God Story Serve Newsletter
GK: Gary Klingler, FBC Mission Department
MM: Maia Mikhaluk, International Partnerships, Ukraine
GK: Given the current events in Ukraine and the Biblical admonition found in I Thessalonians 5:18, (18 Подякускладайтезавсе, ботакаБожаволяпровасуХристіІсусі.) for what are you able to give thanks?
MM: It's been the most difficult months in our lives. Yet, it's the time of greatest clarity and focus. Somehow in the midst of tragedy, turmoil and losses, life also becomes simpler. Secondary things that used to be so important in the past now look just that - secondary, they fade away. At the same time it becomes clear what is essential, what is important, what you can rely on, what/who you can trust, what you are willing to die for, where is hope. These difficult months have become the time of greatest closeness with God.
We are thankful that God gives us this sense of His comforting presence, His being in control when everything seems to be falling apart. We are grateful for His protection, for still being alive (we don't take that for granted anymore). We thank God for comforting the hearts of our kids. I can't tell you what it feels like to see your child smile again after weeks of tears, of fear and sorrow!
Most importantly we are thankful for the work God does in the heart of our nation, for the openness we see in people to hearing the Gospel!
GK: How have you seen God use the events of the past few months to advance the Kingdom of God in Ukraine and Russia?
MM: Over the months of revolution (Nov-Feb) we have seen how prayer became not just a ritual people followed on Maidan (Independence Square - epicenter of protests), but a true cry of heart - cry for forgiveness, for protection, for mercy! It was especially obvious in the last days of February when the stand of unarmed protesters against armed riot police resembled David and Goliath battle. When sky was black with smoke, the air filled with bullet whistles and explosions, when more and more injured and dead were carried from front lines, people were falling on their knees and praying. And when riot police turned around and ran people knew it was God's victory for protesters had no chance without God.
Ukrainians didn't even have time to grieve the losses of February when Russia attacked us, annexing Crimea and sending hundreds, then thousands of mercenaries over the border to terrorize Eastern regions of Ukraine. UN reports 1129 civilians killed, 3442 injured, 771 have been held hostage and hundreds are still missing. Yesterday 9 kids picked up an unknown object in the field and as they carried it, it exploded. All of them are in hospital seriously injured, most have lost limbs. Every day we hear news of more Ukrainian military killed and injured in combat. This horror seems to crawl into our homes, even the ones that for now are not in the war zone.
But even in that, God is working in the hearts of people. Instead of despair or hate, people mobilize to help each other. Many volunteer movements are taking place all over the country. I've written an article about one of the initiatives - Volunteer Movement to Help Army. We see that God is working in the hearts of those who are eager to serve, and in the hearts of refugees and the soldiers of Ukrainian army.
GK: What is the most important thing we at Fellowship need to know that cannot be found in the reporting of the regular press?
MM: We hope you know that this is not a civil war in Ukraine, but that we are fighting against Russia for our independence now. These difficult events are causing a spiritual revival in Ukraine. We haven't seen this kind of openness to the Gospel as we are seeing now. This is the most important thing that is happening in Ukraine. Our country, our people are submitting to Christ and that's what will bring the healing and freedom to our land.
GK: How would you like the people of Fellowship to pray for you? Your team? Your country?
MM: Please, continue to pray for peace - for war to end not just in the battle fields but also in the hearts. Pray for protection, for healing of the injured, for hundreds of people who are being held hostage by terrorists. Pray for Ukrainian church to be effective in sharing the Gospel. Pray for our teams, for their safety. One of our teams (Sympheropol) is in Crimea (territory occupied by Russia), 3 other teams are in the regions that Putin would be interested in destabilizing (Odessa, Kherson and Kharkov).
Pray for wisdom in using resources and time to join volunteer movements to help refugees and the army.
There is a very real possibility that some of our male staff might be drafted to the army in the near future (drafting age has been extended to 60). Pray that God will protect them.
Pray for upcoming winter. We might be in for the coldest one yet. As of now gas contracts with Russia are off, so we are not sure if our apartments will be heated this year.
Please, pray that many more people will come to Christ as Ukrainians are learning that the only one that can be relied on is God.
GK: In the midst of all the political issues, how does IP keep the Gospel central?
MM: IP staff is involved in work with refugees and with delivering basic supplies to our military in the war zone. The main thing of course, is sharing the message of Hope with people and we see the hunger for it. The soldiers are eager for the Bibles more than for food that we bring to them. They want to hear about God, about Christ. There are no atheists in the war.
GK: Anything else?
One more prayer request. Our US visas are up in mid-September and we have applied for renewal. The visas should have been issued by now. I just read that US State Department issuing visas is down around the world. Pray that we do get those visas - you never know with the Embassy. We were planning to buy our tickets for September serve conference this week, but now want to wait to get our passports (with visas :-) back.
*News Flash – The visas arrived!
God Story Serve Newsletter July 2014
Many in our FBC family are entering into one of the most meaningful experiences they might ever have! Close to 300 FBCers either have gone, or will soon go, on a short-term mission trip. Anytime one serves Jesus by serving the “ends of the earth,” it is a step of obedience to Christ’s Great Commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
The Bible speaks often of the importance of world mission, evangelizing the lost across the world, and our need to pray, give and go. Please watch this video of one family’s mission trip journey and experience first-hand what mission is all about!
God Story Serve Newsletter June 2014
BAM !! Seems like something you'd see in a super-hero comic.
This is a different kind of B.A.M. Read on...
Business platforms are particularly effective in areas where traditional church planting and missionary efforts are just not possible. The owners operate their businesses in a Biblical, godly fashion, which separates them from those around them. People ask why? Openings for sharing the gospel ensue. Soon there are believers and churches planted in previously dark corners of the world. We call this Business As Mission.
Min Min is a pastor in North Dagon Township in Yangon, Myanmar where current FBC teams serve. Min Min came to the program in early 2013 with the idea of starting a sidecar taxi business. He wanted to employ new believers in his church --- especially young men who needed an opportunity to provide for themselves and the strong positive influence of a Christian mentor.
After attending all three phases of the program, Min Min bought three sidecars and began to disciple three new Christians through the business. A year into the business, he has expanded to a fleet of five sidecars, has provided a steady income for five people in an impoverished community, and has supplemented his own small income. Min Min manages the business finances and maintenance of the sidecars. He has opportunities to teach his drivers and shepherd them, and at the same time has created a growing business.
This business is strengthening Min Min’s local church. In his discipleship he is teaching his drivers how to build relationships, share the gospel, and bring unreached people to Christ.
We need team members. If you can coach a kid to start and operate a summer lawn-mowing business, you can go with us overseas. Or you can invest in a loan fund. Or you can support those who are able to go. Contact us at:
God Story Serve Newsletter May 2014
Did you know that 35 short-term mission teams from FBC will enter mission fields around the world throughout 2014? Close to 300 folks will seek to "glorify God by making disciples of Jesus" as they swing hammers, as they teach ESL, as they provide medical care, and so on. As Crawford mentioned in yesterday's service, please remember to fast and pray for these upcoming FBC mission trips. Specifically, please pray for:
- Opportunities to share the gospel, as well as Convert Discipleship (effective follow-up of new believers by local ministries)
- That team members will catch the vision of God’s heart for people who don’t know Him
- Unity among the teams/spiritual warfare
- That these trips will not be “one and done” for team members (pray that they will be a conduit to more intentional, ongoing “mission as life” lifestyle for each one of them)
- For God’s Glory
Smoke Rise Missions exists to get the men of Christ out of the pews and into the world through BBQ's or swinging hammers.
Recently, in New Orleans, a team of men from Smoke Rise Missions helped a single mom get back into her home that had been flooded from Hurricane Isaac in 2012. One year later, the necessary repairs to reoccupy still hadn’t been done. However, with the donations from BBQ sales, the SRM men could travel to New Orleans. Here, they helped lay down floor tiles and finished the drywall so that her belongings could finally be brought out of storage and she could return home.
One of the great opportunities of this trip was working alongside her 29 year old son. The men were blessed to demonstrate brand new 'life skills' of laying tiles, grouting and finishing. He worked with them during the trip and when they departed, stated that "My life has been focused on boxing and making it to the Olympics. I had no other skills. You showed me that I could make it by starting my own tiling business. Through the love of Christ, you all made a difference that will be with me forever."
"We cook BBQ to raise donations to serve our world." Come join us.
God Story Serve Newsletter April 2014
An invitation can be a powerful thing!
Do you remember the excitement you got as a kid when you were invited to a birthday party or to a neighbor’s house? Remember getting invited to be a part of a team? Conversely, can you remember not getting invited? When that happened, you had to deal with questions like, “why weren’t you there?” Questions like this one made you confront the fact that you were not invited.
Now, fast-forward. Has anything changed as an adult? I don’t think it has. We still get excited over being invited to something…especially to something that is important.
As we prepare for our Easter Celebration, where we will rejoice that “He is risen,” we have the opportunity to invite others to that Celebration!
Let’s look at a few quick facts:
Easter is the #1 most likely time for unchurched people to come to church.
- "82 percent of the unchurched are at least ‘some-what likely’ to attend church if they are invited. Perhaps we need to pause on this response. Perhaps we need to restate it: More than eight out of ten of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited. If you take anything from this book, please remember this point." Thom Rainer, Unchurched Next Door
- "Only 2 percent of church members ever invite an unchurched person to church." – Thom Rainer, Unchurched Next Door
Easter is the biggest event on FBC’s calendar because it is the biggest event in history. Why not invite someone to join you on Easter Sunday? You have a couple of things in your favor. First, as mentioned above, people like to be invited, even if they don’t accept the invitation… so don’t worry about rejection. Second, many people still feel some obligation to go to church on Easter or Christmas: by giving them an invitation, you have eliminated the work for them of finding another place to go. Finally, here is our real motivation: Jesus is worthy of glory and He is worthy to be worshiped. His victory over Satan, sin, and death is worth celebrating. Our neighbors and friends are worth the risk of awkward conversation to invite them to meet Jesus. So in the weeks leading up to Easter, we would like everyone to invite someone to join us. Invite a family, neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member who needs to hear the good news of Jesus.
So what if you have not even thought about inviting anyone to a FBC Easter service? What if you don’t even know your neighbors…what do you do? Fortunately, there is still time to do something (but you do need to “get on it”). Here are some practical ideas for how you can invite others to FBC’s Easter Service:
- Pray weekly before Easter and pray for the Easter Celebration Services – pray as a family and/or with your community group on a weekly basis. Pray that you will be bold in the gospel and that you will gain Jesus’ heart for your friends and neighbors. Make a list of everyone you would like to invite and pray for them daily over the next few weeks.
- Host a pre-Easter neighborhood party - plan a party, invite the neighbors, pull out the BBQ and man/woman the grill. Host an Easter Egg Hunt for the neighborhood children.
- Host an Easter brunch or lunch before/after the Easter service. I stole this idea from Mark and Debbie McGoldrick. One year at Easter, Mark and Debbie invited their neighborhood over to a brunch at their house; then, the plan was for everyone to go to FBC after the brunch. Mark and Debbie had over 30 folks show up!
- Use your social media – use Facebook and Twitter to invite your family and friends. Show your excitement online!
- Invite folks from your “normal routine” – think about Starbucks, your bank teller, that clerk at the grocery store, folks you see at the gym, and so on. Who are folks you see all the time who might be encouraged by an invitation? Be bold!
- Give an invite – FBC has produced invites you can hand out to everyone mentioned above.
- Tell them about the free family photo. Yes, you read that correctly! We will have several professional photographers stationed throughout FBC who will take free family photos!
Remember, as a church, we exist to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus. Let’s make sure that as many people as possible receive an invitation.
God Story Serve Newsletter March 2014
First, a quick recap: The Lord has led our leadership to adopt Cologne, Germany, a city where less than 1% of the population follows Jesus. Part of FBC's vision regarding Cologne is that the Lord would raise up two to three families who would give their lives away for the sake of His Kingdom. This will also help lead FBC to accomplish the vision of giving everyone in Cologne a chance to respond to the gospel.
Second, the exciting news: Fran and Jessica Gregory and Nate Mathis, members at FBC, have responded to God's call on their lives and have gone through the Greater Europe Mission application process. THEY WERE JUST ACCEPTED AS MISSION PARTNERS with GEM, and are now heading to Germany! Praise the Lord!
Third, the story of another family who might be heading to Cologne: Jeff and Stephanie Imperial. We caught up with them after a recent vision trip they took to Cologne and asked them the following questions:
Q: What prompted you to go to Cologne, Germany?
A: It started with a desire to be obedient. Over the past five years, we feel that God has been preparing us for something, and we have been praying for an opportunity to be “sent out” because we were willing to go. We started coming to FBC in September, and began hearing about the connection with Cologne, started praying, and then eventually inquired about it. Before attending FBC, Germany never crossed our minds.
Q: What did you do there and what was your experience like?
A: We were there in mid-February. In our consideration for a 3 year commitment, we thought it might be good to go on a vision trip. Our specific purpose was to get to know the GEM team in place there, and to see the areas of ministry. We spent time with each of the team members in their specific areas of Cologne, as well as exploring the other areas of the city on our own. We went on prayer walks (aka prayer-and-share), and we helped serve coffee and tea as an outreach in the train terminal. We also experienced the home church, and attended the team’s prayer meeting and team meeting. It allowed us to get a feel for what the long-term mission would look like, and gave us a feel for the city. We really started to feel a connection to Cologne, and began to see how we would fit in and serve there, and what our role will look like.
Q: How is God speaking to you now about Cologne, Germany?
A: Before we heard about it at FBC in September, Germany was nowhere on our radar. Our initial thought was “why Germany?” It did not fit into our stereotypical, preconceived idea of the mission field. But, when we went, we truly saw the needs there. We made a heart connection with the people. God loves the people of Cologne, and wants to be in relationship with them, and is allowing us to be a part of that. Amazing! He is revealing to us, that in our obedience, he will lead and provide.
Q: Why should other FBCers consider going on a short-term trip to Cologne?
A: If you feel God is prompting you to go, then go. Be obedient. It is easy to disqualify yourself from ministry callings, because it is always easy to find reasons not to do something. It is very good for people to get out of their comfort zone, especially for kingdom purposes. God is much bigger than the United States, the English language, and the American continent. The short term trips allow for an intense evangelism push for the teams in place there. It also allows people to get outside their own circles of influence in order to follow the Matthew 28:19 mandate. You can’t get the full impact of the needs in Cologne in a video, or in other people's stories like you would in your own experience. When you see it yourself, you understand better, you see the faces, and you meet the people, you make a heart connection. It’s like the Dom Cathedral in Cologne. When you see a picture of it, you can see that it is an amazing sight. But, when you stand underneath it, your breath is taken by the magnificence of it. You have a greater perspective of what it is you are seeing.
God Story Serve Newsletter February 2014
We exist to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus who love God passionately and love others unconditionally. It is really easy to read the FBC mission statement and not personalize it. Now, however, read it again but replace the “we” with “I.” I exist to glorify God and make disciples… It is FBC’s desire to help each member/attendee live out this mission.
As such, Fellowship has joined together with Billy Graham Ministries to use a simple, but effective plan. "My Hope" is an opportunity to clearly share with the people around you the story of everlasting hope in Jesus Christ. By opening up your home and inviting friends, neighbors, co-workers, family and colleagues, your guests can learn about Jesus.
Kevin Lee was one of the first to sign up on FBC’s website as a Hope Party host. Since he was quick to sign up, we wanted learn why he was so excited to host a Hope Party. What follows below is a Q&A with Kevin:
Q: Kevin, why do you feel compelled to give a Hope Party?
A: First, I believe that what has been given me through His grace is meant to be shared. Not sharing is a selfish mindset. Second, I truly want to see every last human being enjoy God's grace. I get sick knowing that some people die and have never experienced the peace within Him. Finally, I feel that a Hope Party is a good structured way to go about evangelism. Recently my prayers have been all about my approach on how to evangelize; sure enough God has given me a way even if it isn't my normal style of doing things.
Q: Are you scared? If so, how are you dealing with that fear?
A: I am a bit scared, because I usually meet random people and talk to them about Jesus, but I never talk to my old friends about what changed my life. So my list of people is mostly people I've known for a long time. It's easy to share with people on the street or people you don't know yet, but to take people who knew you (past tense) and feel a drive to share God's grace with them is difficult. So, I am in deep prayer. Although I always pray for these people, the structure of this Hope Party has led me to scriptures that I know oh so well but have never applied to my prayer time, for the people I deeply want to come to Christ.
Q: Tell us about your party. What do you plan to do?
A: I made a decision in church the very day we viewed The Cross film. That afternoon I selected a date on my calendar and put it on my phone. The next week I started inviting people. There is no turning back now, so I'd better prepare myself and let God prepare me! The first allotted time will be social, and I want to keep the time light…have everyone get to know each other and have old friends re-connect. From there I will put on the video. Directly after, I will tell them how I came to God and share the story of the Gospel of Jesus. I will start my prayer "call to God" and will follow up with a simple statement that if they have that prayer in their hearts, then they are surely reborn. I will give everyone an option to stay connected with me. I am planning on having better connections after the event, but maybe no "visual" takers right then, but I do expect to do follow-up discipleship.
Q: If there are folks at FBC who are “on the fence” about hosting a party, what would you say to them?
A: To anyone on the fence about hosting a party, I say trust God! I know it may seem harsh, but I really feel that God lays this on everyone. It shows a true care for people to share God with them. I know it can be scary, I know our society tries to shun evangelism and Jesus, but if we truly believe this is the only way to receive salvation, then this is a must do. At first it may seem like a Father telling his kids to eat the vegetables, but as that child begins to eat more vegetables, it becomes natural to eat them and they begin to like them.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the FBC family?
A: FBC family, God is good and time is short. Life isn't easy, but God gives us the answers and the voice to follow. What better voice to listen to than His word? I have several friends dying at very young ages. I'm only in my upper 30's, and it seems as if each month I learn about someone from my past that has died… car wrecks, drugs, alcohol, suicides, and so on. Those stories seem so distant, but they happen every day. Our lives are only a heart-beat of eternity. Let's offer ourselves as Jesus’ conduits towards the people we love. Deep down inside I know this isn't just something we should do; it should be our identity. Finally don't be afraid to share who you are. Be comfortable with this identity.