Thursday, October 31, 2013


Here's three!  On Sunday, several people stopped by a letter writing station at church to write an encouraging letter to their sponsored child in Mozambique.  These letters to and from sponsored children serve to build relationships, spiritually encourage one another, and offer prayer across the thousands of miles.  Though it only takes ten minutes to write a letter, the affects of receiving a letter are far more lasting.  Thanks to everyone who served by writing their sponsored child and his/her family this weekend!  

Generosity Abounds

Here's two!  We set a goal at the beginning of the month to help fill the bus to Haiti by buying 100 chairs, 30 tables, and 25 computers for the university.  We also hoped to make 100 pillowcase dresses for girls in Haiti and increase our child sponsorship in Mozambique.  Here, on the last day of October, is the count!

*All of the tables, computers, chairs are paid for!!!!!! Any other funds that come in will continue to go toward our Haiti partnership.
*202 pillowcase dresses and more coming! (what an awesome picture above of the dresses in the sanctuary)
*35 child sponsorships- and you can still sponsor this week at the Welcome Center or anytime online- go to our OHC website and it will connect you with a sponsorship option in our Mozambique area through Food for the Hungry.

Thanks to OHC friends and partners for their generous giving to these Kingdom Service Opportunities!

Kingdom Service Days 29,30,31: Finishing Strong

Uh-oh, I've been slacking the past few days!  At the beginning of this month long series, I said that I would blog each day through the month of October.  I'm the one that always tells my children to finish strong that which they commit to...and here I am the slacker at the end of a great month of focused on Kingdom Service.  So, today I shall finish with 3 great stories to account for the last three days of this month!

Here's one!  Saturday:  A fun day in the Walnut Neighborhood.  First a group of college students came to help make 33:5 come alive....

Stripping the living room floor so that it can be sanded and refinished.  Can't wait to see the beautiful hard wood floor in refinished form!  

Students divided up and prayed through the 33:5!  So thankful for all of the prayers that are being lifted up in this place!

Thanks to these UNI students!  

Brian is a tremendous Kingdom servant!  He was the point person for the Harvest Party and 10th Birthday Party at Harvest Vineyard on Saturday afternoon.  

Yee-haw, pardners!  We also look forward to the next stage God has for you, Harvest Vineyard!  

Rajan has on his mean, competitive look as he prepares to defend his pie-eating champion status.  He actually did win his 2nd consecutive title.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 28: Development

Dave Bartlett did a great job teaching on development yesterday at Orchard Hill Church.  You can watch his message here:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 27: and whatever you do....

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Writing about Kingdom Service for a month is a bit tricky since we're called as followers of Christ to do EVERYTHING as an act of worship and service for the King.  

It really boils down to a matter of the heart and the motives from which our service outward stem.

A person who offers their life to Christ each morning and asks, "Lord, how would you like to live through me today? I'm at your service," might be at home raising children, working in politics, flipping burgers at McDonald's, entering the doors of their junior high, or heading off to any number of jobs, schools, and appointments in a day.  

In contrast, a person can be in full-time Christian ministry with the driving motivation being approval or personal success and completely miss the heart of Kingdom Service.  

So, as we head off into this day, allow whatever you do or say this day to be done as an act of love and service to Christ the King!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 26: Happy 10th Birthday, Harvest!

Thanks for trusting and obeying God's call for you in Kingdom Service, George and Judy!

Jorge Lopez shared about Harvest's and  La Cosecha's partnership and his appreciation for the friendship he and his wife, Nuriz, have with Judy and George.

Dan Paxton, pastor at Hearland Vineyard, shared about the beginnings of their daughter church, Harvest.

Councilman Steve Schmitt spoke about the positive impact Harvest has had on the Walnut Neighborhood.

Kingdom Service Day 25: quotes

"Servanthood is not what we want.  Partnership is what we want.  The Gospel of Community is key."
-Bob Lupton

""Our communities bear witness to the wounding effects of racism, prejudice, intolerance, evil, and injustice of all sorts. We are called to see with God's eyes and be awakened to the reality of the world around us. We are also called to be God's presence in this world, to be a part of the answer to its problems. We are not to be silent but are called, in some way, to take a stand."
-Debbie H. Deane

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 24: Kids in the Kitchen

I greeted and visited with folks last evening at Orchard's Wednesday evening family meal.  At one point, I wandered past the kitchen and saw these hardworking young volunteers busy washing and drying dishes.

Kingdom service within our church walls is so important!  In order to build community and grow up the Body of Christ, many individuals are needed to use their gifts right within the church building every week!

Seeing these young people reminded me of my childhood days in the church where I grew up.  I was active there serving alongside my parents from the time I was in early elementary.  Serving helped me to build a strong foundation for faith.  I felt needed, useful, and valued in church from the time I was very young.  I experienced a good God and a sense of belonging as I served alongside an intergenerational family of His followers who cared for one another and shared together.

Consider how you and your family members might serve within the many ministries and programs within Orchard Hill Church!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 23: Your Input Desired

We are in the 23rd day of a month long series called Kingdom Service at Orchard Hill Church.  Four challenging messages have been shared from the front, as well as an opportunity to sponsor a child or partner with our friends in Haiti as they supply the university.

What has God impressed upon you this month?  What new insights have you gained?  What questions are you asking?  Take a few minutes if you will and comment with some feedback!  Thanks so much!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 22: Acting Locally

On Sunday, I spoke about the willingness to be present with people.  Often when I have spent time having conversations with people about poverty and/or race, I hear from folks who are often targeted for service, and I hear them say, "Instead of trying to come fix us or make us your project, why don't you just come join us at one of our church suppers?" or "Why don't you just come get to know us?"

Here are a couple of upcoming opportunities to be present and to join with our partner church, Harvest Vineyard:

This Saturday, October 26:      Fall Harvest Party Noon-4 p.m.
Harvest Vineyard 715 E. 4th Street, Waterloo, IA
A great opportunity for all ages of individuals and families!

Noon-1:00  Lunch is served
1:00-3:30 p.m.  Game and Craft Stations
3:30-4:15 p.m.  Celebrating 10 years of Harvest Vineyard!

The theme is Western, so if you want to throw on your cowboy hat and lasso on down to Harvest for any or all of the afternoon, you are warmly welcome to do so!  

Next Saturday, November 2:  Freedom Cafe  Open Mic Night    7:30-9:30 p.m.
Harvest Vineyard, 715 E. 4th Street, Waterloo, IA

Come enjoy the creative expressions of many as people share song, poetry, and more from the open mic!  You can come just to listen or you can come with something you'd like to share.  No need to sign up for mic time in advance.  

Meet some new people, enjoy some coffee and treats, and consider a freewill donation to help free young people from human trafficking through Rapha House.

If you have questions or need more information, contact Laura Hoy by clicking here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 21: Relationships

If you'd like to see my teaching on Mutual Relationships (seeing from Kingdom lenses rather than the world's lenses) you may watch it here!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 20: Journeying no matter the season of life

I gave the message today at church and spoke about journeying away from seeing people through the world's eyes toward gaining Kingdom vision and seeing people through the eyes of Jesus.

One young mom came up to me post-teaching, and she shared how she'd like to get involved in some of the work that is going on in our community.  We began to visit and ended up talking about various seasons of life and how her life right now is filled with parenting young children.

As we spoke, I wanted to encourage her in two ways....

1. This season of her life requires a great deal of Kingdom Service right in her home with her family, and that "counts"!  That's good and beautiful.
2.  Secondly, I spoke with her about how she could listen and learn outside of her comfort zone even in this season of life.

Here are some ideas for young families who may not have much time to give outside of family life....

A. After the kids go to bed, watch movies that help you better understand the racialization of our society.  "The Butler" is a recent movie that is important to watch.  Find movies that help you better understand our history and how we've become such a segregated society.  "Amistad" is another important movie to watch.

B.  Stretch your multi-cultural, multi-ethnic muscles....go out to eat at a locally owned restaurant that serves something other than American food...El Patron, Honey Garden, the Marsala Grill, etc...

C.  Take your family to family-friendly community events.  There was recently a Hispanic Cultural Fest at UNI.  This summer, I took our children to the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Walk.  It was one mile long, and it commemorated King's "I Have a Dream" speech.  Families could easily have pushed strollers along the route!

D.  UNI has an International Friendship program.  When our twins were babies, we were paired with Atsuko, a student from Japan.  We love Atsuko and still stay in touch 13 years later.  Atsuko ate meals at our place, played with Nathan and Sara, went Christmas tree hunting with us, etc...  She taught us how to make sushi, too!  :)  This program would be a great way to meet someone from another country and to also give a UNI student a little taste of family life in Iowa.  I don't have the contact information for this, but if you're interested, I'd be happy to hunt down the info with you!

E.  Read your children some children's books that share about life outside of white upper-class America. There are some beautiful books that introduce our children to God's wonderful and diverse world!

F.  While the kids are napping, read Scripture and read books that help teach and challenge you to love neighbors outside of our known zones!

There are many ways to learn, grow, and serve no matter our stage of life!  I recently heard of one mom who is taking her children to a nursing home regularly and visiting with a resident there.  Beautiful!!

What are some other ways you're learning, growing, and serving in your particular season of life?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 19: Women

 Loved, loved, loved being at a women's retreat today at Orchard Hill Church; a retreat that empowered women in so many ways and called them out to live as God has created them to live and serve.

Three important links to check out below...all had booths today and all are on mission to walk women out of oppression and poverty.  There's beautiful jewelry, bags, and baskets to purchase.  Buy a gift and change the world through your support!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 18: Prayers for our friends in Mozambique

I know that we've got problems to solve as a nation and government in the United States.  The recent government shut-down is evidence of some pretty serious dysfunction, I know.  But today, I still sent my children to school with fair confidence that their lives won't be threatened.  After dropping them off for the day, I drove across town without fear of being ambushed.

Not so for my brothers and sisters in the Gorongosa region of Mozambique.  Political unrest and next month's elections are causing literal fighting in the villages and along the roadways.  Just a few days ago, fighting broke out in the area where many of our sponsored children live with their families.  As children go off to school, as family members travel through their days working for their livelihood, they are currently living in fear and real danger of being attacked and threatened and separated from one another.

Would you stop and pray for them today?  Pray for a strong sense of Christ's presence and courage.  Pray for peace.  Pray for health and integrity in their country's leadership and government.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to protect families and children.  Pray for the Food for the Hungry staff who live and work in the community. Help them to be the healing presence of Jesus bringing truth and grace to those around them during this strife.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 17: Fill the Bus to Haiti

At Orchard Hill Church this month, individuals and families are generously giving money to buy tables, chairs, and computers that will be shipped on a bus that our partners in Haiti, United Christians International, purchased for their ministry.  Shipping the bus from Florida to Haiti is priced by volume not weight, so it made sense to load the bus with supplies that UCI needs and requested.  But that's not even the best news...

These tables, chairs, and computers will be used in a university at UCI that is in its second year and is growing in reputation and size.  It is an accredited university that will have the country's first hands-on science laboratory for their pre-med students.  It will also have an agricultural program for students that will provide food for the university students.  But that's not even the best news...

University professors are Haitians who have masters degrees and are passionate followers of Christ.  Students who come to the university are not required to be Christian, but they are immersed in a dynamic Christian community; an environment full of Bible Study, prayer, worship, and service.  When I was there last Spring, I had the privilege to play volleyball with university students, to sit in a living room laughing and play ridiculous games with college students until late at night, and to spend an evening sitting in a large circle outside with the leaders of UCI, JeanJean and Kristie Mompremier, college students, and the team we brought from Iowa.  We sang, we laughed, we played games, and we were able to pray together for a college student who came forth and gave her life to Christ.  JeanJean translated and told us that this student had decided to give her life to Christ after witnessing and being part of such a joy-filled, peace-filled, purpose-filled community.  She wanted what she saw in believers, and she crossed the line of faith into Christ's life in the Kingdom of God.  That's the best news!  

Students will not only leave the university as educated leaders for their Haitian communities. Many will leave as Christian leaders equipped as disciples to share the Gospel in word and deed.  Jesus will transform hearts, lives, and communities as His Church spreads out across Haiti.  

It's a joy to partner with UCI and to help provide the university students with sturdy chairs, tables, and some computers for their education.  

It's a joy to partner with UCI in their mission...

"To develop disciple-making churches for the glory of God that:

-Exalt Christ (Matthew 28:16-18)
-Evangelize the lost (Matthew 28:19) 
-Edify believers (Matthew 28:20)

...beginning in the Central Plateau of Haiti and extending to all the world."

Orchard Hill Church has been invited to help UCI  and the university have a part in changing Haiti and the world--for the glory of God!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 16: Pillowcase Dresses

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:15-17)
Orchard Hill Church tries to enact a wholistic approach to ministry through the leadership of JeanJean and Kristie Mompremier, our local Haitian partners. When Kristie asked for new dresses for young girls in their community, the creative minds at Orchard set out to sew pillowcase dresses.
These dresses provide much-needed clothing for the girls, but Orchard hopes they also add one more layer of protection in their everyday life.
“By providing a new dress, you may well be changing a young girl’s destiny.” Dress a Girl Around the World continues by explaining, “Village pastors tell us that a girl wearing a new dress presents an appearance that she is well cared for and may discourage would-be predators.”
“It is life-changing,” shared Deb Lindaman who has traveled to Haiti 12 times. She had the opportunity to fit girls in the dresses on a recent trip, and she said it was so fun to experience the excitement with the girls and their families.
The people of Orchard Hill Church are called to serve like Jesus, by caring for the whole person – mind, body, and soul.
Join us in this effort to clothe and protect the lovely girls in Haiti by ironing, cutting, sewing, offering new pillowcases, or donating $5 to pay for a dress. Orchard also scheduled three sewing events. To sign up or receive more information, stop by the Event Desk or contact Kara Vander Wiel (

One of these sewing events took place last night!  Thirty eager servants came together for an evening of sewing and fellowship.  One dad even brought his 7th grade daughter who had an interest in learning how to sew.  Together they made pillowcase dresses for young girls in Haiti.  See a few photos below, and know that it's not too late to get involved.   Financial donations are being accepted for the dresses, and there are still two more sewing events.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 15: Peacemaking

I couldn't help myself.  I had to create a 2nd blog post today after I looked through the photos at the Youth Art Team blog (click have to see them.) that shared our experience Sunday.  The students have been talking about the Matthew 5:9 verse, "Blessed are the peacemakers..."  On Sunday, they painted pictures that represented peace, and they walked them out into the neighborhood to give them to neighbors.  All the while, their youth art team partner took pictures to tell the story as a photojournalist.  The fingerprints of Jesus were all over this.  Take a look at the Youth Art Team blog and see for yourselves!

Kingdom Service Day 15: Child Sponsorship

Orchard Hill has a partnership with Food for the Hungry in the Gorongosa region of Mozambique.  Over the past eight years, several friendships have developed between Food for the Hungry staff and Orchard friends, between Orchard friends and some of their sponsored children.

Food for the Hungry is a Christian development organization, and one of its development strategies is the child sponsorship program.  OHC celebrates the 250 child sponsorships through our congregation, and we are seeking the goal of 100 more.   Child sponsorship provides a strong financial base for a community as it seeks sustainable solutions for food security, education, clean water, health care, and more.  It also allows FH staff to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to grow up disciples who will plant churches and spread the Gospel.

Prayerfully consider child sponsorship in your household.  It is a powerful way to link arms and make a difference.  You can head to the events desk at OHC the next two Sundays to learn more about how to sponsor a child through Food for the Hungry!

(Ann Voscamp has a beautiful blog post related to child sponsorhip.  This past summer, she and her daughter met their sponsored child in Africa.  You can read it here.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 14: Wholistic

Alice Shirey did an excellent job teaching about the Whole Gospel and Jesus's care for the whole person.  I don't know many teachers who take on Matthew 25 with the sheep and the goats, but Alice did, and she did so with tremendous grace and truth.  You can watch her teaching this week by clicking here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 13: Youth Art Team

One of my favorite days of Youth Art Team this session was last Sunday when the photography subject was "People", and the team got to take pictures of each other.  We have several sibling groups on the Youth Art Team, and it was so much fun to see them being photographed together in all sorts of candid and posed shots.

This 8 week session of Youth Art Team is winding down, but if you're interested in volunteering in some way in the future, be sure to contact me by email!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 12: Love INC

It was a joy to sit down with two friends yesterday who caught me up to speed on what's happening with our local Love In the Name of Christ ministry.

Love INC birthed locally six years ago, as a result of a call on Carolyn Cleair, a friend I had met through Love Cedar Valley events.  Carolyn was instrumental on Love Cedar Valley's core team for several years, and she was thrilled to see so many churches unite to serve and worship together as one body for a one day event. This, however, also burdened her and several others with a desire to see the Church unite and serve together on a continued basis to meet needs in the community.

When Carolyn learned about something called Love INC in Spencer, IA, she felt nudged by God to pursue something like that for the Cedar Valley.  The rest is history, as they say.  You can read more about Love INC by clicking here.

Love INC has twenty local churches partnering together and is working hard to help churches avoid duplicate services, to validate the needs of individuals who seek help, and to move toward transformational, empowering ministry within the community.

Love INC currently has a great need for Clearinghouse volunteers.  The Clearinghouse is a call center open from 9-Noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Volunteers are needed to commit to one day a week to answer phones and follow a form asking callers a series of questions that help record and assess the needs and circumstances of those calling for assistance.  Clearinghouse volunteers then make follow up calls to help validate and prioritize needs and to connect the callers to needed resources.  If this is something you'd be interested in learning more about, you can email or call me, or you can find Love INC's contact information on their website.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 11: Treasure Hunt

Last April, our staff and Board took a field trip and listened and learned around our community.  While traveling on the bus, pairs got together to take this fun little quiz.  It was meant to see how intentionally we are acting to get outside of our comfort zones; our known zones.

If you live in Iowa's Cedar Valley, you might want to try this out!

Treasure Hunt

                  10 points for every’ve shopped at
a.        the Bosnian bakery, Sarajlija’s, on the corner of 9th and Williston in Waterloo 
b.       the International Market located next to the Honey Garden on LaPorte Road or the new location in Thunder Ridge, Cedar Falls  
c.       El Mercadito, 520 Laporte Rd., Waterloo 
         10 points for every  yes…you’ve eaten at
a.       La Chapala Mexican Restaurant on LaPorte Rd, Waterloo 
b.      El Patron Restaurant, Corner of 4th and Lafayette, Waterloo
c.       Thai Blessings, Sycamore St., Waterloo 
d.      Honey Garden Greek and Mediterranean Restaurant, LaPorte Rd., Waterloo 
e.      Taste of India, corner of First and Hudson, Cedar Falls
3        20 points if you can speak 5 sentences in one different language (Pig Latin does not count).  
4               10 points if you have been mentored in faith, life, or work by someone of a different race or ethnicity. 
5       10 points  if you’ve purchased items at World’s Window on Main Street CF. 
6       10 points  if you have LeCrae or Trip Lee on your playlist.  
7       10 points if you have traveled internationally.  
                 10 points if you’ve seen the largest collection of Haitian Art in the United States.  It’s located at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. 
9       10 points if you’ve intentionally expanded your multi-cultural/multi-ethnic awareness this past year..either by reading a book, seeing a film,  listening to a lecture, going to a performance, going to an African-American worship service, etc.    
              10 points  if you know what book of the Bible this verse is found… “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  
        10 points if you know the country of the most recent refugee influx into our community.  
       How did you do?!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 10: Noticing

God speaks to us in the everyday, ordinary moments of our lives.  Today, friend Ben Patterson shares about the power of Kingdom Service when we're open to notice...

There is Power in a Simple Introduction

As I set out on a three-block walk to the courthouse, preparing to report for my jury duty assignment, I could see that a stranger would intersect my path on the sidewalk. We’d be walking together.

It was a cold morning. I wanted to keep my head down and walk alone, but keeping to myself would have given a cold shoulder more severe than the morning temperature.

So, I initiated a conversation.

“Where are ya headed today?” I asked.

“Oh… I’m walking to apply for a job over at Burger King. I hear they are hiring,” the man replied. “I’m sure you’re going to get yourself a nice coffee this morning?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t drink coffee anymore. I’m actually headed to the courthouse to report for jury duty.”

“Oh, man. Jury duty. I’ve never had to do that,” he said with a smile.

“Me neither. It’s my first time.”

At this point, I thought about offering an introduction because I wanted to know his name. But I talked myself out of it, thinking that he wouldn’t care about my name and it would make things awkward.

We continued our conversation, talking and laughing about jury duty stories we’ve heard from others who have taken part in the process.

Our conversation was cut short as I arrived to the courthouse parking lot. I said, “Thanks for talking, have a good day.”

Without missing a beat he replied, “Yea, you too. Hey, my name is Joe.”



“Alright, sweet. I’m Ben.”

And with that we went our separate ways.

I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile as I walked into the courthouse. Three things immediately came to mind:

1 – I was going to pass on even having that conversation! Why? It was great to talk with someone I didn’t know.

2 – I didn’t think he even cared about my name, so I avoided an introduction. Why?

3 – I felt cared for when he introduced himself.

There is value in having conversations with people you don’t know. And there is power in a simple introduction.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 9: ABCD

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) starts with what's right in a neighborhood rather than what is wrong and lacking.  The group above is a small group with Harvest friends and Orchard friends represented who are helping to make 33:5 come alive!

The house at 335 Almond is an asset in the Walnut Neighborhood.  It is a foundationally strong home that was built in 1925 and had one family living in it from 1956-2008.  After the owner passed away, this house sat empty for 4 1/2 years.  My husband, Mike, and I purchased it from the City and are working with friends to restore it.  

As we stood in a circle to introduce ourselves to one another and pray last night, each person in this group mentioned an asset to a neighborhood.  Here's the list:

People who will care for homes that are getting old and need attention
Play areas for children
An ice cream store!
Openness and friendliness
A church on mission with the neighborhood
Safe places
Neighbors being good neighbors

Psalm 33:5 is this home's verse (hence the house's nickname "The 33:5")
The Lord loves righteousness and justice.  The earth is filled with his unfailing love.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 8: Keep the main thing, the main thing

Jeff Mickey spoke on Sunday about how we can sometimes get lost in the mission of the moment and forget what's important...rather, we can forget who is important.  Sometimes serving Jesus can cause us to take our focus off Jesus and become more concerned about accomplishing the ministry than him!

A perfect example of this happened on Sunday morning.  Craig, from Orchard Hill, and George, from Harvest, were outside Harvest getting set up for a meal that would be served post-worship, the last Picnic in the Park.  They were busy, it was rainy and cold, they were trying to make an alternative plan and get everything inside...when all of sudden, a young man named Jonathan, came up to them and told them that he had been at Harvest the day before for a community breakfast, and he now wanted to accept Jesus as His Savior.  Craig told me that he and George were wrapped up in activity and some stressful moments to get that lunch ready, and so there was an inclination to want to hold the young man off until a more opportune time to speak with him.  Thankfully, they did not follow that inclination!  They could have easily gotten lost in the mission of the moment and forgotten the main mission.  George walked inside with the man, spent time with him, and led him to the Lord in prayer.

What a beautiful story!  What a great reminder that programs and ministry are not the mission....reconciliation to God through Jesus is the mission.  The ministry-the community meal, the youth art team, Jobs for Life-you fill in the blank, is a vehicle to ultimately help people come to know Jesus and make Him known.

You can watch Jeff's teaching by clicking here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 7: Pilgrims

One of the best books I've read the past few years is a book called Reconciling All Things by Chris Rice and Emmanuel Katangole.  The quote below speaks to the journey toward reconciliation being likened to pilgrims taking a pilgrimage.

"Through a profound rhythm of journeying, encountering sites of pain and hope, engaging the history and culture, serving and being present with those on the margins, worshiping, resting, and reflecting, pilgrims are slowly confronted by a different world that begins to interrupt their own.  Pilgrimage is a posture very different from mission.  The goal of a pilgrim is not to solve but to search, not so much to help as to join and be present.  Pilgrims do not rush to a goal, but slow down to hear the crying.  They are not as interested in making a difference as they are in making new friends.  The pace is slower, more reflective.

Pilgrims set out not so much to assist strangers but to eat with them.  There are so many efforts to make a difference that do not make us different.  It is not the people who paint a house in a strange place but rather the people who make friends and are transformed who make the deeper difference over the long haul.  Changed by their journeys, they change the world where they live."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 6: Sharing a letter to the North American Church

  Last week, a friend shared one of Ann Voscamp's blog posts on facebook and turned me onto her blog entitled A Holy Experience.  I share a post from Ann, written as a response to her experience in Africa this summer.  It's a poignant word to Christ's Church in North America.  Read it here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 5: Relationships

"The poor don't need you, but you need the poor."  I will never forget these words spoken to me back in 2006 by Neighborhood Ministries President Kit Danley.

I had gone to Phoenix, AZ, with my family to visit my in-laws and had arranged to spend part of a day with Kit, whom I had heard speak at a conference out in Long Beach, CA.  God was working on my heart a great deal those days while I volunteered regularly at a transitional home for moms and children in Waterloo.

Kit graciously gave me a tour of the Neighborhood Ministries campus, and we ended up at a Mexican restaurant for lunch that day.  At some point in the conversation I said, "Well, we need each other, right? The poor need the rich, and the rich need the poor, right?"  Kit looked at me with eyes that searched deep inside my soul. There occurred the most pregnant pause, and then she opened her mouth to speak.  "The poor don't need you, but you need the poor."   I acknowledged her response with an awkward nod, took another bite of my burrito, and left that day knowing that it was largely for that one statement that God had hooked me up with Kit Danley.

Fast forward seven years.  God's been so good as He faithfully and gently teaches me the meaning of her words.  So much stays broken for the very reason that the rich don't really actually believe they need the poor in their lives for the sake of their own souls.  Even when we try to declare, like I did, that we do need each other, we can't seem to really believe that as long as we believe we're there to help the poor.  Not really until we can recognize our own deep depravity and poverty can we begin to deal with our power and privilege in such a way that it ultimately helps us to relate rightly with the poor.  And it takes being with and receiving from the poor to even begin to chip away at this.

Jesus, our great reconciler, desires to bring reconciliation, peace, justice, and authentic community to His body.  Ultimately, we do need each other and belong to each other.  But, perhaps we can't get to that place of beloved community until we wrestle with and come to better understand that "the poor don't need you, but you need the poor."  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 4: Prayerwalking

Love God. Love Neighbor.  One way that helps me increase my love for both God and neighbor is to pray while walking through a neighborhood. I think it might just be the most important way of acting locally in Kingdom Service.

Last Tuesday morning, a friend and I walked Walnut Neighborhood for an hour, praying for the families, the churches, the businesses (even the boarded up ones), the nonprofits in the neighborhood.  We came across a friend who was helping to move a woman who had lived in her home for 30 years and is now downsizing to an apartment.  We met a resident who was walking along with great difficulty, and we prayed together for healing for her feet.  We prayed that Jesus would be known and would transform each household; we prayed for abundant life and restoration in every way.  We prayed against the evils of violence, addiction, racism, and hopelessness.  We prayed for hope. community.  vision.  passionate faith. compassion.  justice. We thanked God for being the God of hope. community. vision. passionate faith. compassion. justice.

Every time I plan on prayerwalking, I battle an attitude of "I really don't feel like going" and "this is a bit awkward".  And everytime I bulldoze past those feelings and actually go, I am blessed so much.  Prayerwalking always connects my heart more with God and with the neighborhood.  I have a greater love, a greater hope, and a better understanding of who it is that works to accomplish His good and perfect will.

I plan to walk Walnut and pray each Tuesday from 9-10 a.m. if you'd ever like to join me.  Or perhaps you'd like to give prayerwalking a try in your own neighborhood.    

If you have a story of how prayerwalking has impacted faith and life in your experience, please share a comment!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 3: Triple S 3 P

Wayne Gordon, founding pastor of Lawndale Community Church, and president of CCDA, challenged us in his messages at National Conference a few weeks ago to stay close to God.  We don't just drift into spiritual growth and maturity, and so "Coach" as people lovingly call Gordon, challenged us to three things that I'm taking on as priority, as my discipline in them has slipped these past two years, and my soul and life can tell...

1. One hour alone with God everyday.  

2. Triple S 3 P stands for Silence, Solitude, Scripture, Pray, Praise, Put it in writing.  This is a great way to spend that hour.

3.  Sabbath.  Stop for one day.  It's so important that God lists it in the 10 Commandments.  Turn off the computer, cell phone, ipod.  Stop working.  Offer this trust to God.

As people who follow Christ, we are all called to follow him into the pain in the world.  In Kingdom Service, we find deep injustices and deep pain.  We need deep theology and deep joy and deep communion with God and each other in order to love well and shine brightly.

I desire this life of love, communion, and joy-filled service, and so I will fight for the space and rhythm that creates time alone with God each day and Sabbath rest.  I write this as a commitment because I know how easy it is to think it, say it, and how hard it can be to faithfully do it! I hope you'll join me in the fight!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kingdom Service Day 2: Act Locally

Building relationships and community with our partner church, Harvest Vineyard, is important!  Here are two weekend opportunities to do just that:  

Freedom Cafe, Saturday, October 5, 7:30 p.m., Harvest Vineyard (715 E. 4th St., Waterloo)-

Open Mic from 7:30-8:30!  Come bring a song, poem, piece of art or writing, or dance to share from the front... or just come to listen to others...that's what I'm doing!  
Planned Music 8:30-9:30  There will be a guest musician during the second hour of Freedom Cafe.

Come enjoy fellowship, good eats, the talents of others.  Come and go when you'd like.  

There will be a freewill donation bucket....all money collected will go to Rapha House to help rescue young people out of human trafficking.  

Picnic in the Park, Sunday, October 6, 10:45-1:30 p.m., at Harvest Vineyard,  715 E. 4th St.

Our last Picnic of the season!  We're inviting Orchard friends, Harvest friends, and the downtown community to join us outside of Harvest Vineyard for lunch and a short worship.  Also joining us this day will be a community group bringing awareness about domestic/sexual abuse.  This group will be providing children's activities and passing out information on local resources available for victims of abuse.  

We could use more volunteers this Sunday at 10:45 a.m. at Harvest.  Email Laura Hoy if you'd like to serve!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kingdom Service

This October, Orchard Hill Church is focusing on Kingdom Service, one of four themes we will focus on in  upcoming years as we seek to be fully devoted followers of Jesus (the other themes are passionate faith, impacting families, and transforming friendships).

One of the ways we live out the mission of becoming fully devoted followers is to follow Jesus into service with His compassion for ALL people.  In Scripture, you can see Jesus modeling service in a way that we want to learn and practice.

He was....

Christ-centered.  When Jesus encountered people, He shared who He was and invited people into new life through His life, death, and resurrection.

Relational.  Relationship is the ballgame.  Jesus came to reconcile people back to God and to one another through an intimate, love relationship with our Savior and Lord.  He was and is ALL about relationships.

Wholistic.  Jesus not only cared about a person's soul after they died, He cared about the whole person.  He fed the hungry, opened the eyes of the blind, and healed the sick.  The Good News is good news for our whole lives.

Developmental.  Jesus can see us as we were created to be.  He knows the gifts He's given us for Kingdom participation.  In relationship with Christ, He convicts and grows us in Christlike character.

Join me daily on this blog through October as I explore these four principles of service and also offer ways to listen, learn, and act together in Kingdom Service!