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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Volunteer Opportunity: Bible 2 School

Bible 2 schoolBIBLE 2 SCHOOL is a non-profit organization that provides non-denominational Bible classes to kids in Public school. This is a great opportunity for students to hear from the Word of God, but it doesn’t happen without the help of volunteers! They have added more Bible Electives for fall and are in need of volunteers! If you’d like to learn more about Bible 2 School, click here! If you would like to get more information about volunteer opportunities for released time Bible classes, contact Alicea here or by calling 717-419-0450.

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.

Urban Impact (Part 3 of 3)

As a part of Grace Church’s continued efforts to be salt and light in our surrounding communities, we are sending a group to Urban Hope to participate in a street carnival on September 27th! We have sent groups of volunteers to UHTC many times, and they always come back with incredible stories of how God is working through Urban Hope in Philadelphia. If you missed part one of this series, check it out here!

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This is the last group that went to Urban Hope!

The upcoming group will leave the parking lot here at Grace Church at 6:30am and return at 8:00pm. This is a great opportunity to spend a full day training and serving in a cross-cultural environment! For more information or to sign up, contact David (717-715-5779) and Del-Rae (717-715-5782) Rice by phone or by email here.

To hear about more opportunities like this one, come to our Missions Celebration this Sunday night at 6pm in the cafe! Coffee and dessert will be provided. To find out more information about this event, click HERE!

Urban Impact (Part 1 of 3)

For the next three days, we will be focusing on a ministry that many people from Grace Church have had the opportunity to interact with…Urban Hope. So what is Urban Hope, you ask?

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Urban Hope Training Center, located in Philadelphia, PA, is an organization“dedicated to the mission of providing believers with cross-cultural training and experience in urban ministry.” UHTC also serves as a thriving community church. By focusing on reaching the young generations in the community, they have easier access to impact the family in the long run. Programming such as Kingdom Kids on Sunday afternoons and ROCK on Friday nights provides locals with a safe, fun environment where they learn who Christ is and how to give their lives to follow Him.

Grace Church has sent many teams to Urban Hope for the purposes of training and serving in the community. Click here to read about the last trip that served at a UHTC street carnival in May! (No really…click that link!)

WOAH! Such a cool service opportunity! Want to get involved? Check back in the next two days to find out how you can join in!

Click here to learn more about Urban Hope!

Sharing their Hearts: Haiti Reflections

Almost one month ago, a team of 11 people from Grace Church traveled to Haiti to do a Vacation Bible School at House of Hope Orphanage. They had a great trip and were able to strengthen many relationships with the Haitian people. We asked a few of the team members to write a short summary and pick a picture to describe their experience in Haiti…

Jess, Alex, Steve, Shelly, Jenna, Alison, Dorene, Boni Ryan, Tyler, Kegan
Back Row: Jess, Alex, Steve, Shelly, Jenna, Alison, Dorene, Boni
Front Row: Ryan, Tyler, Kegan

Jess: Each trip back to Haiti is like a giant family reunion for me. The highlights are getting to strengthen friendships with my Haitian siblings, and being able to grow with them spiritually. Showing them that they are loved and that they are important is necessary, because that is how they learn to not only trust in God, but to also trust in others after being unwanted for part of their life.

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Tyler: This trip was very successful because of all the lessons the kids learned from VBS. The seeds planted now will definitely benefit the kids’ walk with God as they grow up.

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Jenna: This Haiti trip felt more normal. The kids were more natural, as if it were a normal day. Haiti has a very special place in my heart and my family’s hearts too. One of the kids wrote me a note that said, “I look at the stuff you gave me but it’s you that we really want here.” I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Shelly: This trip was an extra emotional trip for me as a lot of the kids shared their hearts with us in a very personal way. I was humbled, blessed, and in awe of how much they love us and accept us as their family, which is something they just crave. We thought that we were giving to them, but in the end they gave us so much by way of washing our hands for us; lovingly and gently rubbing a sprained ankle; braiding hair; hugs and loving us. Leaving is becoming harder and harder!

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Boni: In Haiti, I  think a learned a little bit more what true, agape love is: Love is an 18 year old boy just holding a toddler because she wants to be held. Love is cradling a tiny baby with no diaper (and feeling the “warmth!”) Love is a 15 year old boy calling you his “mamma” simply because you loved on him, taught him to play UNO, and medicated and treated his injured foot. Love is having 3-4 children with dirty hands braid your hair and then you painting their dirty little toenails in return. Love is having another 3-4 children all trying to wash the paint off your hands and even cleaning under your fingernails. Although they only get 2 simple meals a day, LOVE is a group of 45 children silently watching you eat your lunch because they know that once you are re-energized… you will be ready to love on them and play with them again!

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Alex: Just a short five days with the children and staff at House of Hope orphanage completely transformed the way I saw the world around me. Though the people are living in such deep poverty, they are some of the happiest people I have ever met and spending time with them showed me that God’s love is more powerful and worth more than anything here on earth.

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Ronaldin and I used this picture to officially thank all who supported our team financially to make this trip possible. Especially for the funds to purchase French Bibles!
Ronaldin and I used this picture to officially thank all who supported our team financially to make this trip possible. Especially for the funds to purchase French Bibles!

Oh no! This is the end of the blog post?…Want to hear more?

Come out to our Missions Celebration on Sunday August 17th from 6-8pm in the cafe! Learn about the trips that our people have gone on this summer, including this Haiti team! You will also hear from one of our partners, Faa, who is visiting from Thailand, learn about opportunities for missions trips in 2015, and eat dessert! You won’t want to miss this event!

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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!)

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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!