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Archive for the ‘Local Missions’ Category

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Sometimes there are things you can be very passionate about and God will use you to stir others up to get them passionate about your cause. Well.. that is what my friend Heidi from Food for the Hungry did to me. First of all, I’m a huge fan of FH. I have a long partnership with them through mission trips, fundraising events or just attending their annual summits. FH does a variety of things in the world by serving the poor with short-term emergency relief and long-term work to try to end world hunger. I’m enjoying getting reconnected with them and had a wonderful time at their luncheon at the Justice Conference in Philadelphia. I also spent time at a spring training game with some of the staff this week. Heidi just recently spent time in Bangladesh with an incredible team of people and she has used her passion of what she has experienced to help raise funds for the women there.

Earlier this week was International Women’s Day. I work with women from different countries at my job and enjoyed wishing them blessings on a day that honors them. I also enjoyed telling them about the walk I was doing. The Walk to Empower women took place at Steele Indian School Park today. The funds that are raised will benefit FH’s Women of Action program to help educate them so they don’t have to feel discriminated against and to give them an opportunity to have a choice. There were 126 in attendance and over $7,300 in donations given at the walk. That is enough to help nearly 50 women learn to read, write and acquire a business skill for additional income for her family. Praise God for this and special thanks to Heidi for all her hard work. I’m thankful to her for getting me passionate about her passion!

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Steele Indian School Park

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Busted out my old FH shirt

Heidi talks about the women of Bangladesh

Heidi talks about the women of Bangladesh

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A cupcake with the FH logo

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Advent – Day 13

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House of Refuge is a faith-based non-profit organization helping homeless families and individuals in crisis by providing transitional housing and supportive services that assist participants as they strive towards self-sufficiency and seek to obtain permanent housing.

I had a fun day serving at House of Refuge. 20% of families are living at or below poverty level. In 2009, 1 in 16 families received a foreclosure notice.  The average size of families in shelters and transitional housing is 3.3 individuals. House of Refuge provides a transitional home for some of these families to live in while they get back on track. They also provide financial assistance and support. A small team of us came in and relocated some of the Christmas presents for the kids and organized them in their storage. It was a blessing to serve these people.

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Simon has been leading the Extreme Team since Second Saturdays started back in 2009 at Cornerstone. I was a year into being on the Mission board and the concept was to send teams out into the community to volunteer for a few hours on a Saturday. Even though Simon no longer attends there, he has always kept the Extreme Team going. He always has project and sends out Facebook invites to get some of us to help. I love his heart for the local community. Tonight he had a gathering for those of us that have helped out over the past year. But we pulled a surprise on him and honored him for his leadership to the Extreme Team. He was humbled of course. It was a fun night of food and fellowship and I look forward to many more opportunities to serve in 2013.

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Habitat for Humanity is a Christian-based organization that builds and repairs simple, decent and affordable homes for families in need. They have been serving Central Arizona since 1985. Habitat helps families of low and moderate incomes become homeowners by building and partnering in the creation of affordable housing. Today several of us from Mission church volunteered our time to help build a house for the Fuerte family. They have 2 daughters with a child on the way. But they also live in a small run-down two bedroom apartment. It was a blessing to work alongside my friends and be a blessing to this family in need.

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This song has always had special meaning to me. We sang it a lot on my first mission trip 6 years ago and every time I would hear it I would think of that particular trip and how God called me to be on mission. How I have interpreted what ‘being on mission’ looks like has changed so much over the years. Today my Pastor talked about being on mission and afterwards we sang this song. It was a moment I needed to just stand in the back and really listen to God what He was saying to me in that moment.

Chris spoke about his heart to be on mission to both the ASU and Tempe High campuses (funny – both schools I went to). I spend about 80% of my time in the surrounding community building relationships and serving people – it’s kinda how God wired me. I form relationships pretty easily and I attribute that gift to God.  I just formed a partnership with an amazing faith base coffee shop and was just offered an opportunity to teach english classes to international students in both Tempe and in China. These are just some of the ways God is calling me to be ‘on mission’ to the community and the world.

Even though these things are exciting and rewarding, I’m still a family man at heart. As I pack for vacation here, I am reminded of how much I love spending time with my boys and being there for them. I’m enjoying my time with my siblings and friends as well. First and foremost, being on mission for my family comes first. This is something I have confused many times in the past. It’s also a common mistake with Pastors who put their ministry above their families.

A few years back I was in a great relationship with an amazing girl and I began to withdraw from her as we got more serious. As I look back at that, my fear was I wouldn’t be able to do ‘big and great things’ for God if I married her. My heart and identity was wrapped up in a mega church that I was grossly over-volunteering for and a mediocre missions program that I was trying to inject life into. Being on mission meant that I was doing the noticeable things for God and I made sure ‘Facebook world’ knew about it. Now I look back and laugh at how arrogant and selfish I was back then. It wasn’t about God, it was about me. Who am I to interpret what ‘big things’ for God looks like?

I’m very thankful for the opportunities that God gives me to go out into the world and serve and for the serving opportunities here in the valley. They really do enrich and reward my life and it’s my heart and I love telling the stories of what God is doing (not me). But at the same time, I love being on mission for my family and watching my boys grow to be amazing men of God. God has really rewired my thinking and shown me what the Kingdom is all about. Jesus says over and over that the Kingdom of God is near and for me, that could just be chatting with the guy next to me in a coffee shop. Only Jesus can move mountains (the ‘big things”) and I am here to be His servant so He can use me to be that shining light to others. His will, not mine and I am thankful to be even just a small part of His plan for the world.

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A bunch of us have been helping out a veteran who had a pacemaker put in and has just been put on dialysis. Our friend  John Maxwell lives in a pretty run down house in Chandler that needs a lot of work. Some of us went in a month ago and cleaned up his yard so he could avoid city fees. After he was put on dialysis, we found out that he was sleeping on a pretty crappy bed. So my friend Simon organized an online donation link for many of us to donate to get him a bed. The money came in within hours and by the end of the week, John had a new bed to lay in as he received his treatments. Today a bunch of us spent time doing electrical work and patching up holes in his house. Afterwards, he took us all to lunch at Rosati’s.

As awesome as all of this is, the cool part of the story is John’s son. He has been taking care of his dad and we found out he is a practicing Buddhist priest. Through all this serving, we have made a connection with. He has been allowing us to pray for him and his dad and really enjoys being around all of us. My prayer is that we can be a shining light to him and that he sees Jesus in all of us.

The new bed

John keeps this next to him for inspiration

Working on John’s house

John’s room

Simon – A humble servant

At Rosati’s – the guy with the beard is John’s son

John’s cane

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There are always opportunities to serve other cultures here in the United States – whether it’s in refugee communities or even on campuses with international students. I love this video. Get involved!

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“…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:14

A bunch of us from SOMA and MYA went down to the Phoenix Rescue Mission to serve for the Project 414 Water Drive. PRM is an amazing place that started in 1952 and has been assisting the homeless here in Arizona ever since. Their mission is to rescue lives, to save lives, to change lives, and to serve lives. In the summer it gets really hot and they put together these water drives to make sure some of the homeless out in the streets don’t die of thirst. We were split into teams and sent out throughout the valley to deliver water and care packages.

We were sent to a neighborhood in Phoenix that had an outreach being put on by Church on the Street. Church on the Street trains up disciples and reaches out to the homeless and the disadvantage by these street outreaches. I was blown away by these guys and their dedication to these neighborhoods. We cooked up hot dogs, had some worship music and a Pastor gave the gospel presentation to many of these people in poverty. It was a great day to serve and see the Spirit move through the people of Phoenix. What a blessing it is to see the body of Christ come together like this and serve together faithfully.

  

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
the moths will eat them up.

Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

Isaiah 50

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Tonight I was being interviewed by a journalist after going to a cooking demonstration at Phoenix Public Market about what I like most about the local food and artist connection in downtown Phoenix. I told her I love the community that is going on down here.  We have so much to learn from these people. There is so much support for the local agriculture farmers with people buying and supporting each other and by owners using their products in their restaurants.

Mishkan House

I have been seeking what it is like to start living a modern-day Acts life. Our MC has been praying about heading that direction for this year and being more in each others’ lives. But I have also been seeking to find people already living this out as a model for myself. I met this guy Joshua who told me about a group of people in downtown Phoenix that are living out the book of Acts in a house called the Mishkan House (Hebrew for tabernacle). They are totally living in community with each other and sharing everything they have with each other. I went down there tonight for a potluck.

Apprenticeship to Jesus is one of a family of ministries that are part of Antioch Network, an international, interdenominational fellowship preparing the way for the Lord. These guys are living together, having dinner together and are in constant prayer each day together. They are seeking to reach the surrounding areas and to share the love of Christ to their fellow neighbors. I was really encouraged by what I saw and it showed me a lot about my own selfish life that I have been living. My prayer is for change in how I am with people and to learn to be more Christ-like and open to my fellow neighbors.

  • – From their website on what a shared life looks like:

Shared Life

We are a community committed to becoming the type of people who routinely act in and respond to the real demands and opportunities of life, such as relationships, work responsibility, family life, community needs, as Jesus did.  We see that He was a powerful help to those around Him and desire to increasingly act with His wisdom, humility, beauty, and power.  We believe this same beautiful life, the very life of Jesus, is available to us as we increasingly engage our body, will, thoughts and emotions with Him in His Kingdom. In order to go deep with Jesus, allowing Him to live in us, we make a decision to alter the daily patterns of our living.

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“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”  Hebrews 10:24

There is so much going on in the world and in our surrounding community. God turned my heart onto serving and loving others 5 ago and it has become a big part of my life and who I am. As I served, I realized I couldn’t do it all myself. I started to challenge others to do something bigger than themselves and join in with me in seeing these different ministries and charities. I would invite them to come serve in the community with me. I even started this blog site to do the same thing, challenge others to live an epic life. Not too long ago I met someone special who had the same heart as me. After surrendering her old life to Christ, she started a ministry called Contagious Hearts. Through inspirational videos, this website encourages those who watch them to join in the many great causes and organizations out there that are already doing amazing stuff in our surrounding community and in our world. I was blown away by her heart for people. I was even asked to partner with her and to join our hearts together to encourage others together. We were a force to be reckoned with and we wanted to allow God to use us as examples to others. I am sadden and disappointed that none of this came to fruition, but thought I’d still promote her site and let others visit it and to allow their hearts to be moved.

I was challenged awhile back to paint, so I thought I’d give it a try

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