1. T (mom), T-R (11), and S-R (9): This family attended 3 weeks ago for the first time. We shared on obedience in baptism, a testimony of our dying to this world to live forever with Jesus. These young people participated in the meeting by reading passages of the lesson. They are among the best readers in the assembly! The mother withheld communion from them because they had not yet believed. After the service the children came to me and shared that they wanted to surrender to Christ and follow Him. I confirmed that the Lord Jesus had given them heart-deep true repentance and a faith in Christ as their only hope. They will be baptized this month.
In practicing T4T we immediately send new believers into the harvest to reach others. On the following Wednesday evening, we taught these young people how to begin praying for the lost loved ones in their life (their separated dad and uncle). We also taught them to tell their friends that they had become followers of Christ.
2. Em III: The very next week, we had a mission team from Powell TN come to do a backyard Bible Club. T-R and S-R (above) befriended two others, Ei (7) and Em IV (9), who both attended this Sunday. All week I asked them to invite their dad to the club activities for adults. Their dad, Emmanuel III, never came. On the last day of the club, Julie Calloway mentioned that the man listening from the window nearby was Em’s dad. This is the man we had been praying for all week. Immediately, the Lord led me to begin a conversation with him. Over the next hour, we became friends, and discussed his spiritual background. He mentioned how cool he thought it was that his kids came home so happy, singing about Jesus, each day. I was kicking myself that I did not have a tract to go through with him. Then I remembered the Lifeway 3 Circles App on my phone. I went through it with him. Emmanuel III had a solid repentance and made a heart-felt surrender of his life to Christ right there. We are now meeting for Regular discipleship. He is praying for lost people in his life.
3. An: I had taught the group on Wednesdays how to start spiritual conversations with people using Jeff Sundell’s prayer approach: “Is there someone in your life you dearly love, who is really hurting and needs a miracle from God today? We want to pray for them with you.” I asked them to memorize the question and had them practice on each other until the felt confident and competent. I also told them it was a dream of mine to have 10,000 people in NE Ohio asking people that question every week. Annette came to me four days later with a list of prayer-needs from 44 people that she had asked. I asked how she had done so many. She said she thought I told them to ask 1000 people that week! The group has learned that it is not difficult to begin spiritual conversations with people. They were really inspired by Annette’s boldness.
4. Ra, Ri, Da and To: These men are employees of the large apartment complex across from where we meet. Most of our members come from this high poverty complex. Therefore, very few of our members have cars, but can walk to church with us right there. We have been praying for some time to have a place within the complex as a strategic center to do more in-depth ministry. During our VBS this last week, the janitors Ra and Ri (both Christians, thank God!) were so impressed with the work we were doing, they told their bosses, Da and To. Also, the women who work in the management office have expressed interest in giving us an apartment to use for the very thing we have been praying for! We hope to meet with the decision makers this week.
5. Eu: On Sundays when I preach, we use gospel stories like the prodigal son. Everyone loves the dialogue and participation in the meetings. This is changing everything. After everyone had practiced telling the story with one another, one woman who has not participated in anything in the church in two years (and has said she hated to talk in front of people), voluntarily stood up in front of our congregation and recited the entire story - better than I did! It was awesome. This method in our gatherings has drawn everyone in the congregation to participate enthusiastically in our meetings, instead of just sitting and listening. They all pray for each other, and feed each other from what the Lord gives them in their hearts.
6. Ca: Ca is a dear sister in Christ with a cruel addiction that she has not gained victory over yet. She participates every week by setting up, handing out bulletins and greeting. In the 7 weeks I have been overseeing Serve, I have grown to value her with Jesus’ eyes. One Sunday, Ca asked us to pray for her sister who was far from God. Her sister had had a heart attack. It was amazing to see everyone in the congregation, with no judgment, gather around Cathy to pray over her and her family during this crisis. The Lord has gloriously answered our prayers. Her sister is doing well, and the Lord has used this event to heal estranged relationships throughout the family.
7. Hearts to Hands: This is a mobile food pantry ministry. During the first weeks of my overseeing Serve Church several person came to me with emergency needs for food. I contacted my friends who have this ministry and, the next Sunday, asked who was on food assistance and could use some food. To my shock, 7 families responded (over half the congregation). We have had 2 distributions so far, and our members are really sharing and watching out for each other’s needs!
8. Hosting a Mission Team VBS: Serve had not really had much participation from members for events like this. This year we had very high level of participation and members are learning for the first time to be givers and are gaining servant’s hearts, even in the midst of their poverty.