Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Seattle/Bellevue & Everett, WA. church teens, called “DJs” (Disciples of Jesus), made 250 complete sack lunches plus 150 extra sandwiches to take to the Family Adult Service Center homeless shelter in Seattle. This shelter does not receive consistent funding from large organizations, so any volunteer services and food were much appreciated. They also provide shower and laundry service to the homeless of Seattle. The food was eagerly received, especially as we just had our first snow storm and some other volunteer groups had failed to show up. We had more than enough to serve not only the people inside the building and people lined up outside, but we were able to leave lunches behind for others coming to the shelter throughout the day. Our pre-teens also put together around 150 toiletry bags, which we were able to deliver to the shelter with the lunches on Dec. 14th.
Shoebox Ministry to Mexico Is Growing
For the third year in a row, WCG (through its Generations Ministry camp program) has sponsored a cross-border winter ministry trip into Mexico. The December program originated as a follow-up to our weeklong summer missionary hands-on training camp. In the summer camp program we share in outreach with a variety of native ministries in Mexico, and the winter trip helps us reconnect with fresh support for some of those ministries.
For our winter trip we collect shoeboxes packed with gifts for children and we hand-deliver them to children in Mexico across the border from Texas. Last year we had 10 people go along on the weekend trip to deliver 150 shoeboxes, and this year we grew to 28 missionaries sharing 350 shoeboxes full of gifts. Shoeboxes came to us from twelve church congregations and school groups (some shipped in from other states), and attendees came from as far away as Maryland. We are very excited about the growth God is giving this ministry opportunity.
Eight of the missionaries on this trip were alumni of our summer camp program, and they provided the backbone for the trip. But twenty of the attendees of this “micro mission” trip (48 hours duration) were new to the cross-cultural missionary experience. Ages ranged from pre-teens to septuagenarians, and it was especially exciting to see multiple generations of some families sharing in ministry together.
There is an axiom that says there are three critical keys to keep in mind in ministry work (especially in international missions). Those keys are Flexibility, Flexibility and Flexibility. For instance, we expected it would take no more than an hour to cross the Mexican border (based on our past experience). But we were surprised with being stuck in a five-hour traffic jam just to get to the border crossing point. Everyone on the road seemed to take this situation in stride, with lots of folks visiting back and forth between vehicles, some people peddling ice cream and soft drinks to the stranded motorists, and a general tone of a giant “tailgate party” while we literally inched our way toward the border.
Of course we had to radically rearrange our plans for the day. At our first stop, a local church had planned to have a crowd gathered for us to share various activities and give shoeboxes to the children. But by the time we finally got to their location (several hours late), the crowd was gone and dusk was fast approaching. We broke into three groups and went door-to-door to the neighborhood (an extremely poverty-stricken pallet village) inviting families to come to the local church location to receive shoebox gifts. Within a half-hour we had a happy, expectant crowd assembled, and we gave away shoebox gifts in the name of Jesus to 300 grateful, smiling children. What a blessing it was to our group to see the love of Jesus flowing out to these families.
Our second stop was at a children’s foster home with which we’ve worked for several years. We were eight hours late in arriving at their location, but they greeted us with joyful smiles. We brought food with us to serve them lunch, but now the food was for supper instead. Since it was now nighttime, we lit a campfire in their courtyard and broke into a spontaneous praise & worship sing-along. We had a relaxing evening of talking and playing with the kids, and we were inspired by hearing the personal testimony of the director of the foster home-of the miraculous calling and change of heart God accomplished in her life as He brought her from a non-Christian dissipate life in the Bronx of New York to caring for 25 foster children with the love of Jesus in a border town in Mexico. We gave shoebox gifts to the children in the foster home, and we were able to leave extra shoeboxes of gifts for them to take with them on an evangelism trip into interior Mexico-for them to share with other kids even poorer than themselves.
In many ways the plans for this trip did not go at all as we had planned, but God gave us ample opportunity to share His love with hundreds of children and their families in another country and culture. We were reminded that our plans are not always God’s plans, but if we surrender ourselves to share His Good News, He will accomplish His purposes through our efforts (Isaiah 55).
Maybe you’d like to test the waters and see if God has given you a heart and gifts for cross-border missionary work. If so, there might be a missions group in your local area with which you could participate. Or you might want to come to our weeklong summer camp on the Mexican border (June 22-28, 2009) or next winter’s shoebox trip. For more info on the WCG mission trips, go to www.cbmission.org or call 903-653-0992.
Church Multiplications Ministry 2009 Planning Meeting
The Church Multiplication Ministries team gathered on January 8-9 in Memphis, TN for our annual planning meeting. Dan Rogers, Superintendent of U.S. Ministers, and Ted Johnston, Generations Ministries director, joined us.
After reviewing our CMM vision, mission and faith goals, we discussed our key strategies and plans for casting a vision for church multiplication, helping congregations develop environments that lead to church multiplication, and providing church leaders with resources for starting new churches.
The vision for church multiplication includes the creation of Christ-centered congregational environments which “naturally and supernaturally” lead to the multiplication of ministry leaders who start new churches. We envision starting new kinds of churches, for all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. We recognize that this is a “God-sized” vision, but it is a vision that is validated by scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit through the church throughout history.
Our faith goals (and prayer requests) include:
- Planting 12 or more new churches each year
- 45 assessors comprising 15 assessment teams
- 4 church plant leadership training teams
- 12 or more ministry coaches for church planters
- 20 district church planting networks
At this time we have:
- 22 assessors (3-5 assessment teams)
- 1 church plant leadership training team
- 5 ministry coaches for church planters
Our plans for 2009 include:
- Inviting experienced church planters to speak at the nine regional conferences. These speakers will join me in addressing the conference plenary sessions. They will also participate in the breakout workshops.
- Conducting Church-Next Training – a 5-day training session for pastors and other ministry leaders who want to learn how to plant a church (dates to be announced).
- Producing a training resource manual for the Church-Next Training program.
- Conducting church multiplication workshops for district networks and congregations
- Developing a process for recruiting church planters.
- Adding the church planter recruitment process to our CMM website (cmm.wcg.org) and begin to recruit church planters from outside the WCG.
- Working with district pastoral leaders to begin to develop district church multiplication networks.
- Presenting a church multiplication workshop at the Wisconsin Dells festival.
- Developing new CMM promotional tools including a CMM banner and informational fliers.
- Conducting church multiplication workshops for district networks and congregations. (To schedule a workshop contact Randy Bloom at Randy.Bloom@wcg.org)
Please continue to pray that the Spirit will enlighten all of us – pastors, congregations, denominational leaders – that we may discern his will and follow his direction for starting new churches. Please ask the Lord to provide the ministry leaders and resources we need to participate in his mission to the world by planting new churches. Thank you for your ongoing prayers. Those of us in Church Administration and CMM are grateful for your passion and participation in this ministry. God bless you all as you continue to experience the life and love of Jesus.
Prayer Requests and Updates
Please remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight. Let’s encourage everyone to join together in prayer. Additional spiritual disciplines such as fasting and study draw us closer to God and strengthen us for what we must do. When more of us prepare individually, the stronger we move together collectively.
Love from my family to yours,