Saturday, July 21, 2012
(The above video is a picture slideshow that one of the men from Christian Laymen Church put together!)
This past week was such a good week!! Monday through Thursday we hosted a free eye screening at our church in collaboration with Christian Laymen Church (CLC). CLC had put on a similar eye screening the last three summers in Oakland. Late last summer one of our pastors, Aaron Roy, asked the leadership team if they would consider doing it in Richmond. We are so thankful that the Lord allowed our two churches to partner in this ministry! It was one of the best ministries I have ever participated in. In 4 days, 466 people had their eyes examined and had the opportunity to receive free glasses!! Let me just share some short snippets of how God was at work this week.
The volunteer team this week consisted of people from our church (LHNC), CLC, and a few other bay area churches. The diversity of the body of Christ was on full display. One of the men we served was from a different faith background. He shared how he was growing weary of seeing so much racial discrimination and prejudice within his religious system. He commented on how he had never seen such a diverse group of people serve another diverse group of people in such a unified and loving way!
On one of the afternoons there were approximately 30 people already in line, 1.5 hours early. We had provided chairs for the first 40 or so people in line, so they were all seated at this time. All of the sudden a car pulled up, and a young guy (probably in his 20s) got out and stood in front of the people. He got everyone's attention and then proceeded to share his testimony of how he came to know Christ. He shared for about 5 minutes, and then encouraged everyone to look to Jesus for salvation. When he finished he went back to his car and was ready to drive off. (I flagged him down to introduce myself and ask him what church he was from).
Since moving in here we have been trying to build relationships with several of our neighbors. One family in particular (of another faith background), we have been praying for and trying to establish trust. On Sunday evening my discipleship group and I went door to door passing out flyers in the neighborhood. I intentionally went by myself to this family, explaining what our church was doing and inviting them to come. The second day of the eye screening several of them came! Both adults and kids received vouchers for glasses. On the final day of the screening, they made Josie and I dinner and invited us to come over and pick it up! This was a huge answered prayer!
A Huge Provision
I met a couple with a young child who shared that they were struggling financially. The woman had recently lost her job, and they had been struggling to make ends meet. They shared that this free eye care was a huge provision for them! I also learned that she was a preacher's daughter, but that they had been disconnected from a church family for several years. I invited them to come and check our church out, and I really believe they will come. (Several other people also shared: 1) what a huge blessing this was and 2)that they had been praying/looking for a church home).
Before the eye screening we (the pastors and I) had two meetings with the program staff at the Bay Area Rescue Mission, inviting them to bring men and women to the eye screening. They were very enthusiastic about this opportunity, and were thankful that we reached out to them. The first three days of the eye screening they made several trips to us, dropping off men and women from the shelter. I really believe that this communicated to both the mission staff and the shelter residents that we are a church that desires to be a church family for men and women who are either homeless or in transition.
Our church was both energized and mobilized by the opportunity to both host and serve at this event! So many of our church family volunteered their time in both sacrificial and meaningful ways. One sister commented to me that after volunteering this week she felt more at "home" at our church. One brother, who is normally very quiet around people he doesn't know, really came out of his shell and was very intentional about making people feel welcome at our church. Another brother faithfully arrived each day at 7:30am and served all day long as both a translator (into Spanish) and greeter. It was so exciting to see everyone serving together, and with such enthusiasm.
Today was our first church service after the eye screening. We had one of the biggest Saturday morning crowds that I have ever seen (in my almost year here). Several of the people whom I met at the screening were there this morning. I anticipate that we might have some additional visitors tomorrow as well. In addition, was asked people to fill out contact cards so that we could follow up with them this coming week. Approximately 90% of the people who attended the screening filled out a contact card. So we have our work cut out for us in the coming weeks! We are so grateful for this partnership with CLC, and for the opportunity we had this past week to serve together and to bless the city of Richmond! I believe God was glorified, and by God's grace we were an answer to Jesus' prayer(John 17 - that they would be one so that the world might know!).
Friday, July 20, 2012
We recently completed an 8 week "But God" series at our church! I would really encourage all of you to check out the messages here. This series really highlighted the story of redemption that flows through all of Scripture!
I preached the final message in the series from Ephesians 2:4-5 on how God brought death out of life. Here is the outline below...
I. Dead (Ephesians 2:1-3)
1. Dead (in our trespasses and sins)
a) Following the world
b) Following the devil
c) Following the flesh
3. Deserving wrath
“Just when things look the most desolate, Paul utters the greatest short phrase in the history of human speech: “But God!”
II. But God
-John 11:25, John 5:24, John 10:10, John 14:6, 1 John 5:12
Friday, July 13, 2012
Sunday, July 01, 2012
(Video: The transformation of our gym has begun!)
Praises (We praise God for...)
1) The Lord's faithful and timely provision of our needs!
2) The opportunity I had this past week to work with the youth at the Bay Area Rescue Mission's "King's Club." I loved getting to know both the kids and the staff there, and hope to continue to serve them in different capacities.
3) Our gym rehab has begun! We have made great progress thus far, and Lord willing we will be putting in the new floor this week!
4) Our discipleship groups, and the work that God is doing in and through us. We are being stretched as leaders, and we are seeing people's passion for the Lord, His word, and making disciples grow!
Prayer Requests (Pray with us for...)
1) That we would depend fully on the Lord (John 15:5) in our marriage and in our ministry.
2) For our upcoming eye screening (July 16th through 19th). Over the course of 4 days, we hope to serve 400 Richmond residents! Please pray that the Lord would provide adequate staff (optometrists), volunteers, and people to be served. Pray with us that this would impact lives for Christ! (See eye screening video below...)
3) That we would continue to grow as disciple makers.
4) That I would be able to sell my condo (in Chicago), and that Josie would be able to rent her condo (in Branson).
5) I will be preaching the weekends of July 7-8, 21-22, & 28-29. Please pray for my time of preparation - that the Lord would challenge me with what He would lead me to share. Also, pray that Christ would be exalted every time I preach. You can listen to our messages here if you are interested.
6) For continued planning, preparation, and leader recruitment for AWANA (It will launch this fall!).
(Video: This helps explain the mission & vision of the eye screening. This is the first time, this ministry has come to Richmond.)