Friday, February 27, 2015

ServLife International: "Blessings Ripple Out"

ServLife International is a movement defined by values of God’s kingdom, not programs built around human efforts and activities. The reign and rule of God should be made apparent to every person on the planet, despite their religion, race or socioeconomic status. We believe that issues of justice are inseparable from the good news that Jesus Christ came to proclaim. ServLife exists to take the gospel of Christ and the hope of a better, more just, world to the lives of people we touch. This happens through individual contributions of time, creativity, resources and dreams.



Christmas may be over, but its blessings are continuing to ripple out among the community of our ServLife partner in India.
Our partners in Raxaul, Bihar face a lot of pressures from the predominantly Hindu community in the area. Bihar is one of the hardest areas for Indian Christians to live and work. Less than 0.5% of the population in the area is Christian*, and those who are often face persecution. Our India Director, Albert Das, has faced personal threats of violence multiple times from parties who want him to cease sharing the gospel and doing his work in the name of Jesus.


However, Albert refuses to relinquish the passion God has given him for his work. Beyond his work training pastors to plant churches and caring for over 30 children his children's home, he also welcomes kids from the surrounding community to the ServLife International Missions School to receive an education at little or no charge. Many of these children are from Hindu and Muslim families, but are welcomed as brothers and sisters by Albert and his family.



This past Christmas, as he does periodically throughout the year, Albert invited the families of the Missions School children to join in a Christmas celebration at the children's home. 70 children and many parents from the surrounding area gathered to play games, see skits, and sing together. Albert and his family shared about the reason they celebrate Christmas and later all the children received gifts and everyone shared a meal together. Albert shares, "it was a great time of fellowship with the community."



Many of the families of the Hindu and Muslim children ServLife helps educate are reluctant to engage the gospel because of societal pressures and intolerant climate in the area. Nonetheless, many of the parents attending the Christmas program told Albert that they had "never experienced such love and were excited to hear the story of Jesus Christ." Albert plans to visit these families in the coming months to continue to share Christ's love with them and help them in areas they are concerned with, such as adult literacy and hygiene education.

Please pray that as Albert and our other partners continue to shower their community with God's love that lives will be blessed and hearts will be opened to the good news of Christ.



To support a child in ServLife India Missions School visit our child sponsorship page.



Adam Nevins 
From Adam Nevins
Executive Director
ServLife International Inc.



Join Our Mission

ServLife International propels reconciliation and justice by building global community to plant churches, care for children and fight poverty. Compelled by the message, life and love of Jesus Christ, we seek to care for the spiritual, physical, social, and economic areas of life in northern India and Nepal.  Learn more about our latest news, featured stories, and how to get involved at servlife.org

Support a Pastor

Our church planters spread the love of Christ in some of the most difficult
 environments in the world.
Support Them ... 

Sponsor a Child

For only $30 per month you can help give a child food, education, care and, most importantly, hope.
Sponsor Now ... 

Fight Poverty

The HOPE Fund, our micro-finance program, provides start-up funds for a small business, paving a way out of poverty for families in need.
Learn More ...



ServLife International, Inc.
P.O. Box 20596
Indianapolis, IN 46220
USA


Friday Follow-Up to this week's WAW Wednesday

"The Word at Work is a ministry that mobilizes churches and individuals to answer God's call to minister to those in need," writes Rev. Tim Tam, Director of the Amarillo, Texas-based ministry. "Through our relationships, God reveals needs and opportunities for service. As we come along side the poor, new friendships develop and doors for ministry open. As we serve, God provides the resources to supply for the needs he reveals."



Friday Follow Up - Thanks, Apology, and Prayer

Hey Friends! Wanted to touch base quickly as Kenny and I are in Mississippi visiting churches we work with here - happily missing a snowstorm in Texas. We had a great response to our request for iPhones - thank you! Our Wednesday message might have been unclear; we are looking for an electronic piano keyboard - just in case someone local has one to share, please let me know. Would you please pray for TWAW Staff and Teams? We are headed into our busy March season - six groups from Texas and New Mexico will be on the ground March 7 - April 4 in Belize! Groups will:

Come alongside the El Progresso community to help build a home;
Begin the transformation of Ebenezer Church in the Burial Grounds in Belize City;
Work with the young women at Youth Enhancement Services;
Continue construction on the Omega Church in Shawville as well as work with the Christian Sewing Partners of Belize Cooperative there;
Bring the Gospel through worship to prisoners at Belize Central Prison;
Present Girl Power to the King's Home girls;
Assist Gomer's House in Belmpan with their land preparation;
More sewing in the Valley of Peace;
Check out the Belize Gospel Expo;
Plus follow God's lead each day, looking for opportunities to serve Him outside our regularly scheduled programming;
Oh, and our TWAW Board will have their annual retreat!!

Please keep us covered in prayer - we're grateful for your partnership!

Click Here to learn more about becoming a TW@W Ministry Associate, or get in touch with Tim Hagen for more information!

Thanks,

Tim Tam
The Word at Work




EDITOR'S NOTE: Speaking from my own first-hand experience - working side-by-side with Tim, Kenny and our brothers and sisters in Belize - won't you give thoughtful, prayerful consideration to supporting the efforts of Tim, the Word At Work staff and their partners? Please please fill out this Commitment Card and return it to their office!

Also, remember that you can follow The Word At Work on their Facebook page!

From @FWMission ... Friday Story: "Just a Smile"

Founded in 2001, Free Wheelchair Mission is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing wheelchairs for the impoverished disabled in developing nations. Headquartered in Irvine, California, FWM works around the world in partnership with a vast network of humanitarian, faith-based and government organizations, sending wheelchairs to hundreds of thousands of disabled people, providing not only the gift of mobility, but of dignity, independence, and hope.


Friday Story: "Just a Smile"
Greetings and happy Friday!

Mobility dramatically improves a recipient’s way of life. While we don’t always get to see all the ways that a wheelchair changes someone’s life, sometimes just seeing the smile on the recipient’s face as they are placed into their wheelchair is more than enough to understand the positive impact it has on them.

At four years old, Menzi from Swaziland cannot walk or talk and his neck is not strong enough to support his head, but that doesn’t stop him from smiling every time he hears his parents’ voice. He is the youngest of four children and the only one with health issues. Menzi’s parents have tried to help their child in a variety of ways, including traveling nearly 100 miles to see a doctor in the hopes that they would be able to improve the quality of his daily life. When they heard about The Luke Commission’s partnership with Free Wheelchair Mission, they knew they had found an answer that would ease their concerns for their son ...


read the rest of this story ...



Want to take one of these wheelchairs  for a test drive? During normal business hours, visit the lobby at the Texas Street entrance of First Presbyterian Church-Midland, at the northwest corner of Texas and A streets, on the west side of downtown Midland. You can give the gift of mobility. The cost of $72.00 is a bargain to us ... but it is a life-changing gift to impoverished and disabled recipients ... and there are times when your contribution will be matched, reaching not one - but TWO, and sometimes FOUR recipients. Please note on your check "Wheelchair Gift."

In the News ... Interim Preacher at FBC-Midland is New Seminary Dean at Baylor

Lori Fogleman
Baylor Media Communications


WACO, TEXAS - Following a six-month search that drew interest throughout the country from nationally known biblical scholars, seasoned administrators and prominent Texas Baptists, Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr has announced the appointment of New Testament scholar Todd D. Still, Ph.D., as the fifth dean of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Dr. Still is currently professor of Christian Scriptures and The William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures at Truett Seminary, where he has been a faculty member since 2003. He will begin his service as dean on June 1, succeeding Dr. David E. Garland, who will return to full-time teaching after an eight-year tenure as dean of the seminary.

“In Dr. Todd Still, Baylor University, and our dear friends in the Texas Baptist family, found a visionary leader to guide into a bright future our beloved Truett Seminary,” President Starr said ...

... presently, he is serving as interim preacher at First Baptist Church of Midland, Texas ...

read the rest of this report ... 


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 27, 2015


DOMINCAN REPUBLIC (continued) - Transforming a disco club into a community center ... The project began with demolishing the dancing stage. As the group worked, the community warned them that the local voodoo priest had buried items in the stage as symbols of his curses that held the community bound ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Far East News: Military Conflicts Escalate in Kachin & Shan States, Myanmar

Devestating floods, deadly cyclones and repressive governments notwithstanding, our friends in mission based in southeast Asia continue to spread the love of Jesus Christ, not only through their actions, but through the written Word of God. Following is an update we received from Mark and Astrid of the Christian Far East Ministry. We met with them both, learned from them and contributed to their efforts during our Thailand Mission, in 2008. Their work extends beyond the borders of Thailand into other southeast Asian countries, as well.

visit CFEASIA's website
visit CFEASIA on Facebook




"Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith ...”   James 2:5 (TLV)

Military Conflicts Escalate in Kachin and Shan States, Myanmar ...

The Report below is an urgent request to pray for the Kachin people. New attacks by the Burmese Army are displacing more people, and we are trying to get aid to trapped villagers, but they are very hard to reach. Please pray for our local contacts on the ground and the safety of the people. Pray for a miracle to get aid to the IDPs and to be able to transport the IDPs to a safe area. Please pray with us as Astrid will be going to the Kachin IDPs in March.


In Kachin State's Phakant region, where battles have been taking place for days between Kachin Independence Army and the intruding Burmy Army, hundreds of local villagers are being held and used as human-shields by the Burma Army's 66th Light Infantry Division. The Kachin Independence Army's (KIA's) 6th Battalion troops have to refrain from fierce Battalion troops have to refrain from fierce resistance to avoid inflicting civilian casualties.

Local Christian organizations are trying to transport the trapped civilians to safety, but they are being blocked by the Burma Army. Also no aid is allowed into KIA controlled areas.


The Burma Army has recently resumed an all out military offensive in Kachin State and northern Shan State. They are recklessly firing artillery in all directions. In fear Kachin villagers are now running for their lives. Burma Army soldiers in these regions are also trying to block the ethnic civilians from fleeing to safety and they use them as human-shields.

Two Kachin Baptist Convention's Volunteer girls were raped and killed by Burmese troops in the Muse area of Northern Shan State, Myanmar on 19 January 2015.

These two ladies were doing the same kind of relief work that Astrid and her friends are doing. The Burma Army caught them, raped them, and then hit them in the head and face with the end of a piece of lumber until they died. The pictures are horrifying, so they are not in this newsletter. But if you want to see them you can go to our Facebook page for January 21, 2015.

Astrid still plans to go back to this area in March, so we'd appreciate your continued prayers.


Thank you for your continued support so God’s love and truth can continue to go forth where it is most needed. God bless you!

Mark and Astrid



NEW INCORPORATION - Christian Far East Ministry has now been incorporated in America. All gifts may now be given directly to Christian Far East Ministry, PO Box 1411, Glendora, CA 91740. "If it is easier for you to continue to give through Faith Community Church or His Servants Ministry, you can as our relationship with these ministries has not changed. But if you are mailing checks to the Glendora address, you may now make all gifts payable to Christian Far East Ministry. We’d like to thank Faith Community Church and His Servants Ministry for their assistance and support throughout the years and their continued assistance. We’d also like to thank all of you who support us and pray for us as we could not do this ministry without your partnership."

Faces of Children: Prayer Concerns for This Week

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Prayer Concerns for the Week of 02/25/15


Australia and Australian territory in the Indian Ocean

I AM a bird in a cage,” says one 14-year-old girl. “We are getting crazy in here,” says another asylum-seeker child, locked in an Australian detention center in the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru. The drawing of a third shouts: “Help!” Other young detainees have harmed themselves, and even attempted suicide.
          • more on this issue ...
Pray for “The Forgotten Children” who arrive on boats crammed with people seeking asylum and are locked up for periods of indefinite detention on Australia’s mainland and surrounding islands.
Pray for these children from Iran, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and many who are stateless.
Pray for the child victims of 233 assaults and 33 reported sexual assaults while in detention.
Pray for children in detention centers with mental problems who need psychiatric support.
Pray the conflicting political parties will work together for the best interests and well-being of these children.
Pray for God’s mercy, justice, and grace to cover “The Forgotten Children.”

Philippines

Children are caged to keep the streets clean for the Pope. Police round up orphans and chain them in filth during the pontiff's visit to Philippines.
          • more on this issue ...
Pray for street children in Manila who were rounded up before the Pope's arrival and put in adult jails or cages.
Pray for children forced to sleep on floors in detention centers. Pray for children kept with adults who beat them.
Pray for children who were starved and chained to pillars in these centers. Pray for one child who was rounded up 59 times; yet, he is still living on the streets.
Pray for protection for the street children of the Philippines. Pray they might know the love of Jesus Christ through the compassion of his servants.

Faces of Children

Please keep the members of the Faces of Children visioning team in prayer as they seek God’s guidance for this ministry. Pray God will bless them with a clear vision for the ministry and its future.
  Please continue to pray that more churches and individuals will join with the ministry of Faces of Children in spreading awareness about children in crisis and inviting more people to pray for children at risk.



If you have prayer requests about children, those who care for them, those who have authority over them, or those who harm them (the really hard prayers to say sometimes), please send them to info@facesofchildren.net

In the News ... "Jesus House in Need of Toiletry Items"

Staff report
KOSA-TV


ODESSA, TEXAS - Jesus House of Odessa is in need of toiletries for the people they help ...

read the rest of this KOSA report ... 


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 26, 2015


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Part 1) - In May 2013, Dubuque Theological Seminary brought a mission team to Batey San Joaquin, Dominican Republic, to participate in a radically transformative project. A local leader, Pastor Alejandro wanted to transform a disco club where drugs and prostitution were rampant into a community center where women would develop viable options to provide for their families’ needs ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WAW Wednesdays: Photos and Good News

"The Word at Work is a ministry that mobilizes churches and individuals to answer God's call to minister to those in need," writes Rev. Tim Tam, Director of the Amarillo, Texas-based ministry. "Through our relationships, God reveals needs and opportunities for service. As we come along side the poor, new friendships develop and doors for ministry open. As we serve, God provides the resources to supply for the needs he reveals."



Photos and Good News

Here up-front are this week's requests ...
Anybody upgrading their iPhones? We can use a couple ... 4's or newer
Help with some expenses incurred with Gabby and her mom ... to date $1,050
Anyone have a new or used Keyboard?


Rare photo ... like seeing an Eskimo in a Speedo ... is capturing a Belizean shoveling snow. Our own beloved, Kenny Logan, is up here with me in Northern Texas. We are visiting some of our church partners. Tomorrow we visit churches in Mississippi.

Gabby is doing great. This week was a big event. She got to stand up and walk on her own two legs for the first time since even before coming to Amarillo. The excitement brought her and her mom both to tears. However, she still has a couple months of wound care and intensive antibiotic care ahead of her. So we have lots of things planned for her. Thanks to some caring supporters she has glasses and clear vision like she's never known.

And thanks to another great partner, Saint Andrew's Episcopal school, she now receives tutoring so she doesn't fall behind in her education. Here she is pictured with Jan Koesjan from St. Andrew's.

Our Ministry Associate team gathers school supplies, toys, and stuffed animals through out the year ... we've discovered blankets are an ongoing need as well, so please be saving them, too. Click Here to learn more about becoming a TW@W Ministry Associate, or get in touch with Tim Hagen for more information!

Thanks,

Tim Tam
The Word at Work




EDITOR'S NOTE: Speaking from my own first-hand experience - working side-by-side with Tim, Kenny and our brothers and sisters in Belize - won't you give thoughtful, prayerful consideration to supporting the efforts of Tim, the Word At Work staff and their partners? Please please fill out this Commitment Card and return it to their office!

Also, remember that you can follow The Word At Work on their Facebook page!

In the News ... "The Rev. Buhl: Heaven neither ‘black’ or ‘white’"

OA Photo by Mark Sterkel
• New pastor of St. James Baptist Church steps in after the Rev. McNeil retires

By Bob Campbell, Reporter
Odessa American

ODESSA, TEXAS - The Rev. Samuel L. Buhl Sr., pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church at 2212 E. 11th St., is working on joining the Southern Baptist Convention in part to seek more unanimity among Christians of all races.

Asked his response to the SBC’s new emphasis on integration, Buhl said, “Sunday morning is the only segregated time we have.

“Blacks go to their church, whites go to theirs and Spanish to theirs. There is not going to be a white Heaven and a black Heaven. It’s just going to be Heaven, and if we plan on making it there, we got to get along here” ...

read the rest of this OA report ...


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 25, 2015


CARIBBEAN ISLANDS - In 1999 a young Baptist minister left Grenada to study clinical pastoral education (CPE) at the HealthCare Chaplaincy in New York City. He hoped this training would help him better serve in his volunteer ministry with the terminally ill at the local hospital in St. George’s ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

EPCAT-USA: Modern Day Slavery - END IT!


ECPAT USA is part of a global network of organizations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.

Modern Day Slavery - END IT!

This February 27th (FRIDAY), join us and other Freedom Fighters from around the world as we SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY.

Draw a RED X on your hand and post about it on social media using #ENDITMOVEMENT . Tell your world that slavery still exists and you won't stand for it. Join the 27x7 Campaign. We believe slavery could end in our lifetime ... together we can END IT!


 

For more information email us at info@ecpatusa.org

Invitation to Prayer: TOMORROW

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

The Midland Faces of Children prayer group will gather this coming Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center conference room at First Presbyterian Church-Midland, Afterwards, we'll share lunch ($5) and fellowship.


In the News ... "The winding road to ministry"

OA Photo by Mark Sterkel
• Mid-Cities pastor discusses career change, inspiration to serve God

By Bob Campbell, Reporter
Odessa American

ODESSA/MIDLAND, TEXAS - The Rev. Daniel Stephens was 16 years old, wearing his basketball uniform at a youth camp in Colorado, when he learned that he would be a minister.

Sure of his destiny but uncertain he could make a living at it, he took a Texas Tech business degree and worked as a Lubbock mortgage banker before joining Mid-Cities Community Church as youth pastor in 2002 ...

read the rest of this OA report ...


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 24, 2015


VENEZUELA - Our congregation, Jesus of Nazareth Presbyterian Community, is located in a semirural area outside the city of Barquisimeto. In the Valley Breezes neighborhood lives Alida González, a 41-year-old mother of four we met four years ago.

That day, Alida was preparing to entrust her children to her sister-in-law. Alida lives with chronic anemia, hepatitis, diabetes, and hypertension. And kidney failure has sent her to dialysis three times a week the past four years.

Soon after, Alida began attending our worship services ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Monday, February 23, 2015

ChinaAid: "Public security bureaus deny worshipers passes to attend Hong Kong gospel conference"

The China Aid Association is a non-profit Christian organization - based in Midland, Texas - with a mission to uncover and reveal the truth about religious persecution in China, focusing especially on the unofficial church. They do this, they explain in their website, by exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused and equipping the saints to advance the kingdom of God throughout China.

Public security bureaus deny worshipers passes to attend Hong Kong gospel conference
Distributed by ChinaAid, January, 2015 ...

YANCHENG, JIANGSU, CHINA – In the face of an upcoming gospel conference in Hong Kong in March, public security bureaus in several places throughout China have been denying Chinese citizens passes, which would allow them to travel from mainland China to Hong Kong or Macau ...

more on this story from China Aid  

Invitation to Prayer: WEDNESDAY

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

The Midland Faces of Children prayer group will gather this coming Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center conference room at First Presbyterian Church-Midland, Afterwards, we'll share lunch ($5) and fellowship.


In the News ... "Rev. Patrick Payton chosen as Presidential Leadership Scholar"

MRT Photo by Cindeka Nealy
• Discourse with those who have different experiences and perspective

By Steve Kuhlman, Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - The Rev. Patrick Payton, pastor of Stonegate Fellowship, will represent Midland in the inaugural class of Presidential Leadership Scholars. The six-month program begins this week at Mount Vernon, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Payton and 59 other participants ranging from CEOs and company presidents to doctors and nonprofit directors will meet once a month for educational sessions on leadership and to develop their own personal leadership project.

“This is really a responsibility that I carry for the city,” Payton said. “I feel like there is a real responsibility to represent the Permian Basin and see what we can do for this city" ...


read the rest of this MRT report

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 23, 2015


COLOMBIA - "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 
(Matt. 25:35–36)

This text reminds us that we are agents of change in our church and community; that we can help to improve the quality of life of children and young people, along with their families. Our mission also compels us: “The Nueva Vida Center for Holistic Development, through acts of social justice and the proclamation of the good news, is committed to helping children and youth overcome difficult life circumstances” ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Upward Devotional: "Sharing the Fun"

As I noted before, during the first two months of the year, part of my Saturdays are spent in gymnasiums … one in my church, and another in the public high school across the street. The Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season is well underway here, in Midland, Texas. Volunteers are helping the program in a lot of different ways … as coaches, referees, time/scorekeeprs, and delivering devotionals to the fans during halftime breaks … I’m one of the volunteers doing the devotionals, and here was my presentation for this past Saturday, inspired by what I observed of the youngsters on the court …


Hello, everyone, and thank you for being here today for the kiddos ...

One of the reasons I volunteer for Upward Basketball is to enjoy a chance to watch kids at play ... there is something spontaneously joyful about children at play ... and that joy can be contagious.

A few weeks back, a timeout was called during one of the games, and a coach signaled to his team to circle around ... and most of them did ... except for one little boy, off by himself, just outside the circle, going like this ... (at this point I'm spinning around in a tight loop while waving my arms)

As the father of two young men, I know there will come a time when sports, and everything else in a youngster’s life will become so serious, a point where a child’s every move will determine whether or not they will have a future as a professional athlete, or a scientist, or a successful business owner.

And of course you are there to support or encourage your kiddos in whatever path they take into their future ... but that might include their choice to abandon that path if all they joy has been sucked-out of it, and pursue another path.

There may be some future NBA or WNBA stars out there ... or there may not. I don’t know, and I don’t care because, for now, at this stage, there is still the fun, the joy.

Jesus told us – more than once, that we can learn something from children.

In the Book of Mark, we read about a time when people brought their children to Jesus ... “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them ... But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

I guess the disciples needed reminders sometimes, because in the Book of Matthew we read about them quizzing Jesus ... “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

Now, I'm not saying 'all fun at all times' ... we still need to make sure they get a good bedtime, eat a good meal, mind their manners and other 'un-fun' things. But when we can, let them have their fun, and let's share that fun, that joy with them.

Thank you, everyone. Enjoy the game!

In the News ... "God Bless Midland campaign starts year of service with comedy and music"

Courtesy Photo
• Campaign will turn toward a focus on community service

By Steve Kuhlman, Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - After a few years off, First United Methodist Church in downtown Midland is reviving its God Bless Midland campaign this Sunday. The church’s year-long campaign will feature entertainment, free food and volunteer opportunities.

“I think what we’ve discovered is that the phrase ‘God Bless Midland’ is actually what our church has done over many years,” said the Rev. Tim Walker, senior pastor. “This church, long before my time was a blessing to the community. We have decided that we are staying downtown and we want to be sure that the whole town knows that we want to bless the whole town.”

Kicking off the campaign, God Bless Midland coordinator Kaci Rybolt said the church will host an event featuring Christian comedian, singer and songwriter Mark Lowry along with The Martins and Stan Whitmire ...


read the rest of this MRT report

From @austinseminary ... First Sunday of Lent

Written by professors, graduates, and others in the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary community, these reflections, prayers, and spiritual practices will take you along the journey with Jesus through the cross toward resurrection.


First Sunday of Lent
Sunday, March 22, 2015

Psalm 122
Luke 7:36–50


My husband and I love to travel. We have some favorite locations to which we return, but can always find interesting and unknown places that lure us into packing our bags, juggling the challenges of modern-day travel, and heading down an untraveled road in search of new experiences.

Lent is an invitation to a journey of a particular kind. A journey of discovery, a pilgrimage, a time set aside to “go into the House of the Lord.” And while this journey is metaphorical, it shares certain things in common with the physical journeys we take.

One of those things is the preparation for the journey. What will we take with us to this new, unknown destination? What will go into our bags? Seasoned travelers know it is best to travel light. That means we have to choose carefully what we should take and leave out much of what we think we need. That is not an easy task. However, our task is simplified when we can bring ourselves to include the spiritual discipline of humility. Through humility, we can focus on those things that are important rather than those that simply make us look good.

Today’s reading puts this discipline into perspective. Simon, apparently a man of some importance, has invited Jesus to his home for dinner, and Jesus has accepted. But the evening holds some surprises. Luke tells us that we need to pay close attention to what happens next. “Behold!” he writes (v.37, RS V).

Simon’s carefully orchestrated dinner party is interrupted by the unannounced arrival of an uninvited, unnamed woman, one well-known for her unsavory reputation. As the host and other guests sit, staring in shock and indignation, she kneels behind Jesus. Weeping, she breaks open a costly jar of ointment and begins to massage his feet with her hair.

In order to serve Jesus, she has risked rejection and humiliation. But to her surprise and, even more, to Simon’s, Jesus challenges Simon’s behavior rather than the woman’s. Through her humility, the woman showed love. Through his pride, Simon could only show condemnation.

There is no room on our Lenten journey for both pride and humility, and we do well to leave pride behind. It is excess baggage of the worst kind, weighing us down, requiring many accessories. Can we do it? Can we promise, “I will, with God’s help?”

Loving God, help us to set aside our need for pride and selfimportance. Grant us the humility that delivers us from concerns of “what will people think” so that we are free to more truly love and serve you. In the name of Christ our Lord, Amen.

– The Reverend Jane Caperton Johnson (MDiv’06)
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Smithville, Texas




For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 22, 2015


MINUTE FOR MISSION: EVANGELICAL SEMINARY OF PUERTO RICO - The Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico’s primary purpose is the training of pastoral and lay leaders for service in the ministry and mission of God’s people in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. As an ecumenical center for theological education, it represents five Protestant denominations, including the PC(USA), by covenant agreement.

At age 33, Megh Goyal began putting his dreams into action when he flew to Puerto Rico to teach agricultural engineering. An avid and curious learner, Megh found a Christian community and enrolled in a course for lay pastors offered by the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. The course opened his mind to how Christian ministry can be empowered by creative, critical, and careful biblical interpretation ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

In the News ... "2015 Midland Prayer Breakfast"

KMID Photo
Kierra Powell, Reporter
KMID-TV


ODESSA, TEXAS - Hundreds of people came together at the Midland Center, taking a moment to join together and pray.

The city of Midland hosted its 6th Annual Prayer Breakfast. Frank Wolf, a former U. S. Representative was the event's Keynote Speaker.

The event took place just a few days after ISIS released a new video showing the beheadings of an alleged Christian minority group.

"I think it's important for the church in the west to speak out on behalf of those being persecuted and killed," Wolf said ...

read/watch the rest of this KMID report 


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 21, 2015


PERU - The New Year was supposed to mark a new era. After more than a decade of advocating for environmental responsibility on the part of a lead smelter in the town of La Oroya, where 99 percent of children suffer from lead poisoning, stricter emissions standards were to take effect. But they did not.

Why? An $800 million lawsuit against the State of Peru filed in an international court by the US owner of the lead smelter argued that the regulations would cost him profits, thus violating his rights as a foreign investor provided by a US-Peru free trade agreement.

But the lawsuit would not be the final word ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Friday, February 20, 2015

In the News ... "Odessans celebrate Ash Wednesday"

OA Photo
• Ministerial Alliance kicks off luncheon series


Nathaniel Miller, Reporter
Odessa American


ODESSA, TEXAS - Blanca Gregg was one of 20 people at First Christian Church Wednesday to celebrate Ash Wednesday, the annual celebration to start the Lenten season.

After a short service outside in the lawn, a rendition of ‘Amazing Grace,” Gregg received her ashes on her forehead, others electing to have theirs on the top of their hands.

For Gregg, Ash Wednesday was spent with her family. As a child, she said, her parents would take her to mass, a tradition she tries to continue with her daughter and grandchildren.

“It symbolizes to me … how important that was … that our Lord Jesus Christ died for us,” Gregg said after the service about why the Lenten period was important to her. ...

 • read the rest of this OA report
 


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. How often have you wondered, where are the young adults in the PC(USA)? Wonder no longer. The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study is devoted to the theme of young adults in the church. Its stories, many told by young adults, lift up how Presbyterians of all ages are engaging and joining with Presbyterian young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: February 20, 2015


BOLIVIA - We arrived in the city of Tarija in January 2012 and found ourselves in a context devoid of the gospel message. Many young adults, adolescents, children, and families did not know the gospel of Christ. Living in this city, we came to know its social context and daily life.

Tarija is well known as the city of wine and flowers. It is a college town, where many young people arrive each year to study. It does not offer much else of interest to them aside from parties. We believe that Tarija needs the gospel of Jesus Christ ...

CLICK HERE
to read more.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From @austinseminary ... Devotional for Ash Wednesday, Start of Lent

Written by professors, graduates, and others in the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary community, these reflections, prayers, and spiritual practices will take you along the journey with Jesus through the cross toward resurrection.


Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Psalm 130
Matthew 9:9–15


The call of Matthew happens suddenly. Jesus speaks two words to a tax collector who follows without question or conversation. This jarring story captures a dramatic change in Matthew’s life, appropriate for a story that, at least in part, is about conversion. I imagine that Matthew could recall the details of that day, even years afterward: what his life looked like from one side of the tax booth before he met Jesus and what he saw from the other side after Jesus called him.

Some of us can point to a similar story, perhaps even naming a day and an hour when our lives were forever changed. Others of us, like me, don’t have a story like Matthew’s. I remember a time in high school when I was disappointed that I couldn’t point back to a time when the definitive change in my life happened. It was during a Presbytery-wide youth rally at my home church, complete with a Christian rock band. One of the speakers at the rally asked us to testify to a moment of conversion in our own lives. I couldn’t, and I felt inadequate. I didn’t speak up because it didn’t seem like I had anything to say. Or did I actually have something to say?

There is no one template for Christian discipleship. Our stories are as varied as our number. But among our stories is a common thread: Jesus’ call to follow is meant for our whole lives. Not to follow him one day of the week, not to follow him only in spiritual life, not to follow him to one place only. But to follow him. Lent offers one time in the Christian calendar when we can focus our discipline to follow Jesus’ call: not in order to deprive ourselves, but in order that we might live more abundantly.

Whether we can point to a definitive moment in our lives when we became aware of Christ’s call, or whether we awakened to it more gradually over time is not the point. The point is for our stories to be shaped by the story of the One who invites us every day anew, to taste life in its abundance each moment of the day, to hear the Good News that he proclaims as if for the first time. As if we had just heard it and had to leave the tax booth behind.

Gracious God, your Son calls each of us by name, but we often do not hear because of the noises that surround us. Yet your Son calls us still. Help us to hear our name, and to follow as if we were meeting your Son for the first time. Amen.

– Dr. David H. Jensen
Academic Dean and Professor in The Clarence N. and Betty B. Frierson Distinguished Chair of Reformed Theology




For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.