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IN THIS ISSUE 20 14 12 8 5 Concerns You Might Have About Short Term Missions Trips And Why They Shouldn’t Stop You From Going, Even In A Global Pandemic The World Needs Jesus Now
The Wait Is Over: Welcome Sam Cassese! Sand Dunes And Boardwalks: Reflections From Sabbatical
ABOUT THE COVER The message of the gospel has never been more imperative as we find ourselves in a world that is growing increasingly more volatile. Each person is uniquely loved and created by God. The eyes and smiles on this cover represent who we are trying to share the good news of Jesus with, while the glitched distortion represents how the chaos of our world makes communication difficult and easily misconstrued.
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BAY AREA LEADERSHIP
EDITOR Abbie Hoekstra
Barry Willhite Bill Plenge Bill Smith Chris Heacock Don Wiley Greg St. Cyr Horacio Tablada John Taylor Ken Gilmore Kyle Sponaugle Merrill Hoekstra Peter Godfrey Rich Heath Steve Youtsey Stu Cooper Tom Dalpini
Abbie Hoekstra, Communications Director – firstname.lastname@example.org Allen Smith, Missional Communities Pastor – email@example.com Brent Squires, Student Ministry Pastor – firstname.lastname@example.org Brian Hopper, Annapolis Campus Pastor – email@example.com Greg St. Cyr, Lead Pastor – firstname.lastname@example.org Jason Barthelemy, Odenton Campus Pastor – email@example.com Jeff Supp, Executive Pastor of Operations – firstname.lastname@example.org Jocelyn Sacks, Serving Director – email@example.com Jonathan Madrid, Worship Leader – firstname.lastname@example.org Josh (Burgi) Burgin, Creative Director – email@example.com Kristin Collins, Annapolis Children’s Ministry Director – firstname.lastname@example.org Leanne Lane, Care Network Director – email@example.com Megan Heath, Women’s Ministry Director – firstname.lastname@example.org Michele Rollins, Short Term Missions Director – email@example.com Sam Cassese, Easton Lead Pastor – firstname.lastname@example.org
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Josh (Burgi) Burgin PHOTO EDITOR Arianne Teeple LEAD DESIGNER Jake Williams CONTRIBUTORS Brian Hopper Don Wiley Michele Rollins Kyle Sacks Casely Essemuah Keith Riniker
For a comprehensive list of all Bay Area staff, elders and deacons, please visit bayareacc.org/ourteam. COVER ART BY Josh (Burgi) Burgin
We appreciate your comments and questions. Please email us at email@example.com and a staff member or elder will respond within 48 hours.
GIVING AT BAY AREA
PHILOSOPHY OF GENEROSITY
The financial generosity of our church family helps fuel our mission of making passionate, maturing followers of Jesus from here to the nations. Every gift is used to resource our ongoing ministries at our three campuses, and support dozens of local and global missions partners who are reaching people with the gospel around the world.
If you would like to give, you can do so at bayareacc.org/give, or by mailing a check to our Annapolis Campus (884 Chesterfield Road, Annapolis, MD 21401). Please be sure to include your campus designation on all gifts.
Want to learn how to manage your finances God’s way? Read our Philosophy of Generosity at bayareacc.org/give to discover what the Bible says about how we can steward our finances in a way that honors God.
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LETTER FROM THE LEAD
HIS MERCY FLOWS I N WAV E A F T E R WAV E O N T H O S E W H O A R E I N AW E BEFORE HIM. LUKE 1:50 (MSG) 4 GO&MAKE S P R I N G 2 02 1
I have a gravitational pull to ocean waves. Last month while in Ghana celebrating the ministry of long-time global mission partner, Kwame Adu with Scripture Union, I couldn’t resist the beautiful South Atlantic Ocean waves along the coastline. Here is a picture of me, Keith Riniker (one of our elders), and Casely Essamuah (our former mission pastor and current director of Global Christian Forum) as we enjoy an evening listening to the waves pound the shoreline. Our church has the overwhelming joy of seeing God’s wave blow across the lives of thousands of Ghanaian teens every year which is changing the nation!
waves are formed. Waves don’t create energy. They merely transmit it. The wind is the originator and source of the energy. In the Bible, the word for “wind” is the same word for “spirit”. It is God’s Spirit, blowing like wind over the water of our lives, that is the source of power. That’s why I often claim Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit (Wind), says the Lord of Hosts.” When I walk the beach, see the waves, and feel the wind, I think of the power of God’s Spirit blowing over us. 2020 was such a hard year for all. But since midDecember - in spite of ongoing political, economic and pandemic issues - I’ve sensed a fresh wave of God’s Spirit pouring over us as a church.
From Ghana, Keith and I flew to Kenya to meet up with Mark McGeever, our Sent Network director. Together we spent time with a remarkable young leader, Gideon Banda. God has raised up Gideon and his wife Joy, to catalyze a church planting movement in Kenya. And of course, while in Mombasa, the waves called again. This time to the breathtaking beaches of the Indian ocean. Why my love for waves? It’s one of the places I can truly relax and hear from God. And because it is a metaphor of the power of God coming upon us. As the wind blows across the surface of the water,
The Spirit is at work in our gatherings. Over 1,000 people have registered for and are reading A Chapter A Day and many are listening to the Chapter A Day podcast. Prayer is elevated. People are reaching out to neighbors. Our students are connecting and growing. The upcoming “Souls Conference” in March will transform many to live as “sent ones.” Children are creatively being discipled. The Lord recently brought our new lead pastor for Easton, Sam Cassese, as we make plans to launch Easton as an independent church this fall. Sent Network has planted 26 churches and expanded into a new region. Our community outreach team faithfully serves the poor. Issues of racial justice are being seriously discussed. Our ministries from Russia to India to Belize to Southeast Asia are helping disciple the nations. God continues to sustain the ministry goals through faithful giving. We are currently pursuing both a global mission pastor and a teaching pastor to advance His kingdom. And much more. I write all this because I want you to be encouraged. Though COVID lingers and challenges remain, the Wind of God’s Spirit is blowing afresh over His people at Bay Area. Surf’s up! Big waves are coming! Join me today in believing God to do awesome things in and through each of us.
From here to the nations,
G S T. CY
Greg St. Cyr is the lead pastor at Bay Area Community Church and a regular contributor to GO&MAKE.
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Learning In A Global Pandemic ELDER REFLECTION
OVID-19 is pure pestilence, and we dare not speak lightly of it. To do so is to dishonor the many grieving lost loved ones around our
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nation and world. But it is appropriate to ask; what are we learning from it? The purposes of a pandemic may not be for us to know this side of heaven. Most of
us, however, can articulate some of the fruitful realizations that the awful shock of this pestilence has brought us.
Here are four that stand out:
We are creatures.
We believe what we experience.
“Know ye that the LORD, He is God; it is He that made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100). We are truly not selfsufficient, and the pandemic soberly reminds us that we must look to God for life, breath and daily protection
We think we believe science, we may say we believe the testimony of others, but at the end of the day, what we believe most is the thing we experience. And
We are not in control.
unfortunately, the converse is often true. We find it very easy to disbelieve what we haven’t yet experienced. This is a sobering revelation of 2020.
We need, but do not always love, our neighbors.
The truth is, of course, We never were. But COVID has shown us just how powerless we are and how easily our plans can collapse. James strongly rebuked those in the early church who made plans as though they themselves were God: “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance . . .” (James 4:14-16). COVID has reminded us to submit all our plans humbly to God.
We are made for relationships and intended for community, and the isolation COVID has brought to our society has been one of its most painful effects! Many of us have longed to reconnect, despite the “approach/avoid” tension that proximity brings. Even walking through our neighborhoods and seeing others pass by at distance has proven surprisingly life-giving! At the same time, we’re also seeing how far we won’t go
for the sake of our neighbor. We struggle to wear masks when we don’t feel the need, even if others do. We chafe at the loss of personal freedom when our favorite establishments are shut down, or other restrictions are put on us by our leaders. Is this not a sad reminder of our strong preference to do what we want? Cain’s sarcastic question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” in Genesis 4 begs a ‘yes’ answer that we don’t always want to give.
It’s now a new year, but COVID is not yet behind us. But we can now foresee a time when, by the grace of God, we’ll find it safe to draw near to one another again. And with that, there is great hope for a revival of love. Perhaps this is a final lesson we will learn.
Presence heals. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us …” How we need intimacy with others, including all the degrees of it: hearing, seeing and, what Zoom cannot offer, touching one another. John gladly reported having had such intimacy with the Lord Jesus: “what we have heard, what we’ve seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of life” - that’s what the Lord allowed us to do, even to put our doubting hands
in His side and to become truly believing! And being with each other in the flesh, present and listening and eventually safely touching, can give that. As we draw safely near to one another
DON WILE Y
again soon, may we prize one another all the more, and prioritize fellowship with God and one another— so that, as John also said, “our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4, 2 John 12).
Don Wiley is an elder at Bay Area Community Church and a regular contributor to GO&MAKE
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SAND DUNES + BOARDWALKS REFLECTIONS FROM SABBATICAL
his past summer while on sabbatical, I went on vacation with my extended family. From our rented house in the Outer Banks, there was a long boardwalk that led to the beach. Every day before the sun torched the sand, we would haul our chairs, blankets and coolers down this lengthy walkway to claim our spot on the beach. The problem was that about 30 feet from the house, the boardwalk disappeared into a huge, mounded sand dune. So every time you went to the
beach or back to the house you had to climb this thing back and forth, up and down. It was exhausting. By the third day - I was done with this dune. And that was exactly what the Lord was patiently waiting for. Inside the house was an aerial photograph of the property and you could see the owners had gone to great lengths to build this long walkway. I don’t know how long ago
that photo was taken, but the once clear path was now mostly covered by sand. Over the years through storms and wind, the dunes built up, and rather than push the sand back each year to keep the walkway clear, the owners just let the sand gather. Tired of the daily climb, I took a shovel to dig out the walkway. Yep, on vacation with all my family, in the hot August sun. I’m sure there was some law I was breaking about the dunes
or something, but the thought of that wood walkway buried beneath all of that sand would not leave my mind. I couldn’t get out of my head that there was a straight, direct path buried down there somewhere. Under the cool shade of his beach umbrella, my brother was watching me from afar. After a few minutes, he approached, mocking me for this insane decision. I explained to him why I felt compelled to dig out the boardwalk. My brother, who works outside building decks for a living, adamantly refused to help me. He thought I was delusional. He also didn’t believe that the boardwalk extended all the way from the house to the beach. Given our competitive natures, we needed to know who was right.
ever met. My brother came to faith many years ago and has had a relationship with Jesus that, for the last decade or so, didn’t involve churches or being around a community of believers. The hardships of life have taken a toll on him which has caused his faith in Jesus to diminish. Believing God for good things when so much of your life is straddled with challenges can undermine a strong faith in God, His power and presence in a person’s life. As we were talking and digging, my brother admitted that he struggled with his faith. He shared with me that after all these years and all the things he’d done wrong, he wondered whether he still mattered to God. There, kneeling in the sand under the hot sun with a shovel in his hand and tears in his eyes, my brother opened up about years and years of living according to the world’s ways - trying to manage his family, struggles he’s had in marriage, and even the deeper personal issues of self-doubt, value and worth. His heart was plagued and sadness had taken over. The sense of distance from God and the shame from all he had done was coming to the surface of his life. Listening to him caused me to reflect on my own life and, though I felt closer to God, it led me to share with him my own brokenness and shortcomings. Together, we had a moment in tears.
“ Believing God for good things when so much of your life is straddled with challenges can undermine a strong faith in God, His power and presence in a person’s life.”
As we’re digging, we’re talking. Our conversation progressed from talking about life, our families and jobs, to how we are doing personally. And we both began to admit that there are some deep wounds in our lives, and how we both want to do better as men, as husbands and as fathers. In that moment it occurred to me that all of this digging is really a spiritual picture for me and my brother. Jesus was using this to reveal something to my brother and me about Him, and about us.
IAN HOP P
I love my brother. He’s one of the hardest working, funniest people I’ve
Still not convinced the boardwalk extended to the beach, my brother and I chose a deeper spot further up and began digging straight down to see how far we had to go before reaching the wood planks. And after several more minutes of digging and talking, the shovel struck wood. We hit the boardwalk. Deep down under all this sand, the boardwalk was
So now it’s me and my brother, on vacation, in the hot sun, middle of the day, digging out a boardwalk. It only took about 20 minutes before we were dripping in sweat and exhausted. Worse yet, we’d only cleared about two feet of the walkway!
still there. At this revelation, my brother just broke down and wept, and we brothers hugged it out. It was right then that the Lord gave me this picture. Here we were, standing on a huge hill of sand. Layers upon layers built up over the years, slowly covering the walkway beneath. Not only hiding the boardwalk, but even causing a guy to question whether it had ever existed at all! I shared with my brother this image God was giving me in the moment: the sand represents what has happened to him and his faith all these years. Sin and brokenness have been allowed to slowly pile up, with the aggregate effect of an inability to see (or believe in) the boardwalk of your faith. Jesus and His presence have disappeared under the smothering effect of the sand. But beneath it all, when we cut through all the mess, really dig deeply with sweat and persistence, Jesus is still there. My brother’s faith is still there, not lost. And Jesus is not gone. Like unburying the pathway, all we need to do is come to Him and He immediately removes ALL the sand. Like a giant bulldozer in one fell swoop - he takes all the layers of sin and brokenness away from our lives, revealing the boardwalk of faith that lies beneath. We both just stood there in awe at this image, and stopped to thank God for this truth. Jesus forgives and never leaves us. No matter what. This moment had a tremendous impact on me and my brother, and I’ve thought about it many times since. It has given us both hope and faith as we’ve moved forward. I often wonder how this scene looked to my family down on the beach seeing us on top of a giant sand dune, digging, kneeling, crying and rejoicing. What I do know is, Jesus was watching us that day and as we dug deep, He shined His grace upon both of us. The Boardwalk is still there. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’” Luke 5:20
Brian Hopper is the Annapolis Campus pastor at Bay Area Community Church and is a regular contributor to GO&MAKE
ANNAPOLIS CAMPUS PASTOR
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H EL E R OL
“ I Just Feel So Full On Mission” ydia Willhite is a senior at Broadneck High School and in many ways she’s like any other seventeen-year-old: navigating virtual school, spending time with friends, and thinking about what’s next after high school. But for the last seven or eight years, Lydia has been on a journey of discovering God’s heart for the nations – a heart that led her, this past November, to Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon with one of Bay Area’s short-term missions teams.
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When Lydia was nine or ten, her dad Barry traveled to India. The Willhites have always instilled a heart to serve in their children – and when Barry returned with stories and photos of serving children in India, the experience awakened something in their oldest daughter. A few years later, Lydia and her dad traveled to Belize together. More recently, Lydia returned to Belize with Bay Area Student Ministry (BASM) and also served in El Salvador with the BASM student leadership team. Each time, she fell in love with the people and took steps of faith that helped her grow in her relationship with Jesus. Two years ago, the inaugural SOULS World Missions Conference marked another formative moment in Lydia’s life. Keynote speaker Todd Ahrend shared a map of the world, with each red dot representing an unreached people group – a community of people where there are few, if any, followers of Jesus. Red dots were splattered across much of the world – and then there was India. “India was just solid red. I was crying. That’s when I was like, ‘This is a calling,’” Lydia remembered. It would take two more years until Lydia had the opportunity to travel to serve an unreached people group – and it would be in Lebanon, not India. As Lydia considered this past summer’s trips, God had something new in store for her. So, last winter Lydia and her parents approached me about the summer’s missions opportunities. One of my greatest joys as Bay Area’s Short Term Missions Director is helping people navigate how God might be leading them – and with lots of prayer and the heartfelt approval of Lydia’s parents and the missionaries that we work alongside in Lebanon, we planned for Lydia to take a month-long trip to Lebanon, where she would live with the Todd family and experience life on mission in the Middle East, serving Syrian refugees. Then COVID-19 struck the globe, and international travel came to a halt.
Lydia waited, patiently. When an opportunity arose to travel to Lebanon and serve refugees on a short-term team – alongside four adults and four other teenagers – Lydia jumped onboard. I asked her what concerns she and her parents had about traveling amidst COVID-19. There were questions, of course, and precautions, but ultimately it was a sense of calling that propelled Lydia forward. “If God’s calling me somewhere, who am I to doubt that? He has a plan for that, and whatever happens is his plan – so I have peace in that, and I have faith that he’s going to
“ If God’s calling me somewhere, who am I to doubt that? carry me through whatever he calls me to.” Her team prepared, planned and prayed together, and in early November they arrived in Tyre, Lebanon to share the gospel with women and children through crafts, stories, art, and – most importantly – love. I think what inspires me the most from Lydia’s story is her faithfulness. She simply said yes to God – even when things were uncertain, even when His plans and His timing didn’t line up with her plans. And that’s something we can all do – take small steps of faithfulness to say yes to God, wherever He leads – to our neighbors or to the nations. What would it look like for you to say ‘yes’ to God? What might He be calling you to? My prayer is that Lydia’s story would inspire you to remember His faithfulness today.
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IE HOEK S TR
The Wait Is Over
dopted into a Christian home at age three, Sam Cassese said, “I was a lucky one; I was brought into faith and it became my own at an early age. I always had a very real sense of the Lord’s nearness.” As he got older, he felt pulled toward leadership in the church. Initially he thought he would pursue a career as a middle school band director,
While Sam did not go on to pursue a career as a middle school band director, the desire to pour into kids was still there. After graduating from Zion Bible College, Sam served as a youth pastor for over eight years in Vancouver, WA, all the while coaching middle school track on the side. Oh, and his middle school band director went on to be a groomsman in Sam’s wedding. After eight years of ministry in Vancouver, Sam started feeling a stirring from the Lord that it was time to move on. He felt the Lord telling him that He had been preparing Sam during those eight and a half years to lead. Admittedly, this was a little difficult for him because he thought he would be in Washington forever. But Sam said, “It felt like God was saying, ‘Sam, I had you in this tremendous environment so that I could send you out to lead.’” With the desire from his wife Jordann to head back East toward family, they started praying and searching for jobs. One day, Jordann found this posting from a church on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that was looking for a lead pastor. Something leapt out at Sam and he started checking out Bay Area’s website. When I asked him what first stood out to him, he said right off the bat, “community. This was a church that did things. You don’t just go to church; you are the church.” Next was the approachability of our leaders, citing Greg and Mary Kaye’s anniversary video where Greg mentioned how “pastor” isn’t his first name. Just after that were global missions and investment in the next generation. Ultimately, it was
then go into ministry later. We paused here to address the “middle school” and “band director” qualifiers that he breezed by (largely because of my confusion and shock), in which he described how middle school was such a formative time because he was surrounded by teachers who “changed the trajectory of
what Bay Area Easton was looking for as a church that values preaching and a pastor that would lead them through Missional Communities that felt like a fit to Sam. So he reached out, applied and soon accepted the role. Long awaited and prayed for, Sam Cassese was hired as the new Lead Pastor of Bay Area Easton.
[his] life.” Sam recalled a time when his own middle school band teacher pointed to the band major on stage and said, “that’s going to be you up there one day.” Sam saw that come to fruition by his sophomore year of high school. “I am who I am because of the mentors and teachers that the Lord has put in my life,” he said.
I’m excited to lead a church that doesn’t have a building just yet because it helps us to remember that church is not just a place that we go to... it’s a people,”
How is Sam approaching his vision for Easton? By asking: “Why did God plant this church in this community? What is he trying to accomplish for His Kingdom?” Through prayer and fellowship with God, he is already starting to get bits and pieces. As the pieces come together, he believes the church can be mobilized even more significantly for the Kingdom. Sam’s dream for Bay Area Easton is that God would be glorified, “the fame of Jesus Christ spread over the Eastern Shore.” For that to happen, he says, “We gotta feed the sheep.” His life verse is found in Colossians 1:28-29: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Sam says, “The Lord has lent me His bride to get ready for the wedding day.” It’s important that the bride is growing holy, blameless and above reproach. And lastly, Sam wants Easton to be a church that seeks the welfare of the city. To the Bay Area Easton family specifically, Sam says this: “We are the
church. I’m excited to lead a church that doesn’t have a building just yet because it helps us to remember that church is not just a place that we go to... it’s a people, and we are infiltrating this community – we are diffusing the gospel through our workplaces and our neighboring.” When he’s not at work or preaching on Sundays, you can find Sam playing chess or ultimate frisbee, deep in a good book, or hosting people at his house. He and his wife love having people over for food and fellowship, and I’m sure as restrictions continue to lessen, they may just invite you over. As Sam, Jordann and their three kids continue to settle in, join us in praying for them: that Sam would settle into his new role, that their family would settle into their new home, for good relationships and favor in the community, for their kids to acclimate well, and for protection from spiritual warfare. Welcome to the family, Sam! We’re so glad you’re here and are excited to see what God does in Easton through you and His church.
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EY ESSE M UA
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ever the world needed Jesus, it is now! We can neither govern ourselves or care for our neighbor. Our systems that have stood the test of time seem to crumble under the weight of sin. What we thought was utterly dependable is no longer reliable. Our philosophies that discounted evil have no answer for these developments. It is to God’s Word we turn to for illumination and guidance. If the world ever needed Jesus, it is now! And the good news is that Jesus is not only for our personal salvation but also to reign in our society as a whole. One of my favorite Christmas passages is from Isaiah’s prophecy that says “the government shall be upon his shoulder” (9:6c).
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COVID AND MISSIONS All of our world has been upended by COVID. I know of no one who wanted to stay in 2020. All of us suffered massive disruptions in our lives, and some of us even paid the ultimate price of losing loved ones. This pandemic reminds us all of our common humanity, and that a minuscule virus that cannot be detected by the human eye can still wreak havoc everywhere in the world. It respected no boundaries of race, color, wealth or access to health facilities. In 2020, the world also started to awaken to the racial fault lines that have undergirded public engagement and discourse for a long time. For those who are discerning, COVID offered a timely opportunity to engage on spiritual issues – what is our life? Is there life beyond the grave and why does that matter? Questions like these
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“ EVERYONE WHO LIVES AND BREATHES ON THIS PLANET IS AN OBJECT OF A HEAVENLY FATHER’S LOVE.” find answers in the Bible. Many of us whose mental health equilibrium was disturbed by stay-at-home restrictions soon discovered that a walk with Jesus is the ultimate anti-depressant. For some of us, the pandemic offered a new opportunity to serve others. It is still during this season of a global pandemic and uncertainty that the words of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel continue to ring in our ears: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And
surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (28:18-20) All authority, All nations, Everything and Always. The God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that none may perish, and that all may have eternal life, invites us as we go on mission with Him. Our audience is clear – all nations. In other words, everyone who lives and breathes on this planet is an object of a heavenly father’s love. And when we go, our subject matter for conversation and dialogue is everything that God has revealed in the Scriptures – how we have learned of God through the Bible, and how our own lives
have been transformed by the God of the Bible. Our personal testimony is our witness. Our stories carry much weight as we make God’s Word come alive for others. That is why the discipleship method of A Chapter a Day For The Rest of Your Life is such a significant key to Christian growth and formation – leading us as we read to be more Christ-like each year. When are we to do so? Is the age of missions not over? The answer here is very clear – NO, we go until Jesus returns, “to the very end of the age.” How do we even begin to think of global travel during a time of pandemic? What may be ordinarily scary for some people is now almost impossible. And that is an undeniable fact that we have to live with. May I humbly suggest the following as we look to the Lord and His heart for the nations during this global pandemic.
First, let us take every opportunity to LEARN as much about the world as we can. How are our brothers and sisters in India, South Sudan, Ghana and Uganda coping with COVID? What are the ways that they are bearing witness to the transforming power of the gospel under COVID restrictions? That knowledge can then lead, secondly, to informed PRAYER. Praying always prepares our hearts for the next level, which is, thirdly, INITIATED ENGAGEMENT. Reach out and connect with someone in another part of the world and see how the Lord would use that outreach to enrich others and ourselves. Fourth, ask God how you can FINANCIALLY SUPPORT global missions. No matter how difficult our circumstances have been, many in our world live on less than we spend on a cup of a coffee a day, and our financial support can go a long way in alleviating suffering around the world. The fifth, and
“ HOW DO WE EVEN BEGIN TO THINK OF GLOBAL TRAVEL DURING A TIME OF PANDEMIC?”
granted that this may not be for everyone this season, but for some, there will be the possibility to GO. Yes, COVID protocols will be stringently observed, and extra care will be taken, but there are places in the world where we can go and serve alongside others. Is the Lord calling you to go, especially this season? Impossible it may sound to you, but may I remind you of the first ALL – all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Do you believe that – really – and does that motivate you to learn, pray, reach out, support and, if so led, GO? If you are wondering about all of this – how do I engage globally in the midst of this changing world we live in? – then you won’t want to miss the SOULS World Missions Conference on March 6. Keynote speaker Ed Stetzer will inspire, challenge and equip us to reach a volatile world with the good news of Jesus. Join us in person or, new this year, tune in online for a day of worship, teaching and prayer. Casely Essamuah, serves as Secretary, Global Christian Forum, and from 20052018, served as Global Missions Pastor of Bay Area Community Church.
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E K Y L S AC K Y
THE COMMUNITY PIPELINE
And then he met Chaplain Matt Weems. Chaplain Weems was a bright light in a dark place. Scott got involved with a daily Bible study led by the chaplain and it changed his life. He went from feeling lost to feeling home. All Scott wanted to do was be with people who desire Jesus.
As the deployment ended, Scott was nervous to re-enter the world. The USS America, for all its downsides, had become a safe space with a Christian community that he depended on. To make things more difficult, Scott returned home in March of 2020. The world he left was not the world he returned to. Think about how disorienting it would be to come back from months at sea to months (and months) of quarantine. Scott’s Bay Area journey didn’t start at Bay Area. It didn’t even start in Annapolis, but in Pensacola, FL. After bouncing around the country throughout the spring, he was living in a Florida apartment so small he had to cook everything in a crockpot. No friends, no community, and little hope of finding any with the country shut down.
A friend had taken Scott to Bay Area once during his years at the Naval Academy. It left a mark. Scott knew he was getting stationed in Annapolis next, so as he sat in Pensacola, cooking another crockpot meal, he started watching the gatherings. One of the things that struck him was seeing people his age on screen, like Abbie Hoekstra and Jocelyn Sacks. This was the community he had on the ship, and desperately longed to have again. After moving to Annapolis, he reached out through the “Are you new?” button on the website. Jocelyn was his contact. Next he found out that a friend from his Academy days was living in Annapolis. They started watching the gathering together every Sunday and attended a Bay Area picnic, an event held in the fall of 2020 to help people connect during COVID. Maybe community was possible during a pandemic.
a long-term discipleship community at Bay Area. I’d never heard of Scott Serrato, but I was feeling called, along with my wife and a couple friends, to lead a Connect Group for young adults. I wanted to be with other believers, to help the church connect members during the worst possible conditions for connection. Also I was tired of sitting in my house. Scott told me that when he saw a young adult group was available, he registered for it three times waiting to hear back. It was exactly what he was looking for. Our group met for the first
me, “Tuesday nights have become more exciting than Friday or Saturday.” If you’ve been doing your Chapter a Day reading, you’ve recently read Genesis 2 where God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God designed us to be in community. That’s one of the main reasons that
Scott was excited to have found a church home—one he had never set foot in—but was feeling like he had plateaued in his ability to connect. This is where I enter the story. Please, hold your applause. One of the ways that Bay Area is fostering community during this season of distance is through Connect Groups. These are eightweek groups that meet in person to study topics like the gospel, community, discipleship, family, service and evangelism. The goal of a Connect Group is for everyone to be placed into
time in Rob and Kayleigh Vaughn’s backyard, maskedup, and huddled around fire pits. It was cold, and it was dark, but Scott had finally found community during a pandemic. Sometimes our Connect Group goes deep on The Good Samaritan and sometimes we debate which Christmas movie is the most overrated (it’s A Christmas Story). Scott, along with his bone-dry sense of humor, is a central part of anything we’re doing. He immediately started a text thread to plan game nights. Within a few weeks, the group had found a rhythm that felt like home. Scott told
2020 has been such a trial. Social distancing is vitally important for this season, but it’s not how God intended us to live. I might be biased, but I think you should join a Connect Group. King David writes in Psalm 133, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head.” I’ve never had oil poured on my head, but if it’s as great as going to my Connect Group, I say bring on the oil. Oh and Scott has still never attended an in-person gathering. He looks forward to going.
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ITH RI NI K ER
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5 Concerns You Might Have About Short Term Missions Trips And Why They Shouldn’t Stop You From Going, Even In A Global Pandemic I was growing up, my younger sister felt that God might be calling her to be a missionary in Africa. I was terrified! Not for her (haha!) but that God might also call me to live in a hut with a dirt floor! Fast forward 35 years and I just made a trip, willingly and
with great anticipation, alongside Greg St. Cyr to Ghana and Kenya during COVID. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to return. If we went during COVID, why shouldn’t you consider going this summer, or next, when travel is easier? P.S. I’m a slightly
OCD, hyper-organized, neat-freak and not a professional missionary like Greg, so if I can do it then you can too. Here are some questions I had before going that maybe you have as well. I hope after you reading you might consider going, too!
Is it safe? We were safe and secure the entire time because of our hosts. Think about it, there are some unsafe places near us - Baltimore and D.C. - that we don’t take our visitors. [True story: Recently I was working in an area of Baltimore, and when an FBI friend heard the location he told me not to go back without him calling in an escort for me]. We don’t take our visitors to unsafe places
and the same holds true when we visit our Global Partners in Africa. The places we went, and the places you’d go on a short term trip, are very safe. Of course not all of Africa is safe, but don’t lump all of Africa together - it’s a really big place. Take a step back and look at the U.S. from the world’s perspective and you’ll see that we, here in America, have some unsafe stuff going on as well.
Can I eat the food? Yes, just don’t drink the water. Our African friends only drink bottled water. We ate rice, chicken, fruit, cooked veggies and salad at almost every
meal. We even had french fries a few times. If you are finicky, just don’t take the goat stew (unless of course you want some extra missionary points).
Will I get Malaria or some other disease? Ghana and Kenya are in a Malaria endemic area so you have to get a yellow fever shot before you go and take medication while you are there. I never saw a mosquito while I was there and didn’t
even get a bug bite, and we slept with the windows open and ceiling fans on. I’d say there are more mosquitoes in my yard in Annapolis! Take adequate precautions and you’ll be fine.
I need my creature comforts. The toilets flush, the beds are comfortable, people and places smell good and are clean. So, you aren’t really going too far out of your comfort zone. Our African hosts are not poor. They might not be as wealthy as the average Annapolitian, but they are highly educated,
English speakers that dress like westerners. Although facilities and homes look different because of the culture and climate, the places you will stay are modern, clean and comfortable. The long airplane trip was the most uncomfortable part of the trip for me!
Africans are so poor and destitute, am I going to feel guilty? God has shown incredible favor and goodness to His children at Bay Area Community Church, and has blessed us with riches, comforts and conveniences. Go with an attitude of thankfulness to Him and a desire to be a blessing to others with the blessings we have been given. The depth of poverty is much greater in Africa than what you’ll probably see here in the U.S. In contrast to America where we tend to ‘create’ zones or areas where poor live, in Africa you see the poor, middle class and wealthy in nearby spaces. You might experience some culture shock but allow the Lord to turn that into compassion. Couldn’t we all use
more compassion? And I mean compassion not derived from the disconnected guilt of a T.V. infomercial, but compassion derived from a desire to share the only true and lasting hope. Our only hope in life and death is that we are not our own, but belong body and soul to Jesus - as the catechism rightly says. In Africa, the hope of the gospel often first penetrates with good deeds, and our partners in Africa are more concerned about their poor and know how to help better than we do. This exposure and experience leads to compassion that is connected to people that can make a difference - a difference with good deeds and then with the real hope of Jesus.
Okay, so...why go? In Ghana, our friends in Scripture Union are sharing the lifegiving, soul-satisfying message of hope in Jesus Christ to high school students. We Americans, when we share the platform with the staff of Scripture Union Ghana, bring an inexplicably high level of credibility and curiosity in the message we share with African students. When we are there, they pay attention and many respond to the good news and hope of the gospel.
Besides going for the sake of the gospel, also come because you’ll be encouraged! Everyone I met was so joyful, kind and thankful that we came. Who wouldn’t enjoy a reception like that? Come, develop a deeper compassion for the poor and the lost, be part of God’s grand plan for the nations, grow closer to Jesus, be a blessing to others, experience adventure, grow in thankfulness, and experience the joy of being with your adopted family - the family of God.
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CARE NETWORK DIRECTOR
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t the end of February, Leanne Lane is retiring from staff at Bay Area. Many of you may know her as our Care Network Director, a role she has filled for fourteen years. As the Care Network Director, she is responsible for providing confidential care for Bay Area family members as they face the many trials of life. While you may be familiar with her in this role, the scope of her reach extends far beyond her job description. I’ll admit out front that I don’t even have a complete grasp on all that she does, and the following list won’t begin to brush the surface. But I wanted to take a moment to recognize a member of our family who has worked faithfully for the Lord, both in her personal life and on staff. Leanne and her husband Doug started attending Bay Area in the 90’s when we were still at Annapolis High School. Before joining staff, she volunteered for three years in the Care Network.
“ T HIS CHURCH IS BUILT ON THE DOUGS AND LEANNES OF THE WORLD.” As a certified counselor with a Master’s Degree and connections across the social work and counseling communities, Leanne’s fourteen years on staff have
led to hundreds of people receiving the care they need. Whether you are someone who has lost a loved one, are the primary caregiver for a loved one, or are going through divorce, there are support groups available and trained professional counselors to meet with you. For years, Leanne also ran a program called Celebrate Recovery for people who are struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. She also connects individuals, both on staff and not, with counselors based on their individual needs. Outside of her role on staff, she works alongside Karen Lerario in her organization Benevolent Baskets, aiding women experiencing homelessness by providing resources as they try to re-enter society. Leanne helps in providing free counseling to these women. Additionally, Leanne has been to Uganda over ten times, having led groups on several of those trips, and is heavily involved in ministry there. She and her husband Doug (who served as a Deacon at Bay Area for years) are also involved in India, and have been working, as I write this, to arrange accommodations for Joseph and Esther Sharon’s (our Global Partners in India) stay in the U.S. in the coming weeks. In fact-checking how long Leanne had been on staff, I quickly realized, through conversation with Debbie Klimczyk and Greg St. Cyr, that this was a much bigger undertaking, and that by giving this small glimpse into her story I would not
do it justice. As I sat with Debbie and listened to her rattle off all the ways Leanne is involved, my eyes widened, to which Debbie nodded and said, “the level of what Leanne does and who she knows is so much bigger than what people realize.” Myself included. In reflecting on Leanne and Doug’s generosity and their phenomenal example of what it looks like to be neighbor-
loving, Greg acknowledged that, “this church is built on the Dougs and Leannes of the world.” It’s a story of people who are really, and I mean really, living for the Kingdom. Though Leanne may be retiring from staff, it is clear that she is still in full pursuit of a life on mission for Jesus. If you’re reading this, Leanne, I’d like to say thank you. Your love for your ministry, your heart for people, and your pursuit of Jesus are a great example to myself and to others.
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A GLIMPSE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW AT BAY AREA
Y FREN C H
Ft. Meade: A Local Mission Field aryland is a state that has a large population of transplants, those who are Marylanders by choice rather than by birth. With our proximity to Washington D.C., the Naval Academy and Ft. Meade, we have a steady stream of new neighbors and new opportunities to be a light for Jesus. This turnover is most notable in neighborhoods that have a high concentration of military families. Most duty cycles last three years, and then the families are on their way to a new destination. Regardless of how long they are here, it has become increasingly clear to the Odenton campus that God has placed a desire in our hearts to serve the families of Ft. Meade. You can partner with us in two very specific ways: through prayer and sharing about our campus. Our work as a church always begins with time in prayer, seeking what it is that God would have us do. We are asking for you to partner with us in amplifying the prayers for God to open doors to this area of ministry. Here is what you can be praying for: • Relationships to be built in our neighborhoods with military families • God to show us ways we can serve those stationed at Ft. Meade for short trainings or long term assignments • Opportunities to invite families from Ft. Meade to join the Odenton campus gatherings The power of your personal invitation is far greater than any advertising campaign Bay Area could design. Think
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about the times you have asked for recommendations for a service for your house, not from an internet search, but from the friends and neighbors that you trust to pass along the best people for the job. The same is true, and even more so, for your recommendation of a church. One of my favorite mentions is from a man who said that he had been told about Bay Area by a military polygrapher. Imagine going in to do a polygraph test as part of a security clearance process, and coming away with a recommendation for a church! There are many avenues you may personally have that will allow us to continue to connect with those stationed at Ft. Meade: • Build relationships in your neighborhood, specifically being aware of those that serve in the military • If you have access to social media groups, like a Ft. Meade Facebook group, share about Bay Area Odenton as people ask about churches or resources for teaching their children about God • Invite others to join you for a gathering or event at church Ft. Meade is a local mission field, much like other neighborhoods in Anne Arundel and Talbot County. This is where we get to live out the “here” part of our mission statement of “making passionate maturing followers of Jesus from here to the nations.” We believe in the work God is doing through the Odenton Campus, and we trust that He will continue to lead His sheep by the sound of His voice. Join us seeking the work of the Good Shepherd here in Odenton.
SOULS World Missions Conference: Reaching A Volatile World Saturday, March 6, 9 a.m.-2:15 p.m. both in-person and virtual ALL CAMPUSES How are we called to live as followers of Jesus in a world that seems more volatile by the minute? Join us as we inspire, challenge and equip one another to take a step of faith into God’s heart for the nations. Register online.
Short Term Missions If you’re interested in learning more about or teams and upcoming opportunities, head to our website.
Missions Prayer 2nd and 4th Sundays of every month after 9:20 a.m. gathering Email Joan for more information.
HAPPENINGS GriefShare Support Group - Winter Session Thursdays through May 6, 6:45-9 p.m. on Zoom ALL CAMPUSES This group is a community for those experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one. A list of discussion topics for each session and registration can be found on our website.
DivorceCare Support Group - Winter Session Mondays through May 10, 6:45-9 p.m. on Zoom ALL CAMPUSES This group is for those navigating divorce. Sessions are run by trained professionals. A list of discussion topics for each session and registration can be found on our website.
Caregivers’ Support Group Meets 2nd Sunday of every month on Zoom ALL CAMPUSES This group provides caregivers with resources, community and encouragement. Learn more and register on our website.
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iMARRIAGE: Transforming Your Expectations Sundays, April 18 - May 23, 9:30 10:45 a.m. in Room 237 (Annapolis Campus) ALL CAMPUSES This marriage class is a six-session study from Andy Stanley that focuses on transforming your expectations and looking to God eo experience marriage as it was designed. Register online.
HAPPENINGS Virtual Quiet Retreat Saturday, March 20, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ALL CAMPUSES Author Linda Dillow will share how to find contentment and be freed from anxiety through God’s word. Learn more and register on our website.
Annual Spring Conference Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. ALL CAMPUSES
Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story With Heather Dixon and additional teaching from Marie Monville, former wife of the Amish school shooter. Learn more and register online.
Bible Studies You can register to join any of our ongoing Bible studies for women of all ages on our website.
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Care Network & Marriage Ministry Director Part-time (up to 25 hours/week) ANNAPOLIS CAMPUS This position provides oversight, strategy and development of the Care Network and Marriage Ministry so that it integrates with other ministries, and provides confidential care for Bay Area attenders.
Human Resources Assistant Part-time (up to 25 hours/week) ANNAPOLIS CAMPUS This position includes administration of the hiring and onboarding process, maintenance and updating of compensation agreements, job description and pay bands for all employees.
Children’s Ministry Assistant Part-time (up to 20 hours/week) ANNAPOLIS CAMPUS This position assists the Preschool and Elementary Coordinators with prep for virtual Children’s Ministry and eventually weekend gatherings.
Full job descriptions and how to apply for these jobs and others can be found on our website at bayareacc.org/jobs.
Keep checking back to see what new events we’re lining up for this spring! bayareacc.org/events
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