Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scripture Memorization

Here are a few more powerful scriptures that I encourage you to commit to memory.

"He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Thessalonians 2:14

"For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?" 1 Thessalonians 2:19

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." Revelation 2:17

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Power of Compassion

Below is an encouraging note from family members of Bill Simpson, a longtime member of the Tomoka Christian family. Bill’s children, Wendy and Brian, who live in Washington state, attended a service at TCC while in town visiting their father.

It was such a pleasure to meet you and worship in your awesome church. The Holy Spirit is powerfully present in your church and my heart was filled with joy as I sat holding my Dad’s hand. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for all of the love, prayers, support, and kindness that you surround my Dad with. Words cannot express the feelings of my heart, but please know that the blessings that you helped to provide have touched hearts 4,000 miles away.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Book of Acts is Still Alive

I received a report from a missionary, David Giles. He wrote about his time on the Ethiopian mission field and about the legacy established by his father, Ray. The elder Giles, a longtime Ethiopian missionary, is battling cancer but responding well to treatment.

Since I just got back from Ethiopia I thought I would add a note about that trip. The promise that Jesus made to the disciples that "whoever leaves home and family for my sake will receive 100 times in this life and the life to come" was proven true. Everywhere I went, whether among the Ethiopian believers or the missionary community, I heard of prayers lifted up for my Dad's health. I saw Ethiopian believers weep when they spoke of his illness and the impact that my parents have had on their lives. It was a blessing to be reminded again of the fruit of their ministry.

The seed sown continues to grow and multiply. While I was in Ethiopia I attended a meeting of the church leaders for both the Oromo and the Gumuz. I asked, “There are 35 churches among the Oromo, right?” based upon the last numbers I had received. “No,” they replied, “there are 54.” They shared about the churches and daughter churches.

On the way back into Addis Ababa from down country, I decided to pass through Nekemte, the regional capital, and attend our church there. I had heard that it was full to overflowing and our missionaries and church leaders have plans to expand our facilities there. Church went quite well, and as they said, it was full to overflowing with about 40-50 having to sit outside (about 200 total). There were many university students present as well, as Nekemte has a number of universities.

One thing that is really taking off in Ethiopia is that each church really wants to have a sound system with a loudspeaker and keyboard. No one really knows how to play it, but it is the center of attention, much like the Coke bottle in the movie, “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” On this particular Sunday the keyboard was blaring along with the rest of the sound system. Thanks be to Jesus that the power went out halfway through and the loudspeaker and keyboard would not work. A young man got up with a kerar (traditional Ethiopian guitar) and sang and led worship. It was beautiful. I think keyboards will win the day for a while, but I was sure glad to be able to experience the more traditional worship.

After the service, I was visiting with Negatu, the key leader of the church. I told him I was impressed with the service. He said, "It was your father’s vision to have a church in Nekemte. He helped us get this property and plant the church here. We have him to thank for what we see today."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Treasures from Scripture

A few more verses are here that I encourage you to commit to memory.

  • “On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4

  • “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” 2 Timothy 1:3

  • “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.” Jude 1:12

Monday, November 9, 2009

One Child At A Time

Andrew Ward, whose organization heads up Good New Clubs across the nation, wrote recently regarding the brand new clubs Tomoka Christian began last week at the Ormond YMCA and Pine Trail Elementary. Both were a success beyond our expectations! A portion of Andrew’s note is here.

I imagine that you’ve heard the great news about how God has blessed the efforts at the clubs -- at Pine Trail we had 48, and there were 42 children at the YMCA club. Praise God, your children’s ministry just grew by 90. Thank you for your help and support in efforts to reach the children of Ormond Beach. What an answer to many months of prayer this has been. I am so humbled to work with such a great team of volunteers as those from Tomoka. We now look toward growing the clubs and working to establish those children and families that don’t have a church home in TCC.

Thank you for your wonderful work and for allowing me the privilege of helping with the ministry of Tomoka.
FYI: The Pine Trail club meets on Tuesdays from 2-3:30 p.m. The Ormond Beach YMCA group meets from 3:30 -4:30. Those interested helping with either group may e-mail Marc Wooten here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scripture Memorization: Acts

Here is another list of powerful Bible verses that would be good ones to commit to memory. From time to time, I'll publish others.

  • But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 (NIV)

  • Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 (NIV)

  • They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 (NIV)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

They Will Know Us By Our Love

God is moving in unbelievable ways through the ladies of the Power of Love ministry to area strip clubs. You’ve got the read the story below from ministry leader Jennifer Colella about one lady whose life, through Christ, may never be the same.

I wanted to give you an update on some things that have happened since our last outreach. The Sunday after our October outreach I received a phone call from one of the dancers we met at a lounge. She was very anxious and upset explaining that she had been abandoned, abused and was far away from home. When she told me her name was Susan,* I immediately remembered her and her story from the night of the outreach. When she called, she was a few hours from being homeless, had about $15 to her name and it became clear to me we were in a crisis situation. I told her to sit tight and I would make some phone calls. One of our team members met with her and spent many hours talking and praying with Susan to better understand her situation and figure out how we could help. We realized that Susan had come to a fork in the road. She had been abandoned by a man who had hurt her and would likely continue to do so if she went back to him. She had family members that care about her, have been praying for her and trying to keep her sober and in the church for many years now. Susan knew that going home was the right thing to do but, she was afraid, ashamed, embarrassed and convicted. The bottom line was, we couldn't force her to do the right thing. She had to make that decision for herself. So we explained to her that we wanted to see her start over and begin trusting God with her life. We told her we'd get her a bus ticket back to her family in New Jersey if she decided she wanted to start over. She was still undecided so we told her she could have until 6 PM to make a decision, then the offer expired. The following hours were tough, but we prayed and prepared for whatever would happen next.

Praise God, Susan called and asked us to purchase the ticket! We picked her up at her hotel and drove her to the bus station. As her departure time approached, we reached for her shaky hands and gathered in a circle at the bus station to pray with her. All the time I kept praying, Lord, she's not a waste, please stay close to her and don't let her go. As we departed and walked back to the car, I just kept wondering: What would become of her? Did we do enough? Did we do too much? What would have happened to her if we didn't help her?

All night and the next morning I kept picturing Susan's bloodshot eyes, the weary look on her face from all the years of drug use, abuse and pain. I thought to myself: Will she really try and turn her life around, or did she hop off the bus at the first stop and get herself right into another crisis situation? That afternoon, my outreach partner called me to say Susan has been in touch with her and is “doing fine so far." When Susan finally made it back to New Jersey, she continued calling and my partner has even been on speaker phone with some of Susan's family members! Susan is living with her sister, going to church, asking spiritual questions, considering work and school and still needs lots of prayers. She is working on changing her life. She needs prayers for emotional and mental stability and prayers that she will maintain her sobriety.

Your prayers, encouragement, donations and support are what keep this ministry going into our mission field to help these ladies find their way out of these strip clubs. This is the second time we've met a woman on an outreach in a crisis situation who has called us and we were able to pray with her and see her leave the business. If it weren’t for your faithfulness in donating the items for bags, volunteering your time and the financial support to be able to purchase a bus ticket, we wouldn't be a part of the lives of these ladies. I'm already looking forward to the December 11 outreach, anxious to see what God will do next! Thank you for your commitment to the Kingdom. May God bless your faithfulness. You are all loved and appreciated!

* The lady's name was changed to protect her identity.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"

One of Tomoka Christian’s mission teams each year heads up to Virginia to help with Equipping the Saints (ETS), a nonprofit provider of necessities to missionaries all over the world. Gene McCullough, who headed up the industrious team, shared below some highlights of an extremely productive trip.
Tomoka sent 10 team members to ETS. Eight more joined us from a church in Michigan, who called themselves the Michigan contingent of the Tomoka team. It was their first mission trip and from what I heard it was a huge success for them. We all worked together Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Each morning started with a devotional. Then a list of the projects was discussed and team members worked where their skills were most needed.

Part of the team replaced 16, 10-foot windows on the second story of an old school building. The wooden windows leaked so badly that vinyl plastic was taped to the trim to keep the weather out. After the plastic and trim had been removed, members of the team sanded and painted the trim. We completely remodeled an old school room so that it could be used as a dorm and meeting room. Ten-foot blackboards and frames were removed from the walls, and then the walls were mudded, spackled, sanded, primed and painted by team members.

Other members were able to sort out a variety of new light bulbs that ETS had purchased at a great discount. The bulbs were sorted, counted and cataloged so that they could be sold on e-Bay. One team member helped the staff with Quickbooks. Members of the team also moved a kitchen cabinet, including the sink, from a room that was being used as a library for children’s books to another room that will become the new kitchen. Now, the library no longer has the kitchen in it.

Some members of the team packed boxes of clothes for an upcoming shipment to Papua, New Guinea. Other members worked in the electronics area repairing wireless microphones that will be sold on the Internet or provided to worship leaders who need them. The office supply room was cleaned and organized. Another group addressed and stamped envelopes. We were all blessed to work with the Michigan contingent and the staff at ETS.

We look forward to a return trip the second week of August 2010. This is an inexpensive trip that gives help and relief to a team of volunteers and the staff of ETS. We welcome new members who can commit to the trip within the next couple of months.

Thanks for providing us with the freedom and opportunity to go. It was a real blessing for all of us.