Friday, December 19, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for December 21, 2014

If you could live life in reverse…if you could undo past things you have said, done or left undone, what would you undo? This is the question we will consider this Sunday as we delve into one of the most famous songs in the Bible, the Magnificat, sung by Mary as she joined her cousin in celebrating God’s favor in choosing her to be the other of Jesus the Savior. The Magnificat has been called “the most revolutionary” of passages in the Bible. The words celebrate a great reversal engineered by God. 

Join us this Sunday as we consider the implications for our faith in the practical day to day living of our lives as we wait for the return of Jesus.

Reading: Luke 1:39-56

Bulletin: Sunday, December 21. 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fall Retreat: Apostles Student Ministry

A few weeks ago our Middle School and High School students spent the weekend at Camp Oak Hill for their annual Fall Retreat. Here are a few photos and a video of the highlights of the weekend. Click on the link below to view the video. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for December 7, 2014

Jesus is coming again! 

The season of Advent is all about being prepared for his return. We are not told to cower or to hold on with white knuckles until he does. Rather, we are given pictures of God’s people living in eager expectation and full trust, even when everything around them seems to counter such trust.

The image the prophet Isaiah gives us in the 40th chapter of his book is that of a strong shepherd (God) holding his lambs (his people) in his arms. The lambs’ job is simply to trust. Yet he gave this picture to a people who were about to have their world shattered. 

Would you please join me this Sunday as we consider how to live a life of trust in a world that offers us every reason not to? We are waiting for the return of our Lord, but how we wait is important. Come Lord Jesus!

- Patrick Dominguez

Readings: Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8

Bulletin: December 7, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Fellows Fall Retreat: Operation Dominate Frisbee Tournament

Operation Dominate Frisbee Tournament
AKA Fall Fellows Retreat

Mission: Fellowship and Edification (and play some serious Frisbee)
Location: the beautiful Camp Oakhill
Time of Occurrence: 7 November- 9 November: 2014
Theme: Justice-- Micah 6:8
Status: Completed
Results: SUCCESS

Earlier in November, the Raleigh Fellows had the opportunity to hit the road with the Crutchfield family and head to Camp Oakhill in Oxford, North Carolina for the annual Fall Fellows Retreat. The weekend was amazing. For starters, we got to meet the other Fellows groups! As you can picture, it was wonderfully awkward at first then incredibly fun and interesting. It was nice to get out of our Raleigh bubble, meet all these incredible people, and remember how big and widespread God’s kingdom is. The other Fellows programs are all over the place and more are popping up each year, what a cool testimony in itself. As we were taken out of Raleigh, we were able to hear and see what God is doing all over the States. Then to top it off, we were taken out of the States and mentally transported to India when we spoke about the abolition movements there. Talk about broadening your horizons. The focus of the weekend was Micah 6:1-8 and specifically about God’s call “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8b).” I personally have heard sermons and conferences on justice many a time, yet I gained fresh perspectives on justice and great insight from the weekend. We had the privilege of hearing from John Richmond, a passionate follower of Christ, previous director of IJM’s slavery work in India (aka a man risking his life to free slaves), and now federal prosecutor serving as the Special Litigation Counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. He was a truly great speaker and story-teller, and what he had to share about Micah 6:8, his personal experiences working with slavery in India, and now in the States was 100% a blessing and 100% convicting.

As you can see, we learned tons and talked about some difficult topics. We also had a ton of fun and got to be silly and ridiculous (a Raleigh Fellow specialty as the other groups learned quickly). We made a camp fire, played corn hole, took crazy golf cart rides, took walks around the camp, jump-roped, etc. Saturday afternoon was the infamous Frisbee tournament that our lovely and talented director, Ashley Crutchfield, looks forward to every year. There is this wonderful, playful (yet actually semi-real) rivalry between the Raleigh Fellows and the Trinity Fellows in Charlottesville, VA. Lets just say that they often beat the Raleigh Fellows in this highly competitive tournament. Let’s also just say that the Raleigh Fellow’s class of 2015 does not mess around and we brought our A-game. We beat Trinity 15-2 and it was a highlight of the weekend no doubt.  We also just had a really great time working together as a team, encouraging each other and sharing together in victory and loss. The weekend was short, but super sweet for sure.

Over and out.
Kelsey Riggs.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for November 30, 2014

You may have fallen into a blissful afternoon snooze on Thanksgiving after going back for seconds of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and maybe one or two passes by the pie sampler station.

Time to wake up!

Jesus teaches his disciples about the importance of spiritual alertness in Mark 13. And as we enter the season of Advent, we will consider what it means to live our lives wide awake for his return.

See you Sunday.

Awake and Ready,

Readings for Sunday: Isaiah 64:1-9 and Mark 13:24-37

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Athletes in Action - Fall Update

What a fall so far!
We have the privilege to have a very diverse group of players come to Raleigh to learn what it means to be like Jesus.
Ebi, from Mongolia, is here doing an AIA internship. He plays professionally back in his home country and is motivated to learn English so he can communicate better with his American girl-friend. He loves Jesus and exudes humility and kindness. He will be an influencer when he goes back home.
Oday is a young man who we know well from our time in Israel. He has taken us in as his own when we live there and now it is our turn. It is a joy to spend time with him and watch him grow on and off the court.
Mike plays on the Jamaican national team and played college basketball at Valpo. His story is filled with painful events which have shaped him with a desire to protect himself. We are gently walking into areas of hurt, which all present themselves on the basketball court. You can’t hide your heart in the heat of competition. 
Yinon is a coach from a small village in the desert of Israel. We had the joy to spend time with him and his family. He is coming to us after the passing of his father who suffered from mental deteriation at a very young age. He just shaved off his beard yesterday which a Jew grows for 30 days as a sign of respect and mourning. 
The guys are going through our program which is intense. We are walking through the high peaks of the bible to better understand the story as a whole. In addition to our staple of Men’s Fraternity, the guys are also engaging a biblically based jobs placement program called Jobs For Life, which started here in Raleigh. It is a 16 week course that helps them explore vocations, take personality and temperament assessments as well as leave with a polished resume and a 60 second commercial. We are arranging for the guys to shadow business professionals as well and being to network for the future. God has done amazing things to get us to this place and brought people into the equation that I never would have imagined. Blessings abound. 

In the midst of practice and bible study, the guys are volunteering at the Y with the after school program and doing a service project at New Life Camp, the site of our beautiful gym we are able to use. They are being stretched in lots of ways. I’m asking them to trust me that everything they are doing is preparatory for their end goal which is to be overseas somewhere in the very near future.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Time in Raleigh

by Nate Nielsen
Nate with his fiancee, Katie

"Did we tick him off by wasting all these ticks on this clock?
Or is he graciously giving me time to give him my heart?
I'm sure it’s the latter, sure that it matters
And I believe
I've been given all this time so that I can try and redeem it." - Timepiece, Lecrae

When I first arrived at Church of the Apostles, I honestly did not know quite what to expect. Conversations with Ashley Crutchfield, Curt Solomon, and Marion Dewar could only go so far as to describe what exactly I was jumping into. And here I am 3 years later on the threshold of another change to a new place, new people, and new experiences.

For those of you that do not know, I will be moving to Richmond in the spring to begin a new life as husband to the beautiful Katie Hemp. We will be at HOPE church where Katie is the Director of Middle School Ministries. It is altogether exciting, encouraging, and humbling. In turn, Curt hit me up to write something about my experience here at Apostles, and I could not turn it down. So here I am. These are some thoughts on what I have experienced during my time with the beloved people at Apostles.

1. The Fellows year is transforming beyond the Fellows year.
Raleigh. In all my time growing up I never thought I would end up in Raleigh (and still trying to understand this whole college basketball deal over here). Yet, God brought me into a community that facilitated growth a thousand times over during a time that I desperately needed it. After studying Biology in Grove City, I discovered the microscope on myself as a fellow - learning about my personality, how I work with others, and how all of it fits into my worldview. My focus was completely turned upside down as I learned how it felt like to ask for money, to serve my host family (God bless the Bergers!), and to work with others in a new environment. The relationships forged in that year I hope will last a lifetime even though there will be a little distance between us. This provided a foundation to which God built on the next couple years, in which I am still changing and learning what it means to be like Christ.

2. Student ministry serves as a catalyst for growth like I have never known.
Growing up, I did not go to youth group because I was always had something going on - whether it was swim practice, Boy Scouts, or just plain old homework. Being involved with the student ministry at Apostles allowed me to see how imperative and life changing that bit of time can have on a student. I've seen 6th graders grow now into freshmen in High School, and it is a critical period in which students establish their faith and live it out in their day to day lives. Middle School really opened my eyes to how great ministry can be: at one moment you are throwing cheese balls on a face covered with whipped cream, and the next moment I'm getting stumped by really great, thought provoking questions. It's insane. The students here have continuously challenged me to seek Christ more and live for his glory alone. I am continuously reminded of Paul's words to 1 Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity”.

4. Work does not define who you are.
I can still remember Ray Seigler conducting a seminar for my Fellows class, and him telling us that whenever he hears the question, "What do you do?" he responds (sometimes), "About what?" I share that sentiment and discover myself holding my tongue back whenever someone asks me that question....some of the time I ask it because I'm not sure how else to start a conversation - and I don't want to feel too awkward while talking with somebody.
As a kid, I wanted to be what any other kid living is Space City wanted to be: an astronaut. Now, knowing that that occupation is not the right fit, I have ventured and checked out other avenues. We talked about calling a lot in the Fellows, and I have to remind myself that whatever it is I do in this life, it will not be completed until I reach eternity with my Father in heaven - and oh my, how glorious that will be!

For the time being, I am here in Raleigh living out these moments that have been graciously given to me. I’m thankful to be a part of this body of believers that have impacted my life--impacted me beyond the thoughts that I had when I first considered coming into this community.

I will still be around Apostles the next couple months as wedding plans get ironed out and as Katie and I find a place in Richmond together. It will be a crazy transition, but a fun one and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store in the next adventure.

With grace and peace,

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for November 16, 2014

In his letter to the church in Ephesus Paul writes:
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

He places major emphasis on the need for Christians to know how lavishly they are loved. In this week’s sermon we have the privilege of considering the account of a “sinful woman” who came to know this amazing love of God and as a result poured out her love towards Jesus. 

I hope you will join us as we seek to know Christ more deeply and to experience this lavish love of God in such a way that our lives overflow with grateful love towards him and towards others…even “sinners.”

Reading: Luke 7:36-50

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Experience With Confirmation

by Maggie Lee

Personally, I believe to go through confirmation means to announce your faith in the Lord in front of the church. This is a difficult task for some people to do because the faith they have in the Lord isn’t theirs. This “false faith”, if you will, could be from their parents, friends, people they look up to, but it isn’t theirs. This is especially common in teens and children still learning what to decide. However, to fully accept the Lord the faith has to first be yours. 

There is a great quote in the book, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel which happens to be the book we were assigned to read with our mentor this year. “So what about you? You’ve heard my experience, but your own conclusion is up to you. No one can make up your mind for you”. Confirmation, for me, has helped me in assuring my faith in the Lord as my own and no one else’s. This is what I loved about Church of the Apostles’ confirmation: the environment that made the service so awesome. During the classes and throughout the eight months that confirmation extended over, all of us became a family. When you stand up at the front of the church watching your family get confirmed you don’t feel weird waiting up there, you feel proud and beyond happy. 

Lastly, the day before confirmation we met with the Bishop to prepare and talk about what to do after confirmation. He asked us what we expected to get out of this whole thing. After several minutes of thinking we finally started to spit out our ideas. We all basically stayed within these several ideas: a more deeply rooted relationship with the Lord, to have a better sense of the Lord’s plan, to serve through the Lord more, to be a light to others who do not know the Lord, and to focus on Him more. All in all confirmation at Church of the Apostles was so amazing and I definitely recommend it if you are reading this and thinking you want to do this awesome endeavor.

2014 Confirmation Class
 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” –Psalm 139:14

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for November 9, 2014

"…and deliver us from evil.”

Have you ever considered how much the Lord has done for you by delivering you from evil? This week, we are examining a direct encounter that Jesus has with a man possessed by an army of evil spirits. The confrontation is bold, decisive, and dramatically transformative. What’s more, it teaches us something about the mission of the church as we follow Jesus. 

Maybe you don’t see yourself as a warrior, battling evil in this world, but maybe it’s time that you do. Jesus proclaimed that the very gates of hell would not be able to withstand the onslaught of his church, a church that includes you! Join us this week as we continue in our series: Crossing Paths with Jesus. Pray that we would encounter him and be open to however he might shape us for his mission in the world.

With you in his adventure,

Reading: Mark 5:1-20
Bulletin: November 9, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for October 26, 2014

Jesus loves you! 
Could a sermon ever consist of those three words and nothing else? If so, why is it we know that Jesus loves us and yet struggle to live into that wonderful reality? Jesus loves you! Yes its true. But it is truth well worth investigating, contemplating and incorporating (I promise, those are not my three main points!). Join me this Sunday as we consider this truth and pray that God may open our hearts to how wide, and deep, and high, and long is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ.

In His Love,

Reading: John 1:43-51

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What A Gift!

As we enter into a new season of the life of Apostles after the planting of Redeemer Anglican Church, there will be ample opportunity for many new folks to step into roles of leadership at Apostles.  This is often a daunting task, but consider and be encouraged by this story of how the Lord equips us for the tasks He calls us to.

by Katie Koon

I remember the challenge in a Bible Study 8 years ago: if you want to live a life with Christ every step of the way, take your list of things to do and give it to God.  Let Him write your list.  I remember praying that prayer, “God, I want to work for you.  I want my faith to be real.  Give me a new list.”  I was a Bible Study newbie, but that is the good thing about being new, sometimes you pay closer attention and do exactly what they say. Proverbs 3:6 “He will make your path straight.”

Later that year, I got a phone call from the same teacher.  “Katie, would you prayerfully consider being a small group leader next year?”  To which I laughed and said, “That is so funny.  This is Katie K-o-o-n.  You called the wrong number!  I know you meant to call Katie X-Y-Z.  But she will be awesome leader!”  It turns out she did mean to call me.  We would be studying Revelation, of which I had never read ONE WORD.  I had no training, nothing that made me “qualified” for this.  Fearfully, doubtfully I said ‘yes’ and hoped beyond hope that no super-smart-spiritual-people would be in my group.   Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always…”

In leader’s meeting the following year, I remember sitting and listening to the prayers of these women whom I saw as giants in faith.  Hearing them talk to God, they taught me how to pray.  Listening to them review passages, they showed me what it looked like to truly mine the scriptures as if gold lay hidden.  Proverbs 2:4 “If you seek for her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures...”

A few years later, this same teacher called and said the Lord had impressed upon her the importance to teach women HOW TO TEACH.  She said that my name had been laid on her heart, and would I consider letting her teach me.  I laughed.  “That is really funny,” I said.  “Because I have a fear of public speaking, so I will never teach.  But I would love to sit with you and learn how you study.”  She said, “What you do with this is between you and the Lord.”  Proverbs 1:23 “I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.”

That summer I was asked to speak to a group of adults in Atlantic Beach.  With great trepidation, I said yes.  Marion Troxler found me in the ladies’ room minutes beforehand, nauseous and almost paralyzed by fear.  Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield.”

A heart tug made me desire to study God’s words with the women of Apostles, so I left the women’s study that had so taught me, shepherded me and mentored me.   A dear friend who had walked this journey with me whispered, I think the women’s Bible study at Apostles may need/want teachers.   Time passes, and I end up becoming one of the teachers at GIG, a study very much like the one I had left, looking out to faces just like mine eight years before.  If I didn’t know God, I would look back and say, “what a coincidence!”  But, instead, I say, “what a God!”

This is a simple story.  Frankly, it is so insignificant that I wonder why I am even telling it.  But I offer it as an encouragement to anyone who may need it.  God is so dear and pure and loving in His desire to live with us, to talk to us, to walk life with us.  I am always going to be tempted to wander from this God I love.   And I have come to believe, that for me, at least, He has used these ‘callings’ as invitations to walk more closely, as protections to keep me stumbling, and as a means to give me something far greater than anything I could have desired on my own.  I cannot imagine the tangled mess I would be if He hadn’t called me in.  At every step, I have been the one blessed.  

Here is what I have learned:
  • What looked like a challenge or a burden was an enormous gift.  At each step I had fear so great and doubt so large, it was numbing.  But when I look back at all the steps along the way, I see that those places were where I have felt God’s embrace most fully.
  • God didn’t call me in to lead because He needed me; He called me into to leadership because I needed Him.  He knew me enough to know that if I didn’t get to the place far beyond my comfort zone, that I would never really stop all else and cling to Him. 
  • My pride would (and still will) try to take credit for ‘stepping out’, as if I made some great sacrifice, but it was God’s design to save me from myself.  By calling me into work where I was so unequipped, I had to say “no” to so much of my daily desires. His calling me to step out was the greatest act of kindness.  It gave guard rails to my time, my thoughts, and my desires.  He knew what I needed was time with Him, and this is how He gave it to me.
  • God has shown me that serving in our gifts is not about us giving, it is actually us receiving.  Jesus has proven to be the Author and Perfector of my faith, and He has used this calling of me to write the words of my faith on the tablet of my heart.  He has done it all, and I have been the one blessed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for October 19, 2014

Quick! On a scale of one to ten, how good are you at evangelism? How ready to share your faith are you? How equipped to explain the basics of the Gospel? Go ahead, rate yourself! 

If you are like most Christians you probably rated yourself pretty low. Me too. But, what if I told you that Jesus can actually make you, and all of us, quite effective at evangelism? What if evangelism was not as scary and monumental a task as we might think? What if I told you the message this week has to do with evangelism, but in away that won’t make you feel defeated but rather hopeful that God will use you, no matter how ill-equipped you feel, for His great evangelistic purposes in the world? 

Join us this week as we look at a life-changing encounter that Peter has with Jesus that set him, and later the whole church, on a lifetime adventure of catching people (evangelism) for Christ. If it can happen with Peter, it can happen with you! 

With you in His adventure,


Reading: Luke 5:1-11 

Bulletin: October 19, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Medical Missions to Mongolia

Last month I went on my third trip to Mongolia with a Christian medical organization called Medical Education International. MEI has been going to Mongolia since 1998, and their missions philosophy is to provide continuing education to physicians in the host country, to assist in patient care when asked, and to use both as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with whomever we meet.

I'll give you some background on Mongolia, since most Americans don't know much about the place (I didn't either, prior to my first trip there). Sometimes still called "Outer Mongolia," it is not part of China; rather, it is the independent sovereign nation of Mongolia. Don't get this confused; Mongolians really hate it if you do, and they're a feisty bunch. You may recall that hundreds of years ago the Chinese went to a great deal of trouble to build a really, really big wall...whose sole purpose was to keep those feisty Mongolians out. The first wall didn't work out too well, so they built version 2.0. The Chinese and Mongolians still don't really get along: a thousand years of Hatfield and McCoy stuff will do that.

In the early 13th century Chinggis Khan united the feuding Mongol tribes into a force unlike anything the world had ever seen (while westerners often spell it "Genghis," Mongolians pronounce his name with their "ch-" consonant, and spell it in English as I did). Chinggis' warriors were ruthless, and they mastered the art of shooting an arrow while riding on horseback. At an astonishing pace, the Khans amassed the largest empire in history, stretching from Korea and China (Chinggis got over/through version 1.0 of that big wall) to Poland. Chinggis' grandson Khublai Khan moved his capital to Beijing, where he hosted Marco Polo as a guest.

The Khans' Empire eventually collapsed under its own weight. Mongolia was under Chinese control during the 18th and 19th centuries, but in 1924 she became the world's second communist nation. For most of the latter 20th century, Mongolia was an Asian equivalent of East Germany: while not formally part of the USSR (like the "-stan" republics to her west), she was under heavy Soviet influence and protection, serving as a valuable buffer between Russia and the mutually mistrusted Chinese. Around the time the Berlin Wall came down, similar political upheaval occurred in Mongolia: the communists were thrown out, the constitution rewritten, and free elections held for the first time in seventy years.

Mongolia today is a country over twice the size of Texas, with just shy of three million people, nearly half of whom live in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar ("U.B." to the locals). U.B. sits at the same latitude as the northern reaches of Maine, on the opposite side of the globe (i.e., twelve time zones ahead of Eastern Time), and 4,500 feet above sea level. To the north are the forests that continue up into Siberia; to the south is the Gobi Desert. U.B. is a sprawling place, with a mix of decades-old Soviet apartment buildings, new construction, and yerts (the traditional Mongolian tent home) squatting on vacant tracts of land. It ranks near the very top on the list of cities with the worst air quality in the world, in large part due to oppressive traffic congestion. And, as in most third-world cities, driving is done mostly by horn. 

Outside of the capital, Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated places on earth, with a countryside still roamed by semi-nomadic herdsmen. It's also insanely cold. If you're curious, look up the weather for U.B. sometime in January (or ask me; I keep it on my iPhone app). Oh, and there's the wind, too. In their own version of "it's not the heat; it's the humidity," in Mongolian winters, it's not the 30 below zero temperatures that are so bad; it's the 40-mph winds that roar across the steppes. This combines to make the wind chill around minus infinity.

Under Soviet-style communism, cults of personality (as well as more traditional faiths) were prohibited. In particular, cultural pride in the triumphs of Chinggis Khan was suppressed. But since 1990, and with the dawn of capitalism, Mongolians have been making up for lost time. Anything and everything that anyone wants to sell has the big man's name on it. There's a Chinggis Bank, a Khan Bank, and a Chinggis Khan Bank. This is just as well, since his picture is on all the money anyway. Christianity, too, was essentially nonexistent prior to 1990: the common view among missionaries is that there were then fewer than a dozen Christians in the entire country. The glass-half-full picture is that there are now around 60,000 believers, and the church is growing; the glass-half-empty version is that this is still only 2% of the population. A significant challenge is that the underlying historical religious tradition is one of Shamanism (essentially a dark pantheistic mysticism) mixed with various flavors of Buddhism, making for a grim spiritual background presence. But believers in Mongolia have their eyes on their own part in the Great Commission, noting that it is one of the few countries that allows for relatively easy visa passage to Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and (believe it or not) North Korea.

Emblematic of the healthcare needs of the country is the fact that the average male life expectancy is only around 62 years, due to high rates of stomach and liver cancer, heavy cigarette smoking (in addition to the aforementioned poor air quality), and epidemic alcoholism (the flagship liquor brand is, of course, Chinggis Vodka). Women suffer from more advanced stages of breast and gynecologic cancers: mammograms and PAP smearsare rare, so the diseases are often not detected early. In light of this, our particular MEI trip revolved around a week-long cancer conference in conjunction with the Mongolian National Cancer Center in U.B. On our team were physicians from a variety of specialties, and we each gave a few lectures for the conference (I was interviewed by a local TV station after one of my talks...something my seven-year-old thinks is the coolest thing ever). I also had the opportunity to help care for a few patients undergoing surgical resection of pancreatic, liver and stomach cancers.

Another point of emphasis for MEI is networking with missions organizations that are on the ground full-time in Mongolia. There's a network of Christian veterinarians that provide support and education to herdsmen in the countryside (run by a couple from Oklahoma), a prison ministry (run by a saintly woman from New Zealand), and a hospice ministry (run by a nurse from Michigan). There are a variety of churches in U.B., at various stages of maturity and with various specific points of emphasis, including one shepherded by a pastor named Puje, where our team worshipped one Sunday. Puje also runs a church for the homeless, and a few of us spent a day conducting a clinic for those folks. This evolved fairly quickly into a washing feet (literally) and prayer clinic more than anything else, but the upshot was hopefully to show these poorest among us that they had least in our eyes, and in those of God. 

It's been an honor for me to play a very small part in what God is doing in Mongolia, and a real pleasure to minister in some small way to these lovely people.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This Summer in Ethiopia

by Parsons Rieker, Madeline Rieker, and Patterson Sheehan

This summer, we had the amazing opportunity to venture to the country of Ethiopia for a missions trip with our school, St. David's School. We partnered with a youth group in Addis Ababa, and served primarily at two different orphanages. We built relationships with the children and taught Vacation Bible School type lessons and shared the Gospel with them. The language barrier was difficult, but playing and laughing with the children was not. Although we mostly were there for missions, we also had the opportunity to experience the culture through hikes, lions, and dancing.

On one of the days, we helped to host a carnival for about 800 orphans from all around Addis. We painted faces and played games with kids. They had a worship service that was all in Amharic and so some of the kids from the youth group translated for us. About thirty kids accepted Christ that day, including three little boys from one of the orphanages where had been working. It was so incredible to see our new friends accept Christ and know that even if we never see them again on earth, we would see them in heaven. 

Overall, we grew so much from this experience. We learned tons about the magnitude of God's love and how blessed we are. All of our interactions with the children were bittersweet- full of joy, but heartbreaking at the same time. It was an incredible way to step out of our comfort zones and encounter God in new ways.


Monday, October 6, 2014

2014-2015 Fellows Program Class

Our 2015 Fellows class has settled into life in Raleigh and at Church of the Apostles over the past month. If you haven't had a chance to meet them and talk to them, here is a little information about each of them to help you get to know them better. Now you also know what they look like and can chat them up the next time you see them...

Sam Alexander  
Hometown: Asheville, NC
College: Berry College
Major: Marketing Major
Host Family: Bruce & Susanne Berger
Mentor: Frank Shell
Internship: StepUp
Apostles' Ministry: Student Ministry

What do you enjoy most? I enjoy playing and listening to music, rock climbing, and watching movies.
Why do you want to be a Raleigh Fellow? I want to be a fellow because I want to learn how to translate my interest in marketing into a form of work that is pleasing to the Lord.

Cailey Cramer
Hometown: Zionsville, IN
College: Christopher Newport University
Major: Psychology major / Business minor
Host Family: Matt & Marilyn Young
Mentor: Cory Oltman
Internship: Boosterthon
Apostles' Ministry: Children's Ministry

What do you enjoy most? I most enjoy conversation with deeply connected friends and family, soul connections.
Why do you want to be a Raleigh Fellows? I want to be a Raleigh Fellows because I want to deeply grow in my faith and I believe this is the best opportunity for growth and development at this time in my life. I want to build my life on a firm foundation. I see that this is such a transitional time in my life and I believe the Raleigh Fellows program provides the resources and tools to learn how to build a life and faith that stands the test of time. 

Aaron Culler
Hometown: Mt. Airy, NC
College: Appalachian State
Major: Psychology 
Host Family: Bruce & Susanne Berger
Mentor: Eric Oltman
Internship: Greenscape
Apostles' Ministry: Student Ministry

What do you enjoy most? Taking weekend trips with friends and doing anything with my fiancée, Charlotte.
What do you want to be a Raleigh Fellows? I want to be a Fellow because I miss being a part of something that I know is focused on Jesus, and I feel that absence in my relationship with Him. 

Bethany Doster
Hometown: Morganton, NC
College: Covenant College
Major: English Studies
Host Family: Lou White
Mentor: Gretchen Loftis
Internship: StepUp
Apostles' Ministry: Children's Ministry

What do you enjoy most? Evenings on the back porch with my family, good friends, and sweet conversations...and so much more!
Why do you want to be a Raleigh Fellow? I first heard of The Fellows Program through a couple of college friends.  However, it wasn’t until I visited the website and read the mission statement for the Raleigh Fellows that I began to engage in the idea of applying.  I really believe this is an incredibly purposeful time in my life that I don’t want to waste. What I admire about this program is the intense focus geared towards personal growth in Christ, the continued expansion of knowledge and understanding of who God made me to be, and the overall emphasis on engaging culture. To have the opportunity to sit under the teaching of those who intensely love the Bible, to grow relationally as I interact with a group of like-minded men and women, and to become a part of a church that values family and serving others is going to be a great way I spend the next nine months.

Wade Moody
Hometown: Mt. Airy, NC
College: UNC-Chapel Hill
Major: Management
Host Family: Derick & Spencer Daniel
Mentor: Gary Rickner
Internship: Triangle Capital Corporation
Apostles' Ministry: Children's Ministry

What do you enjoy most? Being outdoors, camping, board games, reading, sports.
Why do you want to be a Raleigh Fellow? To lay a biblical foundation for my life going forward and discerning my next step in life.

Kelsey Powell
Hometown: Marlton, NJ
College: James Madison University 
Major: Communication Studies 
Host Family: Billy & Cathy Williams
Mentor: Megan McGinity
Internship: Cherokee Gives Back
Apostles' Ministry: Student Ministry

What do you enjoy most? Adventures outside and spending time with people.
Why do you want to be a Raleigh Fellow? I want to be a Raleigh Fellows so I can grow in my knowledge of God, of others and of myself.  I hope to further learn to lead a lifestyle where every part of my life is ministry and how to incorporate God into every area of my life. 

Kelsey Riggs
Hometown: Virginia beach, VA
College: Virginia Tech 
Major: Humanities, Science, and the Environment
Host Family: Eric & Robin Bolash
Mentor: Terri Shell
Internship: Alliance Medical Ministry
Apostles' Ministry: Student Ministry

What do you enjoy most? Being outside and having adventures (I enjoy swimming, biking, hiking, and jogging).
Why do you want to be a Raleigh Fellow? I want to be a fellow because I want to learn. I want to learn more about the Lord, more about the Bible, more about myself, more about building and embracing Christian community, and more. 

Brian Whitman
Hometown: Haddon Heights, NJ
College: James Madison University
Major: Business Management
Host Family: Frank & Sue Koehler
Mentor: Andy Cook
Internship: Pack Purchase Inc.
Apostles' Ministry: Student Ministry

What do you enjoy most? I most enjoy time with friends and family, sports, and exploring the outdoors.
Why do you want to be a Raleigh Fellow? I want to be a Raleigh Fellow to discover more about my faith and to discover how The Lord will use me in a professional setting. I want to be vulnerable with my struggles and be part of a community of peers and mentors that will help me through those things.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for October 5, 2014

Join us this Sunday as our Bishop, Steve Breedlove, preaches at both services and wraps up our series on the book of Philippians. We will also have baptisms at both services. 

Bishop Steve Breedlove
As faithful Christians we find ourselves increasingly swimming against the moral tide in our country. (In some ways it feels more like we’re caught in a rip current!) The fact is, by what we believe and (hopefully) what we practice, we call people to a very different life, especially in the realms of morality, ethics, and self-fulfillment. In shorthand terms, we call ourselves and the world to a life of godliness. The Good News is a new life in Christ, and that includes godliness. And we are audacious enough to believe a life of godliness is a life of love. 

But unfortunately for many people, when it comes to morality ethics, and a commitment to self-fulfillment, the Good News sounds like Bad News. “You’re asking me to deny this, to change that, to give this up? You’re expecting me to abandon all that I know of fulfillment. What are you offering in its place?” 

It’s an important question: what do we offer in place of the morality and ethics of the world? Can we offer a community that is so powerful, so rich and true, so plausible, so full of love, that the Gospel’s “No” becomes what we believe it truly is — a “Yes” to love? How can we live with one another in order to have a substantial community for ourselves, our children, and our friends who have yet to believe? 

The last few paragraphs of the book of Philippians offers the hope of a truly plausible community, a place of love, with godliness. 

Readings for Sunday: Philippians 4:10-23 and Matthew 9:1-13