God Provides for Fresno Summer Staff
"Be a disciple to help make disciples" is a motto that Precious and Marisol are living by this summer. For the past few years, these young women have been involved with World Impact's Teen Club, discipleship groups, church plants, and camp ministries. They made a leap of faith this year by committing six weeks to serve as summer staff. As summer staff, Marisol and Precious were asked to fundraise and make connections with ministry partners. At the start of the summer, Marisol and Precious were struggling with funding and sought God's provision. God gave them a creative idea--use Facebook. They created an event on Facebook to ask people to support them! In less than a day, they were both fully funded, and then some. They were amazed by how quickly God provided through His people. Their faith in God as The Provider was stretched. The World Impact Fresno summer staff position has allowed Precious and Marisol to have deep quiet times in the Word and time talking with Jesus. They have been able to interact with new families during outreaches, learn about urban ministry, plan lessons for Bible club, share their testimonies and lead worship for teen activities. Marisol says, "This summer is preparing me so that when I go back home I can start a youth group at my church…now I know I can do this." The summer staff program is helping to empower and equip Marisol and Precious to be indigenous leaders who are beacons of God's hope in their neighborhoods and city. Please pray for these young women as they wrap up this amazing summer.
To learn more about World Impact Fresno click here.
Jesus and T-ball-by Danielle Cummings
It was a blissfully cool 75 degree evening after a 95 degree day at the baseball diamond. We arrived for the 6 o'clock T-ball game at 5:50, about 15 minutes before we spotted any other players. Our oldest, Dante (5) accidentally brought his old, too-small cleats, and consequently pranced to first base like a unicorn when it came time. Friends from World Impact and from the Slauson Park area we work in gathered to cheer on our son's ragamuffin, cutest-ever Dodger team.
Our first away game, we were confused for the first of two innings when our outfield tagged another player before they touched first base, and that child stayed on the bag, continuing to play until they made it home. Between the innings we learned from our coach that this park's rules for T-ball included no outs; thus, all the players had a chance to bat and everyone made it home.
Participating in our T-ball league is an adventure and learning experience. The language, the timing, the expectations and some of the rules are new to us--as first-time T-ball parents, and as cross-cultural incarnational missionaries. While the no-outs-rule frustrated some of the spectators that evening, the players did not care, being steadily confused about the whole game anyhow. The more I thought about the rule, the more I realized how Kingdom-like it was.
We are in the middle of a game where there are no outs; with Christ, we all have a chance to come home. It doesn't matter what mistakes were made, what confusion there was at the plate, and who or what we are up against; it's His home rules and He says no outs.
Church planting here in Los Angeles, amongst the unchurched, is a constant challenge to the outs I place on people. The roadblocks, the past, the questions that seem insurmountable to me are bulldozed by the Great Commission that leads us to these streets. We often find our friends here have no experience with the Bible or the Church. When I feel my spirit failing, my doubts rising, His prompting reminds me that He decides the end and there are no outs; He reminds us to keep being faithful to announce the Good News and He will bring His people home.
Danielle Cummings is a World Impact missionary working in the Slauson Park area of LA with her husband and adorable kiddos. For more information about them check out www.worldimpactla.org/Cummings
Cities, Churches, and Challenges
It seems that you can go to just about any inner city in the United States of America and find the same interesting dynamic. Many if not all cities have communities that are considered the most challenged when it comes to crime, being economically under-resourced, having underperforming schools, and other unfortunate issues. These communities tend to be close to the downtown of the cities, which in many cases is at some point on the journey of gentrification. At the same time these communities tend to be filled with churches.
Some of the worst communities in our American cities have churches on every corner. Black Churches, Hispanic Churches, Asian Churches, Historic Mainline Churches, Catholic Churches, Multi-ethnic Churches, and Missional Churches. Baptist Churches, Missionary Baptist Churches, Pentecostal Churches, Word of Faith Churches, Lutheran Churches, Methodist Churches, Free Methodist Churches, Evangelical Covenant Churches, and Non-denominational Churches. Church Planting Movement Churches, Campus Churches, House Churches, Storefront Churches, Community Churches, and Monastic Churches. If you want a lesson on the history, diversity, beauty, and challenges of the American Church come to the inner-cities of the United States and get your Church lessons. I proclaim that the suburbs are not the central context for understanding the history, present state, and future of the Church in the United States, it's the city.
After the Church had a significant exodus from the city in the 1960′s, 1970′s, and 1980′s, it's now become the cool, missional thing to return to the city. Evangelicals are now coming into the city the way they were venturing into the wilderness to build camps in the 1940′s it seems. I'm actually glad they're coming in general, but will it change anything in a major way? We already have churches on every corner and multiple churches on the same block in cities everywhere. Do we really need more urban churches? I say yes if we embrace the following-
We need three things to occur among the urban church and those coming into the city to start churches in order to experience revolutionary Kingdom advancement and transformation.
1.) We need existing urban churches to stop doing ministry in isolation, which can create a culture of mini-empire building instead of Kingdom of God advancement.
Urban churches must collaborate because the social ills, sins, and challenges are too massive for any one church to deal with no matter how large it is. We need urban church coalitions and association which cross race, ethnicity, denomination, and doctrine in order to create the Kingdom army needed to defeat Satan's and fallen man's strategy of evil, arrogance, pride, and division.
2.) We need existing churches to embrace church planting over church splitting.
Church splitting comes about in part because of a lack of embracing the biblical mandate and framework for church planting and development. The urban church must develop a culture of raising up, releasing, and resourcing leaders as church planters and ministry developers.
3.) Suburban Churches, Church Planting Movements, and Urban Missions Organizations, must partner with existing urban churches to plant urban churches.
People coming into the city must honor the church that is already in the city and thru that recognize that Jesus Christ is already present in the city inviting others to join in on God's strategy for urban revival.
We need the existing urban church to be missional and about the Kingdom of God, not empire building. We also need new urban church plants that honor the existing urban churches that came before them, treating them as revered elders. A united urban church army and movement can tackle the challenges facing cities across this nation.