Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
On November 30th we took a group of students to Lake Aurora Christian Retreat Center for a Fall Retreat. The name of the retreat was One Heart. My prayer for the weekend was that our youth group would grow together in unity so much that they would develop one heart. I believe that is was a huge success. On our last night I had them do something called an "affirmation circle." Basically the idea is that in our world we spend so much time focusing on the negative of people that we rarely say anything nice to them. So everybody at the retreat at one point in time had to sit in the middle of a circle and everybody in the circle had say something positive about them. It was such a great time, that even though the students were exhausted, we did the circle for three and a half hour and there was not one complaint. It was a very emotional and uplifting time for all of us.
We got back from that last Sunday, and last Monday I got back in the car and went to our staff retreat. The six pastors of NorthRidge all spent three days together at a condo in Daytona Beach. We ate a lot (restaurant called Aunt Catfish's mmmmm!), watched some football (the Ravens should have won!) had some fun, but spent most of our time working. We each had to teach about a different part of 2 Peter 1:5-7 and that was an incredible time of personal growth for me. We also went over goals for the upcoming year. I am very pleased at the direction we are going as a church, and our main goal for next year is to "Grow." It is pretty simple but the basic idea is to take our congregation from surface level knowledge to a deep rooted love and understanding of God's word. We are all going to be challenged to go through the Bible in a year and that will be amazing. I am also getting trained to be an E.E. trainer and we will be starting Evangelism Explosion in early 2008, and that will grow the church in their evangelism. And of course we are moving to two service in January, with a slightly different style of worship which will be a part of growing us numerically as well. 2008 will be an incredible year!
Finally, I wanted to share with you what I did the day after I got back from our staff retreat. I had the privilege of leading chapel at a place called H.E.A.R.T. Missionary Training Institute. www.heartmissionarytraining.com It is down a long dirt road behind Warner Southern College. This is a training ground for students who want to learn to be a missionary in a third world country. It is a three month program that they are going through. For the first month they are cut off from the outside world except for mail they receive once a week. They are forbidden electricity, running water, stoves, microwaves, etc. The site is filled with amenities that are found in a third world country. Such as the shower is a water pump pumped into a shed with a solar panel of sorts attached to it. The water goes into a five gallon bucket that has holes stabbed into it. After their one month of adjustment, they sit in a classroom for one month and learn things such as "appropriate technology." Things like how to get water to a village that has no water, how to weave clothes, and how to grow your food. And then in the last month the students become the teachers, and they have to prove that they have learned enough to go overseas by showing projects and doing the daily duties that the instructor would normally do.
I met a lot of students who have a heart for going to places of the world that have not heard the Gospel. I felt very honored to have been a very small part of their lives, and I will be excited to get to Heaven and learn just how many people they reached with the message because of the H.E.A.R.T. Missionary Training Institute. Please keep them in prayer.