When was the last time you had your heart melted?

When I began to learn some of the stories of the Karen people who are now attending our church, I knew God wanted me join Him to help these precious adults and their children adjust to a new home.  What I did not yet realize was how much God was going to use them to bless MY life.

The Karen families have reminded me that:

  • True joy is not defined by status or possessions,
  • Biblically defined community can still exist,
  • Simplicity is better,
  • Faith trumps circumstances, and
  • Abundant living is found through loving and serving God and people.

When I witnessed a Karen father wipe tears from his eyes as he met his own daughter’s teacher at the school’s Open House, I was reminded how blessed I am that my children could get an education.   Meanwhile, I am continuing to relive the joy I experienced watching my boys play on sports teams as I watch the Karen children excel in soccer, form relationships with coaches and players, and chatter excitedly about their experiences.    My hearts continues to melt as I am given hugs around the neck, waist, and legs.

I am so glad God “asked” my heart, “These are My children.  Will they be your children too?”

By: Connie Vigus

 

“Let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.” 1 John 3:18

 Do you want to make a difference in the lives of refugees coming to our area?

Visit http://www.becauselovedoes.org to find out out how. 

 

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Entertaining Angels

Have you ever entertained an angel? I’m not talking about singing them a song or telling them a joke.  No, Hebrews 13:1 says “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  Most of us have never met some light-filled being with wings but almost all of us have had a moment when God showed up unexpectedly in the form of someone we didn’t know.

The Bible talks about that a lot actually.  In Leviticus, the Israelite’s are given a non-negotiable command. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” In the gospel of Matthew Jesus talks about a moment in heaven that will happen down the road. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me in.  “Wait a second Lord,” the confused people will ask.  “When did we welcome you in?”  And Jesus will say “whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.”

We all know we’re supposed to love our neighbors, but the Bible has a habit of defining “neighbor” very broadly.

Since the year 2000, nearly a million refugees have come to the United States to escape political or religious persecution.  Last year, the largest percentage of them came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia but there are refugees from 79 different nations currently living in the U.S.

In addition to these refugees who have come to the U.S. due to persecution, there are approximately thirty-two million document immigrants currently living in the United States.  A handful of them are wealthy, educated, or both, but many of them are here because the circumstances in their own country are so bad that they are desperate to find a place of safety and hope and that’s exactly how they see us and our country.

But what about us…how do we see them?  Do we see them as God’s children?  Do we see an opportunity to make a friend and share God’s love?  Are we taking the clue that Jesus provided us, and seeing our opportunity to bless them as an opportunity to bless Jesus himself.  Let’s not rob them or ourselves of that opportunity.

This January let’s see what we can do to make a friend, to entertain an angel, and to welcome Jesus himself into our midst.

Matt Cook

Pastor, First Baptist Church-Wilmington NC

MATT COOK

KOG2ILM- http://www.becauselovedoes.org

 

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There is Power in a Home Delivered Meal

We’ve all been there. A to do list longer than that 23 mile long CVS receipt shoved in between the seats of your car. I hear you. I do. As a new mom –I recently returned back to the full-time work force  all to soon – so I hear you. But let me paint you a picture.

Fast forward 30, 40, maybe even 50 years. Where do you picture yourself? How do you picture yourself?

Imagine that you are, by God’s graces, still living at home. Perhaps with your spouse, perhaps alone. Your babies have grown and now have teenage babies of their own. Everyone is busy. Everyone has those 23 mile long to do lists that you used to have. But your list isn’t quite so long anymore…

You wake up, maybe have a bowl of cereal. You check the weather and the news. And then check them again. You might even speak to one of those really busy family members on the phone for a few minutes. You know they are doing the best they can, you do. But you still can’t shake the tiny sting at wishing you could have just a bit more of them.

You look at the clock. Your stomach starts to growl. You should probably go ahead and eat some lunch. Your aid comes a couple days a week to help you take a bath and they can make you a sandwich sometimes. But today is a Tuesday – your aid isn’t coming today. And you ran out of bread yesterday. You know you can’t drive yourself to the store because your middle daughter took your keys away a good 3 years ago.

You think about trying to heat up one of those meals your son put in your freezer. But the last time you did that, you forgot to turn the oven off… Then when your oldest daughter stopped by to check on you on her way home from work, she discovered your mistake and told you that you really shouldn’t be using the oven anymore.

You frown. You can’t help but roll your eyes and mumble about the time that she herself left the sink in the bathroom running when she was 12. For a second, you’re irritated. How dare she tell you what you shouldn’t do. But then you remember that the sink didn’t overflow after you told her she couldn’t use the stopper anymore. You sigh and decide that she’s right.

So what do you do? You really are getting hungry now.

You try to remember if today is one of the days that your middle daughter stops by mid afternoon and brings you supper. You are really starting go get frustrated with yourself that you can’t seem to keep your days quite as straight as you used to.

But then your doorbell rings. Who could be visiting today?? Then you remember. Your oldest daughter signed you up for Meals on Wheels last week. Your meals begin today!

As you wheel yourself over to the door, you start to think… You were reluctant when she first brought it up. Does this mean you are admitting you are losing independence? No! It just means you are getting that little bit of help you need to continue living at home and keep your independence.

As you open the door, a little girl with pig tails throws her hands in the air and shouts ‘Meals on Wheels!’, flinging the little roll around by the baggie it’s packed in. Her little brother toddles off to the side and drops your carton of milk. His mother scolds him and picks it up, brushing it off and placing it on top of a neat little package.

“Good afternoon, Mrs Sanders, how are you today??”.

You are so amused by the whole scene that all you can do is laugh. My, how exasperated that poor mother looks. You want to tell her to slow down –  that these are some of the best days she will ever have.

She smiles at you and says “It looks like it’s a Chicken Pot Pie day. With stewed apples and fried okra.”

My! That sure does sound better than the pepperoni hot pocket you were going to try to heat up in the microwave…

She asks if they can set the meal down on the table for you. The little girl compliments you on your really big, bright dress. You smile and say “Well, thank you sweet heart.” as her mother corrects her that “It’s called a mu-mu, honey”. Meanwhile, the little boy has helped himself to a basket of pine cones on your stoop and is lobbing them at a (luckily) very quick squirrel. The mother lunges at the little boy and the little girl starts to skip off after them to the car. They all wave and tell you to have a nice day and that they’ll “See you next week!”.

You smile to yourself as they pile into their car like a small traveling circus. You remember those days. Lord, that was decades ago, but you can still feel your chest tighten a bit at the thought of all you thought you had to do back then. Always go go go.

The entire episode couldn’t have lasted more than 3 minutes. But you find your self chuckling – about the mischievous look in that little boy’s eyes and the comical enthusiasm of the little girl and her bread cheer – for the rest of the afternoon.

Tomorrow, an older gentleman – probably retired? – delivers your meal. Not quite as entertaining as the previous day’s delivery, but he stayed a few minutes to chat. And you really appreciated that. It’s amazing how lonely you feel sometimes, and you treasure these moments with these new kind people who have become a part of your life. You wonder if they know how much you look forward to their visits.

The day after that, it was another woman. She was on her lunch break and couldn’t stay long, but you could tell she was really genuine. And she brought you a crossword puzzle! 

Now think about where you are in your life right now. Back to that 23 mile long to do list. It doesn’t seem quite so daunting anymore, does it?

Love on God’s Kingdom however you can. On your lunch break. On your summers off. Whenever you’ve got just a few days to carve out an hour once a week.

Seriously. That’s all it takes. An hour or so. Once a week. (Or even every other week if you split a route with someone). You swing by, pick up your food, deliver your route, drop your bags back off and you’re done.

It really doesn’t take a whole lot out of your own week, but I will tell you this:

To that lady in the mu-mu? To the veteran rocking on his front porch – all morning – waiting for his Tuesday friend to pull up? To them, it means the absolute world.

Sure they get their bellies fed, but you also feed their hearts. Hearts of a generation that – as much as we hate to admit it –  have gotten lost in the rat race our lives have become.

I know we’re all busy, I do. But on the days I have a ‘no-show’ and have to run out to deliver a route myself – as I frantically jog out to my car – I’m thinking “I don’t have time for this right now!”.  But then – as I walk back to my car from that very first stop – I think to myself “Man. There is literally nothing more important than what I’m doing right this very second.”

 

So use it. Use this season. You may have been here for a while, and you may be here for quite a bit longer. But you may as well love on God’s Kingdom while you’re here.

 

Blog by:  Ashley Sanders

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About Home Delivered Meals : HDM of New Hanover County feeds over 300 home-bound senior citizens Monday through Friday every week of the year. (Due to funding needs, our booming local senior population, and need for more volunteers, etc, our waiting list is currently hovering at 200.)

KOG2ILM is a year long mission trip into our community. Currently we are focusing on the area of hunger. If you would like to volunteer to deliver a meal to someone in need or if you would like more information please visit www.becauselovedoes.org

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You’re Invited To Make A Difference

KOG2ilm

We have two weeks left for you to sign up to make a commitment to fight HUNGER in our area through our year long mission trip into our community called KOG2ILM.  There are many opportunities available for you to say yes to making an impact to alleviate hunger insecurity  for adults, families, kids and  the elderly in our community.

This Sunday Is Food Sunday food-sunday

Help us meet the goal to collect 10,000 lbs of food to be distributed to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard and Nourish NC, a backpack program for kids in school to have food over the weekend.  Bring your food items THIS SUNDAY (11-13-16) to the connector building.  FOOD LIST HERE

Lasting Impressions

  • Serve lunch once a week at the Good Shepherd House SIGN UP HERE
  • Deliver a meal once a week through Meals On Wheels SIGN UP HERE
  • Commit to sharing a meal around the table with our guests EVERY week during the Tuesday Night Feeding Ministry. Around the table you will have the opportunity to build relationships and show the unconditional love of Christ by learning the names and stories of homeless men and women each week. SIGN UP HERE

Would you consider making a high involvement lasting impression in the area of Hunger? This “all in” commitment will allow you to build relationships through a deeper time investment while helping to feed those who are hungry in our community.

 

Did You Know…

Food Insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to a hunger-stampsufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Food Deserts are geographic areas with a high concentration of poverty where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent. (Food Empowerment Project). There are 7 food deserts in our area. In Wilmington alone, 16,000 people in our area live in food deserts.
  • 16% of the population of New Hanover County are food insecure (32,350 people)
  • 23.7% of Children live in “Food Insecure” homes (almost 1 in 4)
  • 12,697 is the number of children eligible for free and reduced price school meals

 

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We Are In This Together

Expanding my Bubble…. I’ve lived in Wilmington for 4 years, and until recently, I had never been to certain areas of town. I’ve simply had no reason to be there.  For convenience and efficiency, I’ve operated within my own “bubble” — darting out here or there as needed for some specific reason.  For me (and probably many of my friends and neighbors) my bubble doesn’t include the Creekwood Community near 30th & Emory or the Hillcrest community near Dawson and 14th… areas of Wilmington that, statistically speaking, are struggling.  

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Through #KOG2ILM and Rev. James Jamison’s Boots on the Ground initiative (more on that below), our Vineyard Sunday School class has pushed out of our respective geographic and social bubbles to meet, feed, and develop relationships with people in Creekwood, Hillcrest and other faith communities that don’t necessarily look like the folks sitting in the pews with us on Sunday morning. 

And while we’d like to think our actions with Boots on the Ground are beneficial for the people we’re serving, I think it’s important to note we’re not on a one-way “giving” train. Everyone in our class would agree that we’ve gained something, too.  Our lives are richer, our perspectives have expanded, and our families & faith have been strengthened. 

While we’ve only participated with BOTG for a couple of months now, I think the message we hope to convey is simple…It’s  “We see you. We care enough to come where you are. We are in it together.” And most importantly, “There is hope in God. 

My bubble now includes Creekwood. My hope during the remainder of #becauselovedoes, is that every person at FBC will bravely and eagerly search out opportunities to expand their own bubble in whatever way God leads. 

More about Boots on the Ground 

A few months ago, FBC members participated in a prayer walk around our church to focus on specific areas of brokenness in our city.  Our Sunday School class, the “Vineyard,” felt called to action, specifically to help with children facing hunger.  Scott Burrell took the initiative, and Pastor Jim Everette put him in touch with Rev. James Jamison.  Reverend Jamison is a chaplain with the Wilmington Police Department, pastor of Hope Baptist Church and primary founder and organizer of “Boots on the Ground,” an interdenominational group who goes into areas of the city that need it most to provide a meal and caring presence, typically once a month. 

The Vineyard class has teamed up with Jamison’s group for 4 events now, including an Interdenominational Back-2-School bash where we, along with numerous others, served up over 3000 hot dogs at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center one very hot Saturday in August.   

By: Peyton Earey

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#becauselovedoes   #KOG2ILM

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LEARN MORE AT : www.becauselovedoes.org

KOG2ILM STOP #2-HUNGER RELIEF FOR OUR COMMUNITY

Our second mission trip stop in our community will be in the area of HUNGER.

LOVE DOES is a two-year missional journey into our communityimg_0366 that we are taking together. As a congregation we want to discover how God wants to use the best of who we are, as individuals and as a church, to meet the deep needs in our community and in our world. We’re calling this “Love Does” because love does change everything. What takes a hurting world and replaces it with hope and possibility? Love does! Love isn’t just a feel-ing, it’s a do-ing.  And love doesn’t just change the world, it changes us, too.

Education, Hunger, Refugees, Homelessness, and Incarceration – you are invited to Pray, Learn, Do and Reflect on what we are being called to do to bring the Kingdom of God to Wilmington (KOG2ILM) in these areas of brokenness.

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North Carolina is one of five states with the highest rates of people who struggle with food insecurity. But we are followers of a savior who is capable of taking what we give him and using it to feed the multitudes.

“Let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.” 1 John 3:18

picture2 Each person of First Baptist is encouraged to go deep by picking one of the five areas of brokenness and make a significant time and heart investment. Every emphasis will have three ways to be involved:

  • The low involvement is a mission opportunity that everyone can participate.
  • The medium involvement is a mission opportunity with a time commitment and deeper participation.
  • The high involvement mission opportunity is an “all in” commitment to build relationships through a deeper time investment.

ARE YOU READY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HUNGER? LET’S GO CLICK HERE!

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WWW.BECAUSELOVEDOES.ORG

‘PLANTING SEEDS OF LIGHT AND HOPE & TENDING THE GARDEN ONE DAY & ONE CHILD AT A TIME’

I felt the call on my life to work with people I will identify as the “underdogs”, when I was in college. These are individuals who struggle with physical and/or mental challenges on a consistent basis. I double majored in Psychology and Recreation Therapy in response to that call. I worked in psychiatric hospitals providing therapy and support to those who faced mental and psychological struggles after graduation. After twelve years, I began to feel the call to use my knowledge and gifts in a different direction, the field of education. I returned to school and earned my teaching certificate in Special Education. I had worked primarily with adults in my career as a therapist but felt I could have a greater impact if I intervened earlier. I could do this by working with children and their families. God prepared me for my current mission. I taught for five years in a traditional public school and worked with children who had a variety of learning needs along with some environmental factors that negatively affected their school experience. Then, I was given the opportunity to transition to teaching exceptional children at a new alternative school with a day treatment component that serves students who have mental health diagnoses. It became clear to me at that time that God’s plan for my career had come full circle. God had prepared me not only to work with students with special needs but also those with mental health challenges. This is my tenth year teaching in this capacity.

trust-1288018_1280Students that attend our school have a difficult time navigating life. They carry the baggage of sickness, hunger, homelessness, poverty, foster care, incarceration of a parent, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse or neglect, and inappropriate role models in the home environment. Most of them enter the doors of our school with little hope. It is no wonder these students have been unable to fully access and embrace the academic instruction provided to them throughout their school experience. Few of our students get excited about getting school vacations because it is difficult for them to face life outside the care and consistency of the typical school schedule.

I have the blessing of being in the bi-vocational role as both educator and missionary. The bible tells us in Matthew 5: 13-14 to be salt and light to those around us. I offer light by helping students feel safe, loved, and cared for while they are at school. I instill hope in them as they experience growth and success with academics as well as overcome personal challenges. The goal of my colleagues and I is to help our students recognize they have value and worth and deserve respect. lightbulb-rainbow_podcast
We challenge them to think beyond their current situation of which they have little to no control. Our school adopted a “Growth Mindset” culture this year. It emphasizes the importance of students giving their best effort, demonstrating perseverance, recognizing failure as the first step to success and simply saying, “I can’t do that, yet.” We instill the importance of striving toward a goal and accepting assistance when needed from others without giving up.

We have a gifted staff with a heart for each student. I see evidence of this every day. In addition to the traditional academic disciplines, we provide therapeutic gardening, Yoga instruction, social skills lessons, as well as individual and group therapy in order to meet the needs of our student population. We have no more than eight students per class so each student receives the individualized attention they need and deserve. We utilize a school wide behavior plan that requires students to reflect on his/her behavior with an instructor throughout the school day. This teaches the importance of personal goal setting, acceptance of rules and limits, consistency, and accountability in striving for success. We provide field trips to broaden our students’ experiences of life beyond their neighborhood. This school year we have partnered with two churches and a fraternity at UNCW. To encourage students and staff they provide mentoring and tutoring as well as other needed resources. Every day is a challenge for our staff and students. I believe the Lord has placed me in this mission field for this season of my life. I will continue to plant the seeds of light and hope and tend the garden one day and one life at a time.

Blog By: Lisa Everette

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         #KOG2ILM   #becauselovedoes

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  VISIT: http://www.becauselovedoes.org