Return on YOUR Investment: Come Hear the Stories

Last week, 81 students from Grace Student Ministries traveled to Chicago for Momentum Youth Conference. This annual conference is a time when students get to drink from the fire hydrant of God’s Word through internationally known speakers and intense worship. ((PAUSE)) This trip was made possible by YOU and other people of Grace Church. How? Buying subs, eating at Isaac’s nights, personal donations, and the incredible $15,000 offering to off-set transportation costs! THANK YOU! ((RESUME)) The week concludes with a day-long service project where students get to immediately put their knowledge into action. (Check out more details and pictures about their send-off HERE and their service day HERE!)

momentum1

The transition home after conference is always a challenge; a spiritual “high” colliding and meshing with “real life” at home. It is a time when we can come along out students to encourage them in the lessons and commitments they made, and spur them into the upcoming school year (SCHOOL ALREADY?!…yup)!

This coming Sunday night, August 3rd, GSM is hosting Youth Led Communion from 6-7:30pm in the cafe. In addition to the Communion aspects, there will be worship, baptism, and a time for students to share the lessons they’ve learned this summer. It will be a time for you to encourage our students, as well as be encouraged yourself.

You won’t want to miss this event! Bring the family, bring a dessert to share, and prepare yourself for what God is doing through the students of Grace Church!

On Board, On Mission (Part 3 of 3)

Last week, we started a 3 part series of blogs highlighting a few friendly faces from Grace Church who are living “on mission” by serving on boards of various organizations engaged in community outreach. Have you considered how God might want to use your professional skills and experiences outside of your local church? You don’t have to go abroad to be “on mission” for Jesus. Take a moment to assess how you are engaging in God’s plan for the world with your spiritual gifts, skills, passions, etc. What opportunities does God have in mind for you?!

(Sidenote: Be sure to check out the previous two posts in this series HERE and HERE).

Whitney Buckwalter

Whitney Buckwalter has been attending Grace Church for more than 20 years, including his teen years when he was active in the youth group, attended Momentum youth conference, and went on Operation Barnabas for a summer (1999). “Whit” graduated from Manheim Township High School and from Penn State University. For the past 10 years he has worked for Fulton Bank, where he is currently a Vice President in the Commercial Banking division.

For the last 18 months, Whitney has been serving as the Secretary of the board for LOVE, INC (Love In the Name of Christ) Lancaster, an organization that Grace Church supports through their Lititz Homes of Hope project, providing financial counseling and support for families on the verge of homelessness. LOVE INC is a national organization with chapters throughout the country.

Love INC/HoH

Whitney’s comments:

I have made it a priority to serve on at least two boards at all times…I always like to have at least one that is faith based that I can use my business knowledge to help non profits that work to spread the Word of God. LOVE INC is neat in that as an organization we don’t directly serve clients, rather we connect willing volunteers in churches to needs in the community. This system allows us to be a part of hundreds of services each month with a staff of less than four FTEs (Full-time Employees). Furthermore the goal is to have the volunteers start a direct connection with clients they are assisting and develop a relationship outside of LOVE INC which allows for direct communication in the future. I’ve heard some pretty incredible stories in the past 18 months…”

In 2013, LOVE INC Lancaster met 5,430 practical needs of individuals in Lancaster County through 170 local congregations. These tasks included budget guidance, car repairs, cleaning, financial assistance, laundry, lawn care, meals, transportation, and more! LOVE INC also helps to coordinate community compassion projects (including the “Lititz Project” that has been featured recently on our blog).

To learn more about LOVE INC, visit their website HERE.

 

Transitioning Home: Reflections from OBI Leader, Jade Landis

Jade Landis spent a large portion of her summer leading the Operation Barnabas International team to the Philippines. Jade has been a student on OB (domestic) and OBI, and has now been a team leader in both areas as well. She also traveled to the Philippines with Lancaster Bible College. It is safe to say that these ministries have had long lasting, life changing effects on Jade, and that part of her heart stays on the island of Boracay. If you missed her last update from the trip, click here! Below are some concluding thoughts and pictures from Jade. Please continue to pray for her transition back to life in Lancaster.

OBI 2014 has officially come to a close and as I sit down to reflect on the trip there are so many things that God did in and through our team and my personal life as well. Though there are a million stories I could share, I just want to share a personal lesson that God taught me and I hope that it challenges you as well!

OBI 14 OBI 17

With this being my third trip I was excited to see what God was going to teach me through the Filipino culture and it was definitely more than I could have expected or asked for. Many times when people return from missions trips their first thoughts are in regards to the MANY materialistic things we have compared to those they just ministered to. Though this is very true and a realization that we should come to, I have realized that often we let the impact of the trip stop there. Instead this trip to the Philippines reminded me of the importance of relationships. The Filipinos continually seek to serve others, be kind to others, and always put others before themselves! This type of relationships goes against everything that our culture today teaches us about relationships. The relationships that I have formed with the Filipinos have a greater depth to them in my two weeks there than a lot of my relationships at home do. God really used my relationships with them to challenge me in my relationships here at home. We are all a part of the body of Christ and because of that there needs to be a depth and intentionality to our relationships.

OBI 18 OBI 19

Returning from the Philippines is always difficult because it is always a place that will feel like home to me. Yet I am so thankful to be able to return home to Grace because I know of the wonderful church family that awaits me. Thank you for supporting me and praying for me as I led OBI this summer! Though this is only one story of what God did in my life while being there, there are MANY other stories and I would love to be able to tell you about! Do not hesitate to stop and ask me what God did in and through the OBI team in our time there! Thank you again for the many prayers!

OBI 16 OBI 15

Grace Church Students Serving in Chi-town

Take a look around you on a Sunday morning – 1 in 10 people – that’s how many are at Momentum Youth Conference from Grace Church this week. Our group joined more than 2,000 other teens and youth staff in Wheaton, IL, just outside of Chicago, for the #bestweekofsummer! 🙂

CE National, who sponsors Momentum has a long-standing philosophy, that if a group that size is going to gather to worship Jesus and grow in their faith, it ought to have a big impact on the community. So in addition to daily outreach opportunities, today, the entire conference headed into Chicago to serve in the name of Jesus. Our students loaded our two coach buses and are doing work projects.

Please pray for them as they work – that they will have a great experience putting their faith in action, and that God will mold their hearts to become Christians who serve others in their daily lives! Pray too, that there will be significant impact for the cause of Christ through the thousands who are serving throughout Chicago today!

10440988_778834905481317_5751899381962788517_n
Friday’s Concert of Prayer for the Saturday Outreach
10556259_779064345458373_55438796555454171_n
Bus # 1 Headed to Chicago to Serve
10580176_779053832126091_7642445395235424316_n
Bus #2 (including our awesome youth pastor – well, part of his head at least) Heading to Chicago
IMG955027
GSM Girls Working Hard!
IMG955024
You Go Girls!

IMG955022

IMG955014
Working? Not sure, but either way, it’s more fun with matching Momentum T-shirts!

For more Momentum pictures and updates, be sure to “Like” GSM’s Facebook Page or visit www.buildmomentum.org! Also, be sure to pray for our group as they travel home tomorrow!

 

Reaching Communities…Near and FAR

Dublin Ireland (1)

Grace Church serves as the sending church for Scott & Rebekah Becker and their family, who are currently serving in Dublin, Ireland! In a recent update, they shared the many ways that they are connecting with people in their community through their ministry at the Crossroad Center, a shared facility that has become a hub for many locals. While they have a weekly church service in the facility, many other things take place under the Beckers’ leadership:

  • Clothing swaps where people can swap old clothes for new ones; this fulfills a need by providing clothes for young families with growing children
  • Spanish classes for children. This is an opportunity to engage with parents who are having a cappuccino, latte or tea, while waiting for their kids as they learn Spanish.
  • Parent and toddler play mornings where there is time to build relationships and engage with the needs of the families attending.
  • Boys and girls clubs meetings for contact making, teaching and training.
  • Bible Studies one-on-one, and in small groups without interruption.
  • Marriage courses and pastoral counseling where couples come to bolster their marriage.
  • Christian Bikers Association prayer meetings.
  • Monthly family film nights in a safe environment, where the message of Christ is so often clearly spoken through the films.
  • Monthly international meals showcasing the countries of the world as represented in Dublin, giving us opportunities to share Christ with many who would not otherwise get to hear the Gospel

Please continue to pray for the Becker’s and their ministry in Dublin, Ireland!

“Merci Mingi”: A Thank you from the Central African Republic

You may remember hearing about the crisis that is going on in the war-torn country of Central African Republic (CAR). Earlier in 2014, Grace Church joined forces with many churches and individuals around the world who came together to donate 1,000,000 pounds of food and supplies for relief efforts. Check out previous posts HERE and HERE.

We just received another great “thank you” video about the help we sent. Please use this as a reminder to pray for our brothers and sisters, and for our orphans, who continue to deal with the devastation that is occurring there.

 

“Loving On” Lititz

Over the past two months, churches in the Lititz borough have been working to show love to Lititz citizens by doing work projects for them. Grace Church was able to receive and complete three “Lititz Projects.” The first job to be completed is featured in a previous blog here!

Craig Peters, an attendee of Grace Church since 2005, has a passion for completing all those little “fix-it” problems that many people consider a nuisance. When asked to lead two of our Lititz Projects, he was excited to have the opportunity to use his talents and interests to bless others in the Lititz community.

The first of two projects was for a man named Daniel. It had been months since Daniel had hot water, and he was waiting for someone who would be willing to install a new hot water heater. Craig was able to not only give Daniel hot water again, but also solve some other problems lingering in the house. (Shout out to Marlin Weaver for helping one night!) Craig, Sherrie, and Rachel were also able to hear some of Daniel’s life story through the few different interactions they had. When Craig called to check on the status of the hot water this past Friday, Daniel was so appreciative for the work that had been done. Have you stopped recently to be thankful for hot water?

lititz project3

You know how it’s said, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.”? Google shows Ben Franklin and Lucille Ball as having said that. Although it seems logical that Ben Franklin would have, I guess I’m living the Lucille Ball version.

I have had God’s help through enough situations, even though I at-the-time had not acknowledged it, to know He does have our best interests in  mind. That also includes when things don’t go as WE have planned it.

This was the case with the first project I accepted. While thinking this would be a two-visit job, one to assess and one to do all the work, it ended up being a four-visit. As the work was in a confined space, in a cubby-hole off the side of a small closet just big enough (or should I say small enough) to slide the hot-water heaters in and out of, the project expanded to accommodate a few other issues.

On the fourth visit, after praying for God to make all things align and get everything to go well, God provided. I was so thankful for a dear friend who’s knowledgeable in a multitude of repairs, who was willing to look at and hopefully see something I was missing.

I was, actually, trusting in the visible when the proof came through a simple test …and NOT in the visible. Can you see how this can apply to people in this world? Faith only in the visible, when we have seen tests and outcomes needing to prove validity?

God has again stretched me, yet He has and always has been faithful. Validity of God’s faithfulness AND oh how He has blessed me again, through this “test” and its outcome.  So if you think you’re too busy to do something to bless another, be ready to be blessed more.  I am thankful, again, to have had this opportunity in feeling so blessed. Did someone say “Priceless!”?   -Craig

The second project was for a woman named Marlene. In a time span of only about one hour, Craig and Rachel were able to do a few smaller projects including cleaning out gutters, installing a gutter guard, and caulking the front steps. These few things were able to help Marlene is a big way, and “it didn’t even feel like work!” Do you have one hour to spare?

lititz project2

We LOVE when people get to serve others by doing things that they enjoy. God gives each of us unique passions and interests and we have the opportunity to glorify Him when we use them in His name. Keep checking back regularly to hear about ways that YOU can get involved!