Old faces light with joy, wrinkled visages are wreathed with smiles, gnarled hands tentatively reach out. Gifts are proferred- Graham crackers, withered apples, spotted bananas, and the kids receive them. The fog of pain, loneliness, and confusion is penetrated, if only fleetingly.
Mother Teresa has said that loneliness is the greatest poverty, and we believe she is right. Weekly visits to the convalescent home are our attempt to break down those gates of Hell. One of many advantages of homeschooling is the flexibility to schedule regular visits to lonely folks, to remind the kids to be thankful, and to focus their attention on others besides themselves.
Long-term faithfulness and consistency really do matter; we celebrate more than five years of the privilege and honor of bringing the touch of Jesus into lives in desperate need. And we are richly blessed in turn.
Our friend who babysits for us was having a conversation with me about how people who didn’t know her before she was a Christian can’t imagine was she was like. When she told them how she had gotten in the pastor’s face and yelled at him, they were shocked and aghast. “And they let you watch their kids?”
But she is really not the same person, and it is hard to remember who she used to be. God is gracious to give us second, third, and so many more chances, the power to be reconciled in a falling apart world, and the grace to transform us from who we once were so that others can’t even imagine it. And for this we give thanks-that he can do”far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Eph. 3:20. He can even make gifts out of miserable sinners.
A Banquet Anniversary
Saturday night we served a banquet to 240 people who came to support a vital inner-city ministry. We realized this was something of an anniversary as we had been serving this group for 25 years; this also marked the inception of our banquet ministry. The first time we were asked to come and help at one of their early fundraisers, we quickly ascertained that it was a rather chaotic event. The people who were actually the leaders, teachers, and ministers were in the kitchen with us, frantically trying to serve the guests!
To say there was a drastic lack of leadership and direction would be a mild understatement. Everyone was pitching in and trying to help but there was no way for the hosts to visit, explain, or answer questions about their ministry, much less enjoy a meal. And voila! A seed was planted in us and we realized that we could offer our hands in service.
Though we are few in number, we have a vision for unity in the body of Christ. Currently we are blessed to serve many banquets each year, Some are gourmet, catered affairs, and some we cook ourselves. This service is offered up free of charge, asking only for out of pocket expenses such as food or decorations as well as covering our gas money. We have learned to be very economical, saving considerable money. We cook pretty well, and we clean up too!
Some put in their reservations as soon as their banquet is over for their next year’s event. A few years ago we served a banquet where the late Frank Pastore was the speaker. “What a neat ministry,” he said. “Come on my radio show and I will gladly promote your services!” While we appreciated his enthusiasm, we weren’t sure we could handle the outcome, so we never pursued the opportunity.
But we gladly promote the need for brothers and sisters to get creative and use whatever gifts you have to support, encourage, and edify the bigger body of Christ. This may help fulfill our Lord’ s last prayers, “…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me…” John17:23
Co-Workers in the Kingdom:
We would like to tell you about Wineskins, a gathering of Jesus’ disciples who desire to dialogue about significant Kingdom issues and establish and maintain networks of koinonia within the Body of Christ. We’ve met twice a year (Spring and Fall) to fellowship and reason together since 1974.
There is a limit of 44 (forty-four) participants to give all attending a chance to become involved. The conference is not a time for relaxation. We are hard at it with little time provided for leisure. Issues are merely opened up and hammered out with no view of sending everyone home with “THE ANSWER”. Wineskins is an ecumenical gathering; many different expressions of our faith will be represented, such as Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Mennonites, Baptists, Episcopalians, etc.
Everyone attending participates in paying for the conference. The speakers are not paid for their participation at the conferences; they are there because they want to be.
Such is the Wineskins fellowship. It is our hope that the Lord will add His particular kind of success to our gathering; that we will not only enjoy the dialogue and information, but also real community and transformation.
NOTE: Participants are asked to be present for the entire conference (usually a Friday evening through a Sunday afternoon.) We have found that the objectives of koinonia and dialogue are undermined when participants arrive late or leave early. Therefore, we deem it a must for you to be there for the duration of this fellowship.
Please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to become a part of this fellowship. If you have any questions, please call Pastor Rich Read (310.350.9906) or Scott Kjos (310.678.7831).
El Segundo Christian Church fireplace
You won’t find this on MTV’s “Spring Break”! Today a busload of teenagers and adults from Texas is arriving in El Segundo, California, donating time off work and school to improve a church building desperately in need of help. New lighting will be installed and new coats of paint will “cover a multitude” of scars, bumps, and bruises. New ramps will be installed for easy wheelchair access.
There will be hauling, scraping, prepping, digging, cleaning, and no doubt some complaining too. But there will be joy and laughter, and probably some drama and tears, as well. This is a far cry from Cabo San Lucas, wet t-shirt contests, and endless drinking competitions! Christians rolling up their sleeves and helping other Christians, and finding joy and purpose in doing so, is just what this me-first world needs to see.
Donating time and energy on behalf of others which in no way benefits oneself is the love of Christ made manifest. These “girls gone wild” will be outdoing one another in helpfulness and servant-hood. What a concept! And there will be no hangover in the morning.
“Be ready with a meal or bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:1-2 from The Message. For spring break we were blessed to entertain some angels from Concordia University in Irvine. Five college girls partook of our hospitality, building what we hope are lasting memories and relationships.We enjoyed hosting students from as far away as South Africa and South Korea, experiencing the love of Christ reaching around the globe. Midnight doughnut runs, lunch with the homeschool gang, favorite restaurant lunches and dinners, and a trip to the beach were a few of the events planned for our guests.
Of course there was time to sleep in (catching up on the usual college sleep deficit), as well as sharing in our typical events and traditions: Lord’s Supper, Bible study, convalescent home visits and letter writing. We are hoping this will not be their last visit. We do take our hospitality seriously and have had countless priceless encounters as a result. There is never a dull moment, and seldom an empty room, thank God!
We look forward to many more opportunities to entertain angels, giving thanks to the One who welcomed us when we were strangers and gives us the wherewithal to extend hospitality in His name.