A Bible or Bottled Water?

The last few weeks have been an onslaught of natural disasters with Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico City. Our hearts break for those living in the effected areas, but what should be our response? Do we send in teams with the Gospel, offering truth and hope, but neglecting the real needs of the people left in devastation? Or do we focus our efforts only on donating money and assisting with cleanup, never offering the hope of Christ that can bring true healing and peace to the deep scars of trauma and loss?  What do the people in Texas, Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean need more, the Bible or bottled water?

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As a junior in college I had a crisis of faith as I began my nursing school clinical rotations.  My theology at the time was that Christ came to die for my sins so I could go to heaven. And, being up close for the first time in my life to raw human pain and suffering, that was no longer holding up as sufficient. I began to question the goodness and love of God.

While painful, that season of life was transformational. During a summer retreat with my campus fellowship we studied the servant songs of Isaiah, a collection of prophecies about Christ. In Isaiah 61:1-3 we read, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,….to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  (If this passage sounds familiar, it is the one Jesus reads in Luke 4 at the beginning of his ministry, following with the words, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)).

In the months that followed that retreat God showed me that His plan was not just to save me so I could go to heaven, but to redeem all the brokenness that entered the world through sin. He not only knew the pain, injustice and suffering that was going on, He had, through Christ, already presented the solution. In his book, Kingdom Come, author Allen Wakabayashi  writes, “When Jesus came to bring the kingdom, everything that God had made was in the scope of what he came to change. The Old Testament looked forward to the coming of the kingdom as a creation-wide intervention where God would come make right all that had gone wrong. Sicknesses would be healed, sins would be forgiven, enmity would be eradicated and the created order would be put at peace”.

Wakabayashi uses the analogy of Aslan in the book The Lion, The Witch and The crocus-1960865_1920Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. In that story it is always winter, but never Christmas. However, when Aslan returns, the snow begins to melt and springtime breaks through. We see the same in the life of Christ. Wherever He went, the winter of the evil in this world was melted, and a glorious taste of the springtime of His kingdom was given.

 

So, a Bible or bottled water? Or, perhaps both….

A recent article by Lausanne shows the power of a holistic response. The committed, sacrificial, and long term response by Japanese Christians to the areas of Japan effected by the 2011 tsunami have had profound impact on individual lives, on communities, and even changed the very word for Christian in the language. These Christians weren’t serving physical needs as a method to convert people. Instead they were genuinely bringing the springtime of the kingdom to the communities around them.

As you consider your response to the suffering caused by the natural disasters this week, or the suffering in the lives of your neighbors, co-workers and friends, I encourage you to reflect on the Lausanne article and on the words of Isaiah 61: 1-3.  Consider how you might bear witness in word and deed to the healing and redeeming love of Christ, and spread the springtime of His Kingdom everywhere you go.

 

 

Hurricane Harvey: Ways to Help

The last few days our news feeds have been filled with images, statistics, and stories of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Here are some ways that you can get involved with caring for those affected.

Prayer: Please pray….

  • That the flooding would end and receed quickly.cyclone-62959_1920.jpg
  • That those trapped or needing rescuing would be reached in time.
  • For God to provide the physical needs of food, clothing, shelter, and health care for those in the affected areas now and in the months to come.
  • For God to provide healing for the emotional traumas associated with living through a storm, and with losing loved ones, homes, and livelihoods.
  • For the local churches and the Christian community country wide to reach out with generous giving, practical helps, listening ears, and the hope of the Gospel.

Giving:  In response to past natural disasters (Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy,  and Matthew, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti), The Compass Church has partnered with ReachGlobal’s Crisis Response Team. We will be partnering with them again for Hurricane Harvey relief. Please visit their site here for information on how to give.

 

Serving: We are considering sending a team to assist with the disaster relief when the time is appropriate. If you are interested in receiving information about this team  as it develops please email jkindelin@thecompass.net. You can also visit the ReachGlobal site for more information on teams they are arranging directly.

Dens and Nests

Visas. Sometimes they are stamps in your passport given on arrival. Sometimes they take weeks and months of applications, fees, and the anxiety of mailing your passport off to an embassy praying it will return.  Regardless, in most cases if you want to enter another country, especially if you want to live there, a visa is required.

For our Global Partners, obtaining or renewing visas is a part of the rhythm of their lives. When it is time to apply for a new one, its always on the prayer request list. Nothing is certain when it comes to visas.

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Recently, some of our Global Partners were denied a visa renewal. They have one month to pack up and leave a country that has been home for 16 years. They will leave behind their ministry, church, friends, and their daughter, son-in-law and  grandchildren. There will be tears and grieving, but they have faith and trust that God is in control and He has ordered the next season of their life.

Two more of our Global Partner families have been facing visa challenges.  Both have been waiting and praying and trusting for months.

In John 9:57-58 we read, “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ ”

While visas can be a source of burden and stress–they are also a constant reminder to cross cultural workers, that following Jesus can mean uncertainty and that we need to be willing to go wherever and whenever He moves us. Most of us don’t have to worry about visas, but are we open to God moving us?

Please pray today that God will keep open doors to people and places that need His healing and grace. Pray that our Global Partners would trust Him when doors close that they don’t understand and they have to pack up, move, and start over again.

Let’s pray too that God would speak clearly to our hearts, and that we too would have the  courage to move where He calls… whether it is across the street to meet a neighbor, or maybe even across the world.

 

 

 

Brussels– 2017

This summer The Compass Church sent a team to serve alongside our partners in Brussels Belgium. Renee, one of the team leaders, writes her reflections on the trip in today’s post. You can read more about the work of some of our partners in Brussles here.

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Summer mission trips don’t always go as planned. Our team prepared to spend two weeks in Brussels this summer, working with Serve the Church, a part of ReachGlobal. Dan and I have been a part of this mission trip for several years and we were looking forward to returning and introducing our team to a city and people we have grown to know and love. We had warned them that there would be a lot of walking and in Brussels you need to be prepared for a change in weather, so bring rain gear. The first full day of flier distribution, the project of inviting area residents to English, music, and cooking classes at a local ministry, dawned absolutely beautiful. We, along with two other teams from California and Iowa, took to the streets to stuff mailboxes. By the afternoon, the skies had darkened and it poured! And yes, those who forgot umbrellas and rain gear got soaked. But over 18,000 invitations went out and people were already calling that evening for more information. Even with inclement weather–a change from what we had planned, God used us to help meet a need for this ministry.

Brussel's MarkWe planned to be involved with various projects around the city the following week: some projects required muscles (heavy bags of construction debris carried through the house, out the window, into the dumpster), some worked with kids (VBS in the park on rainy afternoons under a tent), some were cancelled or changed due to weather (rain again), some involved demolition and construction (think sledge hammers and power tools), some finished quickly and others were added (painting and landscaping). Each team member had a place to work where they could use their gifts and talents, but all projects required flexibility and a willingness to serve. Having been on the trip before, I had my idea of where I wanted to participate. Reconnecting with “C” and helping with her home for refugees was important to me.  What I didn’t plan on was having pneumonia. That really limited my involvement—especially since work at “C’s” house was demolishing the lower level to remodel it into her personal apartment. My role quickly changed and I helped with preparing and serving food for the team. My plans changed, but God still had a role for me—in fact, as my health required more rest, I was able to spend more time in prayer for all the teams and all the projects.

One of the highlights of the trip for our team was participating in worship with various congregations. Even though services were conducted in French, and Flemish with some translation into English, we were all worshiping the same God and were united by our faith in Christ. We didn’t always understand everything that was being said or sung, but we knew these people loved God and served Him faithfully.

In a culture with fewer than one percent identifying as a Bible believing Christian, it was a joy and privilege to come alongside Belgian believers to encourage them, to work with them, to help with projects that enable them to continue to minister to those who so desperately need the Lord. Maybe things didn’t always go as we planned, but it definitely went as God planned—and all for His Glory.

 

So, how was your trip….?

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Do you know someone taking a short term missions trip with The Compass Church or another organization this summer? They will probably return home brimming with stories, experiences, and lessons learned. Chances are they want to share all about their trip, and you want to hear. However it  is often hard for people returning from short term trips to sum everything  up and answer the first question most of us ask…”How was your trip?”

TEAM posted a great article on this topic with some easy alternative questions. Not only will these questions help you get a glimpse at all God did during your friend’s trip, but you will bless your friend as you help them sort through and process their experiences!

If you don’t have time to read the article here is a free download from TEAM with 15 great questions to get you started! Oh…and a good cup of tea or coffee is also recommended!

 

Haiti 2017

In July, The Compass Church sent a team to serve along side ReachGlobal in Haiti. Darcy Ruscitti, Executive Director of Central Ministries, was the team leader and shares here some reflections on the trip. 

It is hard even two weeks later to put words to how impactful a trip it was.   We started off as a group of mostly acquaintances, and ended the trip as strongly bonded family.  You always hope for strong relational connections as a team – but this group exceeded expectations.  Our group was fun-loving, flexible, and hard working – all needed for ministry work in Haiti.

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Each of our days was a very different adventure.  We did everything from painting rooms at the local clinic for a new incoming doctor to filling water jugs for locals and walking them to their homes.  Some homes were tarps, some were the shelter of trees, some wood, and others were even made of cinder blocks.

Two days we traveled to the area called Jan Jan.  We drove for almost an hour, which was as far as we could go by truck, and then we walked with our supplies the remaining mile.  One day we ran a VBS type camp with almost 200 kids!  They just kept coming!  It was great to teach them about the shield of faith and do related activities.  The next day we came back to work on a church building construction site in Jan Jan.  The kids came back out in groves singing the songs and looking for more interactions.  While  some of our team did that, I joined working on the construction and learned how to do re-bar!  As I started I am sure they were quite skeptical of what I could contribute, but after some time with an amazing teacher (one of our interpreters named Joe), they weren’t even checking my work anymore and by the end were including me in the process just like one of them!  It was a blessing to me to get to do some actual labor type work and be praying for the people that will be attending that church.

Haiti 2Near the Jan Jan area there was a vast, mostly dried up river bed.  While there was some running water in it, (the team took numerous trips back and forth to bring water up to the construction site for cement making) you couldn’t help but imagine what that river area would look like filled.  What changes would it mean for the people for their living conditions, their food, their livelihood?  You can’t help but carry this analogy over to the people and their need for the love of Jesus.  So much of Haiti is a vast area of spiritual dryness, people in need of Jesus.  There are small streams of strong Christian communities – we pray those continue to grow and spread for Haiti.

We had the complete joy of wrapping up our week by attending a beautiful church service.  It didn’t even matter that we couldn’t understand the parts that were in Creole – we knew we were getting to experience a special moment within a body of fellow believers.  The singing and joy for the Lord was clearly present even though many had walked quite a distance to even get to church.  We had a big rain Saturday night and it was quite muddy Sunday morning.  It would have been easy to skip church that morning – but they weren’t going to be stopped!  The singing was powerful and so was the message!

Thank you for your prayers and support – we couldn’t have had such an amazing trip without you being a part of it!

Pittsburgh 2017

A team of youth from The Compass Church spent a week serving in Pittsburgh this summer. They partnered with a local church to do outreach and run a VBS in the community, and they took prayer walks through the city. The team also partnered with two other local service agencies, a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen. Emma, one of the students on the trip, shares her reflections on what she learned. 

Hello people of the Compass Church! Today (or whenever you’re reading this), I am here to tell you a little bit about my recent mission trip to the beautiful (and hilly) city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First detail to note, I was completely unfamiliar with literally every single one of my teammates prior to the trip, which honestly ended up very well. I had such a great time getting to know the  amazing other students and leaders on the trip, and I am happy to say that I walked away with sixteen new friends. Serving with these amazing people made everything ten times easier, and at least ten times more fun. Second thing to note, despite my previous involvement with junior high work camps, this week was my first long-term mission trip, and boy I had little idea what I was walking into. Now, this is not to say that I couldn’t handle it, because I did, I’m just saying that there were definitely some unexpected, crazy cool, God-inspired moments.

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If you were to ask me which one of these moments stood out to me the most, or what the highlight of my trip was, I would probably tell you, “Eating the mile high sandwich with french fries on it, or that really good piece of almond cake,” (two delicacies Pittsburgh happens to be known for.) But if I were to tell you that,  I would probably tell you after that I was kidding, and that my big moment was on the morning of June 29th, our second to last day in such an incredible city.

That morning we were going to be serving at a ministry that serves meals to impoverished families and individuals on the north side of the city, a task I was not especially excited about in all honesty. Growing up in an affluent neighborhood of the western suburbs of Chicago, there’s always been some kind of stigma that follows the homeless. That you should turn your cheek because they are just looking for money to feed dangerous habits, that you should ignore every sign or request for help and just keep walking.

I got to prepare a Chicago classic, Portillo’s Italian beef with salad and all kinds of good stuff. But the coolest part was getting the chance to sit down with some of the men and women there that day. What really hit me deep down though, was how plainly human they all were. I got to make connections with two little girls, and have some really great conversations with my teammates and some of the men we were serving. Was it a little nerve wracking? For sure. But by the end of our time, it was like talking to a good friend about sports, and different neighborhoods, and school, and responsibility, and all kinds of things. It was truly awesome to be able to hear about them and about their lives and see my peers talking with them, laughing with them, and even praying with them.

Pittsburgh picture 2.jpgWhat often happens, I’ve noticed, is that those who are homeless are often dehumanized by those who have the means to help them. But in reality, they’re people too, they have their own stories, lives, families. So what I think I took away was that what I personally need to do better, and what I think a lot of people could improve upon, is not turning our noses up to the hurt in this world, but embracing it and treating it with love. The lesson Elsa and I taught for the VBS kids that week was all about going out into the world and loving people the way Jesus loves. And in our experience that morning, we were living that out, and it was incredible to be a part of.

Utah 2017: Day 6 & 7

A group of  students from The Compass Church is currently serving in Utah alongside our partners Ritch and Laura. We will be posting reflections from the students during the course of their trip.

In the mornings this week, our team helped The Mission Church run a Kids Camp. Through our Spy Camp theme, we’ve been teaching the kids that God created everything. He wrote His law on our hearts, but we broke that law and are subject to punishment for doing so. Jesus took that punishment for us so that we can be forgiven and have a relationship with God. In the afternoons, we have been doing work projects, spending time at Temple Square, and going on hikes. Here are some reflections from some of our team members:

Yesterday, Wednesday, after our water day for kids we went out to a barn to help move things around and clean. Caleb, Josh, and I got to climb into a dumpster and smash and break things inside to make as much room as possible. Wood, boxes, coolers, metal, and so much more came into the dumpster. Early on in the smashing some street sign poles were tossed in and that became my weapon of choice. After all the work was we went back to the church for a little rest but later came back to the barn house for a cookout with the owners of the house and the Sandfords. It was fun just hanging out and being a big family. Today came for the kids camp and that is where I had the most exciting thing happen. All week one of my kids, Ethan, had been shy and kind of slumped over but today he was talking a lot and at the game today he was all over the place and had a great big smile on his face. I had to chase down kids for our game and when I caught one, he was laughing and having fun. I just pray that tomorrow being the last day will be the absolute best day for all of my kids that show up.

–Chris

Today, Thursday was an awesome day, kids camp was an amazing experience. My kids had so much fun all day and at the end of the day one gave me a hug since it was her last day. After the amazing experience at kids camp our team followed Ritch to go on a short hike to see a beautiful waterfall. When we got up to the waterfall there was a ledge that you could climb to get higher into the waterfall, having a fear of heights I wasn’t real eager to do it. After much convincing from Chris, Molly and Allea, I decided to take a chance and scale up the side to get on top for a good picture. After getting up and getting cool group pictures, came the fun of climbing down the side. When I eventually made it down it felt good to face my fear of heights in order to climb up the waterfall and see how beautiful it was. All of this was amazing but the best part of the day was surprising Scott’s car with a Moana flash mob to How Far I’ll Go. Overall today was an amazing, God-filled experience and I can’t wait to take on the last day of our trip

–Holly

Utah 2017: Day 3

A group of  students from The Compass Church is currently serving in Utah alongside our partners Ritch and Laura. We will be posting reflections from the students during the course of their trip.

I went into today thinking I wanted to save writing a blog post for when we visited Temple Square and did street evangelism. In past years, the first day of kids camp was hectic, but relatively uneventful. However today was anything but uneventful for me.

Bit of a backstory:

Last year, I wrote a post about one of the girls in my kids camp small group. She came into the week hating VBS and swearing at her mother for making her come. At first, I was mentally preparing for a rough week with her, but as I got to know her, she transformed into a loveable, giggly, helpful 12-year-old whose love for the Lord became more and more evident throughout the week.

Separately, yesterday I had the chance to meet up with my aunt and cousins who live out here in Utah. This is my 4th time on this trip and but the first time I have been able to see them while here.

Today at the end of kids camp, I ran up to the mother of the girl from last year and asked if she was coming to camp. Unfortunately, she was not, as she was out of town until Sunday. Bummed, I began telling her mother how much I loved her daughter and told her to give her a big hug for me. Her mother was very kind and wrote down my email so she could reach out to me. As she started to leave, she mentioned she worked at a church out here. It turned out that it was the same church my aunt attends and when I told her my aunt’s name, she goes, “No way! She’s one of my closest friends! I just texted her yesterday!” She then continues to tell me about how my aunt led her husband to Christ, which in turn, eventually led their entire family to Christ. Woah.

When she left, I cried, amazed at how God worked through that circle of people.

In all, God was so prevalent today in so many little ways and I was so blessed to be a part of it.

– Kayt

Utah 2017: Day 1

A group of  students from The Compass Church is currently serving in Utah alongside our partners Ritch and Laura.We will be posting reflections from the students during the course of their trip. 

We arrived in Utah safety and connected with Ritch. Shortly after,we went straight to a hiking site. Ritch lead us up a path that was definitely a work out. He brought two of his adorable kids Their relationship is such an example of how our relationship with our heavenly father should be like. His love for his kids is so evident. His daughter’s big beautiful eyes just explode with joy when she sees him. He knows the paths like the back of his hand. He knows the slippery parts and he knows where it leads. When we got to the top we saw a beautiful water fountain that just dripped God’s glory.

Utah Day 1 picture

 

 

 

On the way down, he held his son so tight. There was one point when the rocks underneath him slipped. But he held his son so tightly that he was safe with his daddy. Today I was reminded the reasons we go through trials. These past few months have been rough. My Mom and Grandpa were both diagnosed with Cancer. I never was mad at God but I definitely wondered why my family had to go through that. But as Ritch loved and protected his son, I was reminded that going up that mountain has a glorious ending. Right now, I may not see that waterfall, but God knows the path like the back of his hand. He knows all the slippery parts and he knows the final destination, and wow is it worth it.

After the hike, we played games and ate some spaghetti. Please pray for the kids camp that starts Monday and for God to give us the words to say to the people of Utah. Also shout-out to my parents and grandparents! Love you! Give Bentley a huge hug for me!

-Mandy