Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer LINK Boston: Serve Medford Week

Hello from Medford! (pronounced "MEE-FAH" by locals)
 
SummerLink Boston is winding down quickly and with mixed emotions, as we reflect on how the Lord has worked in the past six weeks while also looking ahead to what's next.  No doubt the last month and a half has prepared us for the next chapter we will embark upon: school for some, jobs for others, and GenerationLink for the rest! Our diligent team leaders, Joel and Jen Smith, are preparing to head north to Toronto this Wednesday with Abbey, Jonathan and other RHCmembers. They will be serving Trinity Life Church, a church plant that's one year old this September! Lauren, Amanda, and I all head home the same morning, while Griffin and Chloe stay until Thursday
 
Now, for a quick recap on the meaningful parts of this last week- SERVE MEDFORD WEEK!
We've been gearing up all summer for Redemption Hill's biggest event of the year, Community Fun Night, right in Medford! This night was only made possible with the help of the 130ish volunteers from 8 different churches around the country, but more about this night in a minute. First, a huge thank you to these people for their efforts the entire week. Our team got to welcome these committed volunteers at the airport and offer an introduction to Boston's public transportation system via the T (train) and the bus. By 10:30 Saturday night, all teams had safely arrived to the Hyatt in Medford. The next morning, RHC got a peek into the future with 130 additional attendees that Sunday for church, lunch and training, (foreshadowing of the growing numbers that are to come)! Thank you to Griffin for picking up the 37 pizzas for all of us! Pastors Jon and Tanner provided helpful insight about being on mission in Boston, and the teams took a group picture at Tufts University library with the city skyline in the background.
Monday, the rains came and so did the floods here in the Hyatt, with water nearly covering parts of the first floor. Thankfully, the staff reacted quickly and the sun came out, so all teams reported to their designated places to serve Medford. Service included putting on kids' camps for two government housing complexes, park clean-up, cleaning the Boys and Girls Club (aka: RHC on Sundays), cleaning/painting  in Medford high school, activities for older adults in government housing, and directly serving businesses in Medford Square. This continued Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Some fabulous stories from these service opportunities were shared Thursday night at Hope Fellowship Church where the Broken Lantern Project band from Florence, SC, led a worship night. Before team members shared stories from the week, Pastor Tanner reminded us of Psalm 111:2 "Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them." Here are a few examples of how the Lord worked this week:
  • Pastor Jon Chasteen received a few calls from people who were handed invite cards & gum/granola bars at T-stops and wanted to know more about RHC. Jon was able to share the Gospel over the phone 
  • Two team members had a Gospel conversation with a woman suffering from terminal cancer while doing door hangers for Community Fun Night. This lady believes she has to do good works to be saved, and she was open to hearing about salvation by grace. 
  • A lady driving by a park saw our volunteers doing park clean-up and gave RHC a friendly shout out via Twitter.
  • Our service team from KY shared the Christian movie "Facing the Giants" to the older residents in government housing, and the residents loved the film, applauding at the end! 
  • Two volunteers from Clemson SummerLink reached out to a non-practicing Muslim family from Bangladesh who welcomed them into their home. The volunteers shared about the Bible from creation to Revelation, and the family was receptive!
  • Two volunteers prayed with a man who accepted the Lord right there with them on the street!
  • Tara from Team Tulsa shared her excitement over getting to work the T-stops and reminded us that if just one person out of the 14,000 who are handed invited cards comes to know Jesus, then it is worth it!
To wrap up, I'll share about Community Fun Night that was Friday, August 1st from 5-8 PM. We had a huge field to work with at Playstead Park, and Abbey brilliantly suggested we keep the different stations (registration, food, popcorn, snow cones, games, bouncy castles, resources table, story tent, balloon animals, face painting) close together so as to foster a greater sense of community.  This worked beautifully, and despite our efforts to pray the gathering gray clouds away, raindrops made an appearance about half-way through. But don't despair- the weather proved to create even greater community under the trees, tents and especially under the story tent where Bible stories were being told! One non-believing family stayed for 45 minutes soaking in stories from God's Word. Our fearless event planner, Abbey, could be found in the middle of the field, rain hitting her smiling face and laughing with the kids who barely noticed they were wet. Lots of people hung tight with us and returned to the games and food once the shower subsided. I'm confident the joy of the Lord was present in our volunteers, and this undoubtedly shone through to the families. We are SO thankful for the many opportunities RHC members and volunteers had for meaningful and Gospel-centered conversations. Many of the interactions will be continued with follow-up coffee or lunch dates, visits to church, and prayer. 
 
I am beyond encouraged and grateful to have been a part of Redemption Hill Church this summer. It's been a truly delightful week and a gift to serve alongside the volunteers that partnered with us in sharing about the One who makes all of this possible! I encourage people to come to Serve Medford next summer and see for yourself how the Lord is doing GREAT things here in Boston! And for Medford... WATCH OUT! God has stirred the hearts of more people than you know to serve you and show you a love that doesn't run out!
 
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 
~Ephesians 3:20, 21
By: Brooke Simecka

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer-Link Honduras: Finding Comfort in Being Uncomfortable

     It is a strange thing to pray to be placed in uncomfortable situations. It is an even stranger experience to live out answered prayers. Before coming to Honduras, I knew that a part of growing in the faith is living out of my comfort zone and thus I asked the Lord to force me out of my comfort. I have been completely at the mercy of my own prayer requests and the Lord is gracious to provide them. Not many of us on this team in Honduras can speak the language very well and I consider myself among the least equipped to converse with the locals. This is usually not a desired attribute when teaching English to Spanish speaking people. From the outside, it would seem that we are inadequate, but I've learned more and more that God does not call the equipped but equips the called. We have witnessed God continuously break down the mighty language barrier. Just last week, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with Christian, who is one of the boys in our children's ESL class. Despite the obstacles that are before us we find relief in our Father's sovereignty. Despite how many countless times we have been uncomfortable on this trip we find comfort in the promise that God is faithful.
   
  By Johnny Josephson

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SummerLink Honduras: Kids Camp

Last thursday we had had the opportunity to host a kids camp in Lucinda. This town was recently devastated by a boating accident where several young men died. The house that we hosted the camp at was the home of one of the men who died and also where they had started a church out of their home so it's been really great to see God at work in this tragedy and be able to minister to the kids who lost brothers, dads, and friends. We had a great turnout, and 55 kids showed up. We taught the kids about the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000, colored pictures, learned new songs, and played games. It was a really great opportunity to show gospel-centered love to the community in the middle of a tragedy.
Our favorite MK, Anthony, reading the bible story to some of the kids
Playing a game of Pato, Pato, Ganzo (Duck, Duck, Goose)
Audrey helping the kids make picture frames
Also we had the once in a lifetime cultural experience to try a Honduran delicacy, iguana. Some of the guys bought two iguanas off the side of the road of the road from two little boys on the way to town one day. We found out the mom of one of the boys in our English knew how to cook iguana and offered to show us how to properly cook them. Overall the group consensus was that it tasted like a mixture of crab and chicken, and most of us liked it and really enjoyed the experience.
Telma showing us how to properly skin an iguana

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer LINK Honduras: What I've Been Learning

It's wonderful here. The Lord is teaching me so many awesome things. He's taught me about my continual need for the Gospel. That yes, He saved me one time, but that doesn't mean that my sinning stopped when that happened. That didn't mean that I stopped being selfish right on the spot. I'm learning more and more about my need for Christ. That He is what matters and that His work never stops being relevant to my life. That I should wake up and praise Him for the life that He has given us. Friends, this is huge news! Our savior didn't work once and then go back to his cave to dwell... He wants to do life with us everyday!! I'm learning to be naked in front of The Lord. To show Him who I really am, and let Him work with what He's got. Too often we are hiding from the Father when He just wants us to reveal ourselves to Him. 
We are reading through the book of Hosea, and it talks about being adulterous to The Lord. That He is our first love and how He has wrath on anything that is placed before us. It's challenging to see all the different characteristics of our God. Yes He loves, but He is also mad and jealous when you put things before Him. Be brave and really look at what He has to say about us putting idols and other things before Him. But the great news is that this only points to our need for the Gospel. God knows that our sin causes us to put idols in front of Him, that's why He sent Jesus so that we wouldn't be eternally doomed. What He cares about is you being honest about it. Owning up to the fact that I put desire for money over The Lord, or that my desire to go to medical school trumped the presence that God was trying to have in my life. And then we go do something about it. We look our sin in the eyes and get fired up. We know that it's not ok, we know that it's wrong. God will help us change it.. to punch sin right in the face. But we have to ask Him to help. We can't win this battle by ourselves, we NEED His help!! That my friends, is just a snippet of what I am learning here in the beautiful country of Honduras. I'm learning to look at myself more honestly and see my need for Christ every single day. I can't do it by myself, and it's about time I stopped trying. 
Also, our house is surrounded by mangos and every hour or so a massive mango comes crashing down. I'm hoping that in our month long visit someone is walking by (could even be me) and gets nailed by one. It's all about the stories, right? Also there is a beautiful beach that we can see from our front porch.
By: Steven Carroll

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer LINK Seattle

Seattle is one of the nation’s darkest places spiritually. Christians here are few and far between. Rather than a church on every street corner like there is in the Bible belt where I’m from, there are enough Starbucks establishments here to where it’s hard to walk more than a couple blocks without smelling coffee. Agnosticism and ungodliness are both rampant here. There is a general lack of understanding of the gospel here, as defined in this picture I took in a coffee shop the other day:

“THE way does not exist.” Quite contradictory to what Jesus says in John 14:6.

All this unbelief, however, does not mean that God isn’t active and working in this city! The Summer-LINK Seattle team has been fortunate enough to see some proof of this in the past couple of weeks since we have been out here working with Essential Church in Bellevue. I’ll just tell a few stories of things we’ve done out here that have been examples of how we have seen the hand of God here in Seattle. One example is our hiking adventure up to the top of Tiger Mountain outside of Issaquah, WA. After an exhausting hike up, we had a time of sharing testimonies and prayer as we looked out at out mission field that God placed before us this summer. It was an incredible experience to see and visualize the place where we would be spending life for the summer, the place where we would have the opportunity to serve in all types of ways.



Another time where the team and I were able to see the hand of God active and working was at a free carwash that we put on for the community. One might not usually think that God can do cool things at a carwash, but I am sure that he was there and that he was moving. I was the “popcorn guy” for most of the time there: the guy who makes popcorn and then offers it to people in their cars as they wait in the line to get their car washed by the mission team from Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. I was able to have several conversations with people about the Lord during that time, and it was very surprising how open people were to talking about God, even if their thoughts about him were drastically different from mine. I got to pray for a few of the people that came through, and a few of them showed some legitimate interest in coming to church!


                       

One of Essential Church’s primary goals is outreach in the community, and their “Love Bellevue” month is the time of year when that idea is ramped up to a max. That time started this week, so the Summer-LINK team has gotten to be a huge part of it! For me, I’ve been running a free basketball camp at one of the local elementary schools for the kids in the area. The planning and executing of the camp has been frustrating, exhausting, and confusing. However, it has been a huge source of joy to be able to get to know the kids at the camp and to get to show them the love of Christ, even if we are not explicitly sharing the gospel with them. Our hope and prayer is that many of the families with kids in soccer and basketball camps this week will attend the block party that we are having this Friday and will be willing to have Christ-centered conversations with us as we seek out opportunities to share the gospel with them while they are there. I have no doubt that the Lord will do big things through the other activities for Love Bellevue, and through Essential Church and the Summer LINK mission team for the entirety of the summer.

            



by Ben Casey



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

SummerLINK Honduras: Los Niños

¡Hola!

Girls playing at recess.
Boys eating their snack.
So far my favorite experience is helping at the bilingual school in Rio Esteban. We all walk to the main road from our house at 6:15 AM every Tuesday and Thursday to catch a school bus full of little Honduran niños. The first morning we got on the bus, every child just stared at us with confusion. After a short drive through God's beautiful creation, we get to this little school that is nothing like what we are used to, but out here this is the best of the best. These children in their cute little uniforms are all running around. The school is made up of students that are kindergarten to ninth grade. It did not take long for the children to warm up even though for the most part, we did not know what they were saying. As long as we play soccer, duck duck goose (pato pato ganso), and little sally walker, the children couldn't be any happier. We were able to help teach the little kindergartners working on their words, numbers, and colors. The language barrier is still very hard so prayers for gospel conversation to occur despite such obvious barriers would be great. We are hopeful in this and we look forward to spending time with them every chance we get to love on them.  

Kindergarten class

Another great opportunity we have all had is to be able to shadow in the hospital that we are affiliated with here, which is Hospital Loma de Luz. It has been great for us because most of us have medical career plans and it has been awesome to see the mission side of this field. The doctor we shadow most of the time is Dr. Vance Pirkle, who is an OB/GYN and a very interesting man. We are lucky to live right beside their family so we see him hop on a dirt bike and ride off to the hospital in his scrubs every morning and you never get used to it. In the hospital, a few of us were able to witness life being brought into this world. Three of us were in the hospital at the same time last week and were able to watch a C-section, and this week, one of us were able to see a natural delivery. Both babies are healthy and we all saw it as a blessing to be able to be in the same room to watch these miracles happen. The Pirkles have been very welcoming to our team and because of that I have to share the coolest family picture I've ever seen so you can meet them too (even if they are pulling for Georgia).

Pirkle Family
(From left: Rebekah, Caleb, Sarah, Vance, Elizabeth, Phillip, Susan)

This doesn't even scratch the surface of all that we are experiencing here, but it gives you an idea. We all look forward to what the Lord will do in the weeks that we have left here. Keep us and the Honduran people in your prayers! 

¡Adiós!

By Olivia Addis

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer LINK India: Vic and JJ Exposé

Delhi, India


On the flight to Delhi (Credit: Logan Dickinson)
We flew from GSP on Saturday June 28th to Newark, NJ where we had a brief layover before boarding our flight to Delhi. The flight was an uneventful, not very restful, 14 hours. We passed the time watching movies and sleeping. When we arrived in Delhi we went through customs and met "G-man" who is working here in India. After introducing us he took us outside for first glimpse of India. The air in Delhi is hot and thick and a layer of smog hangs over the city. We loaded our luggage into his car and got our first taste of traffic in India. For those of you who have been to India before I'm sure you can relate. The only traffic rules followed are stop lights. Everything else is a suggestion. "G-man" took us to a "transition house" to stay for a couple of days while we were in Delhi. The next day after eating at a local restaurant "G-Man" took us to around Delhi to get a feel for the Indian culture. One of the places that we visited was a part of the city known as Old Delhi. In this part of the city we went to the Spice Market. The special thing about the Spice Market is that there are a ridiculous amount of people in this tiny open-air market where there are hundreds of stands that included spices (obviously), raw meat, and anything else that your heart desires. We finished the day by visiting the India Gate and playing a pick up game of soccer in the surrounding park with some of the locals. 



The next day we got an opportunity to explore Delhi on our own. We visited Humayun's Tomb, known as the Red Taj, and the Hauz Khas Deer Park. Some college-aged locals introduced themselves to us there and we were able to talk to them for  long time. We eventually were able to share the g0spel with them. However, we did not see any fruit from the conversation but we are called to proclaim the G0spel and leave the spiritual work to G0d. We finished up orientation, left Delhi, and flew to I-town on Wednesday. 

India Gate (Credit: Logan Dickinson)
Humayun's Tomb (Credit: Logan Dickinson)

I-town, India


In I-town we were welcomed by the families working here as well as some other short-term teams like us. We did some sight-seeing around the town to get some sense of direction and "P-man", one the guys working here long term, went over a discipleship program known as the Four Fields that includes G0d's vision, proclaiming the g0spel, discipling new believers, and church planting. We have also gone to some of the popular malls where we have been able to meet some local students. One of our goals is to have G0spel-centered conversations and try to build a relationship with them through follow ups.

Just landed in I-town (Credit: Logan Dickinson)

Street corner in I-town (Credit: Logan Dickinson)


Our main goal here in I-town is to assist the long term workers in mapping out the churches in I-town and meeting with local pastors. On Monday several of us had the opportunity to go to a meeting with nearly 30 local pastors. Another group of us went to visit a local pastor who is partnering with the longterm workers here. On Tuesday we called many of the pastors we met and set up appointments for the coming week. We were also able to visit with three more local pastors around the city. 

What We've Learned

We have been experiencing great community here with the long-term teams here. "P-man" has been leading us through 1st Peter,"Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health" by Donald Whitney, and group discipleship training. We will soon begin one-on-one mentoring with the long-term workers. We also have house worship with the families on Thursday nights and go to the local churches on Sunday mornings. 

Please pr@y that G0d uses us to serve the national and international workers here and that we boldly proclaim the g0spel to the locals. Also, pr@y that G0d will bring unity among the pastors and churches with the Four Fields strategy.