Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Answering the Call

Tomoka Christian Church is truly a body of Christ followers. Your response to the call for an adoptive family for Sheila was amazing. Thank you for answering the call of Christ which was heard through the cry of a lone teenager in Ghana.

We have forwarded your emails — some from out of state — to Kevin and Cara Boone, who are in Ghana this week picking up their daughter, Ruth. I am sure that we will soon have another report from Cara on Sheila (the two are pictured here) and her search for a family. When Cara returns and spends a few days acclimating Ruth to a new life, she will get us the needed information for adoption procedures and we will make sure that you are updated.

I want to remind you that “some estimates put the number of orphans at 50 million while other estimates put the number as high as 200 million. Sadly the orphans are even abandoned by the statistics.” There is never a shortage of children looking for a family. Prayerfully, Sheila’s cry has brought to our attention again the need for the body of Christ to step up and care for the orphans. And what better way to celebrate National Adoption Month in October than to have 25-30 families from Tomoka Christian begin the process to bring their child home from around the world!

I know that God has spoken to many of you whether you e-mailed us or not. I challenge each of you to take action on what He has placed on your hearts to do whether it is to adopt or to help make it financially possible for another "Sheila" to find her Mommy.
…To Be Continued

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Young girl aches for a family of her own

Cara and Kevin, friends of the Tomoka Christian family, are working through paperwork to adopt a young girl, Ruth, from Ghana. In their visits to Ruth at her orphanage in Ghana, they met another child, Sheila, who is Ruth's best friend. Sheila's deepest desire is for a family of her own. Adoption requirements are few and costs have been reduced, but time is running out. Below is a note Cara sent me about Sheila's situation. Please e-mail me if you can help her.

I am sending out a desperate plea to all my God-fearing friends: We need to find a family for Sheila, a sweet, godly, wonderful 14-year-old girl living in Ghana.

Sheila has been praying for a family for years. I told her that I would make it my personal mission to help find her one. A few weeks ago she got the chance to call me and the first thing she asked was, "Did you find me a mommy yet?" I had to tell her no. When I go to Ghana next week, I would love to be able to tell her that God has brought her a family. Someone, please be the answer to this sweet girl's prayer! Time is running out for her as she is about to turn 15. The U.S. government will not allow children to be adopted once they turn 16. The process has to be finished before they turn 16. Sheila is such a kind, humble, peaceful, loving soul. The only thing she needs is a family and a chance.

Says Sheila: "My prayer is that someone that you will send my picture to will accept me as their child and have mercy on me because I am no one. People always say that I don't have a mother. Please, please have mercy on me."

The enemy has sold this sweet girl a lie: Having her believe, because she is an orphan, she is no one. Who is willing to show Sheila that she is not "no one"? She is someone very special in Christ. He cares for her! As the body of Christ, so do we. Please allow Jesus to come to her rescue through you!

Because of her desperate situation, the fees for her adoption have been greatly reduced and several people already have volunteered to raise money to help with the cost of her adoption. Please don't let money be an obstacle!

Requirements for adoption:
  • Must be 21 years older than the child. In this case, one of the parents must be at least 35 years old
  • Must be married
  • Must be Christian
The first time I met her, she was bent over stirring a pot of banku over a small charcoal stove. When I looked a little closer, I saw that she was silently weeping as she worked to make lunch for the 30 children living at her orphanage. I bent down to look her in the eye and asked her what was wrong. She wouldn't return my gaze, but instead wiped away her tears and said, "I am so happy that my best friend, Ruth, has found such a wonderful mother. I am going to miss sister Ruth and I pray one day a woman will come for me and she will be my mommy forever."

Needless to say, my heart was broken for sweet Sheila. I promised her that day that I would help her on her journey to find a mama and a family.

Sheila looks just like her birth mother. They both have light skin and a long face. They both radiate beauty from the inside out. Sheila loved her mother dearly, but her mother passed away. Unable to care for her, Sheila's father took her to the orphanage and left her there.

Sheila is a smart girl and loves school. Unfortunately, the orphanage where she is staying cannot pay for her to go to school anymore and she had to drop out of school this year. Sheila is very sad about this. She has dreams of one day becoming a journalist.

Sheila loves to sing and dance to Jesus. As the oldest girl in the orphanage, Sheila has had to take on the mother figure role for 30 other children. She is very nurturing and a hard-worker, but she has been robbed of her childhood and forced to grow up far too early.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting the Job Done

Every two or three years, we publish a prayer journal listing all of the missionaries that Tomoka Christian financially sponsors. Since the last journal, called “Be the Church,” was published, we’ve added many missionaries to the Tomoka Christian support roster. They are listed below. Please remember them as you pray.

Mike & Teresa Grant — Haiti
Barry & Charlene Owensby — Cuba
White Water Christian Church, Wyoming — USA
Robert & Natalie Braden — England
St Louis Christian College (scholarship) — USA
Shelly Hilvety — Ethiopia
New Missions Systems, Halima — Kenya
Grace House DeLand — USA
Compassion International: Christian Tejeno — Philippines
Compassion International: Rachel Niyonkura — Rwanda
Eric & Shelia Jenkins — North Africa
Charlie & Fern Peters — USA
Chris & Aubri Casey — Europe
Melonnie Kelly — Haiti
Zeca & Gabia Sales — USA
Chaplaincy Endorsement Commission — USA
Bill Frans, Toba Lake Church — Indonesia
Thomas Guiteres — Timor Leste
Pastor Martin Roberts — USA
Daniel Meyers Bread Ministry — USA
Kelly Bender — USA
April Roam — Honduras
Beth Ramos — New Guinea
Barbara Beute, Justice Missionary — USA
Sam & Karen Kohler — Japan
Richard & Chris Rice — Guatemala
Garry & Weiling Klinel — Japan
Providence County, RI, church — USA
Equipping the Saints — USA
Bong Barredo — Philippines
Mary Williams — USA
Doug & Carol Baldwin — Ecuador
Christ Reaching Asia Mission — North Korea
Every Home for Christ — Mongolia, Niger & Senegal
Voice of the Martyrs — Pakistan, Vietnam, Laos & Sudan
Team Expansion — Bosnia
Assemblies of God World Missions — Algeria

For those who don't have a journal, I want to encourage you to pick one up in the Worship Center lobby. For those who already have one, we printed stick-on labels with the above names that fit on the inside back cover of the journal. You can pick up a label in the Worship Center lobby.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Power of Love ministry highlights

Below is another report from Jennifer, who leads Power of Love, Tomoka Christian’s ministry to women working in area strip clubs.

Praise God for another wonderful outreach. The team began the evening with a powerful time of prayer, then set out.

At the first club, the owner met us at the door. He was very friendly and invited us in. One of the girls would not accept a bag from us, but the rest of the ladies were very friendly. After we passed out the bags the owner invited us to come back later when more girls were working. While there we had quite a conversation with the owner, reminding me how much the men employed by these clubs need our prayers as well. They are caught up in a world of sin and bondage and are just as lost, trapped and hurting as the women.

The owner of the second club was outside when we arrived. He was very friendly and welcomed us in. One woman we conversed with told us she goes to church every Wednesday and Sunday and was embarrassed to be stripping. She knew it was wrong, but had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was working to pay for her medications. If that weren't enough, her daughter was recently killed by a drunk driver. She said she was stripping because she feels she has no other choice. She was crying tears of desperation. We need to keep her in our prayers.

A third club allowed us to give out bags to the bartender and two dancers that were working. The atmosphere at the club was very dark and depressing. Please keep this club and the employees in prayer.

Two other clubs did not allow us in. Another club’s management allowed us to leave five gift bags. We left a gift for that manager, too.

We thank our Heavenly Father for His favor and timing on this outreach. Our next ones will be in October and December.
Note: Jennifer may be reached via e-mail here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hispanic ministry shifts into higher gear

Yolanda Cintron helps lead Tomoka Christian’s Hispanic ministry, currently meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays in The Point. She and Pastor Rafael and Eloisa Ortiz, at right, are excited about changes that will open the door to growth of that ministry. These modifications include switching the Hispanic worship service to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays in the Worship Center, along with preserving the ministry’s Thursday evening time slot for Bible study. The Hispanic ministry changes take place on Sept. 13. Below is a listing of ministry highlights and changes from Yolanda.

Fall kickoff will be on Sunday, Sept. 13, to start our first Sunday service in Spanish in the Worship Center. That service will include worship and preaching from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Child care will be available.

Tomoka’s Hispanic ministry started in October 2008 with the Thursday evening service held in The Point. We now have over 40 in attendance. We plan to keep the Thursday evening service and make it a Bible study, while the actual service will be on Sunday.

We are setting up a screening process for those wishing to help in the ministry. We will follow Tomoka’s present procedures that include a background check.

Pastor Rafael Ortiz is in the works of planting another Spanish service in Jacksonville.

Mission trips: Pastor Rafael and his wife Eloisa have already gone on mission trips to Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico and are excited to partner with Tomoka’s mission trips. The goal is to have those who attend a Spanish service go on trips with Tomoka teams to Spanish-speaking countries, where they will serve as translators and be able to share the Gospel.

Communion is offered every week at the Spanish service.

Baptism is open to anyone. We will start having a Decision Night, as Tomoka does, in a few months.

Good News Club: Eloisa will discuss with Andrew Ward assembling helpers at Pierson Elementary School to help start a Good News Club there. Linda Weaver, who attends Tomoka Christian, works as a teacher at the school and is seeking volunteers who speak Spanish to help with the club.

Angel Food ministry has menus available in Spanish, so anyone interested can contact Tomoka’s office to place an order.

We look forward to seeing what amazing things God has planned for the Hispanic community!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sunday's Coming by Perry Noble

Perry Noble wrote something recently that really inspired me that he called "Sunday's Coming." It went something like this.

Who have you invited? (Acts 1:8)

Who are you bringing with you? (John 1:40-42)

Have you told God, “I am available!” (Isaiah 6:8)

We’re praying for HUGE things on Sunday… (Acts 4:29-31)

Eternal destinations will be altered… (John 5:24)

Life Change WILL HAPPEN… (II Corinthians 5:17)

So…what are you waiting on? (II Corinthians 6:1-2)

Let’s have that uncomfortable conversation… (Acts 1:8)

HE REIGNS… (Revelation 4)

He CAN save anyone… (Acts 9:1-18)

See you on Sunday! (Matthew 16:18)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Evangelizing in the darkest corners of the world

A 59-member team of young evangelists in Ethiopia that those of Tomoka Christian financially supported has returned to their home base after a month of mission work to dangerous Orthodox- and Muslim-dominated Ethiopian cities. Shelly Hilvety, their mentor in the capital city of Addis Ababa, recently threw a party for them all to celebrate their safe return. At the party, the young evangelists shared many victories with her — including healings and conversions of those they met, but also beatings and a failed poisoning attempt of team members by those dead-set against the gospel. Below are some details from Shelly.

Greetings from Addis Ababa. Just wanted to share with you what I know of the 59 young people who went to the countryside to cities to share the gospel in Ethiopia. In one month's time they shared with 9,964 people. Those who accepted Christ will be discipled by the host churches in those cities where the young people stayed. We still don't have a complete account of how many accepted Christ. In these cities, residents are mostly Orthodox and Muslim so the conversion rate will be lower than what we expect. But their job was to plant the seeds and God will bring the increase.

God's hand was completely upon this trip. In one city they cast out six demonic spirits. In another city many deaf people were healed and backsliders came back to Christ.

With all these victories came many persecutions. The water was bad, the food was not good and the sleeping conditions were not something that any of us would have accepted. Some had stones thrown at them. Others were told they would be killed if they shared the gospel, but they shared and no one was killed. One person was whipped and two were beaten by police in the jail. A whole team would have been poisoned if it hadn't been for a waitress telling them to order something else. This happens often when people try to share the gospel.

Upon their return, I bought three sheep for the celebration camp fire and they ate and ate and ate! But the food was not the blessing. The joy on their faces as they shared what had happened was amazing. God's glory was all over those young people. I had the chance to challenge them to continue to share the word in Addis Ababa and the villages. This work is God's work and He protected them all the way.

Thank you so much for allowing these young people to experience mission work in their own country. Thank you that your faithfulness to bless us financially, allowing for 9,964 people to hear the gospel message in one month’s time. Please keep these young people in your prayers because when victories come here, Satan in not very far behind trying to choke out the joys of all the work that was done.