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. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Link Clemson: Breaking the Habit

"Worship is turning our mind's attention and heart's affection to the Lord, praising him for who he is and what he has done."

We were created by God to be worshipers of God. That was his mission behind creating us. We were created to be in communion with Him, and as a piece of art is to reflect its artist, we were created to reflect our Creator. He created us so that He could be worshiped by that which He made.

However, our sin ruined all of that. 

The fact that we decided to live our life our own way and reject a life reflecting our Creator, did not earn us a slap on the wrist, it earned us an eternal separation from God. 

Our rejection of God's intended way of living produces our slavery to sin. As Paul says in Romans 6, we became slaves to sin which leads us to death. 

As I read that passage in Romans, I focus on the fact we are slaves to sin. When I hear that word, I think back to middle and high school, when I learned about the time of slavery in our nation. As I try to put myself in their shoes, I think of the fact that those people were not created to be slaves. They were put on this earth to live a regular life as we do. 

I also think of them being freed from their slavery and what that had to be like. When they began to live regular lives, I wonder how often in certain situations they were prone to resort back to their habits of living as a slave to deal with them. 

The same applies to our own spiritual lives. 

We have been freed from slavery through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Through His death and resurrection, the same sin that once powered over us no longer has that strength. 

However, even though sin no longer has power on us, the habit to sin still does. 

Just as those slaves could have resorted back to the habits they developed when they were in that bondage, we do the same as Christians. Though we are in Christ and have been reconciled back to God, we have the habit to want to resort back to the ways we lived when we were slaves to sin. However, by His grace, he reconciles us back to Him and reminds us of the new lives we have in Christ. 

As we lives in the freedom Christ offers us, let us aim as a body of believers to do these two things: 

1. To remember that we are not defined by our past slavery in sin, but we are defined by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
2. Remind ourselves that sin no longer has power on us and to break the habit to live in the same way that we did when we were in slavery. 



"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." Romans 6:17-18





By: Jordan Nates 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer LINK Seattle

Greetings from the Seattleites!!!

 Our first week in Seattle has ended and we have seen God work in some mighty ways already. Brock and Ben picked us (Katelin, Jamie, Crystal, Jordan, and Christina) up at the airport on Thursday, June 26, to go meet with Pastor Warren and Sarah Schuster from Essential Church for dinner in Factoria. We talked about the coming summer and ministry opportunities that each of us will have in our 6 week stay. We had a time of sweet fellowship and prayer before heading to our home- the Purple Door.
            Let me start by saying the Purple Door is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It is a mix of camp goes to college with a little hominess thrown in. The PD serves as a home for some on missions and even a few who attend the University of Washington for school. The community and Christian living here are so refreshing as Seattle is an otherwise very spiritually dark place. We all share responsibilities with the other missions teams like cooking, cleaning, and leading worship in a group together on Tuesdays. One of the “mottos” hanging up on a bulletin board says, “Doing life together”. Praise the Lord that we have the opportunity to experience this throughout the summer!

                    Purple Door arrival! Ben, Brock, Jordan, Jamie, Katelin, Christina, and Crystal.
The Lord has allowed us to move two families this week. First, we helped move the Mainards into their new home, which is now closer to where Essential Church meets for worship. Our second move was rather spontaneous. Jenny, a 17 year-old, who the Seattle team met last year, was moving out of her apartment on Monday and asked if we could help she and her mother pack things into their storage unit. The Lord allowed us to demonstrate love of Christ towards them by helping for about 3 hours. Jenny attends one of the local high schools in Bellevue and her mother works at Jubilee Reach. We are unsure about her and her mother’s spiritual state but, they agreed to come with us to the fireworks show in downtown Bellevue as well as church Sunday! Our team is so excited to be able to reach out to this family.

Essential Church meets at the local Boys and Girls Club in Bellevue. This past Sunday was the launch of having 2 services! This is such a blessing to those who serve in the church and have varying work schedules so they too can worship our Savior and hear the Word of God. Brock and Ben both played in the worship service-Brock on the cajon and Ben on the banjo. We girls helped teach the 1st through 6th grade and took care of the nursery babies. Our team was totally immersed into full ministry the very first service! Praise the Lord for His provision and allowance for each of us to be used at Essential Church.
The rest of the week we planned for the upcoming Love Bellevue events. Everyone on our team has been assigned different leadership roles from sports camps to block parties. This summer will be a time of growing and learning as a whole and individually as we serve the community of Seattle, WA.
Special thanks to Josh Davis driving some team members to the airport and thank you to everyone who has financially and prayerfully supported us thus far. We are looking forward to what the Lord is going to do through us and Essential Church!
By: Christina Gibson