“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."
There are a host of behind the scenes ministries that happen weekly within any church across America. These aren’t the ministries you hear much talk about, they aren’t the ones everyone is lining up to serve with, but they keep the church running, they welcome the lost and encourage the lonely. Today’s ministry highlight is one of those behind the scenes ministries you may have never given any thought to but God has used mightily...
There are a host of behind the scenes ministries that happen weekly within any church across America. These aren’t the ministries you hear much talk about, they aren’t the ones everyone is lining up to serve with, but they keep the church running, they welcome the lost and encourage the lonely. Today’s ministry highlight is one of those behind the scenes ministries you may have never given any thought to but God has used mightily: The Attendance Ministry.
How did you get called into you’re the Attendance Ministry?
I’ve always been active in the church and I think I slide into this one by helping Adele.
How have you seen God work in you through your ministry?
I’ve seen people join the church because they felt so welcomed. It really makes me feel like God is truly using me.
What has been the hardest aspect of serving and how did God us that to grow you?
I do not feel like there is a hard part to this ministry. I feel like God opens my heart more as I met new people. They become part of “my” family.
What are you most thankful for in the ministry?
The blessing of so many hugs each week. I grew up in a family that didn’t hug, maybe that’s why God put me here.
“I feel like I am giving blessings and also receiving them. I rejuvenate every Sunday!”
What would you say to someone who doesn’t feel equipped to serve?
Step out. Let God lead you. Smile and be blessed.
Can you share a ministry success from 2018?
I don’t know that there is a “success.” I just know that some people wait for my hugs. We enjoy being family. Also, people like to know that someone missed them if they didn’t come for a week or two. And I worry if there aren’t at church for a while.
Serving in youth ministry at Mountain Christian was a really natural response to the effect that amazing youth leaders have had on my life. In my middle and high school years, my youth leaders were some of the biggest influencing voices in my life and walk with God. After high school God really gave me a heart for...
How did you get called into Youth Ministry?
For me, serving in youth ministry at Mountain Christian was a really natural response to the effect that amazing youth leaders have had on my life. In my middle and high school years, my youth leaders were some of the biggest influencing voices in my life and walk with God. After high school God really gave me a heart for kids going through the vulnerable and confusing time that is the early teenage years. I jumped on board as a youth leader then, and fell completely in love with it.
How have you seen God work in you and your volunteers thru your ministry?
One of the most surprising things about youth ministry to me is that as much as you’re there to give time and love to the kids, you end up getting SO much in return. We have a really awesome team of young adults who are leading the middle school youth program right now, and one of the biggest blessings of this ministry is to get to work with them and see how God calls each of them deeper into relationship with Him, through their service at youth group. It’s clear in their lessons, in the love that pours out of them for the students, and in the way they build each other up and love each other as a team.
What has been the hardest aspect of serving and how did God use that to grow you?
For me, the very hardest thing about serving is giving everything you can give to a group of kids, and then seeing some of them fall away from their faith as they get older. I’m sure any parent can sympathize with this tenfold, it’s like seeing a part of your heart die. God used it to show me a tiny part of how He feels when we turn away from Him. He also taught me that loving with His love is incredibly painful sometimes. It makes me appreciate the lengths to which He went to have the chance to love us, even knowing some of us would never love Him back. It makes me more like Jesus to love like that. And also, the kids who end up being your success stories make it all worth it!
What are you most thankful for in the ministry?
It’s so hard to pick just one thing, so I’ll say 2! One is the intense fellowship with the youth leadership team. I’ve never been to war, but youth group feels like going into battle every week, fighting it out for young souls, and it’s like having family at my side. Two is the way God is able to use my past, including the (many!!) mistakes that I’ve made to speak into kids’ lives. God is so gracious, not only does He forgive my sins, He uses them to make me a better youth leader, teacher, and friend, to these kids. He’s called the redeemer for a reason.
What would you say to someone who doesn't feel equipped to serve?
I would say that I totally understand that. Every time I stand up to teach a lesson at youth group I have a moment where I’m just overwhelmed that God would choose to speak through ME. But I would say that your feelings are the least important part of the decision. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I get that youth ministry is scary. There’s not a lot more intimidating than being watched by 15 judgy 11 year olds. But if there’s any part of you that feels that youth ministry may be something God is calling you to, obey. Trust God to work the rest out.
Why should people get involved in ministry?
Bob Goff has this really great quote. He says “We don't need to call it "ministry," just call it Tuesday”. For Christians, ministry is just how we live out our faith. God never called us to this attitude of consumerism that plagues the American church, causing people to show up on Sunday for what they can get out of it, and then leave. Why should you get involved in ministry? Because God commands you to. Because Jesus gave His life for us, and calls us to do the same for others, pouring out His love everywhere. It’s not a matter of “should I or shouldn’t I”, but of “where is God calling me?”
Can you share a ministry success from 2018:
I feel like every week we get through a youth group without serious injury is a ministry success! But one of my favorite nights so far this year was our parent meeting in September. We celebrated a year of Fire and Ice middle school youth group with pizza and a giant jumper. We also got to share our vision for the ministry as a leadership team with the parents. We’re a young group of leaders, so I felt like it was a success that we were able to communicate our passion for MCC’s young people to deepen their relationships with Christ, as well as lay out a practical plan for the upcoming year. We’re ready for God to rock MCC and the East mountains through this ministry in 2019.
What do you want your volunteers to know?
Youth ministry is more than a once a week volunteer opportunity. It’s grueling and inconvenient, and you’ll find youth kids taking over your heart and mind, and maybe even your couch. But for every drawback, there’s an opportunity to speak truth into a student’s life. God is at work here, and it’s an amazing thing to be a part of.
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The Care Net Walk for Life is coming up! Join the MCC Walk for Life Team August 24 at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Edgewood. Registration starts at 8:00am, the walk begins at 9:00am and is usually finished by 10:30am! Snacks and water are provided! Click here to learn more or contact JoAnn Tallant.
Bring something salty, bring something sweet, bring something that folks will like to eat! The Fellowship Ministry is looking for people who can volunteer to bring baked goods, fruit and snacks for Sunday morning fellowship. Click here to sign-up or simply bring something on Sunday morning to share. Contact Patti Anderson.
MCC Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month from 9:15 am – 11:30 am starting September 3rd! It’s a place of encouragement, community, fellowship and support during the struggles and the joys of being a mother from pregnancy to kindergarten. Click here or contact Michele Aigner for more information.
MCC Elders are hosting a 4-week Foundations Class starting September 15. This class is designed to better help you get to know MCC - who we are, what we believe and why, and how to get connected. Please sign up with Sarah.
Men’s Bible Study Fellowship resumes September 10! Now is a good time to join with other men from a number of East Mountain churches for a look at how God established His Church. This year’s Bible Study Fellowship study is called Acts and Letters of the Apostles. In it, we will see how God brought His kingdom to earth as the Apostles and other early believers shared the Good News by word and action, trusting in the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. The MCC class meets Tuesdays at 6:30pm from September to May. Men who want to know God and His word better are welcome to attend whether they are familiar with the Bible or not. For information, talk with Tom Young.
Do you want to be more faithful to God’s call to love Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind? Are you interested in studying Biblical Theology in an interactive and loving small group community? Consider joining us as we start a five-month study on “Trinitarianism” in September. We meet from 6-8pm on the first and third Thursdays of each month at Luke and Melissa Feldner’s house in Cedar Crest.