Grace Church Teen Interns in Haiti

In two short days, Jessica Lutz will be heading to Haiti for a 4 month long internship at Mission of Hope Haiti. We are so excited to how this experience will shape Jess’s life in the future, but we also want to acknowledge how she got to this point in the first place…

When did you first get involved with Haiti?

Two years ago, I went on my first mission trip to Haiti with my family. We did a VBS with the children at an orphanage in Cap-Haitien. Since then, we have gone back two more times to teach the kids more about God and to just love on them.

What passions has the Lord given you that has driven you to spend an extended amount of time in Haiti?

The first time that I went to Haiti, I had no idea what to expect. It was my first time outside of the United States, and I had only seen pictures and heard a few stories of what extreme poverty is and looks like. While driving five minutes through the streets after getting off the plane, all I could see was beauty and amazing people. I didn’t even pay attention to the trash all over the ground or the strong smells of polluted water. During that first trip, my heart was broken for the people of Haiti that have absolutely nothing, and yet they would give you the shirt off their back (which is probably their only shirt), just because you showed kindness and love to them. The Lord has allowed me to see the beauty in a country that has been written off by most of the world. He has also shown me the dark areas of voodoo and how much the Haitian people need to hear about what God promises them.

Why is it important for people to be “on mission”? Do you have to go to Haiti to be “on mission”?

God has called us to make His name known all over the world. By being “on mission”, we as followers of Christ must be constantly looking for opportunities to share the Gospel. You do not have to go to Haiti or any other country in order to be “on mission”. There are plenty of people at home in the States that have not heard the Gospel, and many of them are our own neighbors, co-workers, and friends.

What is your biggest fear for this trip?

My biggest fear is being away from home. I don’t usually get homesick, but being in a different country for a few months will definitely stretch me and pull me out of my comfort zone.

What are you most excited about?

I am so excited to be working alongside other Haitians, and I can’t wait to see people on the American mission teams experience Haiti for the first time. I’m definitely anxious to just finally get to Haiti and start settling in at Mission of Hope.

How has Haiti changed your life?

Haiti has been an amazing wake up call for me, and it has changed the way that I view many things. I don’t enjoy shopping anymore because I am reminded of all the privileges and possessions that I have here in the States. I also have started to ask myself more frequently “is this a need or a want?” My outlook on life and my priorities are now more about investing in others and not being so concerned about material possessions.

For more information about Mission of Hope, click here!

Be sure to stop by the new missions table in the lobby to pick up Jess’s prayer card!

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Africa Food Relief Update

The following is an update from Barb Wooler, one of our main contacts through Encompass World Partners for our partnerships in the CAR:

The situation in the C.A.R. continues to be challenging. A month ago an agreed-upon ceasefire fell apart in days, rejected by Seleka rebels. Then two weeks ago, the C.A.R. president’s efforts to appease Seleka by appointing the nation’s first Muslim prime minister was also rejected out of hand.

But our efforts to bless civilians caught in the crossfire continue. Below are two prayer requests, the second one being a report of a joint food/seed project our giving has helped make possible.

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A truck-load of love in the form of freshly harvested corn, beans and manioc.

Prayer Requests
1 – URGENT PRAYER is needed for the Committee in the C.A.R. that is making another trip to the north of the country. The committee president just sent this request:
“Tomorrow (Monday, August 18) we will travel to Bozoum and Paoua to distribute more food, seed and tools. On Wednesday the committee fasted and prayed for this one-week trip, and we ask our friends around the world to please join us in praying for security. We will report back when we return and send photos.”

2 – Praise God and continue to pray for an on-going project our giving made possible. A couple months ago, missionary partners Roy and Aleta Danforth were able to provide seed to many local farmers, who planted it and which is now being harvested and used to help needy people.

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Local farmers harvesting cowpeas to distribute to hungry families.

Last week, Roy and Aleta wrote, “[We have] embarked on a project raising corn, peanuts, and bean seed to then distribute to refugee groups and other displaced people. This will help with immediate food needs AND provide a seed starter to encourage people to re-establish their own food security through their gardens. We are targeting refugees across the border as well as displaced people in Gamboula and many villages to the north. We have already collected harvests from CEFA’s (Center for Agricultural Training) own gardens as well as from many local villagers in CEFA co-ops.

“People receiving the food and seed are extremely thankful for the care, aid, and instruction we gave them. This has been a big encouragement to each of the communities we are touching. One woman shared her deep concerns, talking about the fact that they have no food to eat, just a few roots left in their gardens from when they fled. She pointed to their church, homes, and school that were burned to the ground and told the story of the day they were attacked.  Many were injured; some were killed as they fled in terror.”

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Aleta giving beans and manioc to Muslim refugees in Cameroon.

Perhaps the neediest group the Danforths have been able to help are 100 Muslims (including Fulani) who fled to Cameroon. These are people the Danforths and Kim & Jan Cone (all former missionaries on Encompass’ team) have targeted for ministry and with whom they already have developed relationships. Roy writes, “Because of these people’s courage and willingness to forgive, they hope to return, which encourages us that reconciliation might someday happen. We are hoping to be a part of that process, by sharing God’s love and helping with whatever we can on both sides of the river.”

So once again I thank you for your prayers and giving that is making possible all this help to hurting people. PRAY that God will use our expressions of compassion to further His purposes in the hearts of these people, whom He loves and is pursuing.

A GROWing Partnership

Grace Church is so excited to be partnering with GROW. Faa & Ning shared powerful stories of answers to prayer during our Sunday morning worship services last week, and expanded on what God has been doing in the past year at the Missions Celebration. We also wanted you to be able to see this great new video from GROW (which was shown last Sunday night).

We are sending Heidi Christner and Joan McCracken to visit GROW from September 26-October 13th. During their trip, they will be able to encourage Faa, build relationships with the children and staff at GROW, and explore the possibility of taking short-term trips in the future. There is a prayer card and support letter for them located at the missions table in the church lobby.

Take a moment to pray for this amazing ministry, and consider supporting it by partnering with Heidi and Joan as they travel there in a few weeks!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/100609817″>GROW – Grace Refuge Outreach Worldwide</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user7195014″>Jonathan H. Lee</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Thai-ing up loose ends!

From September 26th to October 13th, we will be sending two Grace Church ambassadors to Thailand to continue to pursue our relationship with GROW. Joan McCracken who continues to be a vital part of our mission’s team, as well as Heidi Christner who serves on Grace Church’s ministry leadership team will be traveling to Asia for 16 days. They will have opportunities to encourage the GROW staff in some significant ways, provide some Grace Church love and fun to the GROW children, and to explore the next steps of short-term team potential. They will also have opportunities to learn about the children’s backgrounds and unique challenges in order to continue to educate Grace Church on how to pray for and partner in rescuing more and more children.

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Please consider partnering, financially and in prayer for these two women. The trip is about one month away and there is still a need for a couple thousand dollars. If you would like to help financially, please mark your gifts to Grace Church for “Thailand Trip”. In addition, please be praying for the following:

  • Spirit led time of fellowship and encouragement as they serve together and plan together
  • Strength and stamina as Heidi and Joan interact with the GROW ministry children, building trust and showing Christ’s love
  • Flight connections and traveling
  • Their families at home

 Thanks for partnering with us to see the whole gospel impact the whole world! Check back on Tuesday for some more exciting news about GROW!

Celebrating Missions: Part 3 of 3

Sunday night the Grace Church missions team hosted a missions celebration! Those who attended thoroughly enjoyed the variety of experiences throughout the night and walked away challenged to be more engaged in our responsibility to “reach the nations” with the good news of Jesus. This is the final blog in our series for this week highlighting different elements of the event in case you weren’t able to make it! (Click here for part 1 and here for part 2!)

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As we mentioned last week, if we are followers of Jesus, we are responsible for His mission! We began the evening considering how all of our missions efforts at Grace Church fit into that context and our vision – to lead people to Christ and to coach them to live for Him with purpose and abandon!

Pastor Doug spent some time identifying a few practical ways that people can be involved in what we do all over the globe, which are summarized below. How are YOU involved?!

  • AWARENESS – Be pro-active in knowing what is going on in missions! Bookmark this blog for information on Grace Church’s efforts or connect with other reputable sources.
  • GIVE – We need committed partners to give to Grace Church and support our “home” commitments, but part of every dollar goes to support our commitments to partners all over the world. In addition, we do a few special missions projects throughout the year, and have short-term teams needing funded on a regular basis. We’ve also included special projects with many of our short-term teams – the team that just returned from Haiti raised money to provide Bibles for the orphans and staff at the House of Hope orphanage!
  • GO – Perhaps there are some who God will call to relocate “on mission”. There will be more who are called to grow in their discipleship journey through a short-term experience. These trips allow God to open our hearts in a unique way, and allow us to work together with our partners to develop relationships and accomplish their ministry objectives.
  • PRAY – This is perhaps the easiest AND most important investment we can make! The miracle of changed hearts and lives comes from God, so we must be on our knees asking Him to work. Pick up your prayer cards and commit to praying for our partners! (Don’t have your prayer cards yet? Stop by the missions table in the lobby to pick up your set!)

If you have any questions about missions at Grace Church, please contact Pastor Doug here.

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Celebrating Missions: Part 2 of 3

Sunday night the Grace Church missions team hosted a missions celebration! Those who attended thoroughly enjoyed the variety of experiences throughout the night and walked away challenged to be more engaged in our responsibility to “reach the nations” with the good news of Jesus. This is the second blog in our series for this week highlighting different elements of the event in case you weren’t able to make it! (Click here if you missed part 1!)

Those who attended got their passports stamped on a journey around the world! Tables were set-up representing different short-term missions opportunities and ministries engaged by Grace Church people this summer. Tables included:

After visiting each table, “passports” were “stamped” and those with full passports entered a give-away to local “international” restaurants!

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One of the required stops was the Grace Meeting Room, where the team from Haiti provided a more extensive presentation of their trip. Our prayer has been that people would have at least one interaction that would lead them to be more engaged in missions through Grace Church.

How are you “living on mission”? We’ll give you some practical ideas tomorrow!

Celebrating Missions: Part 1 of 3

Sunday night the Grace Church missions team hosted a missions celebration! Those who attended thoroughly enjoyed the variety of experiences throughout the night and walked away challenged to be more engaged in our responsibility to “reach the nations” with the good news of Jesus. We’ll post a few blogs this week highlighting different elements of the event in case you weren’t able to make it!

We’ll start at the end! We ended the evening by covering the entire world in prayer! Literally! We asked everyone who attended to pick 3 countries to pray for and had them circle the country name on a world map. It was awesome to see couples, families, and other individuals huddled together and praying for the work of the gospel across the entire globe! Many wrote the names of their countries down to continue to pray for them throughout the week as well. A changed heart is a work of God, so prayer is a powerful way to be involved in missions.

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Another prayer element came in the form of a packet of prayer cards for all of Grace Church’s missions partners! We encouraged everyone to take one home and to place it at a visible place in their home to remember to pray for our partnerships and investments all over the globe. We continue to make new cards for Grace Church folks who are serving on short-term trips as well, so your pile can continue to grow over time. A display gave people ideas of how to use the cards:

  • Place them in a box in the middle of the dinner table and pray for one partner each night before dinner
  • Place them all in a photo album and keep it in your purse or with your Bible to pray during down-time or quiet time
  • Hang them on a line across a play-room wall to keep them visible and in the front of your mind
  • Clip them to your fridge with a fridge-magnet and pray for one when you open your fridge

If you missed the event, stop by the missions table in the lobby to pick a packet up, or contact the church office to mail you one!

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A final prayer element that was quite moving was to have Faa, from our featured partnership, GROW, praying for us in Thai! Pastor Doug asked Faa to pray in either Aka (her native, tribal language) or in Thai. She chose to pray in Thai “because that’s the language she has memorized Scripture in”! In other words, she was praying Scripture! Though we couldn’t understand her prayer, our hearts were aligned and moved as we observed her passion while she spoke to God.