Celebration Sunday: 5 Years as a Church

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We had a fantastic time celebrating five years as a church this past Sunday! We are so thankful for all that God has done over the years and took time to reflect on stories of His goodness. In his message, Donny highlighted the faithfulness of God and His specific work among us over the years: looking back to when we met in a house which was eventually filled to the brim with 120 people, on to the Radisson Hotel, and finally to the Dunham School. It's amazing to think back on the salvations we've seen, the healing and community God has brought, and the powerful times of being there for each other in moments of pain and hardship. Praise God for how He has knit together this local body of believers! After church we celebrated baptisms and enjoyed a delicious lunch together. It is always a joy to fellowship as a church over a good meal, especially with perfect fall weather. It enriched our faith to witness the two young women who were baptized, publicly proclaiming their commitment to Jesus! What a great day! We are looking forward with great hope and faith to all that God has in store as we move forward as a church! 

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Engage the Nations Testimonies

It is amazing that a simple “yes” to Jesus can change the world. 

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus’ last words to His disciples are “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

His last words are our first priority. His parting vision is our mission: to make disciples of all nations. As we partner with Jesus to preach the Gospel and make disciples, lives are transformed. As lives are transformed, cities are transformed. As cities are transformed, nations are transformed. The world is changed. And all we have to do is say “yes.”

This summer, eighteen people from our church said “yes” to Jesus’ call to go and make disciples in the nations! Our interns took to the streets of Tijuana, South Africa, South Asia, Detroit and Sicily. They ministered to the poor, the lost, the unreached, the refugee, and the broken. We are in awe of all God did in them and through them! We could never fit every powerful story in this one post, but here are a few:

Tijuana: In May, we hosted a Vacation Bible School in a certain neighborhood of the city. On the last day, a fourteen-year-old boy named Cristofer came, and through a conversation with a team member he accepted Jesus as his Savior! He began to go to one of the Lifegroups we started in that neighborhood every week, and eventually he started coming to church on Sundays. Since he didn’t have a ride home after the morning services, Cristofer would just hang around the church until youth group in the evenings. Those afternoons were where our friendship formed and discipleship happened. We read the Bible together, talked about life and family, and would sometimes go to our favorite ice cream place! I saw his life change before my very eyes, growing in love and maturing in faith. During my last week in Tijuana, I shared how in the Bible, people whose lives were changed by Jesus would respond by getting baptized. After praying about it for a few days, Cristofer told me he wanted to get baptized! So after church, we piled into our pick-up truck and headed to the beach. On the last day of our summer in Tijuana, I got to baptize Cristofer, which was a physical representation of the transformation Jesus had done in his life. 

Detroit: This summer, I learned about the power of prayer and how it brings breakthrough.  In our last days in Detroit, two miracles happened in the lives of people we had been consistently praying for. The first one was with a restaurant owner that we had been investing in almost daily, but we had yet to see anything happen. On our last full day, we decided to eat there one last time to say goodbye. As I was leaving, he asked me to pray for him. He said to me that he knew that we were different and when we talked to God things happened. I prayed for him, and I knew in that moment that was one of the reasons why I was called to Detroit this summer. The second miracle was with one of our friends from Bangladesh. He was really having a hard time and needed direction, so we just kept loving and praying for him. We knew God had a really big plan for him, and we got to see it on the very last night that we were in town. That night our friend from Bangladesh gave his life to Jesus. God showed me this summer that nothing can happen without prayer. Even when we do not see it at first, when we call on Jesus, He moves in powerful ways.

Italy: In Italy, there was an abundance of male refugees, but very few girls. The team had been praying for weeks for women to show up.  My team was in the city where we normally did outreach, and I was not expecting to see any women.  I saw one of the men that we had formed a relationship with earlier that summer and began to chat with him a bit.  He then directed us to come meet his daughter (who he described as being small and cute).  So my team walked with our friend to go meet his child, fully expecting to get to play with a little girl.  When we arrived, I shook hands with his 21-year-old daughter who was the first girl I had seen in 3 weeks! They invited us in to sit around their table and talk.  I was so nervous because I wanted to share Jesus with this girl, but didn’t know how to casually bring him up, so I prayed, “Jesus help me. I want to talk about you.” The girl, Awa, looked at me and said, “Tell me your life story.” So I got to share my testimony and the gospel with her. The entire time I was talking she was on the edge of her seat. I got to explain how Jesus loves us no matter what we do and if we never did anything else in our whole lives, that He would love us just the same as He would if we lived a perfect life.  She told me how she had always heard about God being mean and wanting us to be perfect, but how she wanted to know the God that I know. I got to give her a Bible and encouraged her to seek Jesus for herself and connected her with our long-term team. It was a beautiful moment. I got to see God’s faithfulness right in front of my eyes. We had been praying for women to come and I got to meet with a woman who was hungry for Jesus.

South Africa: Before leaving for South Africa, one of the promises that we heard God speak for Antioch Cape Town was that we would see waves of Muslim families coming to the church and turning to Jesus. The church in Cape Town recently moved to a new area of town called Salt River, a lower income area of town with many Muslim families. As we began to talk to the people of the community, one of the needs that we heard consistently is that the children in the area needed a place where they could play safely rather than becoming involved with gangs and substance. To help meet this need, we started an after-school Kids Club at the church on Thursday afternoons. The first week, we had four children show up - all of them Muslims! A few weeks later, over thirty kids came to Kids Club! Beyond that, many of them began coming to church on Sunday mornings, bringing family members with them! In addition to Kids Club, we started a group for high schoolers on Friday nights. There we got to teach the students how to hear the voice of God for themselves, how to read the Bible, and many gave their lives to Jesus!

South Asia: I was introduced to a guy who wanted to learn more about following Jesus. When we met, he brought a friend who knew more English than him and could translate. We did a lesson about the gospel and how to share it. After the lesson, his translator friend gave his life to Jesus and began faithfully meeting with me, sharing the gospel with his friends, and spending time with Jesus. Unfortunately, the guy that I originally met with was unable to meet up again until hours before I left South Asia. We were able to catch up on his relationship with Jesus and how sharing with others had been going over this past several weeks. He informed me through the translator that he had been reading the Bible but had to give it away to a friend who he had shared with and wanted a bible. He then said he would need twenty-seven more bibles. He went on to explain that he has been sharing with all of his friends since our first meeting and they all want to follow Jesus and needed Bibles! Right now they are meeting with a long term team member, getting baptized, and have become a house church.

"Look at the nations and watch-- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habbakuk 1:5

Thank you to each one of our interns who chose to spend their summer saying "yes" to Jesus and engaging the nations. We celebrate every healing, salvation, miracle, encounter with God, prayer answered, seed that was sown, and person who was loved. We are utterly amazed! 

 

No Place Like Home

By: Bryanna Martin

On August 11, 2016, I posted a video of my kids playing in the rain on Instagram because we were going on several weeks of a never ending, nonstop, steady flow of rain. It was the end of summer and we were all a bit stir crazy. So why not? We decided to embrace the rain and play in it: making lemonade out of lemons as the saying goes. 

We could never have imagined the implications of that steady little rainfall or known that was my last post capturing what we knew as "normal life". I was about to discover a new normal and a complete redefining. I was stepping into a season I didn't ask for or want, but instead of resisting I learned to embrace it. God saw what I didn’t and knew what I needed. I needed to experience His unexplainable, unrelenting, unmoving kindness. The beautiful home God blessed us with only 14 months before was about to be baptized, so to speak: washed clean, purged, torn apart and rebuilt, but in the end better and stronger and more beautiful than I could’ve dreamed.  

I remember waking up a few days after the flood, before we had been able to assess the damage of the water. I sat in our friend's home who had graciously taken in my family of six to merge with their family of seven. Slightly shell shocked and sobered, I began to reflect on what was happening. I was struck by the paradox of life. While only weeks before there was strife and tension in our city, now a flood that altered thousands of peoples lives, was bringing unity that only comes when you walk together through fire, or in our case, water. God allows trials to pull us together, when the enemy would love to tear us apart.  

Little did I know what was happening in the natural realm, God wanted to do in the spiritual realm. He wanted to come and wash me clean. He wanted to purge, refine and rebuild me on the inside.  He wanted to strengthen my inner man to believe I could carry more than I thought, because He is my sustainer and He is my strong tower. He wouldn’t allow me to be crushed under the weight of life. He wanted me to experience my shoulders broadening to carry this larger load. He wanted to teach me that what really matters are the lives around me and the people He puts in front of me. He wanted to rip all that I cling to, so that I could cling to Him. I experienced a jolting into reality, the reality of what matters. We really are living for another kingdom. He allowed me to lose what I knew as my home to find a more everlasting home in His presence. 

It’s true that “there’s no place like home.”  We all long for home, where we feel safe, nurtured, comforted and known. Where we can wear jammies all day and no one cares. Where people know our favorite snack and the sound of our walk down the hall. 

Even as I write this, one year later, the story isn’t finished. I sit in a rent house that isn’t my home. I sleep on a mattress lying on the floor like I have all year.  My bedroom looks as though a bomb exploded with clothes. Sturdy walls but naked ones with nothing to hang. Our third home in one year. But again, I've learned that this is not my home. Home is when I open His word, when I hear His voice, when I bear my soul and He meets me.  Home is doing messy life with people.  Letting go of things I can’t control. He has me in His grip and He wants me to trust Him. Here's what I've learned this year: home isn’t a location or a place. Home is His presence. Home is people. I didn’t just learn this, I lived it. I experienced home in the people of God who reached out and cared, who didn’t just gaze from afar but literally stepped inside the boat with my family. 

It was as though time stood still and all that mattered were the people around me. I couldn’t fold laundry or clean out my drawer. I couldn’t organize my pantry or repaint my den. I couldn’t even go shopping or surf the web. All I could do was look at my people and give them my all. Nothing else mattered. Unsure of the road ahead, all I could cling to was the moment before me and the people in front of me.  I saw, felt, and experienced the kindness of God like I’d never known.  One day as I counted his kindnesses in detail I saw one common thread. Beside every number was a name: a person who tangibly displayed HIs kindness. From feeding my family, to caring for my kids, to holding me as I cried, to bringing supplies, to washing and washing and washing my clothes, to scrubbing and cleaning and demoing our house, to gift cards and money, to phone calls and texts, to hugs and cards at just the right time, we lived and experienced the kindness of God through the body of Christ and total strangers.  I never will forget being carried by kindness and sustained though prayers. 

I’ve never felt more indebted to people and incapable of expressing my gratitude. The glory of this trial has been the beauty that was drawn out in people. The way our city, our schools, our churches pulled together to help those in need. God loves to bring beauty from ashes and hope to the hopeless. He loves to restore what’s been lost, to bring light into darkness and bring life where there’s death.  He’s done that for us. He’s restoring our souls. He’s renewing our hearts. He is rebuilding our house.

Volunteer Thankquet

We quite literally could not have church every Sunday without our fabulous team of volunteers! This group of well over 100 people helps set up and tear down all of our equipment, minister to the kiddos, lead us in worship, assist with the wide array of technical needs, and greet everyone who comes with warm and welcoming smiles. Our "Thankquet" was a small way to say a BIG thank you to this army of servant hearted people! We had a delicious lunch, a hilarious serenade by none other than two of our pastors, Preston Seibert and Matthew Armstrong, and an encouragement from our pastor, Donny Martin. We wish we could give everyone a million dollars and a vacation home, but we hope lunch and homemade cake-balls expressed our thanks! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, volunteers!