Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sow Generously, Reap Generously ~ Goldsboro Flood Relief Team

Recently, I had the opportunity to join Church of the Apostles as a group of men and women took a trip to Goldsboro, NC to provide relief for several victims of the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Matthew in October. Over twenty of us gathered at the church early on a Saturday morning to embark on the journey.

After arriving in Goldsboro, filling out waivers, and dividing into teams, Chip, our leader from NC Baptist Men's Disaster Relief, took the time to mention a verse that he read in his quiet time that morning, 2 Corinthians 9:6 ~ Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. I don’t remember all the specifics of what he said, and certainly wouldn’t have expected it at the time, but the verse Chip shared stuck in my head. Not just for the rest of the day but for several weeks to come. 

Inside Newman's Home
Our teams then departed, with our first stop being right down the road to Newman’s home. Newman had been introduced to us before we left as a faithful member of Love Memorial Church which is serving as disaster relief headquarters in the area.  Newman's mobile home and nearly all of his possessions were destroyed by the hurricane. With nowhere to live, Newman’s family traveled back to Honduras until repairs could be made.  All his appliances were on the front lawn, unsalvageable, and the inside of his home was only wooden studs. Massive damage was done. And this was only one house, in a field with at least twenty others, in a city with a population of over 30,000. It was now time to get to work.
With our group split in two, half of us headed to help a resident clear her house of damaged furniture, sheet rock and carpet and the other half to help a local church. I was part of the group that went to the church, where water had flooded the crawlspace and seeped into the floors. We partnered with members of the Air Force from nearby Seymour Johnson Base to haul the entire HVAC system from inside the crawlspace to the curb, move furniture from two offices, and tear up existing carpets. All these tasks that were certainly needed and met with true gratefulness.

However, if I’m being honest, part of me felt like it was insignificant. Sure, I gave up a Saturday. But some of these people had lost everything they owned. And maybe I moved some furniture and ripped up some carpet. But there were guys under the church most of the day waging war with an HVAC system. For some reason, what I was doing didn’t feel like enough. 

So, as I thought about this feeling and pondered my part in relation to the overall damage of the hurricane. I started to think more and more about the verse from earlier that day and what Paul had said to the Corinthians, “Sow sparingly, reap sparingly. Sow generously, reap generously.” Was my sowing sparing or generous?

This pushed me to think about and apply what we had been learning recently in our Song of Songs Sunday school class, “God intends earthly things to lead us into heavenly realities.” Paul used an earthy thing, sowing seeds, to point to a heavenly reality of what it looks like to be generous. Less seeds in a field will obviously lead to a smaller harvest, but more seeds, they lead to a plentiful harvest.

So how do I relate this to my time in Goldsboro? And work that I questioned if it was making a difference? Well, maybe I only planted one seed that day. But as a group we scattered a handful. And as a church, we have an opportunity to plant a field. There’s still a lot to be done in Goldsboro and all over eastern NC. If each person sows only one seed, does one, by itself, seemingly insignificant task, we could reap a harvest. A harvest that could make a world of difference to the communities that are so close by and the people that live in them.

I learned a lot from our trip to Goldsboro. I learned that we have a lot of members of this church that will give up their time to help others, even if it involves crawling under a church in the mud for four hours. I’m thankful to be part of this community and know that we will continue to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.

~ Josh Crowell

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fighting Deceptive Philosophies

As we have been discussing during the Colossians sermon series, believers have been fighting battles against deceptive philosophies since the time of Jesus. 
In preparing our students for their college years, the church has long thought of apologetics – which is the defense of faith through reason – as the means by which we fight such philosophies. Though apologetics is still of great importance, the intellectual spirit of the age has shifted the focus of the battle to a new – or, rather, additional – front.  
We are seeing that today’s intellectual climate is now not just making claims over reason, but is also making claims over and controlling the realm of personal passions and desires. It teaches students that the best way forward is by listening to themselves over against things taught by existing structures and authority figures. It also tells them that once they have set foot on the path they have chosen, they can do so only so long as they do not try to persuade or influence another’s actions and decisions (unless their path aligns with the mainstream intellectual milieu, then it feels that persuasion is welcome). 
The result of all of this is that students are being formed and shaped into individualistic worlds. They are taught to make choices that are ‘right for them’ without consulting external environments, particularly those that teach restrictions or limits on personal choice, and even without having open and honest conversations with peers on campus.
A student with whom I spoke just this week lamented that she does not feel that she and some of her like-minded peers have space to discuss what they really think about pressing issues. She said, “we receive the ‘ideals’ promoted by the university and we see all around us the ways our classmates live, but there is no common space for us to talk openly and honestly about what our ideals are (and by “our ideals” she means those unvoiced views that differ from the university’s and from those held by some of her schoolmates).  
In response to sensing this general spirit of the university as characterized in the exchange I just described, our Center has begun to create spaces that offer open conversation for students. This semester we are offering a “Life Worth Living” seminar that focuses on how the ideals of the university and the typical practices of today’s college students create an environment that sometimes aligns, but many times conflicts with a kingdom-vision for living. I am happy to say that this class includes the student whose lament I just shared, along with 16 of her schoolmates. In the spring, we will be offering a class on biblical wisdom for contemporary living which will be a different approach towards the same end. We hope to keep this type conversation consistently present the university’s academic life.
Our hope through these seminars is not just to cultivate an intellectual understanding of Scripture but also to cultivate a love and desire for the Lord. In his essay, “The Weight of Glory,” C.S. Lewis is concerned because he finds human desire not too strong, but too weak. He wants us to see, experience, and enwrap ourselves in the immeasurable riches of God’s grace and to know how long, how wide, and how deep is the love of Christ. In a world that is telling students to love whatever you will and follow what you love, cultivating relationships of deep love between our youth and Jesus will form a rootedness and firm foundation that will better enable them to withstand the hollow and deceptive philosophy of individualistic desire that characterizes this age and draw them more fully into the One who is the only true and proper source of our love and desire. 
Edward Dixon
COTA Member & Director, Center for Christianity and Scholarship, Duke University

Monday, June 6, 2016

Confirmation 2016

23 students were confirmed at the Confirmation Service on Sunday, May 22.  Congratulations to these confirmands!

 Claire Linden Alspaugh * Joanne Michele Barnhart * David Scott Curlin * Emma Joy Grindstaff * Hunter Howell Haakenson * Andrew Paul Hilts* Barbara Kathleen Hinkey * Benjamin Allen Lee * Jonathan Edward Lee* Emma Katherine Lyon * William Carson McCorkle * Grant Lawrence McGowan * Elizabeth Macon Porterfield * Andrew Paul Rossetti * Jordan Lockwood Rustin * Katherine Nicole Shearin * Paige Dorothy Van Vooren * Parker Monroe Van Vooren * Edmund Law Waddill, IV * Christopher Graham Watkins * Noah Christian Watkins * Luke Kelley Young

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Beautifully Unexpected

When our Fellows begin their year of community, ministry and learning, they are expecting new things. But some things are really unexpected. 

As the Fellows were led by Ford Jordan in a discussion on the sacraments of the Church, Alex Howerton began to wonder if she'd ever been baptized. She double-checked and realized it wasn't entirely certain that she had.

So, since she lives with the Bolashes, Alex struck up a conversation with me, and we agreed that being baptized during this year with Ashley and the other Fellows would be beautiful and meaningful. It would be a reminder of what baptism always teaches us as Christians: That the Lord loves us, has called us by name and has made us his own in Christ when we believe.

So last Monday, we piled into cars and travelled up to the small beach at Beaver Dam Park on Falls Lake. There were only a few people on the beach in the middle of the day on a Monday. 

A park ranger walked past us and asked, "Are you guys going swimming?"

Hoping this wouldn't be somehow against park rules, I said, "No, we're just having a baptism." 

He smiled and raised his eyebrows, but just said, "Oh, okay!"

So we proceeded. 

First, standing barefoot in the sand, we read from the Scriptures, including: 

"But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine." 
Isaiah 43:1

Then the question for Alex: "Alex, do you desire to be baptized?"
Alex: "I do."
"Have you accepted Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord?"
Alex: "I have."

And so on. She affirmed her desire to continue in Christ. We affirmed our desire to help her, representing the Church.

Then, finally, after Ashley and the Fellows had spoken words of affirmation to Alex, she and I waded into the 60-degree lake. A little brisk! And as she went down into the water and resurfaced, she heard the truth that she has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ's own forever. 

You can see Alex emerging from the lake in the photo, water cascading from her head and face. She believed years ago. But this was a chance for she and all of us to see outwardly the unseen, inward work of washing and new creation that God has been doing in her life. 

He has been good to her. ​In all kinds of ways, many of them beautifully unexpected.

~ Eric Bolash

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Repentance of Power - A Response

Sermon Series: Repentance
Repenting of Power
Luke 3:1-20
Patrick's sermon this past Sunday challenged us to consider how we will live within the context of the powers of this world, as the people of God, who have a different relationship with power.  We were asked to repent of the ways that we have taken our power/advantages for granted.  I have been thinking a lot about this topic of power for a while (spurred on by Ferguson and the things that the Black Lives Matter movement asks me to consider about power.)  While I don’t agree with all aspects of #BLM, I do think that as a white woman I have power and advantages that do not exist for others.  One way that I am trying to not take advantage of my power is to give up the "right to be right” and to try and consider the way others experience the world through THEIR lens rather than MY lens.  
A crowd marches down Bragg Street to the Bible Way Temple after speakers memorialized shooting victim Akiel Denkins in Raleigh on February 29.
Rather than rolling my eyes and saying that black people just need to respect the cops and do what is right and none of this would happen (which I hear from people a lot), I’m trying to ask, why would so many people react so strongly to what is happening.  What is it about their experience that elicits this response (that is so different from how I think I would respond) that is different from my own experience?  Mostly I am trying to read and listen to African-American voices rather than what other white people have to say about African-American voices.  So, that is one specific arena in which I am trying to think about power.  

Terri Shell
IV Area Director for
Eastern Carolinas
Terri Shell is an Apostles member and missionary with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent: Quietly Countercultural

If you watched the halftime show for Super Bowl 50, you saw over-the-top, blindingly bright, gargantuanly enormous stages, music, lights, pyrotechnics and performers. The production cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions. And those who attended the game paid thousands of dollars per ticket.

Excess is normal in our world. We’re used to it.

On the other hand, the season of Lent runs against the grain of our excessive world. It’s silently radical. It’s quietly countercultural.

Rather than reveling loudly in our riches, Lent helps us remember we are poor in spirit. We are not righteous. We need help. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus, in Matthew 5:3.

How does the season of Lent remind us of our poverty of spirit?

Ash Wednesday
It starts with Ash Wednesday. Unlike the blinding, deafening excess to which we are accustomed, the Ash Wednesday service leads us into a quiet, dimly-lit sanctuary. The Scriptures plainly testify to our depravity. Crooked, dead and twisted branches replace the typically bright floral arrangements, reminding us that crooked sin leads to death. We confess the frequent ugliness of our thoughts, words and deeds. We remember that no one is righteous, not even one of us. And as a cross of dark ashes paints our foreheads, the room resounds with some of the most important words we will hear all year: “Remember that you are dust. And to dust you shall return.”

Why are these words important? Because they remind us we are mortal. We are not God. We are not holy, not righteous as he is. We are full of faults, and he is faultless. But most important of all, these echoed declarations that we are dust remind us to mourn our human sin so that on Good Friday, we see the glory of the Cross of Christ.

40 Days of Lent
As we exit the Ash Wednesday service, we enter this 40-day season of Lent, which ends with Easter. It’s a season to lay aside excess. To fast from comforts. To see how our appetites, desires and affections have been for things other than God. And to repent. To turn from these misplaced affections, and ask our Lord to restore our affections to him.

So we fast. From food. From entertainment. From media. From vices. From gossip. From greed. From gluttony. We fast from habitual spiritual off-roading. And as we lay aside these wants, we pray: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51.10

So church, let us enter this silently radical, quietly countercultural 40 days:
“You are invited to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
- Book of Common Prayer, p265

Note: The 40 days of Lent do not include the Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

~ The Rev. Eric Bolash

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Prayer Ministry

Matthew 22:37
Jesus Replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

Hi my name is Beka Dominguez. I am not sure what actually prompted me to start going to the prayer ministry about two and a half years ago except maybe that I was just fed up of feeling stuck in my faith. Feeling like I continued to go back to the same struggles, the same battles in my heart, mind and in my relationship with God. When I read this verse I knew that there was a deep meaning to it but I could not, for the life of me figure out how to love God with my whole heart soul and mind because it almost felt like I didn’t really have full access to those places to give them to God. I wasn’t even sure what kept me from being able to give it all, I just knew that I wasn’t capable and I knew that God had more of Himself for me to experience and I wanted that.

So I started going to prayer a couple times with Katie and Barbie and a few times with Marilyn and John and God started a great work of healing in me. For those of you that don’t know, I have a rebellious past and was not walking out my faith in college. So although I turned from those things toward the end of college, the broken string of relationships and selfish decisions had left a mark on me, as had many years of peoples’ words, thoughts, and sometimes incredibly destructive advice to me. I was like a sponge soaking up the world and healing prayer was like God wringing out all that I had retained and then filling me back up with him.  There were so many areas that I had tried to surrender to the Lord, that I had asked him to heal wounds and bring victory and yet it had not come.

Praying in groups is not a magical formula, and these times of prayer are not instant cures. Although I do believe God can heal us instantly of anything, the work of healing in my life was slow and deliberate. Looking back it was as quick as I could even process all that he was making new in my life.

I do believe he promises us that when two or more are gathered together in his name he will be there. He also promises that he will guide us, he will speak to us, and he will make known to us the will of God for our lives through the Holy Spirit and Scripture.

The more that I prayed the more he healed and the more access he gave me to Him which in turn brought a deep connection to the gifts that he has given me to serve the church. Ultimately he desires our healing and in my experience a great work of healing happened because we sought my healing together as brothers and sisters in prayer together.

So the result for my life was an intensity in relationship with the Lord that I had previously not had access to. He has healed deep wounds and he has prepared me through those times to step out in crazy faith knowing that his plans are much better than my plans.

I am sharing this because the body of Christ needs for its members to be healed and to play their part, and God wants to give you the fullness that is in Christ.

The prayer ministry was a place where I could confess long unconfessed sins and be free. It was a place that I learned to connect with Jesus, to listen and to follow without fear, it was where I started to actually believe God loved me and live like it, and where I began to understand and live out loving God with my heart, mind and soul.

I was scared at first of being judged, but there is nothing you can bring there that God does not already know. He has healed me, answered questions I had, shared discernment, comforted me in hard times, and helped me forgive in those prayer times.  My prayer for this church is that every person would experience this level of healing in every area and would be knit together in prayer. Prayer changes everything.

It is really easy to request a time to meet with the prayer team. If you are interested you can call the church phone number and let them know you would be interested in scheduling time with the prayer team.

They always meet with you with two prayer team members and everything said is confidential so you don't have to worry about things you pray being shared with others. It is a beautiful space for healing and restoration. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Parenting in the Pew

I’m nervous as I sit here to share some thoughts on worshiping with our young daughters.  After all, as I’ve been writing, I’ve snapped several times at my older daughters, who’ve been bickering off and on, and I’m pretty confident my youngest has colored on the walls and eaten dog food while I’ve been distracted.  But despite doubts about the quality of my parenting, Seth and I have been rethinking the way we relate to our kids during corporate worship, and we’re excited about what that means for our family.

Months ago, Robin Floch recommended Robbie Fox Castleman’s book, Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993).  Before reading the book, I don’t think it had ever occurred to me that there was anything more to hope for than that the girls would keep quiet during the service and maybe hear something that would make them curious enough to ask questions during the ride home.  But Ms. Castleman encourages us to welcome children into the sanctuary and take an active role in teaching them how to worship God—“the most important thing you can ever train your child to do.” After all, “[w]orship is first [and foremost] a blessing to God, and he values the presence and praise of his children.”  Parenting in the Pew opened my eyes to see that even very young children have something beautiful to contribute to our corporate worship of God.

What does this look like in practice? In her book, which I highly recommend, Ms. Castleman gives a lot of great, practical advice for active parenting in the pew. Here are a few of the things we’ve been trying, as we work out her advice in our family:

  1. Finding ways to get out the door and on our way to church as smoothly as possible. It feels like I’m always harshest and angriest with the kids while trying to get out the door on Sunday morning. In the book, Ms. Castleman suggests preparing for Sunday morning—taking care of things like laying out clothes—on Saturday night.  These little things add up, and if we’ve taken care of a lot of the legwork in advance, we arrive at church in a much different frame of mind than if we’ve had to rush around all morning, while barking orders at the children.

  2. Preparing our kids at home for what they’ll see, hear, and do in our worship service.  We’ve been trying to make our church life an ongoing topic of conversation at home.  We look for times to talk to the girls about the symbols and practices of our regular Sunday worship, teach them some of the prayers we pray routinely, talk about Jesus’s words at the Last Supper, and suggest things to be looking and listening for during the service.  At special times during the Church year, like Advent or Holy Week, we explain to our kids what’s special about the services we’re going to attend and give them some things to anticipate: the lighting of the Advent candles, the veiling of the cross and stripping of the altar on Maundy Thursday, the thirty-three peals of the bell on Good Friday.  We talk about what these symbols represent, and then, when we’re at church, we can point them out to the girls and remind them of our earlier conversations. The girls love to have context for what they see and hear.  It seems to fuel their spiritual imaginations and help them respond to the Gospel embedded in our traditions and liturgical practices.

  3. Communicating to our kids that we expect them to participate in corporate worship.  We used to remind the girls as we were driving to church that they’re supposed to be quiet and considerate during the service. Now we remind them that we’re here to worship God together and that we’re excited to see them pray and hear them sing.

  4. Encouraging them to participate actively.  We try to be considerate of those around us, but parenting in the pew requires some tolerance for standing out in a crowd.  We try not to fight it if the girls want to dance in the aisles…some.  We sometimes pick them up or let them stand on their chairs, so they have a better view of the altar.  We whisper a lot: we invite them to sing and pray, and we talk to them about what the songs we sing and prayers we pray have to say about Jesus and about us.  Even when it’s hard or potentially embarrassing, we want to encourage authentic expressions of worship.

  5. Redirecting their attention when it wanders…again and again and again.  There is a constant stream of distractions in a sanctuary full of people—for adults, as well as for children.  We’ve tried to find ways to help our girls focus their hearts on worship when their minds wander.  For instance, we help our older daughter follow along in the bulletin when we sing, and we sing into our younger daughter’s ear to help her hear the words she can’t yet read.  We invite them to sing and pray along with us when they seem far away.  Even though it sometimes interrupts the flow of our own thoughts during worship, as Ms. Castleman explains: “[p]arenting in the pew can help children and parents pay attention to what is really important” (emphasis added).  I often find that the Lord speaks to my heart through my own mouth, as I try to communicate His love and goodness to the girls in worship.  

How’s all this working out for us?  If you’ve ever sat behind our family on Sunday morning, youknow: truthfully, sometimes it’s hard. The girls are still young, and it’s hard for them to sit still for long periods of time; they don’t always understand what’s being said; they don’t know many of the songs we sing or the prayers we pray.  And I’m not always the loving, patient parent I want to be. But in those (sometimes rare) moments when they’re joyfully singing or earnestly praying, it’s so beautiful that it’s almost painful.  We try to remember that the Holy Spirit is directing this process and will “carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)  And we rejoice in the little victories along the way.                              
                                                                                  ~ Catherine Wood

Seth and Catherine Wood
Anna, Zoe & Fiona

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thank You, From the Farwells

Dear Apostles Family,

The Farwells would like to express a deep sense of appreciation and thankfulness to our church family.  This adventure is not possible without you and all the wonderful ways y’all have helped us to grow in our 10+ years at Apostles.  This Sunday (earlier in January) we choked back our tears as we are keenly aware of all those we are leaving behind.

In the midst of our preparations, we have received a gift that our staying would have allowed to remain dulled to our awareness…we feel deeply loved by y’all.  Each day we have been confronted anew by this reality, which we intellectually already knew, but now have the privilege to know, experience and live in this reality.  It is truly indescribable.  We have been showered with blessings in countless ways.  

 - Thank you for family and friends who have spent time with our children so we can focus on the tasks at hand.

 - Thank you for friends who come out to play one last football game with Tate and create great memories.
 - Thank you for friends who clean our house.
 - Thank you for friends who provided meals.
 - Thank you for friends who provide things we need, give beyond what is thought possible and ask us what more can they do to help.
 - Thank you for friends who just listen, cry with us and encourage us.  
 - Thank you for a church family that loves us and is a source of such encouragement.

Who would want to leave this?  And yet there is a world out there which knows nothing of this amazing love found only in Jesus and experienced within His people.  So we go filled with his love, because so many living like Jesus first loved us.  This enables us to share this incredible gift of love with others who are hurting, who don't even know this kind of love exists.  We will our miss y’all so much.  Thank you for walking with us in becoming more like Him.

Hazak and love,

The Farwells  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jesus Swept

My earliest and fondest memories of growing up in church are from Sunday School.  My mom loves to tell the story of when I came bouncing out of Sunday School at age 5 boasting that I had learned the shortest scripture in the Bible … “Jesus swept.”  (I was a little off.  See John 11:35.  I also later learned how profound that short passage is.)  When I was 9 years old, we moved to Wallace, NC, where my parents still live today. My family has long since left the Baptist church that I went in and out of thousands of times, but I can still remember that old building quite well.  The cold tile floors, the green chalkboards, the strong coffee coming from the “adult hallway”.  I first set foot in that church in 1987, but I knew even then that the taupe paint and heavy wooden doors had not been changed since the 1960s when my mother attended as a teenager.  

As cold and sometimes dark the interiors could feel, it was easily warmed on Sunday mornings with the faithful teachers and students of Sunday School.  Traditionally, Sunday School began at 9:45 and “big church” at 11:00.  The 4th grade class met downstairs with Ms. Jewrell Brown.  "Ms. Jewrell" was wider than she was taller which only meant she gave the best hugs in the world, especially to us little ones.  She couldn’t say the words “ventriloquist” or “stomach” which always sent the class, and her, into wonderful fits of laughter.  She taught me memory verses, the words and motions to “This Little Light of Mine” (which we sang every week), and most of all, how to truly lead with a servant’s heart in the body of Christ.  This set the foundation of community and Biblical study that carried through my life.

After I’d moved away from home and attended other churches, I noticed more and more congregations that did not offer Sunday School classes.  While it seemed more convenient in my now busy life to have a shorter day at church, it was something that I was definitely missing.  That sense of communal study in the church (building) was something that I could not find the same way in any other setting.  When I began attending Church of the Apostles a year and a half ago, I was excited to see that fall classes were about to begin.  I immediately signed up and was glad that I did!  What a great way to get to know people as a new attendee.  I especially loved the inter-generational aspect that Sunday School seems to foster.  It is so valuable to experience life with those from different age groups … we had more in common than you might think.

As classes at Apostles start up again this Sunday (for children and adults!), I encourage you to consider joining a class.  Whether you are a Biblical scholar, someone who doesn’t know Corinthians from Thessalonians, looking to connect with the congregation or just curious about religion and how it could possibly relate to your daily life, there is a place for you!  Check the link below for a list of adult classes being offered.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

~ Laura Witter, COTA Staff

Monday, January 11, 2016

Community HOPE

Community Hope mentoring is off to a great start at Apostles! Please pray for our Apostles mentors, for Quinny - Community Hope Director, and for these bright-eyed Community Hope students to know the love of Christ.

For more information or to volunteer for the program, please contact Julie Gilstrap (  Programs like this are made possible by Freedom for Mission.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Update From the Farwell's

January 16th...

It is difficult to believe that it is all actually happening.  Almost a year long process to get to this point.  So many bureaucratic hoops to jump through and lots of paperwork.  And now we are 13 days away from getting on an airplane. Janie and I often look at each other and say 'breathe' step at a time.  There is much packing and details to be taken care of before we depart.  Many ask us if we are excited, and there are moments, but for the most part those feelings probably won't come until we get on the airplane.  Presently, it is consoling Kensie as she grieves change and can spend literally hours crying about all the upheaval that is happening in her world. (see her note she slipped under our door just a few days ago) And Tate, when asked in Sunday School if everyone was looking forward to Christmas, he mutters under his breath, 'no because that means we are closer to leaving'. To say my heart aches would be an understatement.  And, then, there is Sadie who just seems to bloom where she is planted. Yet, she will tell you she is excited and nervous.  She is worried about the plane crashing. 

"My haert is broken in four,, with are Kenslow Ellen Farwell."

Why go?  We would be lying to you if I said those thoughts did not enter our minds from time to time.  It would be so much easier to stay.  Our little ones would see it as an intervention from the Lord not to go.  And yet, here we are:  tickets purchased, still no visas, a house half packed and trusting the Lord will do amazing things in us.  In us?  Yep...we need to experience Him, His healing and enjoy His presence so we can truly share Him with others. If not, then what we share is a wonderful true theological story that hits an emotional cord but seems somewhat distant and detached from this present reality. The gospel is about a living God who is active today.  He is alive and that reality is the lynch pin to God's redeeming story. 

Our hope and prayer is that our little ones will open their hearts to experience Jesus for themselves and for us to go deeper with Him.  To teach them to turn to Him in the midst of pain and discomfort rather than turning to things to distract from uncomfortable feelings.  But for this to even be possible, there has to be discomfort.  Something to jar us from our slumber to a greater adventure that awaits...being a part of God's redemption in the lives of others and those new believers igniting a spark that grows into a movement of Jesus' being proclaimed as redeemer, healer, restorer of lives.  

I share all this because I'm preaching to ourselves.  We are trying to figure out how to lead with courage, hopefulness and honesty.  To move forward despite the unknowns, to have hope in the midst of uncertainty and to be honest that we are feeling sad to leave as well.  We leave behind family: Janie's sister, who has cancer and we will not be here to walk with her through as she begins her healing process; grandparents and cousins who will not see our little ones for longer than normal; friends who have been so amazingly supportive of our move.  The outpouring of love, support and encouragement has been overwhelming.  We are blessed to be surrounded by such amazing family, friends, supporters and church family!  

Prayer Requests
1) Being able to see everyone and say goodbye well over the next two weeks.
2) Our visas will arrive in time.
3) For the emotional endurance to help the little ones with their emotions - to be present and feel with them.
4) Arrangements for our apartment over there.  We are having a wood burning stove installed before we arrived.  Lots of details obviously to get settled.
5) Getting the house set for our friends to move in - that it will be a blessing to them.

Contacting Us In Israel
You will be able to call us directly on our home number: 919-846-2778.  We are using republic wireless and we can use our phones through the internet.  

Mailing address at Jerusalem University College is:
P.O. Box 1276, Mt. Zion
9101202 Jerusalem, ISRAEL

Copyright © John and Janie Farwell, All rights reserved.