Global Outreach Update – Kelly Gilbert – Trans World Radio International

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By: Kelly Gilbert

I spent this summer as an Intern with TWR International (Trans World Radio) in Cary, North Carolina. I worked as a Media Content Development intern in the Marketing and Communications/Radio Partnerships Department.

I had two different projects that I worked on throughout the summer. I worked under two incredible supervisors who helped me grow in my skills and strengths as a professional and as a person. I did a lot of things that I was very familiar with and I had done many times, but I was also able to work in areas that were completely new to me. Through my work, the people I worked with, and my fellow interns that I lived with, God stretched me, challenged me, and grew me in so many ways.

I went into my internship with no idea of how God was going to use it to seriously change my life. Learning how to rely on His strength daily, denying myself and pursuing His glory, and seeing others as more important than myself, were all concepts that I understood. Over the course of this summer, I was challenged time and again in all of these areas and God was able to use those around me and my circumstances to challenge me and grow me. I am currently pursuing the opportunity of going back to work with TWR as a full-time missionary.

My time spent in Cary affirmed numerous things in my life. It affirmed that what I was studying through my time in college wasn’t a mistake. It affirmed that I do want to work in missions, if that’s where He is leading me. He affirmed time and time again that I should pursue the opportunity to return to TWR as long as the door remains open. Assuming things work out over the next couple of months, I will be returning to Cary in late October for interviews and evaluations. After that, if they decide to appoint me as a missionary, I will begin to raise support and form partnerships with churches and individuals. I am praying that God will continue leading me clearly and that His will be done in my life no matter which direction He takes me. I ask that you pray with me as I begin to make decisions and follow God’s leading.

 

A Congregational Primer | How should a church body find and express God’s will in a change?

When we speak of a “congregational” church or government for the church, there are a number of ideas that may come to mind that are not healthy. While I would never want to opt for some outside authority, either denominational or hierarchical, to make decisions for local fellowships, we have not always taken time to consider what that should or should not look like.

Some of us have grown up with a “political climate” as our model—this is wrong. 

Having a congregation of believers prayerfully consider what is to be done and then express their combined wisdom should not involve adversarial politics, because we are all in this together. It may involve animated discussion of the text of Scripture, how interpretations are formed, what the ramifications of interpretations or decisions might be, and so on. But it should never be about winning and losing, but humbly participating. If our path is the one chosen, we are thankful that God gave that wisdom. If our path is not, we are equally thankful that God has guided the church. And we only question a decision that is clearly opposite the teaching of Scripture–and such questioning may require us to move to another fellowship if the matter is of primary importance (the kind of matter that affects salvation, for example).

 

Some of us have grown up with a complacent attitude—this is also wrong.

 Many of our younger members aren’t really interested in church government, and yet those who lead the church have such a tremendous impact on what we are all taught, how we prioritize for ministry and money spent on ministry, how we staff the church, and so many other important issues. Complacency in congregational churches will lead to both unchecked leadership and a much greater influence on direction by the smaller portion of the congregation that exercises its ability to vote and make choices. If that small group has an agenda, that can also be very dangerous. The church needs its members to care about its direction. It is wonderful when people trust their leaders, but the choice of trustworthy leaders has to be made by the congregation.

So, how should a congregation approach a decision about a change, as we are doing now?
Normally we should hope for unity, and we should accept a strong consensus. And if we believe our leaders are acting in good faith to implement plans and directions according to their understanding of Scripture, they should receive the benefit of the doubt with an attitude of godly submission. It should never be the thought that a “unanimous” vote would somehow be too much like a rubber stamp! I’m afraid that someone (or a few someones) in our church must think that, because in ten year’s time, the only matter to ever receive a unanimous approval in a ballot vote has been the acceptance of the annual meeting minutes–and that has not even received a unanimous approval every year. I have to wonder if this shows a love for the unity of the church that Paul said was so important in Ephesians 4? I love this church, and even when suggesting things that may not pass unanimously, I want to do all I can to encourage agreement. When someone finds nothing–not a single deacon candidate, a single budget, or a single special action that they can support, I don’t think the problem is with congregationalism or the rest of the church.

So, is there ever a time when you should vote “No” on a change?  Here are five suggestions…

 

  1. Vote no if a proposal violates Scripture
  2. Vote no if the status quo is a superior, biblical approach
  3. Vote no if you do not trust the teaching or the motives of the pastor(s)
  4. Vote no if you do not trust the wisdom of the leader that made the recommendation
  5. Vote no if the change will endanger the flock

I would think that most of these should be obvious. I would also hope that any person who held one of these reasons would love the church and its leaders enough to share their concerns or biblically confront them in the cases of 3, 4, and 5. What about positive reasons to vote “Yes?” Here are five more suggestions…

  1. Vote yes if you believe the proposal lines up with Scripture
  2. Vote yes if you see biblical and practical rationale for the change
  3. Vote yes if your pastors have shown trustworthiness in decisions
  4. Vote yes if your leaders have a record of showing good judgment
  5. Vote yes if you see potential benefits of the change for the flock

Finally, consider these principles to help a congregation and its members (that would be you) to act and decide issues biblically.

  1. Study the issues in Scripture
  2. Listen to what leadership has to say
  3. Pray (and fast) for wisdom, unity, and blessing
  4. Be willing to follow the congregation’s decision
  5. Submit to your leaders as they implement decisions
  6. Humility for everybody!

If we will operate with these principles, unified change is not only possible, but probable. Let’s pray that it will be this way.

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Global Outreach Update | Abby Huck – The Luke Commission

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Hello friends!

I want to start off by thanking all of you for the support that I have received the past few months!! It has been amazing to see the power of pray in action. My time in Swaziland was far beyond anything that I ever expected. My goal is now to share with you what we did during the month of May, and how the Lord is working through The Luke Commission in that tiny country.

There is no doubt that HIV/AIDS has devastated Swaziland. It was heartbreaking to think that 1 out of every 5 kids that we interacted with at each clinic was left orphaned from the epidemic that swept through Swaziland. I cannot say enough good things about The Luke Commission and what they are doing! They are passionate about the Gospel and changing Swaziland for the better. It was so encouraging to live with them and experience first hand what they do on a daily basis.

The month was full of long days, lots of laughs, and experiences that changed my outlook on global missions. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday was a designated “Clinic” day. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturdays were restock days for the next clinic. We did this on the TLC campus. Sundays were our days of much-needed rest! After going to church, we had the day to journal, play games, and relax with the team. On clinic days our team was up by 4:15 to be picked up at our house that was about 5 minutes off of the main TLC campus by 5 am. We would go to campus and have a time of prayer and singing with all the Swazi staff. One Swazi would also read us an encouragement from Scripture and make it applicable to the day. We would load into our vans and leave promptly at 6 am and make our way to our clinic. Each clinic was set up at a rural school anywhere from and 1 hour to 2 hours away from the TCL campus. We used 9 rooms and set them up according to our needs. Each room was given a number. We referred to the rooms using those numbers to remove the stigma that went along with what we did in each room.

Room 1- Patients meet one on one with a TLC Swazi staff member. They discuss medical and family history as well as if there are any specific medical problems they are facing. They also say if they have been or want to be tested for HIV.

Room 2- This is where the actual HIV testing occurs. It is as simple as a prick on the finger and blood placed on a test strip. The results are visible is less than 10 minutes. Patients over 18 have their blood pressure tested. In addition, patients over 50 have their blood sugar tested.

Room 3- This is where each patient got to meet with the doctor and a translator to discuss any medical issues they had. They also heard a Bible lesson and had the opportunity to pray with a TLC member before they saw the doctor.

Room 4- Patients receive personal counseling from TLC Swazi staff members. They receive further information from the results of the HIV testing. This can range from how to live life with HIV if their results were positive or how to prevent HIV if their results were negative. All counseling is conducted from a Christian perspective.

Room 5- This is the pharmacy window! I got to work here for about 7 clinics. Patients bring the paper that the doctor had circled what medicines they needed on. Based on that paper, we pull the medicines from 2 rolling shelves. The patient is told about each medicine and how it needs to be taken.

Room 6- This is the surgical room used mainly for male circumcision as well as minor procedures. Our team was very active in this room. We helped prep boys for circumcisions as well as setting up and cleaning up the beds before and after procedures.  A few of us were also checked off to assist the nurses in completing the stitches after a circumcision. Circumcision is proven to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS by 60%!

Room 7- Pre-op and Post-op for those going to room 6.

Room 8- This was a multipurpose room used for blood draw and other needs.

Room 9-This was the room used for eye care. Patients had their eyes tested and based on their results; they were given a pair of glasses to fit their needs.

My month spent in Swaziland was a true gift. I was able to see selflessness and love in action. I enjoyed working in room 6 due to the medical aspect. Although I was unable to talk to must people that I came in contacted with, that did not cause a barrier in greeting them with a friendly smile and giving them the best medical care possible. Not only was I able to do more things medically than I would as a nursing Senior, but I was able to get a glimpse of life as a full-time medical missionary and I must say- it is not easy. The Lord was good to my team and allowed us to bond closer than I ever thought possible.

I want to close with saying that the Lord is at work in Swaziland. The Luke Commission is a thriving organization that is doing great things. Please continue to pray for them as they are working daily in Swaziland. Thank you again for the support that you all showed me as I went on this adventure. This is an experience that I will carry with me in my future nursing career.

In Christ,

Abby Huck

Reaping the Social Media Whirlwind

Our freedom to express ourselves creates unexpected dangers

social_media_strategy111I am a very well-intentioned social media participant. I am on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I have a Snap Chat account but never use it. I officially have a Vine account, but have never figured that I had 6 seconds of creativity to spare on it. I first joined social media to know what it was about, especially why my kids and the college students in my previous church were so interested in it. I have found the ability to get connected with family and friends, along with the opportunity to share information with others, has been a largely positive experience.

However, social media definitely has its downsides, from the mildly irritating to the personally devastating. Oversharing is common–while I might love to see a picture of your child’s first day of school, the “every fifteen minute update” can be a bit much. Some people seem to develop “emotional binge/purge syndrome” and are constantly oversharing their various upsets and heartaches, under the mistaken assumption that Facebook friends are, well, friends. Others see sensational headlines, read the incredibly incendiary stories they link to, and share them–never checking to see if the story is real or not. I’ve seen more than a few such stories shared by some of you that would be very disturbing if they were true. They originate with fake sites that exist only to stir various pots and make people look foolish in the process. Be careful or you will be duped.

A very dark trend on social media–especially Twitter–is the rapid responses that pile on when someone says or does something they shouldn’t–it is a massive and immediate public shaming. I just watched a TED talk (you can see it here, but be warned, the tweets recounted include some very unsavory language) about this phenomenon, and it was sobering and frightening. It told the story of Justine Sacco, a woman who had 170 Twitter followers and a job with a PR firm. Just before boarding an international flight to Africa, she made a bad joke about AIDS–she meant to be sarcastically poking fun at people’s attitudes, but sarcasm doesn’t always come across in 140 characters. She boarded the flight and fell asleep. But one of her 170 followers forwarded the tweet to a friend at a major site who sent it to his 15,000 followers with a statement condemning her callousness. It went viral, and by the time she landed in Africa hours later it had become the #1 trending subject on Twitter, with thousands upon thousands of the most horrible things said about her, and calling for her to be mocked, shunned, fired, and physically harmed. Her career was over and she was emotionally crushed by the weight of tweeted indignation of tens of thousands of people’s disapproval and disdain. People will gladly do on Twitter what they would never do face to face.

One other grave concern is how our social media posts and content can adversely affect our testimonies for Christ. If we are friends with unbelievers, and our lives in social media are all politics, complaints, and mockery of those with whom we disagree, what are we communicating about the way we view others, or what’s most important in life? Do we rant at mistreatment and make clear that the fruit of the Spirit is currently lacking in our lives? Do we demand justice from a fallen world? Do we spout positive platitudes about success and life as if our attainment of certain goals in this life is what defines us? We used to ask, “if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Now, we could ask, “If your most positive testimony for Christ in social media is that you clicked ‘Like’ when asked to ‘stand up for Jesus,’ have you really done anything?”

Don’t give up on social media–but make your presence there redemptive, not corrosive. Connect with others, but not to browbeat or brag. Share concerns, but be very aware of the whole of your audience. It’s not just future employers who may look at your various media feeds; it’s also people wondering if Christian faith is real and if Christians are kind or if they are jerks. Speak truth, but speak it in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Let’s be “flying snakes” when it comes to social media (my shorthand for those who are wise as serpents and harmless as doves–Matthew 10:16).

Global Outreach Update | Kim Jenerette – The Luke Commission

The-Luke-CommissionI traveled to Swaziland to serve for and with The Luke Commission.  Our days consisted of:

Clinic Days – M-W-F … arising at 4:30 AM and going to the Miracle Campus (HQ for TLC).  Upon prayer, we would leave for our destination that could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.  The last 20-30 minutes of our trips were on dirt roads.  We met at a school (which was not in session that day) and set up stations in different rooms at the school.  This became our mobile hospital .. rooms were interview rooms, rooms for blood pressure, blood sugar testing, and HIV testing.  Patients met with the physician daily.  Circumcisions are offered to all males (generally, 25-35 per clinic day) and other types of surgeries are performed.  Eye testing is performed, certain X-rays may be performed, opportunities to be counseled according to scripture are offered, and a generous shoe donor provides shoes to children.TLC-on-the-move-pic

T-TH-SA – working at the Miracle Campus.  This consisted of various chores to include separating, packaging, counting pills … working in the warehouse and loading supplies, cleaning vehicles (inside and out), cleaning shelving units, entering data into the computer, etc.

A highlight of mine was to be able to minister to young children, many who have not seen any white figures.  Fitting them with shoes, smiling, and letting them know Christ lives in us … the language barrier prohibited any normal course of conversation.  Also, ministering to a setting of where 3,000 – 5,000 people would come to the clinic.  While all were not seen, many were and the opportunity to spread the gospel, while providing services to reduce the spread of AIDS and other medical concerns, hit right to my heart as to serving and ministering.

Lastly, working with the locals at TLC.  The Swazi locals do not complain.  If there is an issue they are having, they keep it to themselves.  For example, even if one has a headache, they do not share it … they go about their business as they do not want to bring others down. It is my hope to go again next year to minister.

Exciting Changes Coming Soon for GraceKids Wednesdays!

GPSfinalThere’s lots of talk about what’s happening for kids on Wednesdays starting in the fall. I’ve heard many different versions – the furthest from the truth is – “there’s going to be nothing!” Let me take a minute to set the record straight!

This fall, Grace introduces a new program that will capture the midweek opportunity with our kids and community kids and redeem every moment of the evening. This new, original, and exciting program includes curriculum for 2-year-olds through 5th grade.

What is this new program called?

GPS – God’s Powerful Story
Check out our logo (at the top), designed for us by Ali Womack with lots of GraceKids input!

What is GPS?

GPS is a weekly curriculum, for pre-school and school-age children, with emphasis on an engaging and fun presentation of kid-friendly, basic theology and connected Scripture memory, with the intent that kids will gain a better understanding of biblical truth, which will grow into the desire to have a saving and intimate relationship with God.

What will a typical night include?

  • School-age GPS starts with a highly interactive opening in the gym involving kids and leaders in music and skits, videos, object lessons, and other activities which introduce the subject of each night.
  • From opening, kids transition to a teaching time, in age-appropriate groupings, where they are taught the content for the night using exciting and engaging methods.
  • Small group time includes activities that encourage the students in their work on and review of the memory passage and memory phrase. Each child joins a small group that includes the same teacher and kids from week to week.  In small groups, kids develop a teaching and mentoring relationship with a Christian adult.
  • Game time in the gym incorporates review of lesson content and memory work.
  • 2’s & 3’s and 4’s & 5’s follow very similar, age-appropriate elements: story time, small groups, music, and games.

What content will this curriculum cover?

GPS is comprised of a three-year rotation. Kids, with their teachers and small group leaders, walk through the topics of Bible, God, Sin, Jesus, Salvation, and Christian Life. Each section is four weeks long with the fourth week covering review of previous material. With each section kids learn a memory phrase and memory passage that reinforces the theological truth being taught. The format of GPS could be easily described as a basic theology course for kids!

What makes this program unique?

All kids, all ages, are learning the same material each night making it easy for parents to review and reinforce the material at home. Students spend four weeks learning about and committing to long-term memory the Memory Passage and Memory Phrase. They hear the phrase and passage each night in opening, group teaching, small group, and game time. Also unique is the website being developed by volunteer, Karley Hepworth, which will provide information for parents so they can easily keep in touch with the GPS calendar, Scripture Memory plan, teaching schedule, memorization ideas, and downloads for learning tools. We are excited about this feature and the ways the website will develop as a resource to parents!

Will GPS include any Scripture memory?

Yes!!

Who will be working in this new ministry?

God has blessed the GPS ministry with an incredible leadership team that has met weekly and worked diligently at getting so much organized and details worked out as we anticipate start-up in just a few short weeks.

Meet the GPS Leadership Team:

Liz Winey – Co-Director, Preschool Age

Will Humphrey – Co-Director, School Age

Jenn Davis – Nursery Coordinator

Bekah Rogers – Tiny Trackers Coordinator (2’s & 3’s)

Michelle Humphrey – Young Explorers Coordinator (4’s & 5’s)

Mindy Hughes – Treasure Seekers Coordinator (K-2nd grade)

Pat Warren – Treasure Seekers Teacher (K-2nd grade)

Lisa Jenerette – Path Finders Coordinator (3rd – 5th grade girls)

Alissa Woyak – Path Finders Teacher (3rd – 5th grade girls)

Bob Paris – Trail Blazers Coordinator (3rd – 5th grade guys)

Mike Eckstein – Trail Blazers Teacher (3rd – 5th grade guys)

Missy Hunt – Registration Coordinator

Jeff Beste – Opening Coordinator

Lyndell Rising – Drama Coordinator

Libby Shearer – Games Coordinator

When will GPS happen?

GPS will start on Wednesday, September 9, 2015.  Meetings will continue weekly on Wednesdays from 6:45 to 8:00pm. Upon arrival, all kids, Nursery through 5th grade, need to be checked in by an adult in the gym foyer. Preschoolers start the evening in their respective rooms in the Preschool Neighborhood. School-age kids all start in the gym. At the close of the evening, preschoolers will be picked up from their respective rooms. School-age kids (K–5th grade) will all be picked up in the gym.

How do I register my kids?

Go to this link and register your kids! All age groups need to register.

There will be a set maximum capacity for Nursery, 2’s & 3’s, and 4’s & 5’s based on room space and available staffing.

What role do parents play?

GraceKids goal to partner with parents in their God-given role to raise up their children to know and love God and GPS is designed to be a tool that parents may use in this effort. Our hope is that parents will have a desire to work in the GPS program and take the journey through this basic theology study with their child(ren). Information will be available on the GPS website so that parents can access the GPS calendar, Scripture Memory plan, teaching schedule, memorization ideas, and downloads for learning tools to use to reinforce GPS teaching at home.

How can I get involved?

Would you enjoy loving on babies? Would you be willing to come alongside 2’s, 3’s, 4’s or 5’s as they begin learning foundational truths for the faith we pray they will embrace for life? Are you interested in mentoring a small group of school-age kids and helping them gain a better understanding of biblical truth which we pray will grow into the desire to have a saving and intimate relationship with God? Do you want to be involved but would rather be behind the scenes? Would you be willing to faithfully pray for a group of kids and their teachers? If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Barb Hunt.

Excitement mounts as we anticipate what God has in store with this new program for training our kids in the basic truths of our faith. We look forward to seeing all that the year ahead will hold. Our leadership team is busy with preparations as September quickly approaches. If you see one of those on the leadership team, please help me by thanking them for all their hard work.

Global Outreach Update | CU Engineering Bolivia

Global Outreach Update | CU Engineering BoliviaGlobal Outreach Update | CU Engineering BoliviaThis month is short term global outreach highlight month! Welcome to it, catch all the exciting updates!

The 2015 Cedarville University Engineering Global Outreach to Bolivia was blessed by God in so many ways!  Thank you for prayers and support that helped make it happen.

The purpose of the trip was to support and learn about efforts to help Bolivians provide clean water for themselves and their families.  We worked with Dale and Helen Harlan of SIM, and also in conjunction with the development agencies Alcance and BolCan.  Over the past two years, Cedarville mechanical engineering students have been testing hand-built water pumps made of pvc pipe components and considering improvements in the design.  One of our objectives was to test a good number of these pumps that are in use.  Another objective was to test the quality of water that is being used by people in the peri-urban area around Cochabamba. We were able to accomplish both of these goals and to learn and to interact with a number of Christians and churches along the way.

We learned about Bolivian culture, and about Quechua culture in particular.  The pumps we worked with were primarily those of Quechua people.  My observation is that they are a beautiful, quiet, and diligent people.  Their greeting consists of a handshake, touches of one or both hands to each other’s shoulders, then another handshake.  We also learned about the philosophy of the ministries we worked with, whose goal was to help people have ownership of the help they are given.  That is done in the development context by requiring that people put forth a “counterpart” in the forms of effort and of finances as they receive material help.  This helps prevent the installation of beautiful systems that never get used (we saw some examples of this).

As the team discussed the trip, we kept adding highlight after highlight.  Here are a few of the highlights we enjoyed.

Click a photo to view as a slide show and read the captions!

Thank you so much to you who supported this ministry.  Your generous gifts glorify God and greatly encouraged the team.  As a result of your generosity, the trip was fully funded.  More importantly, it was apparent that you were praying!  You really were partners in this ministry!

Thank you!

P.S.  You can see more pictures at the Facebook Group (public) “CU GO Bolivia.”

 

Church Community Builder Update

hands-woman-legs-laptopWe are so close to launching Church Community Builder! We want to lay out some of the reasons for our move to a congregation integrated, online portal.

1. We want to communicate better with you.

2. We want you to have access to your group information, calendars, forms and more.

3. We want you to be able to update your information and set your own levels of privacy.

4. We want you to have more access to serving in the church, with a customizable My Fit profile.

5. We want to have a functioning online photo directory, where you can start putting names with faces and get to know you Grace family better.

Through the few weeks ahead before and after our launch, we will be posting blogs that will assist you in learning more and using Church Community Builder to the fullest extent.

Click Here if you have questions.

Learn Verses Better | One App that Helps

Logo_DarkTowards the beginning of our blog, we shared with you an app. That app at the time had the cost of $5, but now it is free! This app is a creative tool for learning Bible verses, it guides you through memory games and helps you attain your goals of memorizing and retaining scripture. If you are interested we invite you to watch the short video below and click here to go and download it onto your phone.