Tuesday, July 15, 2008

agape's missional vbs

This week Gaby and Marcus are having fun at vacation Bible school. This is the third year that they have been able to go to VBS at Agape Community Fellowship in Hilliard. They do a truly amazing job with summer Bible school for kids. They really make a point of not only offering Bible school to their own kids but inviting the community as well. Iglesia Cristiana Hispana, the Spanish church mentioned in my previous post, also uses their building for services each week and they are very welcoming to host the Spanish kids for Bible school too. Not only that but they invite lots of kids from the community and then on the last night invite their parents to come for a program with hot dogs and ice cream afterwards. I know that they have been able to share the gospel and disciple many families through their VBS.
Another great thing about Agape is that they haven't been satisfied to just grow bigger as a church, but they have planted two other churches as well. They have prepared groups of leaders from the "mother church" to go and start new churches in two different cities not too far from Columbus. These people take the Great Commission seriously and do something about it. Agape Hilliard started in 1987 and then they planted a new church in Lancaster, OH in 2000 and another new church in Marysville, OH in 2005! Their churches are centered around home groups and they keep reaching more and more people. In spite of sending out so many people to start new churches, their normal Sunday attendance is still the same. Cheers to reproduction! I'm sure they'll be planting more churches in the future.

We loaded our mini-van with our kids as well as two of their friends for Bible school.


I love the way they decorate the church and incorporate multi-media with the music and teaching. With kids hooked on video games these days can we do anything but present the gospel in creative ways to be effective?
Here's Gaby in the blur, loving the songs and motions.


Marcus strikes a pose with one of his teachers, who happens to be a former student of mine from when I taught at Shekinah.
The platform looked really cool, Marcus and Dalia thought so too!
Here are Jose, Marcus, Dalia and Gaby, the whole crew.

sunday with iglesia cristiana hispana

On Sunday we went to a nearby park for a church service and picnic with ICH, the fellowship we were a part of for our first two years here in Columbus. We still love the church and have many good friends there and attend occasionally when we have a chance.
Here are some pictures of the gathering this past weekend.

Friday, July 11, 2008

family day at antrim park

We usually have a family night each week when we go out together to do something as a family. This week, since we were done with the Bible Camp yesterday we decided to have a family day. I bought a fishing license and at the recommendation of our neighbor Jim we went to Antrim Lake to go fishing. The fishing wasn't too great, we just caught three small Blue Gills, but at least we caught something and the kids had a great time.


Here I'm teaching Gaby and Marcus how to put a worm on a hook.
Gaby caught a butterfly! She played with it for a while and then it flew away.
Marcus, as usual, enjoyed being with Daddy!

Here is one of the little fish that we caught. Gaby brought it in and then she let it go, she's quite a brave little girl!

After a while a bunch of people with dogs came and played in the water, so the fishing wasn't so good anymore.

After the fishing we packed up our rods and reels and headed up to the park for a picnic lunch. After lunch we all had a nap in the shade. Marcus decided that he wanted to take some pictures then. Gaby wasn't feeling very good, she had a headache, so that's why she doesn't look too excited here.


Marcus was feeling fine as you can see here!

bible camp pictures

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

missional bible school

OK, I may blog some more about Spain again later, but for now, on with the present.
This week Naty and I are helping to put on the first ever (annual?) Westside Bible Camp. We are doing it at the Lebanon Station Apartments about a mile from out house. If you want an apartment on the west side of Columbus, check them out. They have been gracious enough to let us do the camp there when several other places didn't.
This has been a totally new experience for all of us that are involved. The idea came from another ESL teacher that I work with and we decided to give it a try. So, we invited several other teachers and a few bus drivers to join us. We even have the Templeton family from Belleville who was brave enough to accept our invitation and come out and help with the camp!
In some ways what we are doing is similar to a vacation Bible school, but there are two things that are very different about this. All of us that are doing the camp are from different churches and there is not really any one church sponsoring the camp. We're all simply Christians that want to share Jesus with kids. Another major difference is that we are doing the camp right where the kids live, not at a church building. "Big deal," you say. Well, to me it is. We are sharing Jesus with these kids on their turf, not on ours. We aren't trying to get them into our church building, we are loving, accepting and sharing Jesus with them where they are. Us going to them instead of them coming to us.
It hasn't been easy. We're learning a lot through the process. We had planned to have the camp from 10 am -1 pm Monday through Friday. Well, that was a nice idea until Monday at 10:oo when there wasn't a kid to be found anywhere! Duh! What we didn't tale into consideration is that at 10:00 in the morning most kids are either still asleep or at a babysitter's place because their parents are at work. So we made some quick changes in plans and switched the camp to 4:00-6:30 in the afternoon. That has worked a lot better! Yesterday we had 40 kids and today we had about 35, quite a bit better than zero!
This experience has really opened my eyes to see the lives these kids live. When I was a kid, we never had to go to the babysitter's because Mom was always with us while Dad worked. For many of them Mom works and they either don't know dad or he works too. I think I knew that in my head before, but now I've seen it closer, right where people live and felt it too.
The kids have also been so grateful. Most of the kids have been so happy to be able to do the activities and make the crafts and the fact that we have food for them is like a double bonus!
Talking with Naty tonight we realized that even when the church next to the complex has Bible School, some of the Latino parents may not let their kids go, but since this is right where they live, they don't object.
Don't read me the wrong way, Bible school at a church is great. I loved it when I was a kid and I liked helping out when I got older. But, what if churches started taking their Bible school's to the street? What if instead of sending out all of the mailings and spending all of the time and money on decorations for the church buildings we spent the money on buying food for kids and getting the equipment needed to make the Bible school portable and accessible to more kids. We don't have to give up on the Christian kids, we could just take them along as missionaries too and they can be model students and helpers, helping lead the kids they meet to Jesus.
So there you have it, missional Bible school. What if all churches did this? Wouldn't we truly "reach out" to our neighbors a bit better if we did more than simply invite people to our turf?

Monday, July 7, 2008

hope

We were stuck by the post-Christianity and neo-paganism in Spain. I didn't make those terms up, and wouldn't have thought of them but found the words as I was doing some web surfing reading about the spiritual condition of Europe. I see the same birthing in America, but in Spain the birthing seems to be of post-Christian, neo-pagan grandchildren not children. I was planning to blog a bit about the darkness and sadness of it all but I don't think I can do that, especially after reading this about missions in Europe; I don't think it would be totally true. Spain is spiritually dark, dead if you will, but I believe in a God of resurrection!
It was so interesting that while I was in Spain I was reading Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright. I would recommend it to any of you. I can't say that I agree with everything that he says, but a lot of it does make sense and it births hope as you read. (Not sure why I'm stuck on the word birth. No, Naty is not pregnant!)
We were surprised by the ungluing of morality in the country especially the lack of respect that small children have for their parents. There seems to be a complete absence of holistic Christian living, and even of simply having good morals.
But in the midst of this environment, hope shines even brighter. I was amazed at how many people told us how impressed they were with how well behaved and lovely our children are. Now, I think they're great, but they aren't that great! Just today I was getting frustrated with both Gaby and Marcus because of something they did. But compared to some of what we saw there, yes, we do have some amazing kids!
The best thing about being noticed in a good way is that you can share the hope. Just seeing our kids had to have birthed hope in some people to just know that kids can respect their parents and behave as they have been asked! The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not overpower it, it shines brighter!
We didn't have enough time to truly disciple many people while we were there, but we did have time to plant a lot of seeds. Those seeds were seeds of hope, giving a picture that shows there can be something better. We got to share with an atheist and a humanist at length, and no, they didn't pledge their allegiance to Jesus as Lord because of our conversation, but we could see that we had given some hope and the soil was opening some. The seeds may have a better chance to germinate.
I don't think living as a missional Christian in Spain would be all peaches and cream (melocotones y nata, do they eat that in Spain?) but I do think that the hope we have in Christ Jesus is quite a bit more noticeable. He is our hope and through us Spaniards could see our hope and begin to hope themselves. So the next time you hear someone complaining about spiritual darkness where ever it may be remember the hope we have and most of all remember Revelation chapters 21 and 22, resurrection does come and it will come!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

hospitalidad

Without a doubt the best thing in life is people. Our trip to Spain wouldn't have been possible without the wonderful people who opened their homes and hearts to us. I want to write a bit more about our trip with some other posts but I thought that the most important part would be thanking the people that we stayed with while we were there. We didn't have to stay in any hotels, that is the great thing about having friends!
I really think that showing hospitality is one of the most important things that we can do for others. We get to know each other for real when we live together under the same roof and sit around the same table. We love having people over to our house and even hosting others with Mennonite Your Way, but we also enjoy hanging out with others and being in their homes. Hopefully they enjoy it too!
The first place that we stayed in Spain was with our friends Jenny and Fernando. We had actually never met Fernando before in person, but he was still willing to have us in his home. He and Jenny are actually living with his grandma for a short time while they wait for the house that they bought to get finished. They are hoping to move to their own house within a month.

Fernando's sister Saray also lives there with his Grandma too. We had a great time getting to know her and she was a wonderful tour guide for us for two days when we explored two other towns in Galicia. Fernando's grandmother, Delia, is a delightful woman. She cooked us some incredible meals and a lot of the vegetables came from the garden she has beside her house. She even cooked us a chicken from her chicken coop right at her house. Her generosity was amazing, we were certainly blessed. In this picture Marcus was helping her hang up some clothes.



In San Agustin de Guadelix we had the privilege to stay with Fred and Mary Kay Eichelman, the missionaries that we helped with the English camp. They have three very special kids who had a load of fun playing with Gaby and Marcus. It was very neat to see how Fred and Mary Kay have connected a lot with their community and it was amazing how many people they knew. They are planning to move back to the US at the end of this month and I know that they will be very missed by the people where they live now.


Freddy, Annie and Joey are Fred and Mary Kay's kids. Freddy and Joey were nice enough to give up their bedroom so that we had a place to sleep. Thanks guys! Gabriela and Marcus really had a lot of fun with all of them.

In Granada we got to stay with Pablo and Judi Kauffman. They just recently moved there and have a small two bedroom apartment but that didn't stop them from keeping us. (and our friend Amanda!)
To me, that is true hospitality, you don't have to have the perfect place with a "guest room", you don't have to have every last speck of dust in your house cleaned up, you just have to have an open heart, an open door, an open table and an open bed, couch or floor space!


To all of our hosts, THANK YOU SO MUCH! We couldn't have made the trip without you.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Spain in pictures

There is so much that I could say about our trip to Spain, but it would take me way to long to say everything, so here are a few of our pictures of the trip.
In brief we spent June 13-18 in and around Vigo in Northern Spain, visiting Pontevedra and Santiago. Then from the 19th to the 27th we were in San Agustin de Guadelix helping the Fred and Mary Kay Eichelman family with an English camp for kids there. June 28-July 1 we traveled to Granada in southern Spain and stayed with Pablo and Judi Kauffman there. Finally on July 2 we flew out from Madrid back to Columbus.

Hope you enjoy these pics.