by Pastor Steve Garcia, High School, Akron
On April 5, a team of fourteen teenagers and four leaders returned from a short-term missions trip in Jamaica, where we ministered to children (ages birth-18) at an orphanage.
We served long days, 5:00am to 9:00pm daily. These days were filled with caring for babies, running a preschool VBS, ministering to older kids, as well as helping with other needs around the orphanage like painting murals and organizing kids rooms.
This orphanage was filled with many cute and sweet little kids who were easy to fall in love with. But the majority of the kids put up a lot of barriers, making it hard to love them. Every one of our students experienced a different kind of barrier, from being sneezed on, spit up on, peed on, pooped on, to having our sunburned bodies slapped and scratched. Some of us were bitten, some kicked, and one of our students was even punched in the face by a 7-year-old.
It was in these moments when we needed the Spirit to empower us towards persistent love, a love that says, “despite how much you push me away, I’m not going to stop loving you.” Though difficult and painful, our students responded amazingly.
By the end of our experience, the hearts of the children were so deeply entwined with our own, that when it came time to leave, our departure was agonizing.
Each of the kids living in this orphanage represented painful and broken stories. Most were abused in a variety of ways, many others were neglected. It was an honor to step into their lives for a few days, pour out our love on them, and remind ourselves in the process of how the Father treats us, His children.
The Battle Continues
by Julie Davis, Community
Many of you participated in the Human Trafficking Conference last fall. It may have been shocking to discover that slavery is still very much alive and well in the world today. Twenty-seven million men, women and children are currently in slavery, many of those are bought and sold several times a day in prostitution while others have literally been born into slavery because of past family debt. It is a bleak and overwhelming realization, and one that makes us wonder if anything we do personally, or even as a church body, could ever affect the reality of those twenty-seven million.
As a church, we committed to sign and send ”Abolition” cards to our state’s senators to encourage them to vote for an updated version of a human trafficking bill entitled the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The good news came on February 28 that the bill has passed the House of Representatives and the president signed it March 7! This is a huge win in the fight to protect the poor from slavery and trafficking. To read more about the bill and what is included click here: http://freedomcommons.ijm.org/news/national/tvpra-passes-house-representatives
Together we can move forward in this God-honoring fight to end this great injustice. Let’s continue to consider and explore ways that we can locally, nationally and globally represent Christ in the battle for the lives and souls of these twenty-seven million.
A Week in Haiti
by Fred and Sandy Muffet, CCS/Mission USA
After months of planning and praying, our trip was postponed a day due to the snowstorm in New England. But early on February 10, 27 teammates met at the airport to start our journey to Grand Goave, Haiti. We had 40 pieces of luggage containing personal items, medications, tools and supplies for the week.
Upon arrival Sunday night at Mission of Hope International, the team settled in and began preparing for the week ahead. Our team was diverse: a mechanic, handymen and laborers, nurse practitioners, RNs, medical assistant, dietician, physical therapist, disability specialists and those in children’s ministry. Even though we all had certain “skills,” we were ready to do whatever God wanted us to do.
The week was beyond our imagination. At least two people that we know of accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. We prayed. We danced. The medical team treated over 325 patients with ailments ranging from infected shingles to a little boy who had third degree burns on his arm and everything in between. The construction team worked with Haitian men pouring concrete floors in classrooms, building shelves, hooking up equipment and making screen doors. The disability team gave out wheelchairs, walkers, canes and crutches to those in need while sharing the gospel and handing out New Testaments in Creole language. We held a meeting with the Handicap Association and visisted the local hospital; a workshop took place with local pastors to help them relate to the disabled in their congregations. God’s Word and testimonies were shared throughout the week. Feet were washed. Some women painted and taught the children crafts and Bible lessons. Rice and beans were purchased and the team went into an “untouchable-type” village to distribute them while playing with the kids, sharing the gospel, treating patients and praying. Vehicles were maintained.
We serve a Generous God! Our Mission Department wants to thank the congregation as you responded to our call to pour into the lives of others in need in Mozambique, Africa.
Your generous response of $92,141will provide clean and safe water for all people in Macalwane, and flood relief to our Christian partners in the ministry–Sybil, Dr. Pieter, Lucky and Sonnet–to help restore what was lost from the recent, devastating floods in Mozambique.
Let’s celebrate in an outpouring of thanksgiving and worship to our Great God and thank Him for moving hearts, hands and feet as a generous response to His great love.
Have Mercy On Us!
In May 2011, a lady on a hillside near the village of Macalawane cried out,“Have mercy on us!” Her plea was made in response to the horrible water conditions and lack, and stirred our hearts to do something more.
This week our Fresh Passion: Mozambique ministry launched an all-church water project to bring “Clean and Living Water” to Macalawane. Then last week brought hard news from our Mozambican friends as well. Because of the extended rainy season, massive flooding occurred sweeping out lives, crops and homes in the neighboring town of Chokwe and many villages along the Gaza district.
75,000 have been displaced to three ill-equipped emergency camps. Families gather under any kind of shelter in open fields with little or no belongings. Looting was the second “flood” even before the waters receded. Willem Nel, of Volta a’ Biblia College is caring for our missionaries. He said, “We visited the pre-school. It was very disheartening. There are only walls and roofs standing. Everything else was stolen–including the doors and the electrical wiring of the buildings. It really seems more like a diabolical attack than a flood.”
Sybil, Pieter and our other ministry partners and their families are now safely being cared for at Volta a’ Biblia College. Our missionaries, Lucky and Sonnet Mnisi were in South Africa during the flood to give birth to their third son, Ripfumelo John. His name means “Gift of God.” What a beautiful sign of hope in the midst of devastation. They are traveling back Thursday to assess the damage to their home, which is believed to be a total loss.
The congregational outpouring of support on Sunday was humbling, overwhelming and a great statement that The Chapel is pressing onward and upward. Please consider a donation this coming Sunday as God leads you. Kanimambo! Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Mozambique.