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Responding in Prayer

2401For most residents of Florida’s west coast, Monday was a day of praise for answered prayer.  Pastor Pat Jones (Beacon Community EFC) said, ‘We were spared’.  ReachGlobal Crisis Response, who was in Florida while Irma was still blowing through, completed assessment on Tuesday showed that though several EFC facilities were affected, the catastrophic effects forecasted for the west coast of Florida were thankfully avoided, thereby allowing our full attention to focus back to the devatation of Hurricane Harvey in TX.

Meanwhile, Church at Charlotte held a night of prayer in response to the needs of those whose lives were impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Irma. It was a meaningful way to respond with action as a community of believers. Their evening had four prayer focuses:

-Reminding ourselves of the attributes of God;

-Lamenting and crying out to God over the loss;

-Trusting God even when we don’t understand; and

-The specific needs of the victims and volunteers and organizations.

They prayed that the church would show up in a big way and that the world would see who Jesus is in the way that the church loves.

Get involved:

1. Plan an evening of prayer for your church.

2. Give to the Harvey Response. Www.efca.org

3. Send a short-term team or join the Crisis Response staff.  crisisresponse@efca.org

4. Follow @efcacrisisresponse on Instagram for updates.

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Posted by on September 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Soaked Memories

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The two hardest things for me associated with the aftermath of a flooded home are the ruined kids art work still on the refrigerator sitting aside the debris pile, and then the soggy, stuck together photos and sopping wet photo albums.  We take pictures and make albums to remember and to share those memories with others.  But what about when after they are ruined.

My first soaked memories exposure came in 1993, cleaning out homes from a huge Mississippi River flood.  Like it was yesterday, I see the family with all their albums and photos spread out in the sun on the driveway, trying to fruitlessly to dry them.  They stood around a 55 gallon drum with a fire in it, peeling to photos apart, making out the faded and soaked image, sharing a memory, then tearfully throwing the photos into the fire.   We cried with them and prayed.

Harvey too has hit in this way.  Members of Redemption Church Houston ( pictured above) took the time to patiently bless one home owner they served by trying to separate and dry out photos.  Pastor Jason from Galveston Bible Church also had to help a family who had lost their photos. “It was so sad,” he reflected.  It can be tedious, but to care enough for the home owner to spend the time trying is a gift.

My experience from responding to all sorts of crises around the world has taught me to always focus on the person, the individual, the family, not the project.  Responding can involve physical work like gutting and sheet rock, but the real response ministry builds relationships, puts the tools down and patiently listens, and empathetically cares, hugs, cries and prays.  Transforming Gospel outreach focuses on people.

Mark Lewis, Director

ReachGlobal Crisis Response

Jn4:35b “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

Get involved at http://www.efca.org

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Posted by on September 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

“Devastating”

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Forty plus members from Trinity Fellowship and Grace Bible Church (both EFCA) members joined forces to love and serve their neighbors through Harvey debris clean-up efforts. 

While the extent of flooding from Harvey is still being played out in Texas along the Brazos River, clean up efforts are underway.  ReachGlobal Crisis Response is serving 15 EFCA churches in the area currently affected by Harvey, stretching from north of Corpus Christi to Houston east to Beaumont.

Galveston Bible Church (EFCA) Pastor Jason Dohring summarized his gutting experience today with one word, “Devastating. He continued, “It’s overwhelming with so much destruction.  We were dripping with sweat, carrying out debris while the family we were serving was trying to peel apart soaked photographs to set them aside to dry trying to preserve memories”. 

Pastor Bob Degray, of Trinity Fellowship said, “We’ve started working on the houses of people who live near church members and who need the same kind of help we’ve been giving each other. We pray that this will continue and grow.  The list of houses we’re working on (or about to start working on) has doubled from 10 to 20. The plan for tomorrow is to keep on keeping on.”    Following the day of work, those serving and those served gathered for a meal back at the church (photo below)

Pray for peace God’s presence for those affected by Harvey. Get involved:
1. Share this post with others and ask them to do likewise.
2. Give to the Harvey Response at www.efca.org 
3. Come serve affected families. Email respond@efca.org

To get regular updates, follow @efcacrisisresponse

#efca     #reachglobalcrisisresponse #hurricaneharvey

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Posted by on September 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

“We’re not alone…

 

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Benny Drake, a member of Bayshore Bible, making hurricane preparations.

If you live in Texas or Louisiana this weekend, Harvey has changed your plans.  That’s certainly the case for P. David Lewis of Bayshore Bible Church in Corpus Cristi, TX.  His congregation has spent the last 36 hours making feverish preparations for the pending storm.   “All of our families have gotten their homes boarded up.  Many helped their neighbors too.  We also helped about two dozen families who couldn’t do the job themselves,”  P. David shared today.

As the category 2 hurricane roars his way, he said, “We are living in the margin.  We are currently projected to be only 15-20 miles from those 125 mph winds. It will be much worse if it comes closer.”  The projected 20+inches of rain is also a concern.  “Our city is only 10 feet above sea level. Flooding may be the worst part,”   

But now, while waiting for the storm, his thoughts have turned to what’s next. “I went to Galveston just days after Hurricane Ike hit in 2008 to work with ReachGlobal Crisis Response. I know what this could look like.  I have prepared to have my home or the church be the post-storm activity center to serve the community.  The gas grill is ready to feed people. We can sleep people in the house.  An event like this provides an obvious opportunity to offer hospitality and to encourage and reach out to others.”  Bayshore Bible is prepared for Gospel outreach in the aftermath of Harvey.

P. David also shared his gratitude for being a part of EFCA, the larger Body.  “We are at the end of the road. The next closest EFC is more than 150 miles away.  Sometimes, it can feel like you’re down here all by yourself. But in times like this, feeling brotherhood of being a part of a larger, District and nationwide community is SO encouraging.  We’re not alone even though were at end road.”

Meanwhile, the ReachGlobal Crisis Response team is spending the IMG_0685day preparing for the response in TX.  Activities today range from sharpening chain saws, loading trailers and preparing response vehicles, to communicating with EFC’s in the potentially affected region, and coordinating with churches that are a part of the EFCA’s Crisis Response “Mobilize Network” to see how they might be able to support the hurricane response in the coming weeks.

Join with us in serving P. David as his church responds to Hurricane Harvey:

PRAY:  for the storm to weaken and move on quickly; for the protection of the families in the church and their neighbors; and for Gospel outreach opportunities not matter what the event brings.

SERVE:  We do not know exactly what nor where the impacts of Harvey will be, but it is likely they will be felt somewhere. Join ReachGlobal Crisis Response in the response.  Email crisisresponse@efca.org to volunteer or to send a team.

GIVE: Donate to the Hurricane Harvey ongoing Crisis Response outreach efforts.

 

 

 

 
 

Anticipation

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Recently, as Tropical Storm Cindy was approaching the Gulf Coast, Jackie couldn’t stop watching The Weather Channel.  She lay in bed all night watching and praying that God would steer this storm away from her.

Last year, Jackie hadn’t given the weather forecasters a second thought when they said a rainstorm was approaching.  But, three days later when the rain had subsided Jackie had a raging river going down her road and 5.5 feet of water in her house.  She waded through shoulder deep water in the hopes of saving some of her brother’s personal belongings.  Her 55 year old brother has Autism, and since their mother’s death two years earlier, Jackie, his sole caretaker, says that if it were not for him, she would not rebuild their home. But because it is the only home he has ever known, she is rebuilding.

Jackie smiles and cries every time she walks in her “broken house.” (That is how she has described it to her brother Howard).  When the walls got painted she said she could no longer call it “the broken house.”  Then the flooring and much of the molding and trim were finished, and she said, “This is home.”

Jackie thanks the Lord for saving her and Howard and thanks the Lord for sending Tropical Storm Cindy off-shore.  She gives all glory to God for her almost being back in her home, knowing that God has sent the volunteers.  Jackie knows that He placed a call on their hearts to come and serve people they do not even know and each week she is still in awe when a new bunch of volunteers show up to work at her house.  The hope is to have her back in her home by August 11, the one year anniversary of the storm that dropped 31 inches of rain.  A celebration is being planned to celebrate the Lord and the volunteers when her home is complete.

There are many more people out there who do not know the Lord and do not have “Homes.”  Please prayerfully consider if God would have you be this hope for someone.

Email respond@efca.org to send a team to help Jackie and others like her.

Story contributed by Katrina Welch.
 

Amazing Blessings in Columbia, SC!

For the ReachGlobal Crisis Response team, summer comes with great anticipation of recieving summer mission teams to extend outreach and compassion in the places where we serve.   Our first team of 33 youth and their chaperones from Tennessee arrived on Sunday night and on Monday morning we started work on 5 flooded homes in Columbia, SC.  That’s 33 missionaries deployed in green Crisis Response t-shirts; 5 flood damaged hoems allowing us to minister in the community; 5 sites that need tools and supplies;  5 families to fall in love with; and 5 different locations to watch God work. Here’s just a few of the blessings we saw that week.

Crisis Response Project Leader Mark Manning was leading a roofing site, when a guy stopped by the house and asked what all the kids with green shirts were about. The team explained that they were serving this family by putting on a new roof and the guy thought that was pretty awesome. He too was a roofer, and just happened to have a couple bundles of shingles in the back of his truck. He asked Mark if he could use the shingles, on this house or maybe another. Mark said “Sure, we can always use extra’s and we never know what color and type we will need.” Well…do I have to tell you what happened? Mark was going to have to go buy a couple more bundles of shingles to finish off the house and when he opened up the bundles that the guy had given to him,  Mark saw that they were EXACTLY the color and type of shingle he needed to finish the roof. Provision. We see blessings of provision every day!

After the first day of serving, we received a phone call from another homeowner. She joyfully shared, “Thank you so much for sending those kids over to my house! They worked so hard and I love each of them already!” Sometimes we forget that the first time teenagers show up at a job site, the homeowner may be a little taken aback by the age of the volunteers. This homeowner assumed that a group of experienced men were coming over to gut out her damaged lower level and do the drywall repairs. so when the kids showed up she was blown away. Just a few hours into the first day, the team already had most of the gutting done and they were prepping the framing for new drywall! You see, this homeowner probably does not know the Lord, but she saw the hands and feet of Jesus in her home that day. She asked how much we pay the kids to do this, and when  she learned they paid US to come and serve on a mission trip, she couldn’t believe it. Witness. These “kids” were a witness to this homeowner and we can only hope that as the weeks go on, with other teams serving at her home, she will come to know the Lord as her Savior.

To be able to witness these blessings first hand, is something every single one of our ReachGlobal Crisis Response staff praises God.  Most of us have been called away from our home states, away from our families and our home churches. People ask us often why we would even consider leaving it all behind and the answer is always the same, “because it’s a blessing and a privilege to serve God by loving His people.” It’s as simple as that…love. Love God, love people. That’s what it’s all about.

Hurricane season started 2 weeks ago, and Cindy, the first Tropical Storm of the season has hit the Gulf Coast. Our current staff is at maximum capacity in our current sites. We pray daily for additional staff to join us in this amazing ministry. Is God calling you because you are blessed to be a blessing to others? We have several staff positions open! Check them out at efca.org/crisis-response.

 
 

Transformation through Education

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These kids in Lebanon’s Bekka Valley, who are being helped with basic education elements through our partners,  received rain coats and vitamins though the funds generously given to ReachGlobal’s ‘Refugee’s in Crisis’ project.  Thanks for giving.

‘Crisis really affects kids.  The Syrian War is no exception.  After more than 6 years of conflict, one by-product is that close to half a million refugee kids in Lebanon and Jordan are not in school now, and many of them have never been to school.  In Lebanon, only 3% of the 15-18 year old Syrian Refugee kids were enrolled in a secondary school. What future might we expect for these kids?

One of our partner’s in Lebanon’s Bekka Valley has seen these unengaged kids as an opportunity to integrate Great Commandment and Great Commission ministry.  First, they set up a ministry center and created a safe place for kids and families to come to learn and play.  They provide lessons several day a week in Arabic, English, basic Math, Bible and recess time for kids, and also offering a variety of classes for women including family dynamics, Bible and health related topics.  Prayer is offered daily, and in addition, the Jesus Film is shown periodically.   This ministry is bearing fruit…kids are learning, women are growing, and the Holy Spirit is effecting eternal life transformation. (click to read more about a recent ‘Seed of Hope)  

But the ministry was limited to only those kids nearby, and by the capacity of the ministry center facility and staff.  The leader, Philip*, said to me recently, “There are 750,000 Syrian refugees located in several thousand informal camps in the Bekka. How can we reach them all? What if we could take school to them?”.  And thus was born the idea of ‘micro-education outreach’, to effect transformation through education.

Philip has now launched five micro-education sites.  He said, “We are seeing a great harvest by facilitating the ‘Micro Schools’. It is our ‘foot in the door’ of the camp communities. Through the relationships with the families, we build trust and God opens their hearts and ears to the Gospel. 

Most of the camps are small, with anywhere from a few  families to several dozen families. He asks the leader of the group of families to provide space in one of their tents to house the school.  Typically this is a plastic of metal enclosed space, about 8′ or 10’x10′ in size, and where the family sleeps. They move their belongings  out of the way to make room for Micro-School.

For each Micro-School, he then recruits an unemployed Syrian teacher, and apprentices that teacher each morning into the teaching approach and content, including Bible lessons, happening at the main ministry center, and also engages the teacher in a discovery type discipleship group.  Then every afternoon, the teachers disperse to the camps and host homes.   It’s a small start, with only about eighty kids, but God is at work.

This was the report from a recent follow up woman-in-tentvisit with the families participating in Mirco-School #3:

There are 3 generations living together in the tent. We had to wait until the smoke cleared out of the room that we were going to use to show the movie. They smoke in their tent was quite thick when we arrived. So we were invited to the room next door and met with the grandparents and extended family and was introduced to everyone. We were told who belonged to who and which children belong to which parents. The children were so excited to have us there and showed off their English skills! 

 

At the start of the movie, we had all the men there with us, which is the main goal of why we are visiting the homes in the evening, to engage the men. If you get the man, you get the family – 99% of the time. So we were blessed to have them with us. About 30 minutes into the movie, the men began getting restless. They were called outside by friends, had to go smoke, etc…short attention spans. 

About half way through the movie, God did a miracle. A young girl, (Fatima), went to sit by Philip* and told him her ear was hurting and she was starting to cry. Philip* prayed for her ear to stop hurting. The pain was less, so he prayed again and it was even less, He prayed again and it was completely gone!! Praise God! She was able to finish the movie. 

After the movie, we discussed it with them and asked if they wanted to pray to ask Jesus into their hearts and everyone that was remaining said “yes”. We prayed with 4 adults and 5 children to receive Christ. Kim was also was able to pray with the women and girls laying hands on them and imparting grace to them. 

Since then we have been committed to a follow-up visit and Bible study meeting at their tent on a regular basis. 

Please pray for three specific things:

  1. God would supply more workers to start more Micro-Schools.
  2. His people would provide the financial and other resources needed to add 50 more Micro-Schools in the next 18 months.  Each school costs about #500 to start and $200 per month to sustain.
  3. The Holy Spirit would continue to draw these Islamic background people to Himself.

Learn more at https://go.efca.org/resources/project/refugees-crisis 

 
 
 
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