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Posts Tagged ‘PhoenixONE’

International Justice Mission was just here in Phoenix doing some promotional work and showing their movie At the End of Slavery. I’m a huge advocate for what they are doing and always willing to share how God is using them to help abolish slavery.

“If history has shown us that the monster of slavery assumes new forms, it has also shown us that its oppressive systems crumble in the face of those who heartily oppose them. It is our collective responsibility to oppose slavery in the time given to us. History is on our side.”

-At the End of Slavery:
The Battle for Justice in our Time

 

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Road trips are always a great way to process things. It gives you the opportunity to reflect and ponder life. This road trip in particular has been good for me because I’ve experienced so much recently and God has been working in my life as a result of these experiences. I’ve experienced the death of both my Grandmother and my uncle in the past two weeks. I had a wonderful Holy Week in which I was able to proclaim my faith in baptism. I’m doing life with some pretty amazing people and my family has bonded together in ways I haven’t seen in a long time. God is good and my Grandmother’s death has drawn me closer to Him. I’m headed out to Catalyst West Coast in Irvine, California. I first went to Catalyst in 2009 with a team of leaders from my previous church. I attended the year after as well and haven’t been back since. Now I find myself being called to these conferences to soak in some teaching and to learn from those that are leading the church today. God has been preparing my heart for some big plans recently and has been opening many doors for me already. I attended a conference for my counseling college in the Fall and started to pray to God about what He wanted me to do with the courses that I have been taking. Not too long later, God started to bring young men into my life in search of mentorship and now I am finding myself pouring into the lives of several men as of late. My spiritual life grew closer to God through worship and He has further shaped my heart to be a part of being a voice for this generation by seeking change in this world. This grew out of attending Passion in Atlanta. God further aligned my heart to His heart for justice in Philadelphia by the example of those that spearheaded the movement for justice before me. Now God is calling me back into leadership. I just completely eight weeks of leadership training, joined my church counseling team and started a missional community. Catalyst is a wonderful conference of teaching and equipping leaders in ministry and I’m excited He has called me to come back. I saw Brad Lomenick speak a couple of months back at PhoenixONE and it was confirmation that God wanted me to be back here in Irvine. I also have many friends from the many years I was in ministry that are going to be here and I’m excited to spend time with them. After arriving, I spent my first night in worship praising the Lord for how great He is on the beaches of Newport Beach watching the sun go down.

Newport

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I enjoyed PhoenixONE tonight. I got to worship with all my friends under the stars. I also got to catch up with some dear friends that I have made over the years while on mission in other countries. I met Pastor Joseph “Jojo” while in Kenya at an orphanage. He was brought to the orphanage at a young age and is now the Pastor there. I got to hang with him a couple of times this week and we had some great talks. I also chatted with Suresh Kumar from Harvest India for a little while. He gave a special prayer over us and I’ve always appreciated the role he has played in my life. I have had many great God moments with Suresh over the years. Jeff Gokee interviewed some friends of mine that recently got married – Johnny and Criselda Sweet. They have a great testimony and it’s awesome to see a couple that is sticking it out and doing marriage right. My good friend Ryan Axtell led worship and Jeff gave a pretty awesome message on relationships. After years of working under him in 5th/6th grade student ministries, I have never heard him speak on dating and was pretty impressed with his talk. He was pretty hard on both the guys and the girls, but I felt he did it in love and it was a sermon many of us here needed to hear. Ryan and Sara Senters gave their testimony of having foster kids afterwards and I enjoyed them sharing their heart. It was a beautiful night and a blessing to spend with good friends!

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Pastor Jojo

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Suresh praying for us

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Ryan Axtell leads worship

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Jeff Gokee interviews the Sweets

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Ryan and Sara Senters

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Photo by Vintage Blush Photography

Photo by Vintage Blush Photography

A few of my friends shared their testimony in this video. I’m excited to see how PhoenixONE helped them get connected in the church community. One of the things I am loving that PhoenixONE is doing is promoting some of the wonderful organizations out there. I have always felt this is the generation to make a difference in the world. Christian Family Care is an organization that provides adoption/foster care/counseling to kids in crisis. It’s a wonderful organization and lately there has been a growing movement within the local churches to abolish the number of kids in the foster care system (over 12,000).

Ladouceur

Ladouceur

Another awesome organization that has been doing great stuff for many years is Compassion International. Robbie Seay Band led worship tonight and Robbie talked about what they are all about. Compassion provides child sponsorships to the many orphans around the world. For as little as $38 a month, you can make a difference in the life of a child by sponsoring them monthly. It provides food and clothing for the an entire month. I started sponsoring my child Ladouceur from Haiti back in 2006 when he was about five. He is close to teenage years now and I love getting letters from him. Tonight close to 40 children were sponsored by the PhoenixONE community. It’s funny that Compassion was brought up tonight because I have been praying about going to Haiti to visit my sponsored child. Tonight was also special for me as Aaron McRae from Hillside Community church was the guest speaker. He was a Pastor from my previous church and it was great catching up with him and Brian Wurzell – who is now going to be leading worship there.

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End it Movement contacted me earlier this week to let me know that their road team would be swinging by Phoenix. End it Movement is a movement that was launched after Passion 2013 that is raising awareness for the 27 million being held in modern-day slavery. The road team is traveling state to state hitting churches and universities to challenge young adults and students to be a part of the movement. Tonight they set up shop at PhoenixONE – a worship gathering of young adults from all over the valley to promote unity of the church. I met up with Kyle and David – the guys driving the red and black End It vehicle all over the U.S. Seriously – great guys with a huge passion for this. I felt like I have known them forever with how welcoming they were. I helped run their table and tell the people of PhoenixONE what End it Movement was all about. It was awesome to see all the people who pledged to be a part of a generation that is in it to End It. We also had a ton of accessories and gear that we gave out to help promote this cause.

It was a special night for me as well as Jason and Jessica Williams of Session Nine photography led worship. They are long time friends of mine and I loved being here to hear them lead worship. Jeff Gokee gave an awesome message on Jehovah Rapha – one of the wonderful names of God that means the God of healing and restoring. His message was centered on how we as Christians rarely go to God first when we go through pain and trials. Tonight was a blessing and I’m thankful God used me to be a voice here in my own backyard for justice.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

Psalms 147:2

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Photo by Anna Dufek

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Sometimes God puts people in your life to encourage and inspire you. This week I got some quality time with two people (of so many) who have impacted me.

I was at PhoenixONE earlier this week running a booth. I ran into a guy who I haven’t seen in some time – my friend Malachi. It was funny because he was on the cover of my brochure at my table and I looked up and there he was. I love God’s sense of humor. At the very first PhoenixONE gathering in 2011, I sat with Malachi in the front row (he was volunteering). His personality made him easy to get to know as he was very friendly. Then I went through a difficult summer later that year and this guy Mike Bhatti recommended I get to know him because of our similar backgrounds. I ran into him at the ONE retreat in Williams and we spent some time together. I found out he had been through divorce and had a little daughter. He totally helped walk me through that tough time. He then moved to Alaska to be closer with his daughter not too long after that. But his impact on me remains and seeing him was a shot in the arm for me this week.

My bros Malachi and Daniel

My bros Malachi and Daniel

I went to Guatemala last year and met Karyn on that trip. It was her first mission’s trip and we sat together on the plane ride there. At first I was just trying to help calm her nerves. But then I really started to see how pure her faith in God was. I kept saying to myself that this is one very good girl and God is doing something cool in her. She is getting her degree in veterinarian medicine and was on this trip to work with the animals in the villages. We had a moment on the trip where it was just her and I treating a cow by ourselves in some remote village. The needle had broken off as she was injecting the medicine into the cow. I remember her tripping out at first because she couldn’t find the needle and didn’t know what to do. I so wanted to rescue her from this situation because I’ve always had this ‘rescue’ mentality most of my life for people in need (something God has worked out of me recently). So I decided to stand back and let God work in her. I just let her know that I was there for her if she needed and prayed. I then saw someone put her faith in God and take charge of the situation. It was amazing! I gained so much respect for her and we have become good friends since then. I remember telling my friend Julie (one of her accountability partners) on the plane ride back to not let any crappy guys come in and ruin this girl because she has such a pure heart for God. Today I razz her repeatedly for her loyalties to the U of A, but love her to death. We had a fun day celebrating her birthday today.

Me and Karyn

Me and Karyn

I love that God uses people to encourage our walk. These are just a couple of people God has put in my path to make me more Christlike. After a period of time of having negative judging people in my life that just drag you down, it is refreshing to have such positive uplifting brothers and sisters to grow with. I am thankful for them and feel very blessed to have them in my life.

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Tonight was a pretty fun night for me at PhoenixONE. I had my own booth set up and was able to connect with lots of people from different churches. I ran into my old buddy Malachi and chatted with lots of friends that I have made over the years. I then looked across and saw that my friend Heidi from Food for the Hungry had her booth set up across from me. She was fresh off her trip to Bangladesh with the FH bloggers. She was there to get people to sign up for the FH Empower Women 5k walk.

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Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell

It’s always a blessing to have my long time friends and worship leaders Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell lead worship for PhoenixONE. Brian always picks a song to get us moving around in our seats and tonight it was Hillsong’s “Break Free”. Tonight’s speaker was Brad Lomenick of Catalyst. I’m a huge fan of Catalyst and have been to a couple of their West Coast conferences in Orange county. Brad helps raise up leaders and Catalyst is a movement that helps equip them through amazing speakers and teachers.

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Brad Lomenick

Brad’s talk was about the four keys to being a change maker (the theme of the Catalyst conference this year). My notes:

1. Understanding your calling

– Our talents and passions should intersect

– Salvation and Vocation

Write down your three greatest strengths and then your three greatest passions

2. Create a legacy

– Your 20’s will establish your 70’s – start creating your legacy now.

– Be Kingdom entrepreneurs – both business and the Bible.

– Own a vision bigger than what is in front of you. Perseverance is important.

3. Excellence – be the best in the world.

– Set a standard of excellence.

– Be good at everything you do – father, co-worker, etc. Work hard and be a good finisher. The world will notice.

4. Be more like Jesus.

– Passionately pursue Him. There are too many average Christians.

– His grace leads to our passion of worship which leads to joy in our lives.

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“Break Free”

I sat with my friend Heidi during the service. She was up next to talk about Food for the Hungry‘s International Women’s Day. The Walk to Empower Women 5k walk at Indian Steele Park is in March. This is a walk to raise awareness of the women around the globe that face violence, discrimination, lack of basic rights, lack of education. Heidi has a huge heart for this and God has taught me a lot about partnerships. Heidi has put a lot of time and effort into this and I’m thankful be a voice to help raise awareness for her. Plus I have the utmost respect for Food for the Hungry and always blessed to be a part of what they are doing in to world.

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Heidi Hatch

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