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July Beats by Mark

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Student Mission Trip to Refuge Louisville

This past June we took a group of our students to Louisville, KY to partner with Jonathan Braden, Founder of Refuge Louisville. The mission of Refuge Louisville is to “mobilize the Church to bring wholistic change to bless the nations.” One of the ways they do this is through allowing short-term teams to come and build relationships with international refugees that have been placed in Louisville.

There were so many moments where our team felt like we were in another country as we are surrounded by people from all over the world and playing soccer in the hot sun. One of the students who has been on mission to Belize said there were moments where he felt like he was back in Belize. It’s hard to believe that our students got this type of experience just two hours away!!

Our students had the opportunity to experience a lot of different ethnic foods. The first night Jonathan took us to Little Jerusalem which served Pakistani food. Food was one of the big fears many students had, so it was amazing to see them try new things, overcome fears, and find out that they had worried for nothing (in most cases :) We also got to try multiple types of Indian and Cuban food!!

One of the most important learning experiences for our students was getting to eat in the home of one of the Nepali families that Refuge has partnered with. Our students got to taste and see what an actual Nepali dinner would be like...pickled mangos, goat meat and all! (See above) It was so cool for them to listen to these people’s stories and get to be an encouragement to them.

Each day we would spend time at an apartment complex that was home to refugees from all over the world. We had the tremendous honor of making friends with people from Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, the Congo, and Iraq. Kylie and Sydnie built a great relationship with Najma, Nasteho, and Bora (pictured at above). It was beautiful to watch our students play soccer and jump rope with them, and then to listen to their stories and talk to some of them about the Love of Jesus Christ.

I’m eager to partner with Jonathan and Refuge Louisville again very soon. The first year is set up so that groups primarily observe and learn a lot about other cultures and how to share the Gospel across different cultures. As we continue to work with Jonathan and Refuge, our group will have the opportunity to build more intentional relationships with one particular people group and invest more deeply into one particular area of the city. A huge thank you to everyone who helped us go on mission!!!

Much Love - Mark

July Kid's Happenings

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Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

This is the scripture that keeps ringing in my head following VBS.  For those of you that know me, you are probably giggling inside.  Giggling because you know all too well that it is very hard for ME to be still.  I too was struggling with this running through my brain.  Why is God telling me to be still?  Let’s go back a couple of months ago.  I was just wrapping up Upward and then wrapping up AWANA and then preparing for VBS and then… I’m sure you are starting to see the pattern.  You see, I don’t stay still.  I am constantly going into the next big event and thinking into the future instead of resting in what God has been doing in our church and our lives.  “Be still April!  And Know that I am God.  Be still and know that I am doing great things.  Be still and see all the great things I am allowing you to be a part of.”  So, I am doing just that.  Lol, sort of… I am spending the week following VBS on a staycation (vacation at home).  I am of course catching up on all the “mom” tasks that have been neglected the past couple of weeks, but I am also spending quiet time thinking about all the AMAZING things God has been doing in our Children’s Ministry.  The more that I rest in His words and all He is doing I can’t help but realize that we (meaning our church) have so many beautiful children that don’t need to be looking into the future for the next Big event.  They need to be still and know that He is their God, He is their everything.  Here are a few VBS stats for you to take to heart.  Of the 200 children that attended VBS this year, 10 of them from our church asked Jesus to come into their precious little hearts.  Eleven other children, that either do not attend church or have a different church home, did just the same.  This isn’t something our church or myself should take lightly.  We have to nurture them and help them to understand that the path they have chosen isn’t going to be easy and God willing, will be a lot different life from what they once knew.  This isn’t something that we as a church can do at the next big event.  We have to be raising them up on a more consistent basis.  As adults, we have to WANT to teach our children more about Gods greatness.  Yes, we have to feed ourselves, but we can’t neglect the children of the same biblical teachings.  So, as I have been staying “still”.  I have been convicted by His word in asking our church family to please pour into our children more so than ever before.  They are thirsty for knowing more about our Great and Awesome God.  Our Children’s Ministry is growing in numbers every Sunday, yet our volunteer base stays the same.  We need more of our church family to stand up and lead our children in more than just a Big event kind of way.  We need leaders that will teach them weekly and want to dedicate themselves to knowing more about each individual child, their family and their spiritual well being.  We need leaders that will “BE STILL” for our children and not consider it an interruption to Sunday mornings of sleeping in, watching a game, or hanging out with friends. Be Still and dedicate your Sunday morning to pouring into the future of The Church.  If this message spoke to you in a way that God has been speaking to me then I ask that you please rest in it and act on it.  I love my church family and most of all I love our kids.

Thank you for the opportunity to love on your kids.

 April Sharp

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