It’s encouraging and inspiring to see the impact we can make in our own backyard. Just as in every city, there is such a strong need for help and community in Orlando, and if we all unite, we can make a huge difference. Our South Street campus has provided us a loving home as we get to venture out during the day to organizations in the community. We’re serving in the name of God while deepening our relationships with those around us.
What a wonderful week we had at Highway 45 Mission Camp! Every day we served and learned and had fun!
- Monday the 4th and 5th graders served here at our church by cleaning tables, straightening hymnal racks in sanctuary and polishing pews.
- Tuesday they went to “Clean The World” and learned about recycling hotel soaps, shampoos and lotion. They helped sort the soap to be sent to help others in need.
- Wednesday they all received a book called Born to Fly from the author, Diana Scimone, who shared about being a good friend to others and choosing good friends. The children also learned about internet safety, and filled duffle bags with the supplies they donated to help foster care kids in need through the Restoration Circle Program.
- Thursday was a visit to the 2nd Harvest Food Bank to sort food and learn about their program.
- Each day ended with a fun outing: Yes, You Canvas painting, Farris & Fosters Chocolate Factory, swimming, bowling, and Friday to Coco Key Water Park!
What a great week to learn how to have a servant’s heart – and have fun doing it!
Tonight (Wednesday) we be serving at Steadfast House. Here is key info:
Steadfast House provides women a fresh start and a place to heal surrounded and supported by Christian love, trust, education and companionship. Our mission is to provide stability to homeless women and moms with children; provide personal skill building for women; provide education and training that equip women for employment and sustainable housing; provide reintegration skills and opportunities that lead to greater self-determination.
We will deliver diapers, pull-up training diapers, baby wipes, powdered laundry detergent, comforters and lap blankets. We are not sure what kind of service they will have us do until we get there (They had a long list). After serving, we will sing and share God’s love and grace through song.
On Tuesday, we visited the Brook Howell Retirement Center for retired ministers, deaconesses, and missionaries. We sang for them and then visited with the residents, giving them lap blankets provided by the sewing ministry of First Methodist Orlando.
Your Impact Singers, staff and chaperones thank you for your love, prayers and generous support to allow us to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus from FUMCWP!
On Monday we served at the Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville. They provide housing for Veteran’s who need assistance with transitional housing, medical, clothing, emotional support and job placement. They also fed approximately 200+ people 3 meals per day.
Our Impact Singers distributed Men’s T-shirts, allergy medications, and numbers of men’s tennis shoes. We cleaned and scrubbed the dining room, trash bins and prepped food for the evening meal. We then shared a meal sitting at their tables and talking with them over dinner. Following dinner we sang for them.
I have some real obsession with cakes and I don’t want to change one for Phentermine Online other. Please share your experience.
The Impact Singers Tour 2017 is going super! The kids and parents on the trip are amazing. They are being the hands and feet of Jesus in real life as they sing and serve! I know that you our congregation and parents would be so proud of them.
On Sunday we met and talked with the homeless and those in need outside the building. We then shared a meal sitting at their tables and talking with them over dinner. We distributed 60 hygiene kits, Liquid laundry detergent, Dishwasher pods, coffee grounds, garbage bags, Clorox wipes, additional Shampoo, Kleenex, and toothbrushes. We also served in their community vegetable garden, where we helped with weeding and maintenance.
That evening we sang as a part of their worship. The choir was very well received!
Tomorrow we leave. It has been an exhilarating and exhausting seven days (2 traveling, 5 in Kenya). We have met hundreds of at risk young adults. We have heard their heartbreaking stories; become friends with far too many who have had their parents die; listened to them call us their new family; and celebrated their stories of finding hope through Panua.
Before we left, our team met several times to prepare for our mission. We were not going to Kenya to build something. Or to bandage wounds. Or to run a vacation Bible school. It was to simply be present with the Panua youth. We were going to bring the hope of Christ by investing in relationships. We would show with our willingness to cross the ocean that we cared about them and were committed to walking with them in the coming years. We were going bring a ministry of presence.
There were a number of reasons for this form of mission. We didn’t want to give a hand out but a hand up. We wanted to empower the youth to take ownership of their growth. We recognized that a long term relationship of prayer and support was more effective than just coming in, doing a few things and leaving. But most of all, we realized that a ministry of presence is very Biblical.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to VISIT….’ Matthew 25:34
Truthfully, it would have been easier just building something. There is a part of me that wants to achieve something, create something, leave something tangible. I want completion. Been there, accomplished that. I found myself constantly fighting the urge to get up and do. And don’t let anyone tell you that driving over miles of rutted dusty roads, gathering with those who speak another language, opening yourself up to complete strangers, and then using all of your attention to focus on listening to a person in great need isn’t really tiring. And we did it again and again. But I am so glad we did.
On our last group visit today, there was a young lady who shared that she was sure we wouldn’t come. We were running late from visiting the previous group and she thought we just wouldn’t show. But she said, she was so thankful we HAD come. Because our PRESENCE gave her hope!
I ask you – are you bringing the hope of Christ to another? Are you investing in a relationship with them? You don’t have to go to Kenya to do that (though I certainly recommend it). There are those in our family, in our neighborhood and in our city that need your ministry of presence!
The truth is, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this trip. I have been blessed far more than I have given. I am thankful for all of you who make the Panua ministry what it is. You are blessing many through your generosity and your prayers. Finally, I am eager to continue the ministry of presence with others who need the hope of Christ. How about you? How about you?
Today we visited Sanctuary. It’s one of the slums alongside of Lake Navaisha. The people who live there come from all over Kenya in hopes of securing a job at one of the flower farms that supply cut flowers to England. Work on the flower farms does not require a lot of skill. But it is difficult and dangerous. And for almost everyone who works there, truly non-sustainable in terms of income. But for those who are desperate for work, it is better than nothing.
This particular slum is a maze of mud and rock dwellings and rutted dirt roads. There is no vegetation – no grass and literally one or two trees. Dust cakes everything. And trash blows everywhere. Donkeys, sheep, cows, chickens and dogs wander wherever they want. Because folks come from all over, many languages are spoken there. A local pastor in Sanctuary told me that ten different languages are spoken in his church! And because there are 42 different tribes in Kenya, politics are a big deal in Sanctuary. In fact, it was one of the epi-centers of the violence and destruction that accompanied the 2007 elections here.
We went to there to meet with 60 of our Panua youth. The site of our gathering was Sanctuary United Methodist Church. By “church” I mean a one room corrugated tin building with a dirt floor. Sitting in plastic chairs around the perimeter of the room we introduced ourselves one by one. And then we spent the rest of the morning getting to know one another. We listened to their stories. Learned about their living situations. Celebrated their dreams. And took messages for their sponsors. There was singing and dancing and even a Kenyan version of a conga line! And there were lots and lots of pictures. It was an incredible morning!
Three things made the morning memorable for me. First, the Kenyan youth were so gracious! In this particular community, very few have talked with someone who is skin pigment challenged. And yet, they were willing to overcome any awkwardness and embrace us as family. They wanted to know all about us and all about their sponsors. They expressed much gratitude for our willingness to come and be with them. And they begged us to come and see them again soon.
Second, they were in desperate need. They live in crippling poverty. Many of them are orphans. A good number of them live alone. A few are already parents. They have been identified as the most at risk and most in need. They are selected to participate in Panua because they have very little hope. This was brought home several times this week as a youth would ask us to please take their baby with us. Or if they could come home with us.
And yet, they are praying for you! While the number one message I heard was “thank you”, the second thing I heard most often is that they are praying for us! This blew me away! That even in their struggle they would intentionally think of us! In James 5:16 it says that we are to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, that we may be healed. I must admit I was challenged. While I frequently promise to pray for others, most of prayers center on me or on my loved ones. And yet James seems to be saying that my spiritual wholeness and health depends on praying for others.
I ask you – are you praying for others? Beyond family and friends? Are you praying for those in our church family? Are you praying for those in our community? Are you praying for those all the way around the world in Kenya? They are praying for us! So I am going to pray for them! That we may be healed! How about you? How about you?
During our time in Kenya, we are staying at a hotel on the edge of the Rift Valley. It surrounded by a lush canopy of green from yellow-barked Acacia trees. In the distance is the aqua blue of Lake Naivasha with its large population of hippopotamus. Each morning after breakfast our team gathers on the patio outside the main lodge and has devotions. As you breathe in the fresh morning air and look over the lake you cannot help but marvel over God’s creation! There is no doubt sitting there that God made the heavens and the earth! It is indeed one of the most beautiful places I have been.
However, if you were to leave the hotel and make your way down to the lake you would find yourself in one of a number of slums that have sprung up around the flower farms that supply Europe. From a distance, you can barely make out the forms of buildings. But up close you are greeted with rows and rows of mud and brick and tin sheds. Here, thousands of men, women and children, many who work at the farms, seek to exist in face of abject poverty. Many of the Panua youth we work with live in the slums around Lake Naivasha. And their setting is a jarring contrast to the comfort of the hotel and the beauty of God’s creation seen from the top of the mountain. In fact, much of our conversation this week has been about our struggle with the co-existence of such poverty and wealth, beauty and suffering.
All this has me thinking about a book I recently read about the nature of God. In particular, about the immanence and transcendence of God. God’s immanence refers to the presence of God in creation. It points to the closeness of God. God’s transcendence refers to the exalted nature of God. God is infinitely above us. His greatness is quantitatively greater than any we know. The key is to recognize that God is BOTH transcendent and immanent.
Take for example, the story of Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. As Moses approaches the bush that is burning but is not consumed, God tells him to take off his shoes for he is on holy ground. When Moses asks God for His name, God replies I am who I am! God’s name is beyond knowing by Moses. This is exalted transcendence of God! And yet God also knows who Moses is. God calls him by name. God has seen the suffering of His people in slavery. God is working to deliver them. God is immanent. Both are important. If God was not transcendent we could contain Him. And we would seek to control Him (we do that anyway). If God was not immanent, He would be indifferent. God would know nothing of who we are. And we would know little of Him.
The truth is, God did create this beautiful world. God’s handiwork is beyond imagination. And the truth is, God does know and love the people who live in the slums around Lake Naivasha. He is working to deliver them. I am not always sure how both those things fit neatly together. But I know that there is both wealth and poverty, suffering and beauty here in Naivasha. And also at home in Winter Park. So I am going to praise God for the gift of this beautiful earth. And I am going to join God in His work to deliver and restore His children! How about you? How about you?