Promises

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IDENTIFYING THE PROMISES OF GOD

If you were to do a quick search of the word “promise” in the Bible you would find that, depending on your translation of choice, the actual word does not show up too often. In fact, the highest count of the word “promise” is found in the New Living Translation with 118. Also, when “promise”does make an appearance it is not always in reference to a promise God has made to us, His people. So what does this tell us?

For some people, this could be a discouraging revelation considering our desire to trust, believe and walk in the promises of God. Dont be discouraged! The truth is that a promise of God does not always come with the word promise attached to it. Rather than skimming the pages of the Bible for the word “promise”, it might be better to look for times when God makes a guarantee. For example:

 Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus offers us multiple guarantees in this verse that we read in all three services this past Sunday. What guarantees does Jesus make to those come to Him and get away with Him? He says:

  • You WILL recover your life.
  • He WILL show you how to rest.
  • You WILL learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
  • He WILL NOT lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
  • You WILL learn to live freely and lightly.

These sound like some pretty great guarantees. Jesus doesn’t say that He might do these things depending on how feels that day. Jesus doesn’t say that when we get our act together He will do these things. No, what Jesus says is that if you are tired, worn out or burned out all we have to do is come to Him and He WILL do all of these things. Where else are you going to find a guarantee like that? These types of guarantees or promises are all throughout the Bible.

EXAMPLES OF GODS PROMISES

Fear

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Identity

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Gods Character

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19

Wisdom and Insight

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

Gods Provision

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Seasons

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This past Sunday we learned that God is the author of the seasons of our life. We also learned that God is the author of the seasons, days, and years.

So, we see God as the author of the spiritual seasons of our life and the physical seasons that we experience throughout the year. The physical seasons that God created can teach us a lot about the spiritual seasons that we walk through.

On Sunday, Executive Pastor, Aaron Kennedy, talked about the positives and negatives of each season of the year. Spiritual seasons are the same way, and more often than not, we tend to focus our attention on the negatives, missing the beauty which is there to be found. Our perspective matters.

Looking at the seasons from the perspective of agriculture, specifically the grower, can help us understand what type of season we are currently in, and what we can expect during that type of season.

Spring: Birth, Genesis, Beginning

Spring is the season of preparing and planting. In spring, attention to detail is most important. In spring, growers begin by preparing their land and soil for planting. Soil prep is about removing obstacles which would prevent the seed from taking root and growing. Soil prep also involves insuring the health of the soil. When the soil is ready, the seeds or saplings can be planted.

Spiritually speaking, a prepping and planting season can often be the most painful and tedious. This is where all of the “weeds”are removed. Anything that will obstruct the growth is taken away. The soil of our souls is plowed through, making way for the seed that will grow into fruit for the kingdom.

In the Spring season, we receive a small deposit that will yield a large reward.

Summer: Vitality, Youth, Progression

Summer is the season of growth and vitality. In summer, attention to healthy and sustained growth is the most important. Growers spend their time tending their crops. The key word for this season is vigilance.

Spiritually speaking, summer is often our favorite and most enjoyable. We see the growth happening. We feel alive and progress is being made all around us. The seed which was planted is growing and mostly, our job is to soak up the nutrients and water that God provides for us to grow.

However, summer can be a season of danger. If we are not careful, this is where we begin to coast and take growth for granted. We expect to always be in this season. We sometimes take our eyes off of God in these moments and the thief comes to steal or poison the crop. This is why vigilance is so important in the season of summer.

Fall: Harvest, Maturity, Gratification

Fall is the season of maturity and harvest. In fall, attention is given to assessing the ripeness and health of the finished product. Growth has slowed and crops are hanging full of fruit. Growers will spend their time watching carefully for the perfect moment to harvest their crops, and distribute them.

Spiritually speaking, this is the season where we enjoy the fruits of a long season of growth and share our fruits with those around us. It is important that we allow the fruit to grow to full maturity. We do not want to share a crop that is premature. On the other hand, we do not want to share fruit that we were late in harvesting. Even worse, we do not want to get so comfortable with growth, that we become selfish and allow good fruit die on the vine. The fruit we bear is not only for ourselves, it is for those around us. The harvest is always meant to be shared.

Winter: Reflection, Wisdom, Tranquility

Winter is the season of reflection and wisdom. In winter, attention is given to learning from the previous growing season, enjoying the bounty, and gaining wisdom for the next year. Growers will take time to rest, recover, and reflect. Likewise, they will allow their fields to infold and stabilize after a vigorous season of growth and harvest. However, there is still work to be done as farmers plan for the next planting season.

Spiritually speaking, this is the season of slowing down and learning. It is in the reflection where wisdom is gained. It is counter-intuitive for most people to slow down. We have just harvested a bountiful crop and we want more. Sometimes this drive leads us to jump over the winter and try to make spring come early. However, the winter is the season where we learn to make our next season of growth and harvest even better than the last. Winter is also the season where we rest. The season when the soil of our soul has to time to infold and recover.

 

Conclusion

When we stop to look at the natural seasons God created, then we see that He has provided a picture of what our spiritual seasons often look like. Although our spiritual seasons can be longer or shorter than the natural seasons of the year, what happens in the midst of them, and our role while we are in them, remains consistent.

Each seasons brings challenges, but God works in us during every season, even when it seems like growth isn’t taking place.

In reflection, here are a few questions to think about:

Based on the descriptions of the seasons above, what season do you believe you are in spiritually?

In light of your spiritual season, how does your perspective need to change? How does your behavior need to change?

Prayer of Trust

Father, thank you for being in control. Thank you for creating the seasons, days, and years. Today, I choose to trust you with the season that I am in. Today, I will live for your glory knowing that you will write a testimony through my years. Have your way, God.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Why Accountability?

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Have you ever felt like something was a good idea until you had to face the consequences of your decision? Why would we ever prefer good over God’s best? Were we being impatient? Did we grow weary in the process? In our search of answers, did we rely on ourselves and begin to cherish our privacy and independence to the point that we had isolated ourselves from community?

A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment. Proverbs 18:1

In my own journey of developing community and fellowship, I discovered the need and healthiness of being with others in the Christian faith. Leaning, gleaning, and believing with those that God has brought around you equips us for the journey! Not only is it biblical, it is the life that Jesus has called us to and one of the greatest commandments.

Jesus says, in John 15:12

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Love is more than unconditional love that wraps its arms around someone that is hurting. It is also tough love that holds one fast to the truth and directs His sons and daughters when we begin to veer from what we know is God’s best for us.

Some of us have that person or group of people in our lives that are that strong voice. Much of what I have learned and benefited from in my walk with the Lord has come through other believers that made a choice to invest in me personally. These mentoring relationships can come in different forms. In Just Lead, Sherry Surratt breaks these down in a way that was easy for me to comprehend. There are peer mentors, spiritual mentors, the mentor you will never meet and specialized mentors. Peer Mentors are individuals who are in a similar stage of life as you and are passionate about growing in the same way. Spiritual mentors are a voice of wisdom and counsel who will challenge you spiritually. They are the mentors that you will never meet, who speak to you through blogs, books, and social media that can develop you personally. The final area is a specialized mentor. This is someone who has strengths in certain areas that you could learn from to continue your growth as a leader. God makes it very clear that he has called us to healthy relationships within the Body of Christ. Where there is accountability, there is responsibility. Our responsibility is to pursue these relationships, with diligence, but also allow for flexibility as our seasons in life change.

He said,” Go and make disciples and teach them all things I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20

I believe Acts 2:42 gives us a picture of what community looks like with accountable relationships. The believers continued on steadfast in several ways. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. It’s so vital that if we are going to grow in Him and experience the fullness of His joy that we take heed to Hebrews 3:12-14. It cautions us to stand firm, don’t waver, don’t be deceived, or harden yourselves towards God. It challenges us to remain faithful to the end, trusting God as when we first believed. Believers in accountability don’t watch one another, they watch out for one another. It is the “ I got your back” mentality! Hebrews 10: 23-25 encourages us to not waver, but motivate one another in acts of love and good works. Most importantly, don’t forsake meeting together as some do! Embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly! Life is better together with His sons and daughters!

Take time to reflect on who He has surrounded you with and the resources that He has provided you through your current community. Maybe this is an area that you feel is lacking. Whatever the case, begin praying and asking Him to define what you need during this season. He is sure to deliver in His timing! He is faithful!

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Gina Robinson
Life Groups Assistant Director

Five Things You Need to Know

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Open Door, I hope things are well and we are praying for you! I wanted to get this out to you guys so that you can celebrate and help spread the word about the following information! God has been beyond faithful to us and this church and unto Him is all the glory, but here are some highlights from the first three months of 2014!

  1. We paved the parking lot PRAISE THE LORD! Not only were we able to accomplish this but we did it without touching the building fund at all! Because of the faithfulness of your giving we were able to make vast improvements to our property and continue to move forward in building phase 1 of the Next Generation Building Campaign debt free!
  2. We launched a youth and young adult facility at 650 Fire Tower Road. This is nothing short of a miracle as we received the space for a fee that is unreal. This gives us the space for continued growth in our Four18 youth ministry and Uprise young adult ministry. Later this summer we will be moving some offices to that space as Open Door School continues to grow and move forward. Some of our small groups will move there in the upcoming weeks. We are in the planning stage for a dedication service for that location in the upcoming weeks when signage and renovations are complete. More information to come soon about this!
  3. We started our third service at 6pm and have been nothing short of blown away! We believed for more than 200 people in that service and God has provided. We have had well over 200 people both weeks and continue to see God grow our Sunday morning services at the same time. Please be praying for us as we are adjusting to the new schedule, and praying for volunteers so that the service can continue to grow.
  4. Overflow, our youth camp for grades 6-12, is closely approaching and we have had the best sign up ever. As of this morning, we have 90 students who have signed up! If you want to go please don’t wait as space is limited and getting close to filling up. Click here to register. It will be a week that will literally change our students’ lives! We are also looking for counselors for that week. Click here if you are interested. Please fill out the form and we will contact you soon!
  5. Last thing, we are starting a new series April 6 that I believe will be one of the most powerful times in our history and I want you to be in anticipation and praying as that date approaches. We are starting a series called 40 Days leading through Easter and into a Night of Worship scheduled on May 14. During this time we are calling for all of Open Door to set themselves aside unto God. We will do this through fasting, prayer, and daily worship. In our services that month we will be having special times for communion, a baptism service on April 13 (Click here to register), Easter, and ending with a Night of Worship focusing on the Holy Spirit. You will be hearing more about this powerful series in the upcoming weeks but I want you to begin to pray for us and for yourselves that we would be open to all God has for us during that time!

I love you and am praying for you! Please don’t hesitate to call us if you need anything and be encouraged today because “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!”

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Aaron Kennedy
Executive Pastor

Unity

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Praying and thinking about all that God has been doing in such a small time in our church body. It’s been a truly amazing year already and I can’t even begin to dream big enough to know what God is going to do for the rest of it. As awesome as that is, I have a word of caution for us in our church, families, businesses, and really in everything we do.

The other day I was getting my cardio in at the gym and when I do that I’m usually listening to some worship music getting my Jesus jam on! This one word came to mind. It was simple yet so profound in what it means to all of us. Simply put it was the word UNITY.

Two passages from Scripture come to mind when I think about this word:

1 How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
2 For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
3 Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.
-Psalm 133:1-3

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
-Matthew 5:9

These verses are powerful when applied to all aspects of our life. God commands a blessing where there is unity and blesses those who seek peace with each other. As we move forward as a church, as families, and as people who represent Christ in the work place, choose to be one that brings unity wherever you are. Protect unity when possible and CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF! :)

Always remember, no one can keep you from where God wants you, when your desire is His will. You are all sons and daughters of God, not because of us, but because of Him. May we help bring what Jesus Himself prayed “Your kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven”.

Today, my prayer for you is that His kingdom would be found in you as it is in heaven! Love you and praying for you today!!

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Aaron Kennedy
Executive Pastor

Four Things You Need to Know

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We wanted to update you four things you need to know going on at Opendoor:

  1. This past Sunday we announced that our first Sunday night service will begin on Sunday, March 9 at 6pm! Our desire is to reach new people with the message of Christ and to provide the same environment we do on Sunday mornings. To do this, we need you to pray because we need volunteers in our children’s ministry, guest services, production team, and all aspects of ministry to help us move forward in this service. If you want to volunteer in any area, please email Teresa Butrum at teresabutrum@go2odm.com.
  2. I updated the congregation this past Sunday on where we are looking for a space to lease for our four18 and Uprise environments along with office space. I am excited to report that we believe we have found a location that God has for us in this season. We are close to signing a lease, which will enable me to share the exact location. Until then, when you pull on Firetower Road, please pray God’s will for our church that He would protect us, watch over us, and guide us like He always has. More information is soon to come.
  3. Improvements to the parking lot are well underway. We just need days with good weather and without snow and rain to finish it. Thank you for your patience as we are trying to make it easier to get on and off campus on Sunday mornings.
  4. Praise God, we have seen incredible growth since the first of the year. We had record crowds for the month of January and if you have attended a service, you obviously have experienced this. Thank you for your patience and thank you for the love that you share with each other that allows us to continue to do what God has called us to do. It’s amazing to see all that God is doing! I believe we are all a part of a true move of God in our midst. My prayer for you is that you continue to seek God like never before. As we as individuals seek God, then corporately there are no limits to where God will take us and what He will do in us and through us!

We are so blessed to pastor and serve this church. Thank you for your continued prayers. Our desire is to go and do all that God has called us to and enjoy the ride that He has us on. Please consider volunteering and helping us reach more people with the Gospel. We love you and are praying for you.

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Aaron Kennedy
Executive Pastor

Now Hiring: Second Grade Teacher

Can you smell it? The distinct fragrance of anointing oil. Although this scent can be found in many churches as it’s usage comes right out of Scripture…how often is it detected in a school or child development center? At our Opendoor School, the answer is often.

The excitement of Christmas has come and gone; the erratic temperatures common to Eastern NC seem to signal to the bugs, microbes, influenzas, aches, and pains that it’s their season to rule and reign…. but not on our watch and not in our school. That’s because Opendoor School is built on the Word, God’s Word, His Healing, Restorative Word. So as I write this, I’m listening to the fervent prayers of our Staff as they move through the building, praying and anointing the classrooms and hallways…yes, and I’m enjoying the fragrance and the peace as I know ground has been taken, protection and health spoken. We take this seriously because we know it’s our inheritance as His children!

Sound too good to be true?

Want to sow into this ground of praying for students as you teach, guide, and impact young lives?

Are you an educator with a heart for ministry and teaching?

We may have a place just for you!

Opendoor School is pleased to begin the process of identifying the next addition to our school staff: Second Grade Teacher for the 2014-­15 Academic year.

Application, resumes and reference are now being accepted!

Applicants require:

  • NC State Teaching License
  • Personal Testimony of a Relationship with Christ
  • Prior Experience in Primary/Elementary Education
  • Working knowledge of classroom technology: (Smart Board, Apple Computer Products, etc.)

Please apply in person at Open Door Ministries, 4584 Reedy Branch Rd, Winterville, NC 28590. Telephone 252 321 2486 (221)

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Deana Kennedy
Senior Pastor / Life Groups Director

#Idol Series Challenge

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We recently began a new message series called Idol. We’ll be taking the next few weeks to explore the things that can distract us in life and what it really means to worship God.

We issued a challenge to the church to encourage your pursuit of God.

  1. Acknowledge His Presence – Recognize God’s Spirit each morning and ask Him to lead and guide you.
  2. Get in His Word – Spend time each morning reading two chapters from the Bible, allowing God to speak through His Word.
  3. Turn the Worship up – Think about what kind of music you are listening to. Does it honor and glorify God? Start listening to music that strengthens your relationship with God.

We hope you’ll join us as we pursue God and position ourselves to hear from Him!

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#TeamAfrica Update 2

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What a difference a day makes! Wednesday found us full of excitement as we headed toward the village of Kainga. Approximately 200 families call this home and for the last 10 months, Phyllis has been teaching Bible and dignity classes to the women while George has repaired their well and begun the process of building energy efficient cook stoves. A primary part of each woman’s day is the collection of water and wood. Replacing 3 rocks and a pot, the stoves reduce the need for wood by 70% with the added benefit of reduced smoke and fumes. TeamAfrica built a total of 14 stoves that first day…with a slightly slow start, we continued to learn and become more proficient. By dividing into 3 teams, each with an indigenous interpreter, we began to find a rhythm that moved us along more quickly. Part of the process is to insure that the homeowner (we’re talking mud brick huts with thatch roofs and dirt floors) knows how to construct the stove through full participation and therefore, positioned to ‘pay it forward’.

Certainly an impressive difference I’ve observed in these villages is that nothing goes to waste. Literally, our trash was carefully observed and much recycled (each water bottle, tic tac box, wet wipe…easily can be washed and repurposed if it’s all you have). The dirt lawns are swept smooth and spotless throughout the day; while impoverished, these gentle village folk are stewards over the little they possess. As we completed a stove, the lady of the hut and her neighbors sang and chanted in celebration something loosely translated…my God has brought me forward and lifted me up! We topped off the day with a lesson in dental hygiene, family Polaroids, village frisbees, tootsie pops, necklaces, bracelets, and a prayer of thanksgiving stressing that this isn’t about Opendoor or even Sure Foundation Ministry, but about our loving Heavenly Father that provides all good and perfect gifts! Though thoroughly exhausted, we returned to our base camp blessed and celebrating,

Thursday found us most hopeful for an even more productive day in the neighboring village of Pahuwa, and in fact it was…19 stoves. Each woman is required to have 26 small brick (some find/buy fired brick, some make and mold their own). Also, two types of mud…typical village mud + mud made from ant hills (which dries harder and better serves for the pot stand) + water…which she drew and carried from the well…on her head. It should be noted that within this culture all of this is beneath the dignity of the men. So, you can imagine the impact our guys working, lifting, digging, consulting, laughing and blessing these lovely ladies had…a living testimony to how God Himself desires to love and value each of them!

As we worked, our teams noted a growing number of children following us and pressing in. Moving from one house to the next took on the feel of a small parade with singing and dancing, laughing and learning…but it began to feel a bit different from the previous day…a little more pushy, a bit greedier, different. As we gathered for our hygiene lesson and distribution, we became aware that the numbers were much higher, imbalanced and frenzied. Apparently word of our gifts had spread overnight from one village to another and 50+ unattended children had migrated into the village as the day progressed. Though we were never in any real danger, standing there unable to meet the expectations of so many was not a great feeling. Trying to explain why we didn’t have enough, why we couldn’t continue in the frenzied fray, let alone what was our heart’s intent to begin with, through the language barrier was most frustrating. Even in the villager’s disappointment with us, positioning the Crispi’s for continued ministry here was tantamount…and we saw God do something as only He can. As Phyllis lovingly talked with her students and friends, she invited them to partner with her in policing future meetings and empowering them with dignity and responsibility. We saw frowns turn again to smiles as understanding and forgiveness crossed cultural and language divides. She assured us this morning during devotions that this was a platform of growth, that the ladies level of trust and partnering will grow and that God is using all things for good…a missionary’s heart!

I’ve run a gamete of emotions in the last 24 hours as I’ve considered the previous 48….from the highs of accomplishment, giving, laughing and loving…to the lows of frustration, anger, embarrassment and letdown…what a difference a day makes. Phyllis asked me if I felt the principles of God are relevant in Malawi and therefore if the people in the villages could prosper. Certainly, I believe God’s word is universal and applicable to every single circumstance and culture. I believe that proverty and affluence are two extremes of the same sin…greed. That Satan, forever the liar and confuser that he is, uses these extremes to trick us into feeling the world has somehow balanced itself and therefore is in correct order. I’ve learned that there is the American way and the wrong way, but ultimately know there is only ONE way; one measure, His standard, so….I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene; and wonder how he could save me, a sinner condemned unclean! How marvelous, how wonderful and my song shall ever be, how marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me…my deepest desire for this journey is that my newfound friends in Malawi and my TeamAfrica mates know that same amazing love.

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Deana Kennedy
Co-Pastor & Life Groups Director

#TeamAfrica Update

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Tuesday, our first full day in Malawi, Africa, began unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t need an alarm clock to wake me up, nature handled that! If you’ve ever heard the rainforest track on a noise or sleep machine, it gives you an idea. For most of our team, last night was the most sleep we’ve had in over 24 hours of travel. Needless to say, it was a welcomed rest. Our hosts, and new-found friends, George and Phyllis Crispi, have gone above and beyond in their treatment of our team and their hospitality. They’ve planned for our arrival well in advance, and it shows!

Later that morning, we ventured into a nearby city, called Zomba. ‘Ventured’ is the correct word, as any trip to anywhere in Africa is an adventure. Think winding, mountainous, unpaved roads with pot holes too big to get out of, and it gives you a little idea. Zomba was the colonial capital of Milawi until the mid to late 70′s. Since then, it’s been left to disarray and decay. Streets are cracked; side walks missing, replaced with five foot drop-offs; buildings lay unkept, or unfinished. It’s a truly unbelievable sight. Combine that with thousands of people living in poverty begging for money or trying to sell anything they can, and it’s pretty overwhelming.

Though the ‘city’ life can be a little discouraging, what’s inspiring is to leave from that environment and meet with the young women that Phyllis has been teaching, and see their genuine gratitude for the blessings they’ve been given and their hunger for the truth of God’s Word. It’s makes all the rest worth it! It makes you realize all that we have and how we can take things for granted. These women genuinely celebrate when they receive a Bible in their own language. The Crispi’s ask that they attend Phyllis’ classes to earn their Bible and their gratitude upon receiving it puts things in perspective!

It was a busy day as we also learned how to construct the brick and clay ovens that George and Phyllis have focused much of their ministry on. To us, we may not realize the significance of this, but the reality is that what the Crispi’s have developed is a way to meet a need physically which opens a door spiritually. The ovens provide a safer and more efficient way to cook, resulting in less of a burden on the women and more safety from respiratory problems (the leading cause of death here).

Beginning Wednesday, our team will work side-by-side with the women in the villages as we teach them how to build the ovens, so they can replicate the process for others. According to the Crispi’s, their gratitude for what we’ve helped them do immediately offers us the opportunity to direct their gratitude to Who really deserves it: their Heavenly Father. That’s the beauty of what the Crispi’s do. By meeting a need physically, we have the opportunity to point them to the One Who matters most. Who, many have never heard of, or even know that He loves them.

That’s what we get to be a part of on Wednesday: demonstrating the love of God to people who may have never experienced it before. I’m genuinely moved just thinking about it. There are few things that get me more excited than seeing people see and experience the love of God, and I’m so excited that we get to play such a small role in the incredible story that God is telling here in the lives of the people in Malawi.

We can’t wait to share what God does as we spend time in the villages Wednesday and Thursday! Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers as we continue to partner with the incredible ministry!

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Michael Chandler
Creative Director

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