meeting a little bit changed.

Concern for some erosion in my backyard takes on a new perspective hearing about widespread devastation and homeless children following an earthquake in Nepal. Praying for missionaries living daily in hostile settings makes me realize how protected and free I am to speak of my faith, but how often I do not.

I began to examine activities that claimed my time, such as my unnecessary and frequent need to check emails and social media. I found myself wanting to be more mindful on what consumed my time.

I know prayer has eternal value, so I committed myself to being at prayer meetings. It has been two years since I first started attending. God continues to change my heart a little bit each time we hear about the great needs of our missionaries, their struggle with funds, loneliness, discouragement in ministry, and just being far from home and family. All of a sudden the leaky faucet and broken dryer take their rightful place in the scheme of eternity. I’ve learned it’s all a matter of perspective.

By Sharon Young

Join us for prayer the second and fourth Sundays of each month at 10:45 am in Room 152.

A Lesson from Malawi

My daughter, Danielle, and I stepped out in faith last summer and joined a short-term mission team heading to Katsekara, a village in Malawi, Africa.

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After our breakfast on our first morning, we walked to the local school yard. Many of the children, even the smallest, did not have warm clothes on that chilly morning. Some had no shoes and wore tattered pants or shorts and-short sleeved shirts. Others wore interesting layers of clothing for warmth. One little girl caught my eye in her green school dress with a dirty white collar. She wore an old hooded baby towel for a coat. You've seen them...a terry cloth towel for infants with the little hood and ears sewn on top. Something we would have long-ago discarded provides precious warmth to this little girl.

Danielle and I learned a powerful lesson about contentment that first morning in the village of Katsekara.

by Jill Beckmann

It All Started With One Trip

Steve and Toby Hopper have faithfully served on staff in various churches across the US, including Calvary Church. As a pastor’s wife and mother of three boys, Toby was familiar with saying “yes” to tasks her roles demanded. But she was resistant when asked to join a group going to the Ukraine. Toby knew that loving on orphans and troubled Ukrainian youth would leave her emotionally spent and empty, but she felt God encouraging her to go anyway.

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Serving at a prison in the Ukraine, Toby’s heart connected with the young boys she met there. She thought, “What if these were my kids?” She saw the great need and was moved with compassion.

That short-term mission trip to Odessa, Ukraine in 2001 was a stepping stone for Toby. Steve eventually recognized that God was moving them to serve as full-time missionaries. Since then they have helped to train over 4000 pastors and leaders across the globe, most frequently to the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

And it all started with one trip to the Ukrane. Toby says, “If you don’t go on such trips, you might miss touching the lives of the people that only you can touch.”

by Sharon Young

Learn more

Changing Lives and Transforming Communities

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This year CRU partnered with the largest number of churches in Dallas to date, to bring the gospel to neighborhoods all across the city. As students shared their faith, God worked in amazing ways. 

One group of students met a man who expressed that he had been wanting to go back to church, but because of his past was afraid of being judged. In tears he told them, “I know it’s God that brought you guys to my door.”

Another group of students spoke with a man who said, “It’s crazy because I was talking with God earlier today and told Him ‘God if you want me to know You, You’re gonna have to send someone to me, because I am not going to a church’ and now I’m talking to y’all, I know that’s not an accident.”

God worked through the lives of students all across Dallas, and a total of 307 spiritual life changes happened in just those few hours!

by Calvary Missionary Chloe Buckman

We Knew Them Then - Part 2

Interview with Church Planter Justin Grimm, Story Presbyterian Church, Columbus Ohio

 Calvary Church’s youth group has impacted teens for Christ for several generations. Over the years numerous kids have come into a relationship with Christ through our youth ministry and then gone out to serve Him.  Missionaries like Brooke Wong, Chloe Buckmann, Bonnie Thiessen, and Josh Krato are serving the Lord in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the United States.  

 In this two-part article, we are interviewing Justin Grimm and Kyle Hackmann, both former youth, now in their early 30s and planting churches.  

 Kyle is in Toronto, Canada and Justin in Columbus, Ohio.  In Part 1 we interviewed Kyle and below we get to know Justin and his heart to start a church to reach families for Christ.  

Interview - Justin Grimm

Q. What is your ministry?
A. My ministry is planting Story Presbyterian Church in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb in northwest Columbus. We help people know the greatest story ever told.

Q. How are you seeing God at work?
A. I intentionally live my life in the community. People know I am a pastor. I frequently get opportunities to share the gospel.

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In the last month I have spent much time in weekly meetings and phone calls while helping a young man who was on the verge of suicide. Another man recently recommitted his life to Christ after finding his wife was involved in an ongoing affair. There are many others. Our mission is to help people discover how Jesus redeems their stories.

Q. How has your life changed through this experience?
A. It has made me worship more and puts God’s fear in me when it comes to my own sin. I feel blessed to serve him in this way in the community.

Q. What struggles do you face, and how can we pray for you?
A. Some of my biggest struggles revolve around feeling lonely. I also feel the weight of people’s hearts and lives on my shoulders.

Some days I feel no one cares for me as I care for them. But Jesus shows me that I too am broken, and I need Jesus just as much as they. Jesus often appears in the kind word from a friend or a buddy who just knew the right thing to say. 

CLICK HERE to check out what God is doing at Story Presbyterian Church in Westerfield, Ohio.