GSM Lead Students: At Urban Hope

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Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Psalm 103:1

When we live out God’s calling for our lives, we find ourselves amidst countless reminders of who God is and the treasure we’ve found in salvation through Jesus. On December 7th, 11 GSM students and 6 adults met in the church lobby before travelling to Philadelphia to spend their Sunday serving with the ministry of Kingdom Kids at Urban Hope.

God deeply loves the people who live in the crowded cities of America, and He is doing a great work changing one life at a time using the many hands like this team and previous teams for young and old to come to faith in Jesus Christ. There is a harvest field of people around Urban Hope ready for you to share God’s love and salvation message with them, don’t pass up opportunities to share JESUS.

Colossians 1:28 says, “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ…”

Throughout the day we were involved in outreach ministry primarily to the children but also connecting with their parents, family members and people passing on the sidewalks, as well as those who are hanging on the street corners.

Consider joining us on a future day-trip to Urban Hope helping with either Kingdom Kids Ministry or joining David Rice on upcoming work days scheduled in January, February and March.

Below are a few of the reflections from our GSM Lead students.

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“Being down at Urban Hope in Philadelphia with all of those kids, and adults too, really opens up my eyes to how much we take for granted. Many of them are going through really tough situations, yet they come to church and are genuinely happy and praising God for all the little things. I love seeing the smiles and happiness in the kids as they sing and dance and go crazy, all in the name of the Lord”

“One thing that I learned, and always re-learn, at Urban Hope is the value of being open with people. One of the coolest things that they do in church service is write out a list of prayer requests (some of which are often personal) for the congregation to pray for. The people submit the requests by asking the congregation to pray for them, out where everyone can see them. People don’t hide their problems. They seek the power of God through prayer. It’s always a refreshing thing to see and it always resonates with me.”

“Helping with Kingdom Kids at Urban Hope was, as always, a humbling and touching experience- to know that you had a positive impact on the lives of precious children is such a blessing. I was amazed to personally experience God’s ability to speak in the most unexpected ways.”

We are grateful for the long-standing relationship with Urban Hope and their ministry in Philadelphia. If you are unfamiliar with their ministry, check out the video below to learn more. You can also click here to visit their website see more videos and testimonies by staff those whose lives have been impacted by their ministry. If you are interested in going on the next Urban Hope trip, email alweaver@meetgrace.org.Urban-Hope

Love Travels: A conversation with Kris McKinney

Yesterday, we heard from Cindy Frederick as she steps out of her comfort zone for the sake of sharing the gospel. Today, we’re sharing a conversation we had with Kristina McKinney recently about her plans, GOD’S plans, and how learning to step out in faith and follow Him is changing her life.

GRACE: Hey Kris, we were excited to hear from you about what God’s doing in your life right now. 11 countries. In 11 months? Tell us about it! Did you have any clue the 20-year-old you would be doing something like this?

KRIS: In September 2015, I will be leaving to travel to 11 countries in 11 months. It’s called The World Race. In each country I will be serving alongside local ministries to reach out to the people of those communities. This means I will be working in orphanages, hospitals, schools, churches and more.

God truly does know me better than I know myself because I always assumed I would be going to college at this point in my life and yet when He called me to serve through Adventures in Missions, I realized how small my plans were compared to His.

GRACE: Definitely. And the God-sized plans always require a lot more faith than our own. So, has there been a specific verse you’ve been keeping on-hand to help you navigate through this process of “stepping out”?

KRIS:  Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

 This has been an incredible reminder as I face my first obstacle to entering the mission field: MONEY. I have the tendency to feel this all depends on me. The truth is actually the opposite. God is the one and only provider. Yes, I have to work hard. But from there, I leave the results up to His divine plan.

GRACE: Anytime God calls us to step out, there is always tension, obstacles, if you will (fear, worry, etc). What are some things you keep in mind as you continue to follow God’s leading?

KRIS: When I begin to feel anxious and question how this all will work out I keep in mind how important it is to be Christ to the world. It is no small thing to live out your faith. It is no small thing to tell others about it, no matter where you are.

GRACE: Do you have any advice for someone who might be feeling the Spirit “tugging” at their heart to step out for the sake of the Kingdom?

KRIS: There is nothing more satisfying than knowing at the end of the day you have done exactly what God has asked of you. Fear is a tactic that the Enemy works all too well in our lives. It will keep us from the blessing God desires to give to us when we obey. Listen carefully to the Holy Spirit and suppress your fears, knowing that God smiles at our obedience. I can’t think of anything more beautiful than placing a smile on our Creator’s face.

 GRACE: Okay, so what can we do? What can we pray for? How can someone interested in supporting you get involved?

KRIS: I need both prayer warriors and financial supporters. Please pray for my heart as I prepare to leave. I want to glorify God in all that I do, having the attitude of Christ so that the people who I serve will see Christ through me. Also, please pray for me as I start to fundraise. I am at the very beginning of a large goal. Pray that as I work hard, the finances will begin to come in. Kristina McKinney Shirt1

If God has placed it on your heart to financially partner with me, support can be given when visiting my blog and clicking on the “Support me!” link on the lefthand side. All gifts are tax deductible. I am also selling T-Shirts as a fundraiser for $25. All proceeds will go directly towards my trip. If you would be interested in purchasing a T-Shirt, please e-mail me at kristina_mckinney@ymail.com. Thank you for taking the time to learn about how God has been working in my life! I am excited to serve Jesus where He has called me as a short term missionary.

To find out more about Kris’ testimony about her call to missions, visit here.

Cindy Frederick: Taking Christmas to the Border

 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

Have you met Cindy Frederick? Those of you who do know her have most certainly been blessed by her sweet and compassionate spirit and her zeal for Jesus Christ. She is a prayer warrior at her core and we are excited to share news of her incredibly opportunity to spread the love of Jesus in Del Rio and Eagle Pass, Texas!

We are confident that God will use Cindy’s spirit to minister in a mighty way. Join us as we pray for Cindy and God’s blessing on her and this opportunity.

        From Cindy,

For years the Lord has been nudging me with a desire for missions, but this year He opened the door for me to step way out of my comfort zone and to accompany two contagious, Christian friends and their forty+ member team on a Christmas Mission Trip to the Mexican border!  Jim and Melony Roche own Magnum Guide Service, a professional hunting guide service in Eldorado, TX where my husband, David, has hunted for twenty years.  I met them four years ago and have watched the Lord working amazingly in their lives and their ministry called A.I.Y.M ( Adventure in Youth Missions).  They not only know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, but they are totally sold out to Him and to His evangelistic leading in their lives including Backyard Bible Club, an outreach to elementary children; two trips to orphanages in Kenya, Africa; starting A.I.Y.M. High Camp in Colorado last summer; and annual Christmas Mission trips to an orphanage in Mexico.

I’ll be part of a team taking Jesus and Christmas to Del Rio and Eagle Pass, TX from Dec. 19-22.  Three crusades are planned where we will have evangelistic messages and a meal, as well as free bibles, toys, donated venison, and dispenses of pinto beans, rice, flour, sugar, and salt for each family that attends.  We are also helping to supply the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Del Rio. 

Please pray for the Lord to prepare the hearts of all who attend, that they may be most hungry for the Lord Jesus Christ, to receive Him, and to be touched by His love and provision.  Pray for unity among the team and safety for all.  Pray that all will see and know that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17   To God be the glory!

We are so excited for Cindy and invite you to join us in praying for her as she follows the Spirit’s leading.

We, His Ambassadors…

haiti 2It’s interesting how God often “chooses” the current themes of the engagethroughgrace blog for us. Lately, it’s been all about calling and our stepping out in faith to fulfill it. And we’re thankful we have this blog to share about it with you. Whether it’s through the writing of Johnny Carr in Orphan Justice; the answers of our Hope to the Oppressed families about their call to adopt or foster; or an individual’s testimony of what God is doing in their life, the theme is clear: God is calling ALL of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 years old or…not  20 anymore. Be encouraged to take some time today focusing on His call on your life, read it in His Word. Every morning we awake bathed in His unfailing compassion, reminded that, by His power and grace, we have been made new. We, His Ambassadors…

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are                                ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.                                                           (2 Cor. 5:18-20a)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.                       (1 Peter 2:9)

Stay tuned in to the engagethroughgrace blog, we have some exciting pieces coming up of including the testimonies of some of our Grace Church Family who are answering God’s call on their lives.

10 Ways to Pray for Our Persecuted Family

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“Not every Christian is called to become a martyr, but every child of God is a co-martyr. He feels the bonds of others as bound with them; he weeps with those who weep; he helps to bear the burdens of the sufferers.” – Richard Wurmbrand , VOM founder (1975)

The news of our persecuted brothers and sisters often reaches us in bits and piece. A news article here, a headline at the bottom of the news channel next week sometime, a sermon a few months down the road. Sometimes, we’ll hear the Spirit’s whisper break into a quiet moment of our day. You have brothers and sisters who will risk their lives for Me today, every day…love them, pray for them.

It is all we can do to breathe out a prayer, a cry of the heart: “Oh God, help them…”

We want to say more but their experience of persecution is so far off from what we know. We freeze when faced with the weight of their reality, the torture endured and lives taken. The implications of their faith is amazing and beautiful.

We receive Voice of the Martyr updates here in the church office to help us keep informed of what our persecuted family is facing.  VOM is an incredible resource for keeping informed, current prayer requests, and opportunities to get involved, you can even write letters to prisoners. This past month, they included a list of 10 ways to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ as they live to glorify Him regardless of the cost of suffering they will endure. Read it and use it as a framework as you join us in praying for them.

10 WAYS TO PRAY FOR OUR PERSECUTED FAMILY

  1. Pray that persecuted believers will sense God’s presence
    • Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body…be content with what you have for he has said ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ (Hebrews 13:3, 5b-6)
  2. Pray that they will feel connected to the greater Body of Christ.
    • As it is, there are many parts, yet one body…If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Cor. 12:20, 26)
  3. Pray that they will experience God’s comfort when family members are killed, injured, or imprisoned for their witness
    •  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)
  4. Pray that they will have more opportunities to share the gospel
    • At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison– that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. . (Col. 4:3-4)
  5. Pray for their boldness to make Christ known
    • And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
  6. Pray that they will forgive and love their persecutors
    • “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:44)
  7. Pray that their ministry activities will remain undetected by authorities or others who wish to silence them
    • When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (Acts 9:23-25)
  8. Pray that they will rejoice in suffering
    • and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:40-42)
  9. Pray that they will be refreshed through God’s Word and grow in their faith
    • and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God… (Eph. 6:17)
  10. Pray that they will be strengthened through the prayer of fellow believers
    • But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

‘Tis the Season–Birthday Gift for Jesus Kicks Off TOMORROW!

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How wonderful is it that God continues to give Grace Church the opportunity to share the love of Jesus near and far? Speaking of “far”, part of how we’re celebrating the true meaning of Christmas this year is by showing compassion in Africa! It’s that time of year again and we are so excited to announce that this year’s Birthday Gift for Jesus will be used to benefit our Hand-in-Hand Partnerships in the Central African Republic; Rays of Hope Ministry in Malawi, Africa; and C.A.R. Relief Work.

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Hand-in-Hand Partnerships: For many years, Grace Church has been partnering with 3 schools in the Central African Republic who provide Christian education, clothing, food, and medical care for up to 50 orphans. Civil war and unrest has devastated many ministries in the CAR over the past two years, including the orphan partnership programs in the capital city of Bangui. The Hand-in-Hand partnership program has continued to function, however, as it is spread throughout the country in villages and is centered around the ministries of local churches. Not a single one of the 2,000 children in Hand-in-Hand schools was killed during the fighting, and many schools’ supplies were spared during the looting and burning of villages. Learn more HERE.

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CAR Relief Work: Encompass World Partners continues to actively support relief efforts in the war-torn country of CAR. Financial contributions like ours are helping to provide food, seeds and farming tools, shelter, Bibles, and other practical items throughout the country.

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Rays of Hope: Willie is known by many here at Grace Church. Originally, he came to the U.S. to study community development at Eastern University. He has also spent

time interning on a pig farm in our area with the goal of learning the Picture1business from top to bottom to implement and teach his skills in his native country, Malawi. All of this work has been aimed at equipping this incredibly sharp and godly leader for his continued ministry efforts through “Rays of Hope.

The land-locked, Southeastern African nation of Malawi is the 9th poorest country in the world, and Willie’s ministry reaches out to its urban youth (90% of whom live in slums), to provide the necessary foundations to become the Christian leaders of tomorrow. This is done through after-school programs, feeding programs, and job skill training. Click HERE to see pictures.

 

Opportunities to give will last through the entire month of December. If you have any questions, stop by the missions table or at Guest Services. We’ll also have Birthday Gift for Jesus postcards for you so you can use it as a reminder to continue to keep praying for these ministries, their staff, and all who will receive help and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Carpenters: Ting Ministries Vendor Fair and Bake Sale on December 6th

Brian and Stephanie Carpenter of Lebanon County are an incredible duo who have dedicated their lives and family to caring for orphans. They are the adopted parents of 6 girls, all of whom have special needs. The girls are from the ages of 7 to 17 and come from all over the world: Bulgaria, Ukraine, Taiwan, Russia, and the Philippines. To hear more about their story, listen to their recent interview on WDAC.

We recently received an update from the Carpenters about their daughter Ellianna who was born profoundly deaf. Do you remember the snowy Wednesday before Thanksgiving? Well that was the first day that they turned on Ellianna’s Cochlear Implant. Imagine their surprise and joy as her dad, Brian, said her name and she turned in response. Praise God!

“The LORD has given Ellianna a gift and the little girl that could once only hear with her heart, as her name “Ting” means, can now hear with her ears when the implant is switched on!  We are praising the LORD for the gift He has given her and us!  Continue to pray for her and her world of speech and hearing!  We know that she is and will continue to be a voice for the voiceless!  God has big plans for her life!”

                                                                    -Stephanie

On Saturday, December 6 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., come meet the Carpenter Girls of Ting Ministries and learn more about the work Brian and Stephanie are involved with at their Christmas Vendor Fair Fundraiser. The event will be held at Fairland Brethren in Christ Church, 529 W. Penn Ave. (Rt. 422) Cleona, PA. Along with a bake sale, there will also be a number of vendors such as Mary Kay, Tastefully Simple, Golden Canyon, Discovery Toys, Kinder Music, and more…

All proceeds will benefit Ting Ministries and their orphan care work in Philippines, Ukraine, Pakistan, and China!

For more information and a look at pictures of their beautiful family, you can visit their BLOG.