Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We Reach Out - So Others Can Reach Up

As missionaries we realize our mission is not ultimately about filling a church with people or fixing a broken neighborhood, but leading people to experience and worship Christ Jesus.  John Pipers said: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't.”  Though our shadowy part of Los Angeles is filled with church buildings many are virtually empty.  Cultural Christianity does not necessitate a life of worship.  And so our mission is huge – to lift Jesus up so that all might know the reality of the amazing love and grace of God.  This last month has been filled with outreach…all with the purpose of introducing more people to Jesus, training up true Christ followers in sharing their Spirit-filled life with others and really sandwiching all of this with sincere worship to our God. 


Sports Camp
We had about 80 kids come out.  Our church took care of all the details leaving us to guide and encourage them in this endeavor.  There were a couple fist fights between some of the tougher kids, but it lead to some powerful ministry time and in the end 13 of the children accepted the Lord – then we got to baptize 2 of them a couple days later. 
We had a great group of volunteers from our church at our welcome and registration table.  This same group of ladies helped with the water and snack breaks and shared about the church to all who came by – whether they were participating in the sports camp or not. 
Here are a couple group shots.  The picture on the right is of the cheerleader group who put on a special finale for us all to enjoy after the final scrimages.
We taught soccer, basketball, football and cheerleading – all this along with a lot of great songs, object lessons using sports figures and Bible stories.
The weeks theme was having a game plan and we talked about Moses and how God had a plan to save Israel from the beginning….he used Moses and wants to use us too. The lessons applied to the camper’s sports just as much as it did to their life at home and at school – preparing them for victory both on and off the field. 
Many of our youth served during the week by helping set up and by being coaches. They lead a daily coach’s huddle time where they related their life stories to the Bible lesson of the day and had time to hear from and get to know their campers. 
We ended the week strong with a huge prayer time and a hot dog lunch for all the campers and their families. 

We also had WOW Jam in the park with over 250 people responding to the altar call.  Our youth danced on stage to a gospel song and we had a group of trained altar workers sharing and praying with those that responded to the gospel.  One of our youth, who is currently going through our ADAM program (Worship & Music Academy), sang a worship song up on stage. 
The L.A. Fire Department came out and filled the baptismal pool and at the end of the event as the sun was setting Chad along with another pastor baptized 85 people, causing a bit of a sore back afterwards.  (Definitely worth it J.)
One of the men from our church who had come out to help at the event ended up getting stirred up and convicted about dragging his feet on baptism and jumped into the pool and was baptized.  The next day at church he shared a powerful testimony of how God has been speaking to him about stepping-up his faith inside and outside of his home.  He realized that by not being baptized he was playing games with God and not presenting his best testimony to others. 

Summer Camps (Grades 1-3 and Grades 4-6)
We have sent 10 kids up to camp so far in our first two weeks of summer camps.  This is a time for the children who have been coming to church for a while to really connect with God and be challenged in their faith away from the family dynamics and home environment – all while having an amazing time of adventure and fun. 
One of our campers had a really hard first few days and wanted to come home.  Bravely his mother prayed and got others in the church to pray too.  This camper pushed through and ended up having one of the best weeks of his life.  He even overcame a fear of rock climbing and conquered one of the mountain faces.  He made lots of new friends and was able to answer a strong “Yes” to his mother’s question: “Did you hear from God while you were at camp?”
The pool is always a favorite for all the campers – if they don’t know how to swim they get lessons and it is a refreshing place to cool off and splash around. 
This year’s theme was about Jonah – there was a huge fish mouth sticking out of the wall in the cafeteria reminding them of the story.  Every morning and night they were taught the Bible creatively reinforcing, among other ideas, the fact that God wants us to listen to Him and is a God of second chances.  Their memory verse was “…Is it right to be angry about this?” Jonah 4:4
 Fire circle every night is a powerful time of skits, fun, worship and a relevant heart-to-heart message. 
Daily team games build the unity of our groups as they compete against other cabins for points. 
On the last day there was a fun carnival…and some of our campers were awarded special recognition.

Youth Movie & Bonfire 
While our kids (well not Beniah) were at camp we pulled a group of the youth together for a movie and bonfire and hang out time.  It was good for us to connect and grow some of those relationships in a real relaxed time where we could talk about how God intersects all parts of our lives…and roast some marshmallows.
Family News

One of our favorite parts of visiting all the kids from our church at summer camp is being able to jump into the pool for a few moments. Our baby, Beniah (just about 4 months now!) experienced the pool for the first time and loved it.
Sports camp, WOW Jam and summer camps have been great for Rebecca and Justice.  Thank you for continuing to pray for our ministry activities and our family – we so appreciate that covering.

Please Pray with Us…
Our purpose for being here in the city is to evangelize the lost, empower and equip those that have come to know Jesus and plant churches. 
Please pray for each of these events as each one has a strategic part in evangelizing, empowering, equipping and eventually planting more churches:

·      Summer Camp (Grades 7-12): July 20-25
    Chad will be at camp for the whole week with the 10 youth (6 boys; 4 girls)
    Please pray for life change and deepening relationships with the youth and endurance/rest for Chad during this long week.  Also pray for Fabiola and the kids in the city, while Chad is away.

·      Church Work Day: July 26
    The church is getting together to work on some projects, do some deep cleaning and have a meal together along with some volunteers. 

·      Family Camp (Our whole church): August 15-17
     Please begin to pray with us for fertile hearts.  We are going to have a special time of teaching and are praying that the whole family will be able to receive what God wants to do in their lives.  Some of the men who generally don’t come to church hopefully will be there too.  This may be the only ‘vacation’ the family gets all year and we pray that it would be restorative to their family – time to relax, think, dream, build/deeper/fix relationships all with God at the center. 

Thank you for lifting us up in prayer so that we may lift up the name of Jesus in these communities of South Central Los Angeles.  

May everything that we do be soaked in purpose towards the end that Christ is worshipped and exalted.

Chad, Fabiola, Rebecca, Justice and Beniah