“Orevwa” for now!

Our Haiti team arrived safely back in the United States this past Saturday. They had an incredible week of ministry, and are already looking forward to planning another trip! If you missed their last update, click here. Otherwise, enjoy the last update from the Haiti team!

Thursday 7/17

Last day of ministry at House of Hope orphanage (sigh). Started the day off once again with singing and a fun lesson & skit about Jesus walking on water. The singing was loud and fast – the best of the week! The skit was a hit as Peter got all wet (thanks to Shelly!) when his faith wavered and he fell into the ocean. We have the children volunteer to be part of the skit each day and they love this. The children made up many of the disciples today!

haiti 30 haiti 32

Today was also a big Haiti vs America “World Cup” match. Kegan, Tyler and some of the boys took on some of the older boys. It was 7-6 going into the last minute but Haiti scored at the buzzer and it ended in a tie (no PKs!). Our translator, Kelly Joseph, made himself useful 🙂 by spraying the boys with a hose during the game! Good thing, as it was so hot in this intense Haiti sun. It is so important to keep drinking here all day long!

haiti 34 haiti 35

Boni, Allison and Alex sat down in the exclusive House of Hope hair salon 🙂 and after an hour each had corn rows to be proud of! The girls LOVE to play with long, American hair. It is just like having a doll to play with.

haiti 31

At last, the moment we (the team & the children) all dread – time to say “orevwa” (Creole for “goodbye”). Many tears were shed and many hugs exchanged between all the team members and the children. Some of the children were sobbing which just makes it that much harder to leave… We love these kids as our own family. It is so rewarding to come down here and bless them for a week each year, but it is equally difficult to say goodbye when it comes to an end. Old and new team members alike held on to hugs for as long as they could and shed many tears at the thought of saying goodbye. But in the end, we had to get back on the truck and move out.

haiti 29

A blessed week to be sure…the kids were challenged in their faith and encouraged to walk with Jesus 365 days per year. We had some good testimonies of how the kids (& the orphanage) are a witness to their community. This reminds me a a story I heard for the first time this week, and I must share it with you now…

Next to the orphanage there lived a voodoo priest. (If you do not know about voodoo in Haiti, just Google it. It is very popular in Haiti and is essentially the worship of evil spirits.) One day not too long ago, the voodoo priest approached Pastor Elysee (head of our ministry in Haiti) and asked him if he wanted to buy his land to add on to the orphanage property. Pastor Elysee said “no” we do not have the money but “thank you”. The voodoo priest persisted. He said “my house has been ruined by all this praying and singing that you do at the orphanage! Please take the property! You can give me the money some day whenever you have it – but just take it!” So, the orphanage has gained a nice little piece of land with a house that now serves as a home for some of the staff. Pretty cool, huh?

Please continue to pray for the Haiti team as they transition back into “normal” life. Also please pray that they would all stay healthy, as they were exposed to many different things last week!

Check back soon to hear some testimonies (and see more pictures) from the team members!

Gaining MOMENTUM

At 11pm tonight, 81 students and 7 leaders from Grace Student Ministries will meet at church to board two busses. Their destination?… Momentum Youth Conference in Chicago!!

momentum

Momentum has made huge impacts on the lives of MANY people at Grace Church. This year’s theme is “Not a Fan” and will address the issue of being either a fan or a follower of Jesus. Kyle Idleman, author of the book not a fan, is included in the incredible, line up of internationally known speakers for this week.

You are able to watch the sessions live at home by clicking HERE! (In order to catch the sessions, you will have to go on when main sessions begin. You’ll find all the information you need at the link above. Remember that all the times are listed as Central, not Eastern, time!)

The week concludes with a huge service day on Saturday. All the students at Momentum will head out into the surrounding communities to serve the people of Chicago. This is such an incredible opportunity for our students to reach out and love on people that are out of their comfort zones!

You can find more information about Momentum on their website here. Stay up to date with everything that is happening by checking out Momentum’s Facebook page here or GSM’s Facebook page here!

PLEASE BE PRAYING for all of our students (and leaders) at Momentum this week. Thank you for investing in the lives of our young people!

On Board, On Mission (Part 1 of 3)

You don’t have to go abroad to be “on mission” for Jesus! There are opportunities to serve in significant ways all around us. This week we will be featuring three stories from Grace Church professionals that serve on boards of great, God-honoring organizations doing significant work in our community!

Cristi Morgan and her husband John started attending Grace Church soon after they were married 14 years ago. Jason Young, Pastor Young’s son, attended college with John, giving them an instant connection with Grace Church. John and Cristi got involved in the Homebuilders ABF, finding that it was a great foundation for their marriage. Mike Lutz, the ABF teacher, is still considered a mentor to the couple. Cristi also mentioned that Beth Fahnestock and Lynn Niner have been mentors to her throughout the years. “When I look at the impact that those people have had in my life, it naturally leads me to want to become involved in a mentorship ministry so that I could ‘give back’ in a way.” 

Today, Cristi and John are still involved in Grace Church ministries. They belong to a Connect group and serve behind the scenes on the tithe counting team. We are so grateful for their involvement and commitment to Grace Church, but living “on mission” doesn’t stop within the church walls either. Keep reading to see how Cristi is “On Board, On Mission.”

CristiMorgan

In 2012, God used a series of events to open the door to my involvement with Bridge of Hope (BoH). At that time, I was more seriously considering how I should become involved in a ministry. Then I heard one of the BoH staff members featured on a WJTL radio morning show. She captured my attention as she told her personal story and described the BoH program. Her testimony really left a lasting impression on me. A few weeks later, I learned that a mentor group was being formed within our church to serve a new BoH participant in our community. I knew that the Spirit was prompting me to serve in this capacity. After about 16 months, we celebrated my BoH friend’s graduation from the program. Afterward, I asked God, “OK, what next?”   The Spirit opened up the next window of opportunity with a phone call, asking me to join the Board of Directors. Again, I knew that this is where God wanted me to serve.

I’ve seen lives transformed in this experience. In the last year alone, the BoH Lancaster and Chester County office has served 53 single mothers & their 101 children. The mission of Bridge of Hope is to end and prevent homeless for single mothers and their children within our community. The program provides rental assistance and helps them to secure permanent housing. Personal and financial stability is achieved by connecting them to resources within the community and a mentor group from a local Christian congregation. As participants experience the unconditional love of Christ demonstrated through their relationships with the staff and mentors, many come to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. BoH just celebrated their 25 year anniversary and the countless lives that have experienced positive life change as a result of the program.

The experience has exceeded anything that I could imagine. I am reminded of Ephesians 3:20. He does “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Participation in the program changes the lives of the participants and their children, as well as the staff and mentors. While we extend support in tangible ways, sometimes the “stuff of life” seems impossible and all you can do is pray. Through fervent prayer, we have seen God protect and provide in countless ways. He is faithful.

To learn more about Bridge of Hope, click here!

Check back in this week to hear two more incredible stories!