Author Archives: Regan

Dear Family and Friends

March 21, 2018

As you may have heard, we at Church of the Servant King have been trying to find a way to bring some of the young Nigerian women who had been kidnapped by the Boko Haram here to America. We have been engaged in this project for almost a year. Now it seems as if it will be truly possible to “Bring Back Our Girls.” Where once this story had worldwide attention, it has receded in interest to many, but after much time, prayer, financial commitment, and sincere efforts, we believe it’s about to have a happy ending.

Photo of Nigerian Women

Pictured from left: Saratu Emmanuel Mutah, Maryamu Wavi, Amina Nkeki and Asabe Goni
(not pictured is Rebecca Ishaku)

We would like to introduce you to these young women and ask you to participate with us in prayer and in giving towards the costs in bringing them to a new life in the U.S.A. We know there are always many worthy causes to which you can and do donate; we also hope and pray that you may wish to help out in this endeavor.

We are working on setting up a non-profit entity for large scale fundraising, and have been reluctant to act until then, but we believe these young women are in dire circumstances. We are setting aside a savings account in their name, and we estimate about $20,000 is currently needed to provide passports, visas, travel permits, plane fares and many other basic needs.

Once they arrive they plan is to enroll them in the four year degree program at Hope International University in Fullerton. We anticipate many more funds will be needed for their schooling and their needs. We, together with them, their guardians in Nigeria and those we have met with at Hope, agree this will be the best path forward.

Any contributions large or small will be greatly appreciated, as will your prayers and good wishes. These young women have been unimaginably traumatized by their ordeal, and we are anxious to rescue them from an increasingly unstable and perilous life. They are Christian women who desperately want a new start, and who are essentially abandoned orphans in their own land. We hope that you will want to participate with us in what we see as a very worthy cause.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

In hopeful anticipation,

Jack Read, Mark Schwanz, Regan Read, Overseers
Rich Read, Barbara Kjos, Pastors
Church of the Servant King, Gardena

Please make your contributions via check or money order to Church of the Servant King with a memo “Chibok.”  We can accept secure electronic contributions via the Venmo app @COSKgardena. For other arrangements please contact us and let us know how we can help.

P.O. Box 114
Gardena, CA 90247

Cries for help

We received two cries for help this past week: one from our bishop friend in Liberia, and one from missionaries in Burma.

Guinea-Liberia-Sierra Leone

In Liberia they are experiencing a food shortage-money simply goes to supply basic needs. The ebola outbreak, civil wars, conflicts, skirmishes and perhaps corruption deny services to many. We send our small contribution in the hopes of alleviating suffering and helping our brothers and sisters as we are mandated to do.

While struggling with drought in California, it’s hard to imagine floods across the globe in Southeast Asia. As our lawns wither, we find such a deluge a bit inconceivable, yet the stark reality comes home when one views the photos of mass destruction from flooding.

Christians, alongside other relief organizations, work feverishly to rescue trapped victims and bring food, water, sanitation, and other necessities to the ravaged land.

So what’s the point here? Only that weekly we take an offering for the poor during our Bible study gathering. Such small amounts accumulate and we have been able to help out a bit through the years to many requests for help. We have purchased presents for needy families at Christmas, helped many folks in difficult circumstances and contributed to the “needs of the saints.”

We were able to help support a Washington D.C. church’s jobs ministry for many years, sending a small monthly offering. For this insignificant act, we were treated as heroes when we went there to visit our brothers and sisters.

This week we were pleasantly surprised to find that a thousand dollars had accumulated in our offering, and we were able to send help to those in urgent need. Consistent acts, even seemingly paltry efforts can make a difference.

Faithfulness is measured moment by moment. We hardly consider this sufficient effort; however, we believe Jesus when he says that being faithful in a little will help make us to be faithful in a lot. God multiplies our loaves and fishes in amazing ways. Hallelujah!

Photo credit: Morguefile

More reflections on the lost art of writing…

Old style letterMy Family History class recently compiled a small anthology of our writings. We were giddy with excitement upon seeing the final product entitled “Our Memories.” I was slightly cross-eyed from editing this slim volume, but it was well worth it; the stories are priceless.

A young girl’s passage to America and adulthood, an idyllic Mexican vacation gone wrong, mopping the front porch to help mom, remembering a favorite cat. Now these stories are immortalized, the poems and photos will be enjoyed for many years to come.

In Letters to An American Lady, C.S. Lewis reveals much of his character in his one-sided correspondence with said lady. I do not suppose that he expected these letters to ever be published, yet they were. Remembering that Lewis hated writing, yet he faithfully responded to all who wrote him, one passage becomes all the more poignant. Dated 15 July 1960 it reads: “Dear Mary, I’ve just got your letter of the 12th. Joy{his wife} died on the 13th. I can’t describe the apparent unreality of my life since then. She received absolution and died at peace with God. I will try to write again when I have more command of myself. I’m like a sleep-walker at the moment. God bless. Yours Jack.”

It’s hard to capture the full impact of such a letter written at such a time. Lewis had once described the happy life as “that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman’s knock.” In spite of his letter-writing antipathy, C.S. Lewis believed that taking time to encourage other Christians was an act of humility (using one’s talents in such a seemingly insignificant way), and as much a work of the Holy Spirit as producing a book.

Small glimpses into Lewis’ life are illuminated in his letters, things such as his fear of heights, love of cats and dogs, doing his daily chores, and his shared dread of poverty. The posthumous revelation that Lewis had given away 2/3 of his income is all the more impressive when his fear has been disclosed in his letters. So much more could be said on this topic, but suffice it to say that I am convicted by this example of faithfulness by one of my favorite authors, indeed, one of my favorite people.

As I was exhorted last night by a brother to take time and discipline to edify and encourage the brothers and sisters through writing, do I have any acceptable reason not to do so? After all, C.S. Lewis responded faithfully two days after his wife’s death. No excuses!

 

Photo credit: sw_PenOnManuscript_ncp9648.jpg on Morguefile.com

Turn and become like children

We just finished our Celebration of the Children and it was brilliant! Thirty some years ago our pastors conceived the idea of a church calendar where sacred events would be celebrated as a church family. We would celebrate the faithful, that “cloud of witnesses” such as the ones listed in Hebrews 11. We would set aside time to “turn and become like children.” The Celebration of Life Together would be time set aside to do just that.

But this week we celebrated God’s gift to us in our children. We usually start with a basic theme for the week, and this year we chose “time travel.” After a wonderful visit to the Dreamworks concert at the Hollywood Bowl, we had our spectacular opening day. Our seven kids became time travelers for the day. After climbing into their time machines they traveled to 6 destinations in history where they were needed to solve problems.

Each followed a different route to various times in history. They visited Ancient Greece where they trained for the Olympics in archery and javelin throwing and learned how to use their brains and the pulley system. There was a visit to Medieval Times where the children rescued the princess from a dragon lady with the help of a trusty steed and knights. They stopped in to help some cave people interpret their cave drawings and throw some rocks. Pyramid building and hieroglyphics were on the agenda for Ancient Egypt, and their help was required in China’s Ming Dynasty to repair the Great Wall and repel marauders. We all ended up in the Chat N Chew, a 50’s diner where we enjoyed shakes, floats, and burgers and danced at the sock hop.

We swam and played games together at the pool. The rest of the week we took day trips to the zoo, railroad museum, miniature golf, and flew some kites together. At night we gathered to play games, watch movies, and enjoy a crazy mixed-up dinner at the Time Travel Inn. We gave thanks at each gathering, and as the week closed we once again realized the great gifts God has given us in our children. Jesus himself blessed the children and exhorted us to become like them. Once again God teaches us through a Child. We look forward to the rest of our celebrations this year, especially anticipating our Celebration of the Faithful in August.

Loving to the end

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“I will wait. I wait. I will wait.” So sing Mumford and Sons. Their words are literally music to our ears. Everyone longs for happily ever after, to be waited for, to be special, considered, loved.

All too often we regard this as romantic love, but God has a far bigger vision than this. He came to bring together those who are far off a and those who are near, to allow everyone a love lasting and true, offering family to “whosoever will” and save a place at the table for us.

This is the call of the church, to be as Jesus: “Those whom the Lord gave Him, He loved until the end.”

Loneliness

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.

How Jesus makes all things new!

butterfly

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.

Expressing oneness

a banquet table

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

Spring Break

El Segundo Christian Church fireplace

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.

Angels unaware

“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.