ISSUE 08 | OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2013
CHRIST ALIVE IN AFRICA P. 03 STORIES FROM A SLUM P. 16 A SPARK IN SACRAMENTO P. 06 BEAUTY IN ECUADOR P. 11 1
FROM PASTOR JESSE Welcome to First Covenant Church and to a new issue of the COMPASS magazine! This quarterly publication is an effort to help people connect with our church family and to provide information on a variety of ministries offered at First Cov. The theme for this eighth issue of the COMPASS is Global Outreach. (Because of the unfortunate misconceptions and security issues posed by the word “missions,” we choose to use the term Global Outreach when we talk about cross-cultural service). The pages of Scripture reveal the heart of God for all the peoples of the world. For those who choose to follow Christ, the call is clear: Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature! (Mark 16:15) First Cov has a long heritage of reaching beyond our borders. We support individuals and organizations who serve in many parts of the world. We challenge JESSE SMITH our own people to consider the possibility of moving SENIOR PASTOR to another country in order to be an example of the love of Jesus. We reach out to people from other nations moving here to Sacramento. We also send hundreds of people every year on shortterm trips to countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and India. The bottom line is this: We believe that the story of Jesus is Good News for the entire world! Our purpose statement says, “First Covenant Church of Sacramento exists to be a mission station: to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with every person everywhere, and to grow and equip believers into fully devoted followers of Christ”. Our commitment to Global Outreach is one significant way we try to live out that purpose statement. My hope is that as you read these stories from people in our church family, you will be challenged to have a broader view of the world. Together we can share His love with people in the Sacramento region and around the world.
LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE EDITOR
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Mark Shetler EDITOR Jennifer Raynes EXECUTIVE DESIGN Jessica Ripley CONTRIBUTORS Amy Byrne, Dan DeShong, Nathania Fuad, Jamie Bateman Gomez, Josiah, Jim and Heather Meyers, Jennie Nagy, Jen Raynes, Deborah Rush, Robin Waldron, PC Walker
THE COMPASS IS A PUBLICATION OF First Covenant Church of Sacramento 10933 Progress Court Rancho Cordova, CA 95670 916.861.2240 • www.firstcov.org
ABOUT THE COMPASS
COMPASS Magazine is First Cov's quarterly publication. In a church our size, it can be an overwhelming task to meet everyone and know everything that is happening. The COMPASS serves as a platform to bring our church family closer together. Within its pages, you will find true stories about the people and ministries of First Cov. And, most importantly, it will help guide you farther along The Path to becoming a fully-devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
An Arab proverb suggests, "The greatest crime in the desert is to find water and keep silent.” The reality is that the world around us is living in a desert. Brokenness, materialism, lack of purpose, the relentless pursuit of a new high or a more thrilling experience… they all claim the lives of those around us.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have found that which truly quenches our thirst. In John 4, Jesus offers “living water” to a thirsty woman loaded down with the baggage of poor choices and rejection. When she received and drank what the Savior offered her that day, her life was changed forever. Many of you reading this have experienced that same incredible “living water”.
06 • A Spark in Sacramento 06 • Jesus Loves Strippers! 10 • The Nations: Genesis to Revelation 11 • Beauty in Ecuador 12 • Global Pipeline 15 • What About Our Own Backyard? 16 • Stories From a Slum 18 • Masters Degree + Material Things = Miserable? 18 • My Story: Jim and Heather Meyers
The goal of this issue of the COMPASS is to help us all think more about the world around us. There are people in our neighborhoods who are thirsty. And there are whole tribes of people around the world who know nothing of the “living water.” It would be a crime to keep silent.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,19 77,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
05 • Why It’s Worth It
13 • God’s House
The challenge then is for us to let everybody else in on this Good News. We need to shout to the thirsty, parched world around us, “Hey, over here! We found a great well! The water is fresh, clean and cool. It tastes absolutely amazing and there’s plenty for everybody! Drink up!”
03 • Christ Alive in Africa
EXECUTIVE PASTOR AND DIRECTOR OF WORSHIP
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
CHRIST ALIVE IN AFRICA By Dan DeShong
n 2012, at 67 years old, I prayed for God to use me in a mighty way. I had no idea what that meant for my life, but before I knew it I was in London witnessing to Olympic champions. (Editors Note: See our December 2012 issue on our website for Dan’s Olympics story). After that, an organization called Vision for Villages invited me to help with church planting in three areas. Wouldn’t it have been great if the locations were Sacramento, Lodi and Stockton? But God had other plans. The organization’s focus was Africa, China and India. My first stop? Kenya, Africa. For three weeks this summer, I was blessed to be able to teach leadership, evangelism and church planting to a new group of church planters in their second module of instruction in Kenya. These nationals were dedicated to spreading the word of God throughout the villages, even in the midst of significant persecution. These people have no formal seminary training and no church buildings or programs; just the word of God. These church planters are just your average believers in Kenya—yet they are anything but average. In Africa, they are witnessing entire communities coming to Christ and being baptized. The church planters are truly doing the work of disciples—healing the sick, driving WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG
out demons and really believing in the power of God to find that man or woman of peace (see Luke 7) who will open the door to help them start churches in the villages. The Masaai people are the most wonderful and primitive tribe in Kenya, rich in history and cultural traditions—they even tried to get me to participate in one of their dances (which didn’t happen). The Maasai people almost always have some “red” in their dress, usually in the form of some type of wrap or shawl. This represents the value they place on blood—an interesting parallel to Leviticus 17:11-14. This cultural fascination presents an incredible open door for the Massai people to learn and understand that the blood of Jesus was shed for them. A medicine man offered me some blood to drink, which is their nourishment and tribute. I agreed on the condition that he would drink the blood of Christ (through communion). That started a great dialogue between myself and this prominent leader in the village. Again, it’s very special when you feel you are being used by God.
“These people have no formal seminary training, no church buildings or programs; just the word of God. These church planters are just your average believers in Kenya—yet they are anything but average.”
The goal of Vision for Villages is to reach out to unreached people groups in rural areas. It was amazing to see just how wonderfully open these people are to God’s love, hope and peace in a relationship of acceptance. The spiritually lost that are poor are very open to physical or emotional help. It’s great for them to have a way to cope with their circumstances. If you have never seen God work through those who have nothing, it is hard to comprehend. The life of the lost and poor change much more
dramatically than the “well-to-do” when Christ comes in.
I love being used by God. It is truly supernatural when you get out of your routine, eat different food, learn a new language and culture—and completely depend upon Him. In Africa, I got to experience the blessings, power and authority that He has given us to reach the lost. Next stop? Nepal. (And I’m looking for others to go with me!).
If you would like to be involved in this ministry by sending Bibles to Africa (or even joining Dan on an upcoming trip), email him at email@example.com. Southern boy (Tennessee born and raised) Dan DeShong is a retired chiropractor, Navy veteran, dad, grandpa, husband to Sherry for 38 years, writer, and now, a volunteer global outreach worker. His personal mission statement is to please God, serve others and live abundantly (the abundant part seems to get him into trouble… or adventure). He says of First Cov (his church home for over 30 years), “I have seen people come and go for various reasons and yet I have never seen God leave [our church].” firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY IT’S WORTH IT By Josiah
I am a bundle of mixed motives. Maybe you are too, if you take a long, soft look at your own heart. There is something in me that longs to be able to tell you exciting stories of success from serving in hard places. This part of me wants to be known and admired for what I have done, and measured by it. But God has a way of refining his people—of exposing the motives of our hearts and dealing with them. My delight in success and significance is not a strong enough motive to keep me where God has planted us. That source of motivation didn’t even last me two weeks once I was eye to eye with the realities of India. Starting over in a new culture and language stripped away my outward sources of identity and value. My love for the people of India is not strong enough to keep me going where we are. The idea of loving the lost, especially somewhere as exotic as India, sounded so good until I had to live with them every day! As we began living life in the hot and crowded alleys of our community, I was immediately confronted by the ugliness of sin—in their lives and in mine.
“IF JESUS IS IN THIS, I DON’T SEE HOW WE CAN BE OUT OF IT.”
My gratitude for what God has done for me through Christ has not been sufficient to keep me going in the hard and forgotten places that we now call home. In the baking heat of a summer day, dealing with another power outage, sick kids, and a repairman trying to swindle me, I am ready to jump on the next train. I keep going because I am under authority. I have come to the end of my resources and the only hope I have left is Jesus. I am His, and He said “all authority…has been given to me; therefore go…” (Matthew 28:18-19, NIV). If Jesus is in this, I don’t see how we can be out of it.
I go because I want life. There is nothing else like the life Jesus gives. I don’t pretend to understand it or possess it fully. But what I have tasted has convinced me that everything else is a worthless counterfeit. I can’t live without this life that Jesus offers, and he makes it clear: “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it” (Mark 8:35, NLT). I go because I want more of God. When we work closely together with someone on a shared project or challenge, we get to know them. We share life with them. God has invited us to work closely with Him in what He is doing in human history. Jesus made it clear that we need to find out what the Father is doing and get involved with it—that He will give you everything else that you need to accomplish what He has called you to do. The more I try to understand what God is doing and participate with it, the more successful I am at dealing with reality. The reality undergirding the universe is that Christ is seated at God’s right hand. My life is caught up in the life Jesus is now living and when He appears, I will share in his glory. When I let that truth fill my thoughts, it changes everything.
Top: Dan was welcomed with open arms and honored by a senior leader in this village. Bottom left: A dance presentation from the Massai tribe in Dan’s honor. Bottom right: The first church in this village was started under this tree.
I go because God enables me, like Paul said, to stand firm. The first weeks in India erased any confidence I still had in myself. But God has been building my confidence in Him, through Jesus. Jesus is our champion, who started us on this journey of faith and who will perfect it in us. I go because He is worth it. At the center of the universe echoes the unbearable shout of unimaginable spiritual forces: “Jesus, you are worthy…for you were slaughtered and your blood has ransomed people from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God.” God has chosen me. He has chosen us! We can show others the goodness of God, because he called us out of the darkness into his glorious light. Josiah’s life is full of contrasts. Before living in Sacramento for ten years straight, Josiah never stayed in one place for more than six months from the time he was born until he turned 22 (he says only meeting a woman as amazing as his wife Heidi made him stick around that long). Josiah can typically be found reading or engaged in outdoor activities that involve some real or imagined element of danger. He connects with God most naturally through His creation, yet lives in a dense urban sprawl in an overcrowded developing country.
September 11th, 2001 is the “JFK assassination moment” of my generation— no one will ever forget where they were the moment they heard the news. My friend and I quickly put together a prayer meeting for that night. It was my first time to pray for Muslims. “We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.” Corrie Ten Boom Little did I know at the time that seven years later I would take part in the first Global Pipeline internship at First Covenant in 2008. Though I had been a Christian my whole life,
By Deborah Rush
I wrestled with a certain question through the entire internship: Why would I talk about Jesus with people that would possibly want to kill me for it, and why would I ask someone to believe in Jesus that might be killed if they listened to me? As God taught me the answer to this question, my life was changed. After four years of praying for an opportunity to be in full-time ministry, God finally opened a door for me to walk through.
“...unlike the kingdom of America, God’s kingdom has no limits on immigration and has never ending resources.”
When I first gave voice to the vision God placed in my heart, to reach out to women working in the strip clubs of Sacramento, people questioned me and wondered why I would do that. After all, these women were choosing to be where they were because they make a lot of money. That response, if I may, kind of ticked me off. How do we get to decide who is reached with the Gospel and who isn’t?? I wondered.
By Jennie Nagy
Jesus loves strippers. That’s right, you heard me. Shocking, isn’t it? Well guess what—He also loves addicts, porn stars, boozers and nefarious other sleazeballs, too. When God said Jesus came so that all might be saved, He didn’t just mean all the ones sitting in the front row of church every week.
For the last year, I have worked at the ArabAmerican Learning Center, a refugee support center in Sacramento. Every morning I wake up, climb out of my cozy bed, drink my coffee and walk the mile to the train. As I approach the door to the center, I say a prayer, asking for the presence of the Holy Spirit and strength from God to get through the day. I turn the key and hear the clunk of the lock opening. Instantly I
What rights do we have as believers to withhold what God so triumphantly showered, poured and oozed out on us? Did I miss something? ‘Cause when Jesus called me to come and follow Him, I was hardly what people consider a good girl. In spite of the passion I possess to reach women with a wail of “FREEEEEDOM!”, I actually tried everything to get out of this God-sized aspiration. Sitting at home watching re-runs of Alf sounded way better to me than rolling up to a bunch of clubs and explaining to the bouncers and managers why they should let the friendly church ladies in. I mean seriously, does that sound like the glamorous life of an evangelical Global Outreach Partner?
Here’s the thing about God—He is one persistent Deity and knows how to push our buttons. He knew when threatened with giving away my ministry I would start marking territory like a dog being introduced to his new back yard. No way was I getting left out of anything He might be doing without me—no way! And the instant I relented and grumbled, “FINE, I’ll do it!” I knew the purpose, name, values and standards we would aspire to with As you are Outreach. In five states alone (California, New York, Texas, Oregon and Florida) 814 clubs serve a clientele of men offering “special” events for graduates, bachelors and divorcees. Employing women in their early teens through their late 30s—whether naïve when they first walked in or seasoned, athletic entertainers—there is a pole and stage waiting for them to feel wanted, powerful and in control, possibly for the first time in their life. According to one study1, 56 to 94% of women employed in clubs may experience being stalked, bitten, spit on, punched, and molested on a regular basis. At some point, most will be asked to perform sexual acts for money or be propositioned by pimps. Based on these dreadful statistics, we naturally wonder why a
am transported to a different land. I begin my morning in Sacramento, and one hour later, I’ve ended up in the Middle East. In this one-room storefront on Fulton Avenue is a collision of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Jordan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Christians, Coptics…and the list goes on. Refugees are men, women and children who have experienced the terrors of war and have fled their homes and left behind friends and family. Many of the refugees are the men (and the families of the men) that helped the U.S. troops in the war in Iraq—therefore they and their families were under threat of murder, or they have family members that have been murdered. They are the less than 1% of the 15+ million refugees worldwide who have been granted entrance into a safe country by the United Nations (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). They hadn’t planned to leave their homes and most long to go back. Though they have been given access to a safe country to begin again, domestic violence, fear, anxiety, poverty and oppression reign. Women are marginalized and mistreated; men are stressed and overburdened with the task of caring for their families in a culture that they do not know. Everyone in the community is trying to
cope with loss and trauma. Though one day they will get good jobs, learn fluent English and their material lives will become much easier; they have come to us with much deeper and more pressing needs than just the physical. They are living in bondage and pain, slaves to sin which leads to death (John 8:34 and Romans 6:16). Without Jesus the Messiah, Isa Al Masih in Arabic, it is impossible to have true freedom, peace and rest. They are trapped in pain and darkness. Who will tell them the truth? Who will show them the way to God’s Kingdom, the straight path? Muslims pray daily to be shown the straight way. We know this straight way. We know The Way, The Truth and The Life! And unlike the kingdom of America, God’s kingdom has no limits on immigration and has never ending resources. Right now we have the opportunity to tangibly show the love of God to these refugee families in Sacramento—to initiate lifelong friendships and gain a platform from which to share the Gospel.
of whom each have deep and wide family and community connections in the Middle East, came to saving faith in Jesus Christ? A spark could be lit in Sacramento to light the Muslim world on fire for Jesus. At Pentecost, Peter and the Apostles preached the Gospel to the crowd of people from every nation under the sun, then the Gospel went out from that place in a great movement of the Holy Spirit. I believe that God can use Sacramento in much the same way. Sacramento is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. What an amazing opportunity we have here to reach into the nations without even stepping foot onto an airplane. Deborah Rush is passionate about seeing people who have lived in bondage find freedom in Jesus. She longs to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven—where people from every nation and tongue will stand before the throne of God in worship. Deb recently joined First Cov staff as a Global Outreach intern overseeing our assistance of refugee families. And if you want to get on her good side, know that she loves a good Iced White Mocha.
Beyond the refugee community, there are thousands of other Muslims in Sacramento. Depending on the study, the number of Muslims in Sacramento ranges from 30,000 to 50,000. These are your coworkers, your children’s schoolmates, your neighbors and fellow shoppers at the grocery store. Imagine what could happen if 30,000 Muslims in Sacramento,
woman would continue to subject herself nightly to such lewd and foul behavior. While we like the easy answers, they do not always come in tidy packages.
Right out of high school, her precious one has fallen prey to the lure of neon lights and seemingly unending supply of attention and money.
their lives to the Lord. Our job is to bring Jesus into the clubs, not bring the clubs to Jesus—we leave that work for God.
When As you are Outreach goes into the clubs, we hear the stories of women with dreams, hopes, hardships and struggles much like every human being has. Like the rest of us, they look for the easy answers, often finding them through monetary gain and a transitory satiation of much deeper wounds.
Nearing the end of an outreach a cry for help came in from several time zones away. This time somebody’s daughter is done with the industry. After a decade of exposure to pornography, abuse and exploitation, exhausted she calls out to the only One able to fully restore her.
Jennie likes to hang out in strip clubs and at porn shows, stating that she understands why Jesus surrounded Himself with sinners instead of with the pious. A wannabe comedian, Jennie steers clear of tanning salons and European Wax Centers. Her favorite place to be is at home watching DVRd shows with her husband.
A mom has no idea where her daughter is– the last that mom heard she was dancing somewhere, but recently hooked up with a pimp. Isolated and feeling “dead inside” thinking of her little girl, Mom contacts the outreach. Family and friends won’t talk about it—even she does not fully comprehend the depths of her sorrow. All she really wanted was to speak her daughter’s name aloud to someone willing to listen and bear her overwhelming pain. Another email, another daughter, another mom feeling “guilty and afraid”—where did she go wrong?
Through emails, phone calls and texts, their stories unravel. Addicted to easy money, no apparent employable job skills, indoctrinated into the life, betrayed by religion, pregnant, desperate, cut off from family and friends—her plunge into the world of red lights and mirrors drains all hope, trust and belief from her soul. For some, their only way out is death. Our purpose in ministering to these women is to reach them with Christ’s message that they are valued, cherished and loved by God as they are. Building trust takes time, persistence and bucket loads of grace. For us success is not measured by the number of women who give
Report, data, interview and study conducted in the 1990s from a number of sources by Kelly Holsopple, an attorney and former sex industry worker, in association with The Freedom and Justice Center for Prostitution Resources, a program of The Volunteers of America in Minnesota.
NEW TO GLOBAL OUTREACH? Our annual Mexicali trip is a great introductory experience for youth and adults alike! Teams work with local churches to provide Vacation Bible School programs for children, athletic events and concerts for youth, family worship services, outreach events, and community service projects.
Last year at Mexicali, we witnessed 125 people make first time decisions for Christ!
The Mexicali trip will help EQUIP
YOU WITH KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO SHARE THE LOVE OF JESUS —all while challenging and deepening your walk with Jesus. Learn about a new culture, gain a broader worldview and get out of your comfort zone while serving those in need.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THE NEXT MEXICALI TRIP: APRIL 11–19, 2014 Pick up your application today at the Info Counter!
Several of our pastors and church leaders preached their first sermons at Mexicali.
mexicali Mexicali is our largest Global Outreach trip—typically drawing over 120 First Cov attenders together in service.
2014 will mark First Cov’s 29th trip to Mexicali!
THE NATIONS: GENESIS TO REVELATION "To belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with Him." —John Piper Can you remember Jesus’ famous last words? His words (aka “The Great Commission”) were an urgent call to EVERY believer to get involved in Global OutreachJesus’ key words can be summed up into two simple letters: “Go!” But this commission didn’t come out of nowhere. Just a quick glance through the Bible with “global outreach eyes” and its plain to see that God’s sights have been on reaching the nations and all people groups since the beginning of the world.
Let’s take a little tour of Scripture together to see just a little piece of God’s intention for the whole world. If “the nations” are a theme so frequently talked about in Scripture, perhaps it should become a greater part of our vocabulary—and vision—as fully devoted followers of Christ.
What will YOU do to “Go!”?
“Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (12:1-3, ESV).
“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (9:16, NIV).
I S A I A H
"All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name” (86:9, NIV).
“From the nations where the sun rises to the nations where the sun sets, my name will be great...” (1:11, ESV).
“[The Lord] says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth’” (49:6, NIV).
“Jesus was amazed when he heard this. He said to those who were following him, ‘I can guarantee this truth: I haven't found faith as great as this in anyone in Israel. I can guarantee that many will come from all over the world. They will eat with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven’” (8:10-11, GW).
AC T S
“This is what the Lord told us to do, saying: 'I have made you a light for the nations; you will show people all over the world the way to be saved” (13:47, NCV).
“After the vision of these things I looked, and there was a great number of people, so many that no one could count them. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language of the earth...” (7:9, NCV).
By Amy Byrne
“You’re the winner!” That was the subject of the email I retrieved from my junk mail from an organization that I had become interested in and bought a few Christmas presents from. I love to give gifts that have meaning and would help the people whose hands did the work to create them, so I had bought bracelets made by orphans to help support themselves in other areas of the world. Visiting Orphans, a faith-based organization that sends people around the world to love on children who have been orphaned, was selling these bracelets. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of our adventure to Ecuador just seven months later. I remember thinking, “God, you use the craziest things! This is just so crazy—winning a global outreach trip.” I don’t know why I was in such shock, we had already seen God do amazing things over the past two years as he took us on our adventure of adopting our son and supporting and walking alongside other families doing foster care and adopting. Here He was again opening another door for us to walk through. To some people this might not seem like the ultimate vacation, but to my husband and me, winning a trip to wherever Visiting Orphans was going in 2013 to serve kids overseas in an orphanage spoke straight to our hearts about just how much God knows us and loves us.
and then be carried over a stream in order to get to the road on which we continued our journey. Esmeralda can’t talk or walk, but let me tell you she can sure let you know if she is having a good time! And she was having a blast, with a smile that lit up her whole face, her head back and a sound of pure joy coming from her mouth. Seeing Esmeralda’s delight gave us a peek into God’s perspective on true beauty. Towards the end of our walk it was especially sweet as we began singing Jesus Loves Me. As Jamey pushed Esmeralda’s wheelchair, she held my hand and sang along with us in her own precious way, giving us another experience of what God sees in Ecuador.
GOD’S EYE FOR BEAUTY DOESN’T DEPEND ON WHERE YOU LIVE OR HOW CLEAN YOU ARE.
While in Ecuador, we had the opportunity to spend time in five of the 80 + orphanages that reside within the city and had the privilege of experiencing the hospitality and kindness of Ecuador’s people. Most people wouldn’t put “orphanage” and “beauty” in the same sentence, but I think God does. After all, He is the Creator of each one of the children, whether dirty or clean, that we played with, colored with, held and fed. He is the giver of love and strength to each caregiver who washes dishes, folds laundry and holds these children. God’s eye for beauty doesn’t depend on where you live or how clean you are.
On our last day spending time at the orphanages, we had the opportunity to go to a home where boys ages 10-18 live in a dormitory-style setting. These boys were some of the most well-mannered, respectful boys we ever met. We had the privilege of meeting two brothers who were being picked up by their parents for a weekend visit. The parents obviously love their sons but were unable to financially provide a stable home for them with food and shelter. As a result, the brothers are returned at the end of the weekend to the orphanage to be cared for. It was a precious moment to be able to take a picture of this family and give it to them to cherish in the times they are separated from one another.
I experience a glimpse through God’s eyes in 12 year old Esmeralda*. At the second orphanage we visited, we were able to take the group of kids on a long walk outside. Since this orphanage is in a more rural location and many of the children are in wheelchairs this was a very special expedition. These older model wheelchairs had to go up a large hill, through sand
I have to admit that this situation we witnessed was hard for me to swallow. I have pondered it often since coming home. I truly cannot imagine the amount of humility it must take for these parents to pick up their children for a visit and deliver them back to the orphanage each week, repeatedly being reminded that they are unable to provide for them well enough to WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG
be their sole caregivers. Again God’s eye for beauty is so different than mine. He sees the genuine love in the parents’ sacrifice as they humbly lay down their pride on a weekly basis in order to remain part of their children’s lives. As I look back on our experience in Ecuador, it seems pretty simple. We went to GO. BE. LOVE. We went to visit orphans—to play, hold, feed and clean wherever needed. No matter whether we were holding a stinky baby, feeding a rambunctious toddler, washing a sink full of dishes or folding laundry for 20 children, we were thrilled to get this rare opportunity to love orphans. It was simple and beautiful. God’s kind of beauty. *Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.
Amy leads Chosen Ones, First Cov’s orphan care ministry. She is on hiatus from working as a Marriage and Family Therapist and Social Worker in order to be at home with her three children, one of whom was adopted from foster care. Amy has a passion for supporting and educating families who choose the road of caring for children through adoption and foster care. email@example.com
follow God’s leading to be a part of Global Pipeline—and many have found continuing joy by taking the risk. So, what is Global Pipeline exactly? The goal of the internship is to assist participants in cultivating a passion for Jesus, a passion for His kingdom and a passion for reaching the unreached. The internship is an opportunity for you to receive training and hands-on experience doing global outreach in your own backyard.
By Jen Raynes “I’m too old.” “I’m not academic.” “I’m too shy.” “I’m too busy.” “I’ve never been on an outreach trip.” “I’m not the ‘global outreach’ type.” “It seems scary!” Sure, you can always make excuses—they’re simply not valid. Not when God himself calls you to do something. He calls every believer to “go,” not to retreat. Each of us must move out of our comfort zone in some way to love the world around us. And that “something” just might be Global Pipeline—a six month discipleship and outreach program focused on reaching the unreached in Sacramento and beyond.
“He calls every believer to “go,” not to retreat. Each of us must move out of our comfort zone in some way to love the world around us.” The leading of the Holy Spirit, I’ve found, trumps all our doubts and silly reasons for not doing what He has put on our heart to do. I’ve watched this phenomenon over and over, not only in my own life (yes, I tend towards hemming, hawing and Moses-like excuse making), but also in the lives of those who have been part of Global Pipeline over the last few years. When it came to God’s call, sometimes there were tears of frustration. Sometimes there was wrestling with God. But ultimately, dozens of First Cov attenders and members of all ages and life stages have chosen to
Over a six-month time period (January–June, 2014), interns will meet weekly for Bible study, discussion of relevant discipleship and outreach materials, corporate prayer, study of Islamic belief and personal accountability. Interns will also “learn by doing,” discovering how to reach out with the love of Christ to people in our community who many in the church ignore. The internship will culminate in an optional shortterm global outreach trip to Northern India, where interns will be given an opportunity to see how what they learned can be applied in a crosscultural setting. In short, Global Pipeline is serving meals, sharing meals, making new friends, gaining cultural experiences, studying Scripture, telling Jesus stories, listening to interesting speakers, praying for the lost, being prayed for, acoustic worship, hosting parties, reading inspiring books, setting spiritual growth goals, growing closer to the Lord, making memories, and even exploring the possibility of traveling abroad for a short-term (or long-term!) outreach trip. You might think you have an excuse, but if it’s any of the ones listed above, I suggest at least praying about it. Joining Global Pipeline is an experience you’ll never regret. These six months of your life will forever change you, your relationship with God and your understanding of the world. What are you waiting for? Visit http://www.firstcov.org/Global-Pipeline/ global-pipeline.html to download an application. New for this year is a FAQ sections where all your questions are answered. No more excuses! Parents, grandparents, singles, college students—anyone over 18 with a desire to be a more fully-devoted follower of Christ is welcome. Hope to see you in January!
Now accepting applications for January 2014!
Introducing iIntercessor We are entering an exciting time at First Covenant Church! Nearly every week, the stage is marked with candles to represent those who have come to know Jesus. Our ministries are expanding, as is our international influence through Global Outreach. This is a definite praise to God, but one thing is key to seeing this work continued—prayer!
By Robin Waldron
iIntercessor is our new smartphone app and website designed to promote personal spiritual growth, as well as to help believers connect with each other to pray for one another, and for the needs of their family, friends and the global needs around the world. Prayer has the power to change things, so the aim of the iIntercessor app is to facilitate prayer and build intercessors (people who pray for the needs of others) in our church to bring that change. The app will have a dual focus of helping the individual believer pray as well as facilitating the communication of prayer requests through each prayer network. The app is now available (visit www.firstcov.org for more details) and coming in January, First Cov will be launching a new intercessory prayer network. Look for more details coming soon! Our church values prayer and we hope the iIntercessor app will raise the “prayer consciousness” of those who call First Cov home.
PRAYER ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE MONTH “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:19, ESV). Jesus wants His church to move together in unity, agree in prayer and bring our requests to Him. Does this replace our own personal, devotional prayer to Him? No, but praying together carries special “weight” in Scripture when believers seek the Lord as a “unit.” Our encouragement today is to find another believer and share your requests. Both praying for someone and being prayed for yourself will bring extra blessing and comfort.
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13, NIV).
eff Burton’s mother has a saying: “Houseguests are like fish. After three days you should throw them out!” Fortunately, she does not feel this is a saying to live by, and thankfully, neither does her son. Jeff and his wife Heather opened their home to his parents for a month while they looked for a place of their own this past August, having moved here recently from Oregon. His parents were not their only house guests, though. Nor was this the first time they have opened their home so generously. Houseguests, in the Burtons eyes, are definitely not like fish. Rimon, a young man who came to America five years ago as a refugee from Iraq, has been staying with the Burtons since July. Though his room is their trailer in the backyard, he spends a fair amount of time in the house, sharing meals with the Burtons, helping them with housework, and spending time getting to know them. One thing’s for sure, if you are in the Burton’s home, you are treated like family. The Burton’s current home in Carmichael, which they purchased last year, has required extensive renovations, some of which are still in progress. So when they first got the call from someone at church inquiring if they could host Rimon in their home, the answer was “not at this time.” Feeling overwhelmed with stresses of a new job and their house being in disarray, they did not feel ready for a houseguest. Yet after two additional phone calls, each caller unaware of the others, the Burtons knew God was knocking at their door on behalf of Rimon. Those phone calls also came because the Burton’s gift of hospitality is well known to many here at First Covenant. For years Jeff and Heather have been opening their home to others in need. It all began after their youngest daughter Julia moved out to marry her husband, Nate Dilworth (who you will often see singing onstage during the Classic worship service). They began talking and praying about what they should do with the extra space in their four-bedroom home in Mather. Renting it out was a consideration, but they felt the Lord leading them in another direction. An advertisement on Craig’s List about hosting foreign exchange students caught Heather’s eye, and Jeff agreed they should give it a try. So for one to two months at a time, college students from overseas attending a program at Sac State made the Burton’s home their own. Little did Jeff and Heather know then what God would do with this new venture. The Burton’s enjoyed getting to know students from places such as South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Not only did it allow them to learn about other cultures, it also gave them opportunities to share the love of Jesus. Heather recalls a conversation she had with a young woman from Japan who shared about troubles in her marriage as they sat on the kitchen floor. During their two-hour conversation, Heather, though uncomfortable sitting on the floor and out of her comfort zone, found herself sharing not only
marital advice, but the Gospel as well. This is but one of many times Heather has seen the Holy Spirit work through her and Jeff in the people they allowed into their home and lives. Another person who at one time called the Burton’s house “home” was our very own Jennifer Raynes (editor of the COMPASS). Jennifer moved to Sacramento in 2011 after serving with YWAM in Australia. Not knowing many people in the area, she had contacted Pastor Mark to see if he knew of anyone she could stay with until she got established in a new job. Two days later, Pastor Mark was talking with the Burtons and they happened to mention their spare bedroom and their desire to help others in need. A few weeks later, Jeff and Heather picked Jennifer up from the airport and brought her home. Jennifer recalls what it was like staying with the Burton’s: “Right away I felt so at home! I stayed with them for four months and I couldn’t have made the move without their incredible kindness and generosity!” Jennifer was actually a second addition to the Burton “family” when she arrived. Already staying with them was Rasoul*, a young man from Saudi Arabia who came to the United States to study to be a lawyer. He stayed with the Burtons for a year and a half and is now studying in New York. He has kept in touch with the Burtons and may actually return to stay with them again in the future. (See sidebar for more of Rasoul’s story). Despite major stresses life has thrown at the Burtons—job changes, health issues, home renovations—they have continued to demonstrate the same level of hospitality and share the love of Jesus with those
HEATHER SUMS UP THEIR PHILOSOPHY WELL: “WE HAVE TO BE GOD’S HANDS AND FEET.” As they have sacrificed so much to help these young men God has placed in their lives.
and women, God has grown in them a desire to reach out to people from other countries and cultures. Heather recently began a new job at World Relief, an organization that helps refugees get established in the U.S. Through this job their impact for Global Outreach has only expanded, as they help refugee families with everything from from picking them up at the airport, to assisting them find furniture. Jeff never tires of watching how God works through their acts of service: “It’s amazing the impact that simple things have,” he says.
Jeff and Heather Burton began attending First Covenant together nine years ago. Heather had moved here from Canada to marry Jeff, having met him on a Christian Internet dating site. They knew right away that God had brought them together. “At the same time I was living with Jeff and Heather, they had another young guy living with them. Rasoul was from Saudi Arabia and was a practicing Muslim. With the four of us in the house, we very quickly became like a family, and Rasoul was like my adopted brother. Through the Burtons kindness (but also boldness!), there were many open doors for the three of us to share Christ with Rasoul. The Burtons went above and beyond to seek to understand and accommodate to the cultural differences, yet never shied away from talking about Jesus. A few months
The Burtons themselves have been impacted as well with every act of generosity. They feel that their acts of service in no way compare
after I moved out of the house, Rasoul and I began to have regular Bible
SO, AS LONG AS GOD CONTINUES TO CALL THEM, THEY WILL CONTINUE THEIR OPEN-DOOR POLICY. Three days, three weeks, three
and showed him how there were passages in the Qu’ran that pointed to
to the blessings they have received.
months – for the Burton’s there is no limit on how long their houseguests can stay. If there’s room, then the more the merrier. After all, as Heather says, “It’s God’s house!”
studies at Starbucks. I shared with him things I knew from the Qu’ran Jesus as the Messiah. From there, we would study the Bible to learn the truth of who Jesus was. It was an incredible opportunity to minister to a Muslim friend…all because the Burtons extended kindness without fear and brought us both into their home. Who knew hospitality could open up such amazing doors for the Gospel?” —Jennifer Raynes
*Not his real name.
“It’s been fun watching the Lord work in Jeff and Heather’s lives. They Robin Waldron has been attending First Covenant since her college days in 1991 and has enjoyed serving in a variety of areas over the years, including Mom’s Connection and with the Women’s Retreats. She loves singing harmony for the Modern services and exercising her creativity through scrapbooking, photography, and writing. Her favorite pastime, however, is hanging out with her two favorite guys—her husband, Scott, and their 12-year-old son, Spencer. firstname.lastname@example.org
were hosting a foreign exchange student in their home when they decided to attend the “Muslims, Christians and Jesus” equipping class I taught. I knew that God was doing something special in them as they began to develop a genuine love and compassion for people outside of their cultural and religious background. Now a couple of years later, I see them serving in some incredible ways, simply because they were trying to follow Jesus the best way that they could. They didn’t really know what they were getting into, or how to do what God was calling them to, but He taught them along the way and provided everything they needed. It will be interesting to see what happens to them next!” —Mark Shetler
WHAT ABOUT OUR OWN BACKYARD I can be honest, right? For many years, I had very little heart for global outreach. I was not against it; I simply did not have a heart that beat for it, as perhaps it should. My heart beats for the city. There is something about the urban landscape for which my heart breaks. When I hear great stories from global outreach workers reaching the unreached people groups and the poor in foreign nations, my mind frequently wonders: “What about our own backyard?” I wonder about the unreached people and the poor in Sacramento. Am I alone in this thought? God has a way of changing even the most stubborn and reluctant heart. This perspective changed a few years ago upon my first trip to Mexicali. I can still be honest, right? I was essentially forced to go to Mexicali—as a pastor of students who would be attending, it was expected I would attend also. My first trip to Mexicali was the year Mrs. Ochoa died. I never met her. I never saw her. I had only heard her story in fractured pieces. I had heard she was an incredible woman. I heard she loved people. I heard she was a very humble, but strong, leader. I heard she was a prayer warrior type.
HOW MY PERSPECTIVE CHANGED, BUT DIDN’T REALLY.
I heard she had passion to love hungry children. I heard she had diabetes and had died from it. I froze, as I also have Type 1 Diabetes. Mrs. Ochoa had lost her legs before eventually passing away—all due to complications with diabetes. I thought back to when I was first diagnosed and my doctor’s reassuring words: “This disease is absolutely manageable. You can live a long life if you take care and manage it well.” This statement is something Mrs. Ochoa did not have the benefit of hearing. Immediately, I was faced with something I have and continue to take for granted—the privileges I have in this country. We complain about our medical care. We complain about the pricing of it. We complain about its confusion. We have been given literal life-saving resources, yet we complain about how much they cost. Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it. When you have it with you’” (NASB). When we consider the things we have that many do NOT have, we must be mindful and act. It is in our power to do SOMETHING…always. That
was one of many lessons I learned in Mexicali. You learn to live your life differently when you are faced with how much you really do have. And when you know that, you can then live differently here in our own backyard. I have been back to Mexicali every year since with heart full and thrilled.
“YOU LEARN TO LIVE YOUR LIFE DIFFERENTLY WHEN YOU ARE FACED WITH HOW MUCH YOU REALLY DO HAVE.” What is more, it has inspired me to get involved with local outreach here at home. Why do we wait for God’s next big assignment when we miss his daily assignments in our own backyard? The same God who calls us to “come” has also called us to always be going. While global outreach provides a perspective for a stronger local outreach, there is much to be done locally while you prepare for your next crosscultural venture. You know that guy in the corner of the coffee shop with several retired empty cups and a stream of college students talking to him like he has office hours there? Yup, that’s PC Walker, First Cov’s College and Young Adult Pastor. email@example.com
4TH AND 5TH GRADE Wednesday evenings: 6:15-8 p.m. in the Gym
MIDDLE SCHOOL First Cov offers a full spectrum of weekly gatherings, special events and activities to meet the needs of students wherever they are at on their spiritual journey.
COME CHECK US OUT!
Wednesday evenings: 6-8:30 p.m. in Room 213
Tuesday evenings: 6-9 p.m. in Room 214
By Nathania Fuad
“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10, NIV). An alcohol addicted man laying limp in a dim hospital bedroom with severe brain damage. A baby girl digging through food in the city dump. A sixteen year old girl, now a new mother, struggling to provide for her monthold son. Three individuals, all with completely different lives. Although they were surrounded by constant pain, they all discovered that they are loved and held precious in the Lord’s eyes. Our team—Tina Breshears, Grayson Rice, Zack Slort and I—all had the honor of meeting them during our weeklong outreach trip to Guatemala this past summer. In mid-July, we spent a week serving alongside ministries who exemplify God’s grace to the poorest neighborhoods of Guatemala. We were able to witness God do incredible things during our stay and we came home with a newfound strength in our faith. On our first full day in Guatemala City, we were introduced to Tita, founder of Lemonade International, an organization dedicated to providing education for children living in La Limonada, Central America’s largest urban slum. It seemed as though the whole city looked down upon that neighborhood. No matter how hard the people living in this slum fight to escape the lifestyle of gangs and poverty, they are constantly rejected from jobs and relationships. When Tita brought us to one of the schools, Zach mentioned that the last time he was in Guatemala, that school was simply an empty building in which the 2008 First Cov team prayed for in hopes of the landlord handing over the building to Tita’s team. God clearly answered that prayer (and many more!) since then, and the school we saw was bustling with giggling children and an extremely warm faculty. A few days later, we met Otto and Danielle, a father and daughter duo who opened up a school specifically to educate the children who
were growing up in the city dumps. Rather than spending their days digging through trash with their parents, the slum’s children are bused to Libre Infancia where they are nurtured, educated and taught about Jesus for four hours a day. When we helped serve lunch to the children, I noticed a girl drop her tortilla on the ground. I turned around and asked Tina if I should throw it away and get her a new one. But Tina told me, “No, you never throw anything away here!” That simple line really hit me. In America, we hold the “three second rule” as our standard and simply toss food out without a thought. This hard reality really affected me
because I realized that this little girl has never had that option. I have definitely taken the availability of food for granted! A few days later, our team drove four hours to the beautiful town of Xela to work with Innerchange, a ministry that exists to provides specific needs for a community. The Innerchange team in Xela focuses on male youth to provide an alternative option of carpentry and education in place of a life addicted to drugs and alcohol. We spent hours that day painting Innerchange’s new headquarters. The highlight of that day though, was meeting a man named Javier in the hospital. Javier came from a life immersed in alcohol and drug abuse. He had been welcomed into open arms by Innerchange, yet he constantly fell back into a life on the streets. He had disappeared; after weeks of searching, Innerchange workers found him at a local public hospital, completely unresponsive and almost brain dead. It seemed as though he had suffered severe brain damage from an alcohol-related fall. Chris, a team member from Above: Spending time with the children from the city dump who get educated at Libre Infancia. Left: During Easter, First Cov attenders donated over $3500 to purchase new school uniforms for students in La Limonda. Facing page: Quality time with staff at the Lemonade School in the heart of La Limonada, Central America’s largest urban slum.
Innerchange, had been visiting him every day to simply sit with him and pray. The entire Innerchange team spent months praying for him, asking that God would show them His will, whether it be that He would take Javier to be with Him or somehow revive him. That very day, Javier was released from life support because he was finally able to breathe on his own! The team was overjoyed at the sight of slight recovery and they are so assured that the Lord has plans for Javier. When we came to visit Javier at the hospital, he was still unresponsive, but his body was so tense and his eyes stared straight up. What was so incredible though was when our team leader, Tina, held his hand, he seemed to relax a little, but when she pulled her hand away, his eyes shot straight at her. This small sense of communication from Javier really
gave us hope that he is slowly on his way to full recovery. When we all laid our hands on him and prayed, there was an incredible feeling of God’s presence in the room—a complete sense of calmness and peace that I’ve never experienced before. When we arrived in Guatemala, all four of us were so excited to serve and meet the Guatemalan people. I don’t think though, that we expected that we would be impacted in such a tremendous way. Through the Guatemalan people’s generosity, hospitality and most importantly, their love for their almighty God amidst any hardships they suffered, I learned that you don’t need much to love the Lord. In just one week, a simple trip to Guatemala changed our lives. The outreach opened our eyes to not only how blessed we are, but it also gave us the confidence and ability to share the Gospel and love of Christ with our unsaved friends and family here in California. Nathania Fuad has called First Cov home for six years and loves devoting time to the Children’s ministry. She’s extremely passionate about youth leadership, as she worked as Associated Student Body President in high school. She hopes to transfer that passion to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where she just began studying this fall, Nathania is an avid pinner (on Pinterest!) and when she’s bored, you’ll find her Yelp[ing] the best foods and coffee shops in the area. firstname.lastname@example.org
Masters Degree + Material Things = Miserable? By Jamie Bateman Gomez I had been in school for 23 years. Way too long. Yes, there was a break or two in there, but I was pretty much consistently in school for more than two decades. When it finally came time for my last year in graduate school, I was ecstatic. Finally, I would be working full-time. Finally, I would have medical benefits. Finally, my husband and I would never have to worry about money again. We would be living the American Dream—green grass, new car, no worries... At least that was the expectation. Little did I realize that God was actually in control, not me. I had found what seemed like the perfect job for me—a bit of travel, working with youth, and an opportunity to get great professional development at an organization with a great reputation. I hit the ground running, and before I knew it, I was miserable.
How could this be? Everything was supposed to be perfect, with my good benefits and a real grown-up title. It is hard to explain what I felt each day as I commuted to work, but the closest description I can come up with is homesickness. In 2007, I believe God called me to Rancho Cordova. My heart breaks for this community. The families, the youth, the neighborhoods, the smells—everything. Believe it or not, I love them all. It was then that I began pursuing higher education in the first place. I wanted to be someone who was knowledgeable about social services and to be better equipped to follow my call to serve the youth of Rancho. Towards the end of my education, I was so consumed with my accomplishments, my agenda, and my desires that I made a decision to take my future into my own hands and pursue
Jim and Heather Meyers THE REAL DEAL FROM TWO OF OUR GLOBAL OUTREACH PARTNERS Having grown up at First Cov, Heather Meyers felt called to full-time global outreach as a young adult. She met her husband Jim at Wycliffe’s training center, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and fell “Suddenly In Love” (SIL). As a young married couple, Jim and Heather went to Indonesia to do Bible translation and literacy co-training. They have since served as Global Outreach partners there for the last 15 years. After losing their full-time visas to work there permanently, the Meyers continue their translation work via email and Skype, and also serve part-time at First Cov as Global Outreach Coordinators. As GO Partners, their struggles have been many and varied—from crosscultural misunderstandings, to numerous losses and difficult transitions. Despite these unique challenges, however, the Meyers write candidly about the most difficult struggle they encountered while living in Indonesia—coping with infertility and navigating a foreign adoption.
Heather’s side of the story: I always dreamed of a huge family. When I got married, I was so excited to start having children. After trying for two years, however, we began to realize that perhaps this starting a family was going to be a bit more difficult than we planned. Trying to get pregnant was frustrating, draining, and not great for our marriage. I remember going to Christmas with Jim’s family in New York. His older brother already had three children (now he has 11) and his younger brother was expecting their first (he now has four). I went upstairs and just bawled on my bed. I was so envious of how easy it was for them to have children. I ranted to God about how unfair it all was. I listed all the reasons that Jim and I would make good parents and all the reasons that it was so unfair that others who did not even want children were able to have them so quickly. After two years of a variety to testing and treatments, we called it quits. We were tired of what it was doing to our marriage and our lives. At that point, I began to grieve the dream. Never to see what kind of child a mixture of Jim and I would produce. Never to feel the kick in my belly of a little one growing inside. Never to have the intimacy and bond of nursing. During this grieving
those things instead of what I knew God had been calling me to years before. Looking back, I am not surprised that I quickly felt miserable in the kingdom of sand I had built. Everything was affected by my disobedience— my marriage, my joy, my sanity and my work. So much for my own plans.
Right in the middle of this madness, I joined a Bible/book study with a few of my friends. We began reading Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love and that is when it hit me: Wow. No wonder I am miserable! I have been chasing
process is when I really began to seek God’s will. I had always considered adopting after having a few of our own children. God began giving me verses, stories and hope of having a family through adoption. So I shared my heart with Jim, but he was completely against it. Children of Global Outreach Partners have enough struggles and adjustments; no way was he going to add adoption on top of that. Another two years passed and I continued to pray. Then, God began to work on Jim (or maybe we could say that Jim finally began to see God working on him). A verse, a television show, a story from some friends—these nudges caused Jim to seriously pray about the possibility. It was then that Jim felt God was leading us to adopt! I was ecstatic. We had a friend of a friend who was Canadian and had a very smooth adoption through an agency in Singapore, so we moved forward with that. In December of 2004, we got a picture of KJ via email. We immediately fell in love and showed the picture to all of our family and friends. It is truly amazing how God knit our hearts together with this little baby without even meeting him yet. Since we were on furlough, we planned to travel to Malaysia for a couple weeks to pick him up and bring him home to meet family and friends before we headed back to Indonesia. We met him the morning after we arrived. He was so cute and so incredibly observant–there were no doubts he was ours. The process with the Malaysian government went very smoothly, but we hit a wall with the US government. After handing in our paperwork, we sat in the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur for the whole day. Finally, as they were nearing closing hours, the assistant to the US ambassador to Malaysia came out to talk to us. Ours was a directed adoption (the mother signed her parental rights over to us rather than have an abortion). So, according to US laws, KJ was never considered an ‘orphan.’ Therefore, instead of being granted US
after worldly expectations, not obedience to God! I had literally said this sentence after I graduated: “I want a new car, a cool job and nice clothes because that’s what people who get their Master’s degree should have.” I think something rather important was missing from my perspective!
to seek God with me each week, praying that I would be obedient and seek His will—even if it meant less pay and less prestige.
In Crazy Love, Chan asks something like, “Would your life look any different today if God was taken out of the picture?” I had to honestly examine my life and answer No. I was lukewarm in my
Well, as we know, our God answers prayer and I soon found myself staring at a job offer here in Rancho working with youth. The funny thing is, I don’t even need my Masters to be in the position I have! The temptation to compare my life to others is very real, and I have to constantly remind myself to “set [my sights] on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2, NIV).
pursuit to follow God’s will. I realized that I was trying to make a deal with God: I won’t swear, I’ll volunteer, but just let me make the decisions when it comes to my job and the lifestyle I want to lead. The girls in my book study group began
The reality is, I have learned this lesson more than once, I am human. I stumble, I veer off course. A tremendous encouragement to me in this daily struggle is having a group of godly women who I am accountable to, a husband who is seeking God’s will and praying with me, and the Holy Spirit working self-discipline in my life. These are
citizenship automatically, we had to go through the citizenship process for an alien relative. We spent the next two months in Malaysia and Singapore— writing letters, calling embassies, trying to figure out what to do. We were in a foreign country with no family or friend support, no idea where to buy baby formula, get immunizations, or how to get this little guy to sleep. We were exhausted, sleep deprived, and more stressed than either of us could ever fathom.
We found out that the process was going to take two years! During that time we still had to write to supporters and hear from them all the right things to say. ‘God works all things together for good...’ ‘When God closes a door,
Even after two years of continual communication with the US Embassy in Indonesia making sure we had all of our paperwork correct, we showed up at our appointment and they said, “Oh, no. Now the laws have changed and this type of citizenship can no longer be processed by embassies. It needs to go directly through the US!”
“...I thought I had the right to be ticked off.” —Jim
It was at that point that I went on an attitude binge. All of these bad things kept happening to us, so I thought I had the right to be ticked off. I was furious with God. I gave up my life to serve Him as a Global Outreach partner, and this is how He treats me!
Jamie has been attending First Covenant Church since High School. She and her husband Peter live in Rancho Cordova. Jamie works as the Youth Services Manager at a local non-profit and volunteers with middle school ministries. She is passionate about working with youth and living with purpose in her community.
He opens a window.’ To me, those clichés, even though they express deep truths, seemed empty.
“...it was so unfair that others who did not even want children were able to have them so quickly.” — Heather
Jim’s side of the story:
things that will continue to spur me on and help me to continue to seek God’s will, even when it looks completely different from the expectations of this world.
“*@/*?!!!!” We already had tickets to go back to the US the next week and we had no visa for KJ! Thankfully, they felt bad for us and were able to process a ten year resident foreigner visa (which, by the way, we could have processed two years before in Malaysia had they told us about it)! There are many other trials we faced during the next three years until KJ finally became a citizen, including the government loosing paperwork, offices not knowing how to get him a social security number, and adopting him through California laws so he could get a US birth certificate. Even now, as I write this, those memories bring up such anger inside of me. I have not yet learned how to deal with becoming a victim of someone else’s irresponsibility or incompetence. I realize there are so many ways I need to grow in grace and forgiveness, and perhaps even learn how to confront those kind of ‘perpetrators’ in love, rather than feel ‘victimized’. But thankfully, we serve a God who is faithful to teach us even if we don’t learn as quickly as we should.
What we have learned, however, is compassion. God has given us an incredible sensitivity to those struggling with infertility or are going through an adoption. In Indonesia, most people think they are cursed if they are infertile or have miscarriages. Husbands can even divorce their wives because of it! When people see KJ, they know we’ve adopted, so it very naturally opens doors for us to share our story and listen to theirs. Our struggles have helped us better empathize with the people we minister to in Indonesia. Today, when we see our energetic and curious KJ, we know God has great things in store for him. He’s an awesome kid who fits into our family well. Through everything, the struggle was clearly not in vain. The joys (and pains) KJ brings to our lives are all priceless blessings.
HELP MAKE SOMEONE’S CHRISTMAS merry and bright THIS YEAR BY VOLUNTEERING AT OUR 3RD ANNUAL CHRISTMAS MALL! For more information about the event, or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Carolyn at email@example.com.