It brought a peace I was not expecting. Who knew that a 6-hour financial class could bring years of peace? Not me. I wasn’t expecting that at all. After all, I was the one being dragged there by an eager spouse. I was convinced that a budget would never work after watching my parents try and fail numerous times growing up. But something needed to change, big time, so I went...
It brought a peace I was not expecting.
Who knew that a 6-hour financial class could bring years of peace? Not me. I wasn’t expecting that at all. After all, I was the one being dragged there by an eager spouse. I was convinced that a budget would never work after watching my parents try and fail numerous times growing up. But something needed to change, big time, so I went.
Von and I were a pretty typical American Christian couple, loving God but living the world’s way financially. We both grew up in lower-middle-class families, and felt like we were pretty frugal. We didn’t buy extravagant things, but we had just gotten out of college and felt like we “should be able to afford” some luxuries that we hadn’t had during the college years. So now we had a car payment, two mortgages on the same house, and student loans. Ah, the American Dream! But we also were now down to one income since baby #1 arrived. We were really struggling to pay the monthly bills, let alone the emergencies that kept popping up. Just thinking about paying the bills raised my blood pressure; talking about it was another problem entirely.
Let’s be honest, marriage is hard enough; add in a baby and financial stress, and peace is gone.
So as surprising as it was, Living Debt Free Workshop brought us a peace we never expected. You might wonder how. How? Well first, it made us realize that the money isn’t ours, it’s God’s. He’s entrusted it to us to take care of us and to bless others. When it’s not yours, it takes a little pressure off. I don’t have to hold on so tight because it belongs to my Father who loves me!
Secondly, it made us look at real numbers and figure out what our income really was and what our expenses really were. Our needs versus our wants, and the bottom line. While that sounded scary at first, not knowing and always guessing caused far more fear! Asking, will I be able to pay for this? The first time I wrote a check to pay for yet another trip to the shop for our old van, and I KNEW that there was money in the account to pay for it, was my “ah ha” moment! Peace had arrived!
Thirdly, it allowed us to choose where to put the money that God had entrusted us with, to use it most efficiently and generously. That ability to choose was huge! And to know that the choice wasn’t permanent, but could be changed as needs changed, while still keeping within our means. And because of this ability to choose, we were able to be more generous and debt started falling away. That was peace right there!
Lastly, talking about money was no longer an emotionally charged blame game. We were now a team, working together on solving a problem, and dreaming together. Ok, this may sound weird, but we actually LIKE talking about money now. Crazy, right?! Peace, once again.
After we saw the change in our lives, we had to share it! So, about 13 years ago we started teaching financial bible studies and classes, and have had the privilege of working one-on-one with singles and couples to help them along the same journey. We would love to share this peace with you!
If you are looking for some Biblical financial tools for 2020, we would like to invite you to join us for the Living Debit Free Workshop on February 1 from 9:00am – 3:00pm in the MCC Fellowship Hall! Practical topics including what the Bible says about money, how to set up a spending plan, saving, debit payoff, and more! Lunch and child care provided! Sign up in the foyer or contact me, Elisa, to learn more!
We rejoice as God answers our prayers! I was taught to sew and embroider at a young age. Both my mother, and her mother (my Nana) took the time to teach and encourage me. I observed Mom and Nana sewing or embroidering and then giving the item away. I felt the love they put into the works of their hands and observed the joy of those who received. That memory accompanies me to this day. And so, it is my desire to pass on this love and encouragement. And God brought together...
We rejoice as God answers our prayers!
I was taught to sew and embroider at a young age. Both my mother, and her mother (my Nana) took the time to teach and encourage me. I observed Mom and Nana sewing or embroidering and then giving the item away. I felt the love they put into the works of their hands and observed the joy of those who received and that memory accompanies me to this day. And so, it is my desire to pass on this love and encouragement to others. By the grace of God, other ladies at Mountain Christian Church share the same heart and Sister in Stitches was born and continues to grow.
In Fall 2017, at the begining of the Sisters in Stitches (SIS) ministry, we envisioned a three-fold ministry within MCC. First, a ministry to make prayer quilts. Second, we desired to mentor young people to sew with the purpose of learning to use their time and talents to make usable items to bless others and thus glorify God. Thirdly, SIS wanted to have fellowship and grow in the grace of the Lord as we quilted and prayed together. The goal and heart-felt prayer of SIS is first to honor God with the works of our hands and seek His will. By God's grace, Sisters in Stitches and Kids in Stitches (KIS) continues to grow just like a quilt.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4
In God’s perfect timing, the part of our ministry that first flourished was teaching young people to sew. Our desire is to teach them skills and enthusiasm to sew on their own. At first, just learning to use a sewing machine was an accomplishment! But as the kids continue to learn and grow with each KIS Workshop, learning skills that are built upon in the next workshop, we are so encouraged, as are the kids, that they are becoming more proficient.
And even sweeter than seeing new skills mastered, as we sew we continue to encourage the kids to pray and share ways we all can bless others with the work of our hands.
Another goal of SIS to make prayer quilts. The idea behind these quilts is simple, yet powerful. As we stitch these quilts, we pray for the recipient and encourage the kids to do the same. If we don't know who the quilt is going to, we still pray, trusting God already knows. At our next workshop in October, each KIS will make a nine-patch quilt block and then we will sew all the blocks from each KIS together to make a prayer quilt.
As we continue to turn the direction of this ministry over to the Lord, we praise him for bringing our prayers to fruition. If you have interest in SIS or KIS please contact Davra Clayton.
“What am I even doing here?” That’s what I thought as I wiped down the doorknobs with Clorox wipes. Again. When I first began helping in my classroom at A. Montoya, I wasn’t really sure I was “helping”. I had envisioned becoming a child’s hero as I taught them a super cool way to do math. I had dreamed of sharing heart-felt talks with little ones about how special they were. I had believed that I could be...
“What am I even doing here?”
That’s what I thought as I wiped down the doorknobs with Clorox wipes. Again.
When I first began helping in my classroom at A. Montoya, I wasn’t really sure I was “helping”. I had envisioned becoming a child’s hero as I taught them a super cool way to do math. I had dreamed of sharing heart-felt talks with little ones about how special they were. I had believed that I could be the answer to all a teacher’s practical needs.
But in my classroom? There were 3 EAs who worked constantly to keep up with all of the children’s physical and academic needs…which changed on a daily (or sometimes hourly) basis. Many of the students could not speak. One could not even move on his own. Though there were only nine children in the classroom, considering their level of need, it was by far the most over-crowded class I’ve ever encountered.
The need was SO great. And I felt SO ill-equipped. The teacher didn’t know what to do with me, and didn’t have time to think about it. So she set me to disinfecting the room, throwing away old markers, cutting out numbers and words for activities, and filling up water bottles. I did this for several weeks, and just kept thinking, “Be faithful with little.”
And then Micah showed up.
Micah brought the house down. Micah was a 9-year-old non-verbal kid with autism, and had never, ever been in school before. He had a ton of energy, loved to run away, got easily overwhelmed, and would scream until he decided not to scream anymore. I came in on Micah’s second day. Honestly, I’m not sure any of the amazing teachers in that room thought they could make it to the end of the week, let alone the end of the school year at that point.
My job changed that day.
While my teacher worked with Micah on just focusing on an activity, I practiced sight words with Lilly. When Gracie wouldn’t wheel herself up the ramp because no one could pay attention to her right that second, I raced her up. When Robert couldn’t sit still and kept bothering Matthew as numerous diapers were being changed and feeding tubes were being used, I did yoga with them. When everyone needed a break, I took Micah to play basketball in the gym. And do you know what happened? My teachers took all of these acts from me as personal offerings of love and support.
I know that a handful of people, motivated by God’s unfathomably huge love, and willing to simply show up and share their lives, does indeed constitute an army; and the revolution happens because of the love being communicated through their small acts of service.
One teacher hugged me at the end of that day, thanking me for being there.
Next week, one sobbed at lunch and shared her anxious heart with me.
Next week, another asked me to pray for her.
Week after that, they all got upset when I had to miss class because I had a sick kid at home. I was actually missed.
And pretty soon, there we were, sharing life together.
The kids began to benefit from my presence too, but not necessarily in the ways I’d thought they would. Some days, Lilly got more individual attention from her teacher because I was there. Some days, Gracie got extra PT time because I was there. Some days, Lilly spent more time learning her sight words with her teacher because I was there to take Caelen to PE. My teachers were able to take more breaks on the days I showed up, and so, they were more refreshed and relaxed when they came back to teach.
I still help in the same class; but now there are only 2 children in it. The teachers don’t really need my help anymore. But they are so sad when I can’t make it to class. They look forward to having my support, my face to laugh with, my arms to hug, and the relief of having someone walk in the door who is always, always in their corner.
I used to think that we needed tons of people, tons of hours, tons of experience, and tons of time spent doing deeply meaningful things with those at our school to make any kind of difference in our community. This year, I lost a few volunteers. I also started to feel that my church was becoming far less engaged at our school than I thought we would be at this point. I became very discouraged, wondering again, “What are we even doing here? Does any of this matter? How are our cookies, our cut-outs, our hours spent at the school ever going to affect any real change at all?”
I reached out to the staff at the school with an email that held the subject line, “How are we doing?” I asked all of our teachers for feedback on our service, and received the following reply from our librarian:
“Ashley- I think Shine has fundamentally changed our school. There is a strong current of love/hope that impacts each one of us. There are cookies, coffee, and snacks in the lounge. There are extra supplies, gift cards (I GOT ONE THIS TIME during a staff meeting- thank you!!) for teachers, and capable caring adults in the classrooms. My students really enjoy Elaine who comes to the Library. She reads to them, talks to them and organizes the library. She always has a smile and at Christmas she and Trish give me a Starbucks gift card.
Felisa organizes our workroom (which has never looked better). Cabinets and drawers are marked and easy to use. She asked me about good books to share her love of reading with the 4th grade student she works with. She talked to me about the possibility of a bookmobile to go into communities. The energy directed at being part of the community is inspiring. The answer to many of the problems we face in a school is caring adults.
Your program has infused us with an army of support. My library is physically and emotionally a better place because of Shine. Thank you. Is it possible for us to attend a service one Sunday and show our appreciation? It would be fun to come together. Let me know and I can organize it.”
On May 19, they did come. We sang, we prayed, we took communion…together.
I used to think we’d never make a difference unless we had an army of people showing up to bring an all-out revolution at our school. Now I know that a handful of people (in our case, that’s 6), motivated by God’s unfathomably huge love, and willing to simply show up and share their lives, does indeed constitute an army; and the revolution happens because of the love being communicated through their small acts of service.
When was the last time you asked yourself, “What am I even doing here?” If you haven’t asked it recently, I challenge you to find a place you can show up with just your presence to offer. I believe you’ll find that the answer to this question is always, “SO much more than you think.”
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Juntos is a local component of the MCC Missions Programs. MCC has supported Juntos for more than five years with both volunteers who work with the youth, monthly and special financial donations. Laura Jenkins, the director of Juntos provided an update on how the money our church provides is making a difference...
Christ came into the world to re-establish His kingdom. Although His kingdom is “not of this world”, yet He came into the world to do His kingdom work here. He is reclaiming what is His ... and transforming lives in the process. He works in human hearts, families, communities, and particularly through His Church. What a privilege to be a part of that work! We have seen Him changing lives in 2018! Let’s rejoice, in the ways that He has been willing to use us. Let’s celebrate, as He works in our going out, our bringing in, and in our building up. Here are a few of the highlights from this year...
“... I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ~Mt. 16:18
“... the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
~ Lk. 17:21
Christ came into the world to re-establish His kingdom. Although His kingdom is “not of this world”, yet He came into the world to do His kingdom work here. He is reclaiming what is His ... and transforming lives in the process. He works in human hearts, families, communities, and particularly through His Church.
What a privilege to be a part of that work! We have seen Him changing lives in 2018! Let’s rejoice, in the ways that He has been willing to use us. Let’s celebrate, as He works in our going out, our bringing in, and in our building up.
Here are a few of the highlights from this year:
As we continue to be drawn into deeper relationships with teachers and families at A. Montoya through our Shine school partnership we have had the privilege of praying teachers, parents and kids through hard times, getting food into the hands of kids in food-unstable homes, and even providing assistance to a teacher in need of running water. We have learned so much from our hard-working teachers and parents. We have watched children share the good news of the gospel with one another in the library. Throughout the year, God has provided the means with which to bless teachers with needed supplies, a child with glasses he required, tons of kids with books, and some families with necessities.
God has often given us the opportunity to encourage and speak truth into people’s lives because they are now our friends. He has blessed us as well, through the encouragement they have given us, and through the investment of their friendship. Our hearts are being continually woven closer together, all to God’s glory.
The Villa Santa Maria
The Lord has really flung open the doors to our relationship with the Villa Santa Maria. The Villa is a residential treatment community for children, located right here in Cedar Crest. While we have had the privilege of being asked to meet with individual residents there for Bible study over the years, the end of 2017 and this year saw the doors open for us to meet with as many as 5 boys and 4 girls in two groups! We are also getting to better know and encourage the staff. They are sharing prayer requests with us and inviting us to take part in celebrations, mediations, and conversations! One child from the Villa was baptized in conjunction with her parents’ visit over the summer. And we have met with staff to ask about how to better lead Bible study and discussions with this audience. We learn so much from this community, and are humbled by the care-givers (some believers and some not) who invest so much of themselves. While transformation tends to come slowly, the whole community has allowed us to take a little part in it, and we see God regularly at work in them and in us.
Our hearts are being continually woven closer together, all to God’s glory.
In 2015, we originally sent two MCC elders to Ethiopia to train pastors and evangelists with Training Leaders International. The training was received with joy and enthusiasm, as church leaders there learned to more capably handle God’s Word, and how to study it for themselves. And as these Elders worked with the African leaders who so love the Lord, they were blessed by their infectious spirit. Though these interactions, the Lord opened the door for us to partner with local missionaries to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to unreached people groups in southern Ethiopia. The MCC Missions Team investigated the opportunity, and we supported one national missionary in 2017. This year, we began to support four local missionaries in this work of taking Christ where His name is not known.
A third elder, Vince, has connections and has served the Lord in well-drilling and evangelism in the jungles of Peru. These, too, are opportunities to work with unchurched tribes. In the past year, this work has expanded to include our support of a traveling evangelist. He continually returns to visit the areas where wells have been gifted, and furthers the gospel ministry there. Many of these areas can be reached only by float plane, and represent some very hard-to-reach places.
All of this broadens our appreciation for common grace, and grows our own hearts for God’s special grace to be known by everyone we meet!
Our real introduction to “mutual transformation” ministry came through Food for the Hungry, and our relationship with Sucre, Bolivia. Last Spring we continued to deepen our impact and deepen our own understanding, as we sent another team to the second community that we’ve partnered with there, in Villa Margarita. Not only do our teams get to bless and love the children and families in the community, but they are a strategic and life-giving support to the national FH staff!
In turn, our teams are humbled by the love and joy that shower them on each visit. Through this relationship, the Lord opened the door for us to learn about Sutisana - a ministry to women in the red-light district in La Paz. Marvin has begun to consult with the ministry there, to assist them as they endeavor to build life-sustaining businesses for these women. As they learn to walk in the light and grace of Christ, they are also getting skills for rebuilding their world. This year we also helped to fund this business-as-mission endeavor for the first time, coming alongside their national leaders with love to help them make this God-sized dream a reality.
Gideons - Helps Ministry - Wood Ministry - Shield
We prayed for the Gideon’s International Scripture “Blitz” in September. Mike Brazie reported that the combined efforts of Gideons from here and other states, helped to give away 40,000 Scriptures. He personally heard stories of 6 people who made decisions for Christ during those days.
The Wood Ministry has hosted several work days this fall, already involving families from the community in not only procuring wood for themselves, but in strengthening their relationships. The Helps ministry leaders assisted a woman who needed help with her water heater.
And the Shield ministry has raised up intercessors for our own MCC first-responders and their families. At appreciation dinners, testimonies were shared about answered prayer and God’s presence with these men and their families as they go about their work. Along the way, in all of this, we have gotten to make wonderful new friends, and learn from the lives of others. All of this broadens our appreciation for common grace, and grows our own hearts for God’s special grace to be known by everyone we meet!
Join us in gifting thanks for all the ways God has used MCC Ministries in 2018 and check back on Monday for Part II in this series, "God's Grace in 2018 - Bringing In."
All MCC Ministry in person meetings are suspended at this time BUT many ministries are reaching out through phone calls, emails and digital platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Googlemeetings. Contact your ministry leader to see if this is an option for you!