January 27, 2017
Local ministries supported by Austin Christian Fellowship (ACF) were recently invited to a meeting. There were about 80 people in the room. I have been to local ministry meetings before, but never anything as awesome as this!
First, we worshiped together. Nothing feeds my soul better than a mid-week worship. If you see me and I’m down, invite me to a worship service. Always a pick-me-up!
Next, Sr. Pastor Will (a pastor in the church… not the pastor of the church) gave us an inspirational message that resonated with, “Thank you!” He provided scriptures that reminded us we are called into God’s Holy purpose and that ACF is in partnership with us. He reminded us that we must not be in competition but be brothers and sisters alongside one another. And he reminded us that even though we are just being obedient to God’s call on our lives to live in daily ministry, God the Father honors us for doing so. It’s a crazy thing to think about.
Will did lay down a few challenges to us: Pray more; Build out faster; Give away even some of our money. Will said he’s never yet heard from God, “Hey, that’s enough praying. Stop that.” Good point. He also said that he’s discovered that when we focus on building outward, God focuses on building inward on us so we are able to do what we have planned outwards. Quite encouraging! And then Will said we should all consider tithing even with our donated funds. Finding someone to build into ourselves. Wow! We ask our staff to volunteer 1% of their time at another organization just to learn and give. I’ve been considering how we could donate to some other-country solution for the equivalent of our clients. But I never considered giving 10% away. What would that look like? How would God respond?
Then we had a really special gift. ACF loves local mission and nonprofits so much they have partnered with Mission Capital to create a non-profit training program for faith-based ministries. Once this program is out of pilot, ministries will no longer have to struggle with translating secular terms and best practices into church environments. And just to get things started, ACF has arranged to give each ministry they support $750 scholarship at Mission Capital for training in 2017! These are just super exciting things.
Finally, they put us at tables and asked us to network. SYM sat next to someone who might be able to find me a mentor (I’ve been looking for a while). SYM met a group who goes into juvenile detention centers and does prevention work. We’ve been toying with how to do this, but together I’m sure we’ll have a better solution. And we were at the table with a brand new free clinic. We no longer have a free clinic option for our clients so this was welcome news!
It was a fantastic way to love me. I so appreciate it. I repeated much of the content to my staff so they would feel loved. And I’m going to share it with church partners because I’ve never seen quite this approach. I think it was awesome! Way to go, God!
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August 17, 2013
I was walking on our Friday mini-mission trip with a volunteer talking. I saw someone I thought I recognized about a half-block up. I suggested that the volunteer allow me to approach the person alone because the person I thought I recognized is sometimes very angry.
I couldn’t have been more mistaken about who I saw. The musical 6 foot 8 young man grinned ear to ear and shouted, “Well hello, Terry! I was hoping to see you! You probably don’t remember me, but I’m Jason.” I could hardly believe what I was seeing.
For you see, it was the same man outwardly, but there was nothing the same about him. He was peaceful, happy, and full of joy. He told me where he had been for the past year or so and why he was traveling and street-dependent again. He gratefully took a few things and bragged about how he tells everyone what great work we do, wherever he goes. And then he said goodbye.
I stopped him and asked about his faith, because I had a hunch. Sure enough, he told me he had hit rock bottom about a year ago and have found a new life in Christ! I asked if I could give him a hug and he grinned ear to ear and dropped his pack to the ground. I once again feared for my safety as he bear-hugged me. Thankfully no ribs were cracked. What a wonderful difference faith makes.
We cannot fix anyone, but faith can cure anything through God. We are so happy to see someone find their way home to Christ’s loving arms.
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