I’m back at home, getting back in the groove of an already fast paced summer of ministry. This week we are having our Foster kids camp, which in itself is a life changing experience, for America’s orphans, foster kids. It is already going well, and 61 foster kids ages 7-11, and a host of around 100 volunteers are gathered on our lower campus. This experience for them is life changing. I’m so proud of our church for caring for those who are hurting and need love. Its not about us though, its all about the glory of God. This is what the word says that Christians should do, and we do it, because we want to reflect the heart of God to man. Jesus loves the world through us.
The team we took to Africa really grabbed a hold of that thinking, and did such a great job, through ministry, and practical help showing the people of Africa that God loves them, and wants to empower them to become everything He intended for their lives.
What a team, I call them the dream team. While we were there it was very hard to get pics up and video so I was unable to show many pics, but now i can, so here you go.
Dante’ Sterling, what a great guy! He was a lot of fun and kept everyone laughing and enjoying themselves. He was a hard worker as well, always learning and developing as he was reaching out to those who needed help. He was great in the clinic, and building the Classroom. He was a great part of the team.
Sam Layman is an incredible young man. He is a husband and father of 2 boys. This is his second trip to Africa with Global Reach for Justice. He is an efficient worker and an integral part of the team. He truly made a difference not only in the lives of the African People, but in the lives of his team mates. Sam is a quiet, secure leader who leads by example.
Cindy Carreno, what a great team leader. Cindy was a huge part of the planning for this trip, and managing the medical clinic, she fought a hard battle with customs, finally getting our meds in and we were able to see hundreds of people in the 3 half day clinic. She is a hard worker, a positive influence, and truly has a heart for Africa.
Sean Kilgore, an impressive young man who truly cares about people. He is 18 yrs old, and could have been doing a lot of things with his summer, but he chose to go to Africa to help those in need, and this is not new for him, he spends a lot of time thinking about how to help others and helping them. I was really impressed with Sean and consider him a friend. He is a world changer, no doubt.
Stephanie Hesser, she was also a part of leadership team, and was a very important part of our planning and organization of the trip as a whole, she is invaluable as a team leader and player. She is the assistant campus pastor at our Stillwater campus and she truly loves and cares for people. She was tireless in her efforts. She has a vision to help the people of Africa and she is succeeding.
Joe Reed is a strong leader and a problem solver. He lead the band and music at the pastors conference and ran into several obstacles but he worked it through and made it happen. He was great with the kids and worked hard in every aspect of the trip and he was an incredible encouragement to the team.
Susie O’daniel is a fighter and a hard worker. She overcame so much to take this trip. She has a willingness to do whatever is needed. She played a significant role in many areas on this trip. Her compassion is great and her heart is real in its desire to help others. She is a great team player.
Genora Spain is the praise and worship leader at our MWC campus, and did a terrific job on this trip pulling three different groups together to create strong and anointed praise and worship. She is a strong worker and a significant leader. Her heart is tender and she is moved with compassion.
Wylie Merritt, the thought that comes to mind when i think of Wylie is “heart of Gold.” He is truly a man who loves people, and cares about their condition in life. He worked hard along side the rest of the team, enjoyed himself and has an infectious laugh. He is a good man.
Heather Knowels has to be one of the hardest working people i have ever seen, she definitely gave it her all on this trip. She is a pediatric icu nurse and is in the right field, she cares about kids and their well being. Great asset to the team.
Ashley Ledford, she was absolutely in her element on this trip. She is vibrant, ecnouraging and incredible with kids. She was able to contribute to the organization of the clinic by teaching a community health class, and organizing the children. She is a great teacher. Hard worker and always smiling.
Scotty Haynes or Norman Campus Pastor. He is a great leader, and one of the most positive people I know. He is a true optimist and in this kind of ministry that really comes in handy. He was a true help in many ways on this trip, and brings a level of maturity that develops the leaders around him.
Greg Willis, aka “Big Man” Greg was great on this trip. A lot of fun, and a hard worker. He brought a high level of leadership and work to the trip. He was constantly developing and growing through the process.
This team was truly a joy to lead, hard working, compassionate, full of faith, unified, and flexible. True servant leaders. Thanks to all those who supported them, and to those who gave towards the projects of Global reach for Justice. You truly made a difference in Africa.
Our Next trip to Africa is coming soon. It’s June 14-26. In years past we have taken two teams at the same time split up, one team went to Rwanda, one team to Uganda. This year we are taking everyone to both places. This trip will be fast paced, but high impact for so many. We will continue our efforts with the medical clinic in Rwanda. Giving many people the chance to see a dr, and get some basic medical care that is hard or impossible for them to get otherwise. This clinic is in a district that has a high rate of sex trade, so the needs are serious. We will also continue to reach out to the next generation by having a next generation festival, filled with music, and speaking and a whole lot of fun! We believe the hope for Rwanda lies in the young generation. We will also be continuing our Pastors and leaders training. The leaders there can make so much more impact than we can, but they need training, and they are hungry for it. Our efforts in Uganda will include, building a classroom for the watoto village. Making a place for generational impact. We will also help with a young pastor who is planting a church. Our whole desire is to impact the lives of people with the message of the Gospel as well as the actions of the Gospel. We believe it is the churches responsibility to help others, locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Help us make a difference in the lives of those who want and need the opportunity to have a bright future. To help go to http://www.harvestokc.com. Thanks for your prayer and Giving to support us in making a difference around the world. Justice simply put is righting wrongs. Some go some send, but all can do their part.
I am so proud of how all of our campuses are serving in our communities. We are by far not the only people doing this, it’s exciting to me to see how many churches have awakened to the fact that our role is to do more than preach with our mouths, but help people in need. People with spiritual, physical, relational, financial, and emotional needs.
I have Pastor Friends here in the city and throughout the states and around the world who are truly making a difference and caring for people. Love is active, so we stay busy helping others. Here are some of the things we have done lately.
Our MWC campus just held a banquet for Military men and women. To appreciate them and let them know how much they truly mean to us. MWC houses Tinker air force base, and the area is populated with the military. It was just a way of saying thanks and it really made an impact.
MWC has also been tailgating at choctaw high school Home football games, giving away free burgers and hot dogs and just being available to the students and families. They have also been diligent in building an ongoing relationship with teachers, administration and students by going to the school and helping out.
Edmond Campus, held a benefit dinner not long ago, partnering with a local high school for a young man who had been injured in an accident and had been paralyzed. They raised money to help him pay for medical equipment and medical Care.
Edmond campus men have been visiting the elderly in one of the local nursing homes. They have provided snacks for college students on finals week, and put together goodie bags for a local football team for an away game.
OKC Campus at the start of school handed out free snacks and connected with college students. OKC is going into local public elementary schools, and doing an assembly on the value of reading. In one day we will be in front of several hundred students, and helping promote reading and reinforcing what their teachers are teaching. We will do this on the 18th of this month and again in the spring.
Stillwater blessed 10 families for thanksgiving, fed lunch to all the teachers at the middle school, and some of the administrative staff at OSU, as well as cleaned the Payne County Youth Shelter.
Norman has been tailgating at the OU football games. They have given out thousands of free food items (hot dogs, and breakfast burritos) and connected with lots of people. They have really helped some people while being a part of the fun in the community. They Even ended up on the fox sports show. How fun.
Cordell Campus took on a project to help renovate, clean, and do minor projects on a home for a single mom.
These are just some of the things we are doing. We have individuals in our church, who have outreaches to get blankets for the homeless, others who are getting socks for the homeless, and still others who are regularly feeding the homeless. We have men who are mentoring inner city youth and women who teaching and training young at risk women life skills and parenting.
So many other things are going on and we’re just getting ramped up. One of the things I like the most are the ministries all of our campuses come together for. Like our foster kids ministry. We provide a free camp in the summer for 80-100 foster kids, and we do something we call the “Tree of Hope” Its a way for people on every campus to get involved with giving a christmas to hundreds of kids. We have people take kids wish list off the tree and buy gifts for them, wrap them and bring them back for a big party we do after our Christmas production. This helps our foster kids and our RTG (rescue the girls) families.
The greatest part of all of this is that it’s God’s heart for His church to help those who are need, and as we are helping we can share the love, compassion, grace, and Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love Jesus and all that He stands for, and am privileged to work in His Kingdom. It’s an honor to serve people and it’s life changing for us as well.
By the way on all of the projects we do, we are partnering with local merchants, business people, city officials, and leaders. Partnership is the key.
We can all do something. Please comment and tell me some of the things you are doing with your church or on your own to help people.
Wow! What a blast! Who knew that handing out water could be so fun, and create so many great interactions. It is completely unnatural to role your window down at an intersection and take a free bottle of water from a stranger but thousands did it tonight. They were surprised, thankful, inquisitive, and even made commitments to come to church on Easter. One lady said, “I’m coming just because you people are so Happy.”
Our teams at Stilwater, OKC, Edmond, and Midwest City, all had great turnouts of volunteers and handed out a lot of water. First day was big success.
Its interesting, how a generous act opens the heart of people. How just being Kind, with no agenda makes people smile. When we would say would you like a free bottle of water they would say “really?” They would ask, “why are you doing this” of course the answer is showing the love of Jesus In a practical way. Just want to serve the community. The response was amazing.
We had way more than enough volunteers, so we just grabbed garbage bags and started picking up trash. It felt so great to truly be contributing to the community.
I love servolution, our people Love servolution, and we are taking it as a mandate to live out servolution every day.
7 days? How about 70 x 7?
Jesus loves people, and we get to show them. Its awesome!
“Receive”….blog I wrote in 2006
If we’ll notice there are times in life that we’re more receptive than others. This should really be a lesson for us. It seems that all people are more receptive when life is brought to its basic simple reality. We live and we die, and then life after death. When people are brought face to face with mortality it’s amazing how receptive we become. I have very distinct memories when I was 20 years old, watching George Bush Sr. Declare war in the gulf coast to save Kuwait from its impending doom at the hands of Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The very next weekend our church which already had great attendance was at full capacity. In our church we could seat about 700 people including the balcony. We usually ran in attendance around 400 adults. That weekend every seat was full including the balcony, it was amazing. People we hadn’t seen in a while were at church, we had many first time guest and they were there to connect with God. People who were once a month or twice a month people all of a sudden became faithful attendees. It was a moment where we were faced with our mortality. Faced with the fact that our lives could change drastically, faced with the question are we safe? The sad part is that although we did grow overall, after a few weeks, slowly but surely people began to go back to their normal routines, God was no longer as important as He was in those moments that we desperately needed Him. I see this every time I preside over a funeral, every time I counsel someone who is in a moment of reality. I saw this Friday night, as I stood on the front lawn of Mitchell Hall on the University of Central Oklahoma Campus, as we honored the memory of an incredible young woman who was a member of our church, Hannah McCarty. They were unveiling a beautiful piece of art in her memory and to honor the scholarship that has been established in her name. What a great honor it was for me to be able to share in that moment. The head of the arts department Dr. Clinton presided over the ceremony, The president of the College, Dr. Webb was there and addressed the crowd, Jack and Pam sent out a clear message with their speech that Hannah’s life was so meaningful and continues to have meaning because of her relationship with Jesus Christ, as they say and I’m sure you’ve seen on city buses, “when you know Jesus the dance never ends.” Hannah was a prolific dancer, more importantly though she was a prolific Christian. I had the wonderful privilege of being the last speaker and had the opportunity to close in prayer. I hope that I represented Hannah and the McCarty’s and our church well in that moment, but most importantly I hope that I represented Jesus well. I simply told the truth. I told the crowd of it seemed like a couple of hundred people, how Hannah lived. She lived life with Passion and on purpose. I said to them she lived life to the full. “Many of us thinking living life to the full is filling our lives up with busyness and things, but she superseded that by living her life as busy as it was, with purpose. It wasn’t just about doing things but it was doing things on purpose.” I said.
I told them, “she looked her obstacles and problems and sickness in the eye, without complaint and simply said, I’m going to live anyway. The reason she had this Joy, the reason she had this peace, the reason she had this purpose, was her relationship with Jesus.” It was a great moment.
The context of this event was interesting, I’m sure that there were several Christians there, but there were also many very secular people there, but it was amazing how receptive everyone was. I didn’t feel a resistance at all as I spoke very clearly about Jesus Christ, I looked out on the crowd, and saw some smiling faces, some somber faces, and some faces caught in the act of introspection. Thinking over their lives, seemingly asking “am I living, really living?” It was a great moment. I am very proud for Jack and Pam, that Hannah was recognized in this way, but more importantly that they have taken a personal tragedy for them and turned it into a day to day ongoing outreach to people, who are getting saved and their lives changed. Pam told me that Hannah always said, I want to be responsible for at least one person going to heaven, and as Pam says, she has impacted many more than that.
It is very telling on us as humans that we are receptive at certain times more than others. It is very revealing when things are going well how easily we forget, how much we need Jesus and how unreceptive we become to His desires for us, and His purposes for our lives. If we could only find a way to tap into those moments of decision and understand how important it is for us to constantly and consistently be receptive to His spirit and His word.
We have been taught to be so cynical. Question everything, don’t believe anything, or believe everything. I don’t suggest that anyone go around blindly following others with no discernment. I think everything we see and hear and are a part of should be ratified by the word of God in us. Let us today make a commitment to God and to ourselves and to our church that we will be receptive. Receptive to the voice of God to His word and to His purpose for our lives. Why do we need to go about our own way until forced by circumstances to change our perspective, lets just keep a holy perspective and reverence for the things of God and watch Him use us to profoundly change our world. I am so grateful that even in our inconsistency and wavering God’s grace is sufficient, and He is not angry with us but longing for an close relationship with each of us.
2 days ago i did something that I use to believe I could not do. I ran 15 miles. WOW, what a challenge. It was very difficult. If you have read my blog before you know that I have run up to 12 miles, and thought that was quite an accomplishment. When we ran this 15, i was doing great until we got to about 12, the furthest i had gone to that point. My body just wanted to quit, but my friend and coach Andrew just pushed me and kept running in front of me to get my body to just come along. It hurt, and was hard, but I’m so glad I did it.
This is why leaders are so important to our lives, because when we are struggling we can look out front, and there is someone who has been where you have before and knows you can make it. Just keep running they say, come on you can do it they might say, but the thing that helped me, was the fact that andrew did not stop or slow for me, he just kept running, so when i wanted to stop, i couldn’t because he was out in front leading me on. When I wanted to give up, I would look ahead and he would just keep going, so I felt compelled to keep moving.
I encourage all of us to look to our leaders, and be encouraged and keep going, even when it hurts, even when its hard, and even when you don’t think you can. look out in front, and see the example that you can do it, because someone else has. Then look behind you, there is probably someone on your heals.