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…but I’m sure we lost everything.

la floodLouisiana is no stranger to heavy rains and storms. It’s a normal occurrence.  But this week was different. 1000 year rains and flooding like this has never happened before.

Gary, one flooded home owner we’ve met explained, “We’ve gone through the flood of ’78, ’83, Katrina, Rita, Issac and Gustav, and have never flooded before. We have about 6 ft of water in our house now, and haven’t been able to get to it. I’m not sure when we will, but I’m sure we’ve lost everything.”  Gary’s story is one of many, as the impact is staggering.

  • 90 % of the city of Denham Springs, LA is underwater.
  • 40,000 homes region wide are affected, the majority uninsured.
  • Previous record flood levels have bee exceeded by more than 6 feet.
  • 30,000 people had to rescued and 20,000 are in shelters.

P. Lance Bourgeois (Trinity EFC, Covington, LA) has been out working with our assessment and clean-up teams, as this flood has hit personally, close to home. His aunt and uncle, we’re two of those 30,000 rescued.  His uncle said, “The water just kept coming up and up and up. When we let the house, we walked out in water up to our waists.”  They ended up having five feet of water in their home, as did Gary.

And in Denham Springs, the brown, muddy water did not spare Grace Community Bible Church. Pastor Tim, with puddles still on the sopping wet carpet shared that 60% of his congregation have been affected, but that he wants to engage, ‘meeting people in their brokeness’. Our hope is that a steady flow of volunteers and donations will allow us to help this church recover and bring healing outreach to their neighbors.

Though the water is still too deep though to access many areas, it is clear that the worst natural disaster in the US since Super Storm Sandy, will result in a long road for recovery.  Consider partnering with EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response, EFCA’s Southeast District, Trinity and other local churches, as we seek to share Christ’s love with those in need.

Pray: for rains to stop, waters to recede, and The Church to be tangibly present to bring hope and restoration.

Give: Donate to the EFCA’s Louisiana Flood Response efforts and ongoing ReachGlobal Crisis Response outreach.

Send a Team:  Email Respond@efca.org.  Volunteers are needed immediately and will be needed for the next several years.

Learn More

 
 

Chicken Missionary

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Brother Darin* and a Nepali Church Planter visit a family

Sometimes an offhand comment really makes your head turn. Brother Darin* is one of our key partners in Nepal. A native of India, he’s been serving as a missionary in Nepal for 15 years, first as a church planter, and now as a church planter coach and catalyst. He started in a rural village with no Christ followers, striking up conversations, drinking tea, serving, and intentionally caring for people. It took almost 2 years, but then an informal small group of seekers developed. From that initial group, 9 churches were planted and now there are over 700 be!ievers in the valley.

Now, with three other denominational leaders, he’s giving guidance to the Nepal Church Planting Movement, a collaboration of Nepali and US churches, ReachGlobal, OC International. This network has been involved in planting dozens of churches since 2012.

During a pause in dinner conversation as he and I shared a meal recently, he said, “You know, I am a chicken missionary.” With curiosity, I replied, “Tell me more,” while thinking to myself, “I’ve been a chicken missionary too, when I’ve been too self-conscious about what others might think to share my faith, or when I’ve not wanted to deal with conflict or….”

“I was commissioned and sent by my church, but when I need support, people sell their chicken for me to have something.”  I so appreciate the humbling lessons I learn from the many national partners I get to serve alongside. A chicken missionary…Living in Dependency; Humility; Faith; Obedience.

Darin told me that as the first church got planted, the people had no money to tithe, so he simply asked them to give what they had. Time. Some skill they had.  The fruit from one of their banana trees. 3 stalks of their bamboo tree. Whatever.  It was a wonderful picture of dependency and people using whatever it was that God had given them to support Kingdom work.

God, help me to be a chicken missionary.

PRAY: Recent law changes in Nepal have made it illegal to attempt ‘convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other’. In recent weeks, 8 ministry workers and a pastor have been jailed for distributing Christian literature under this new law.  Pray for God’s protection for these Brothers and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to flourish to in Nepal.

LEARN: more at www.myef.ca/helpnepal.

GIVE: Donate to Nepal Outreach

*Name changed for security purposes.

 
 

Righting Injustice

slave2Mary* (12) and Macy* (8), are part of an outreach of a Nepali church partner responding to last year’s earthquake.  These girls lost their mother several years ago to a miscarried pregnancy.  As is common in many poor Nepali families, prior to the pregnancy, their mother was working in Dubai and thereby supported the family.

Their father, Bob*, meanwhile worked and lived with their two daughters in a carpet-making factory.  Since his wife’s death, he has tried to provide for his family, but injustice in his work place has turned this BREAD-WINNER into a BONDED-SLAVE.  But HOW?

At the carpet factory, the orders to weave a new carpet come intermittently, so Bob may have work five to six months a year. The rest of the months, he must borrow money from the owner of the carpet factory to survive. If his wife were still alive, her earnings from abroad would compensate for all those months he goes without work.

Gradually, his borrowing money from the owner has left him in a “big-increasing” debt. The money he earned from the intermittent work was not sufficient to pay off his debt. So over time, his debt increased greatly and now he cannot leave the carpet factory as a result of the indebtedness.

Moreover, during the months that go by without work, he sits idle at home, not allowed to work anywhere else by the factory owner. So he is further compelled to borrow money from his owner. The debt he has with his owner is like a bond that enslaves him.  He neither can go outside to work nor can he pay off his debt.   Worse, if the father is not able to pay his debt off in his lifetime, the bond will be passed on to the next generation, and his daughters will be compelled to live the same enslaved life.

Though this story can be repeated many times over for other poor Nepali families, this local church is stepping in to make a tangible difference in the life this one family, and are trying to raise funds to ‘free’ this family and help these girls with a brighter future.  The ‘huge’ debt (from a Nepali perspective) actually totals $700.

We are partnering with the local church to secure a new place for them to live outside the factory and release from this bond.   Pray for this local Nepali church to be able to repeat this process over and over again for other families similarly stuck.

*Names changed for security reasons.

 

Serving Brings Blessings in Brazil

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P. Lucas, left.

Pastor Lucas has a vision to see a movement Gospel centered churches in the 30 cities of S. Brazil’s High Valley region. A few months ago, this area was inundated by record floods, which barely made a blip on the US news, but affected thousands of people. With a his disciple-making heart and compassion for these impacted families, he now also had a mission to compassionately respond.

Leveraging the passion of local church members and their resources, the generous giving of a few partner EFC’s and individuals, as well as ‘start-up’ resources from ReachGlobal Crisis Response’s Partner Initiative, P. Lucas and his church members have been connecting with their community, as he shares below:

We met Marlene’s family while they were still in a flood shelter.  She lives in a humble, wood home with her husband, and attached to it live her son and daughter in law and their son and another daughter, three generations together and all displaced.

We were able to bless them with food, toys and a kit with Bible stories, games and coloring sheets.  Through our time with this family, we discovered that they were some of the last to make it to the shelter and that most of their furniture, including beds and mattresses, were ruined.

 Our visits with Marlene and her family in the shelter continued, and eventually as well in her home.  About one month after the flood waters had receded, on one of our visits, we asked Marlene about her home, furniture, beds, etc..  She said that she had put the mattresses outside for over 20 days – trying to dry them out.  At the same time, they were all sleeping on one mattress (the one they deemed driest) – covered in plastic, and thrown on the ground, as the bed had rotted.  

 In her home, and the smell of mold in the bedroom was horrible. So that day, we went to a local furniture store bought new mattresses for the family….of good quality (better than they’d had before!)

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P. Lucas sharing with neighbors.

 Through this and other intentional, relational efforts, the family responded with gratitude and opened their home and yard for a neighborhood block party.  We brought a trampoline, chocolate, games, activities, clowns and Bible stories for the children.   At the end we prayed for Marlene and her family and all those in the neighborhood.

 The light of Christ shined there and the name of the Lord was glorified yet more.

…and the response team’s contact with Marlene has not ended.  In fact, as a result of the flood response and relational open doors like this, the church is now deploying two church planting interns to expand the flood recovery and community outreach.

Pray for:

  • Marlene and her family, that God would transform not just their present reality but also their eternal future.
  • This church’s passion for compassionate outreach to spread.
  • The Holy Spirit to go before P. Lucas into these 30 cities and prepare the way for a church planting movement in the High Valley Region.

Give: Help support the ongoing recovery efforts in Brazil.  Give Now

Learn:  The Crisis Response “Partner Initiative” is a proactive, crisis based disciple-making and church planting fund, which in this case allowed us to quickly get the needed resources into the hands of the local church to jump-start their response.   To find out how you can be a Crisis Response Partner to catalyze Gospel outreach in the wake of crisis, email crisisresponse@efca.org .

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Serving Kids in Nepal

kids minWe were recently in Nepal again to participate in the dedication of a new ministry center being launched through the earthquake response efforts, and to take part in church planter equipping. This is one of more than a dozen being developed as part of the long term earthquake response. The new ministry center near Kathmandu is focusing on reaching kids, and in the process connecting with parents, with the longer term vision of planting a church.  The kids ministry includes tutoring, English, crafts, Bible and games. The idea is to create a safe place for kids and families to gather, while experiencing Christ’s love.

And doors are opening with parents too, as a Women literacy program (2)Women’s Literacy group has also recently started.  One older lady shared, “We were poor. I had to look after my younger siblings, get them ready, send to them to school, and look after the home while my parents worked in the fields,” she replied. “I made a few escapes to go to a nearby school to see what was going on there but then I was rebuked by my mother for doing that.”  Some bring their daughters and grand-daughters to help them.  One such daughter couldn’t stop giggling as her mother repeatedly made mistakes as she helped her mother erase continuously.

Pray the outreach of the Sharing Ministry Center* and that enduring life transformation is a part of this communities earthquake recovery.  Creating Child Friendly Spaces to serve kids on an ongoing basis is a challenge, with hundreds of local churches having been damaged, destroyed, or simply lacking the physical space to be able to effectively serve the community. Help us build many more Community Center’s, which can serve as shelter for the monsoon,a school and children’s activity center, and as a church. Give to invest in ministry to kids and community outreach.

*Name changed for security purposes.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Record Midwest Floods

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“Rain, rain go away.” It may be a children’s song, but it’s recently been sung by many adults in the Midwest. The record rainfalls have resulted in record flooding, and another opportunity for outreach.

The impacts have been most significant near First EFC of Franklin County. In Pacific, MO, (pictured), the hardest hit were those whose homes and/or businesses were nearest the downtown area. Also, areas that had never before been flooded, now have 3 feet (or more) of water.

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Pastor BW Honeycut said, “Knowing the waters were on the rise, several members of my congregation pitched in to help save a business of one of our members (and the businesses on either side of it). Together with employees (and a few complete strangers), we moved inventory to higher shelfs or onto trucks to be stored off-site.  We then joined the crew making, loading and stacking sandbags for the many homes and businesses in danger. It is impossible to calculate the number of man-hours (women and children helped also) that was invested in trying to save the community.”

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Quest EFC team engages in clean-up for one of those unsuccessful cases.

Yet, Pacific was not the only community undertaking such efforts.  All the towns along the rivers in Mississippi River Valley were working desperately, but unsuccessfully in many cases, to hold back as much of the rising waters.  The waters crested over the weekend, and today many families are starting to assess damage and determine the next steps.

Pastor BW added, “While such devastation saddens us all, as the church we should see this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ. It was a pleasure to pray with some of those on the ‘sandbag brigade,’ but more needs to be done.  There are numerous single moms and elderly citizens who will need more than our prayers in the coming days.” 

As freezing temperatures set in on the flood soaked homes, join with ReachGlobal Crisis Response, the EFCA Central District and other local EFC’s in response to this opportunity to share Christ’s love.

Pray: For families as they start to work through the long process of recovery, and for the local churches be the source of help, and light and hope for these families in need. Pray too for those not impacted by the floods to reach out to neighbors.

Give: to the flood recovery outreach and crisis response needs through ReachGlobal’s ‘Flood Response Account’ 2170-39909.

Checks payable to EFCA referencing #39909 in the memo line can be sent to: EFCA, 901 E. 78th St, Minneapolis, MN 55420

Serve:
Churches or individuals who are considering organizing teams should email crisisresponse@efca.org to be put on a list for the future long term response needs.

 
 

Community Reaching Out to the Community – Small Groups Responding to Crisis

From delivering groceries to gutting homes, members of Riverside Community Church in downtown Columbia responded immediately to needs created by the historic flooding last month. Moving forward, response efforts will center on rebuilding and sharing the gospel.

As a church of small groups, Riverside places a high value on members being on mission together, a mission that church member and retiree Frank Edson fully embraces. Frank’s spent much of his time since the flood helping those who were affected. Many who suffered loss have reached out to the church through a website set up for flood victims, www.lovecolumbia.com.

“It was an opportunity to live out the Second Commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself,” Frank said, adding that his experience working for two property managers in the past has enabled him to better assist people whose homes were damaged. “I felt like I could really be of some use. It’s helped that ReachGlobal Crisis Response is here to give us guidance, too.”

Riverside small group leader Chris Eckert said partnering with ReachGlobal Crisis Response, as well as building on relationships group members have already established, is crucial as the church responds in the coming months.

shovel“We can continue asking people in our communities, ‘How have you fared?’ We’ll discover more needs, and we can connect them to resources,” he said. Serving along with a small group, in Chris’s view, expands resources, knowledge and influence.   “What’s attractive about the gospel is the community that comes with it,” Chris said. “Going and serving in community more accurately represents who Jesus is.”

Shortly after the flood, Clay Cromer’s small group seized the opportunity to serve, too. A Riverside small group coach, Clay said he and others in his group supplied a family in a nearby neighborhood with groceries and air mattresses.   According to Clay, ministering as a small group benefits both group members and flood victims. “It bolsters relationships within the group, and when people see us responding as a group, it sends a message that we love one another.”

Although the initial relief stage has passed, small group leader Challie Monk says the need remains significant and Riverside’s poised to act. “We’re moving into the long term recovery phase, and we’re going to walk through this with people who’ve suffered,” she said.

“I love equipping people,” said Challie, who now serves as a part of the Love Columbia volunteer staff. “We’re a church of small groups loving God, loving each other and loving our community. It’s an incredible opportunity to live out the mission of our church. You don’t have to figure it out on your own.”

Some 70,000 households in South Carolina have applied for FEMA relief in the wake of the disaster, and the estimated timeframe for recovery is one to three years. Challie explained small groups have a unique opportunity to keep a faithful presence in the city’s impacted areas.

“We want to be community for those who are suffering,” she said. “We have hope and we have the example of Christ who can relate to their pain. We’re not trying to stick a band-aid on the gaping wound in their lives. We can agree it’s a wound and the Lord understands and he’s the provider.”

Partner with ReachGlobal Crisis Response in helping Riverside reach out to #Love Columbia.

Pray: For the church’s desire to be a ‘Community reaching their Community’ during the next 2-3 years of flood recovery efforts; and for the volunteers and funds to come quickly for the repair of the church facility.

Give: Donate to the church restoration and community outreach efforts.

Serve: Email respond@efca.org to send a skilled team for the church repairs or a general crisis response team (no skill required) to help with community flood response outreach.

Buy a #LoveColumbia Tee.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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