Good News Email – 02-01-2012

Greetings from Los Angeles! Sunday, after much prayer and fasting, our Father in heaven blessed our Bring Your Neighbor Day goal of “1,000 for the Lord” with a record attendance of 1,191! Also, He added to our number seven baptisms, one restoration, and two place memberships this week! We also blew out our new pledge of $24,300 by over $1,000 as we gave to the Lord $25,421!

Elena & I are so encouraged to be serving in the South Central Region alongside Cory Blackwell and Megan Matthews. Our South Central Region BYND was incredible! Last January 2011, Cory started this ministry with just nine disciples, and on Sunday our now 52 disciples had 170 at church! Not only did we witness the powerful restoration of Abdul, the moving baptism of Hilda, the humble communion sharing by Megan, and enjoyed an incredible “international pot luck lunch,” but Cory delivered one of his very best messages of all time!

Cory shared very vulnerably about his life’s many valleys – both before and after becoming a disciple. He shared about the death of his brother, growing-up without a father, being “let go” from the NBA, his divorce from the mother of his four precious children, and wandering in a spiritual desert after the demise of our former fellowship. After each account Cory summarized his emotional and spiritual state with the phrase, “I was afraid and alone.” After leading us in a very stimulating Scripture study of King Asa, Cory shared that as he placed membership in the City of Angels Church in November 2010, he was restored to his “first love” for God. Then, after sharing in detail God’s many blessings on his physical family, his closing words were so profound, “So today, knowing I’m in the presence of my God and so encouraged by my spiritual family in South Central LA, I’m no longer ‘afraid and alone!’” Though most of us were in tears, we gave a standing ovation to Cory, but in actuality to our loving Father in heaven!

Now more refreshing good news from around the world…

Mike Underhill of Chicago: In John 17:23, Jesus prayed for His disciples, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Today at our Sunday service, we had a blow-out attendance of 311 – our highest attendance ever without a guest speaker – and saw miracles that come only from a united movement of God! First were visitors who were family members of disciples in our sister congregations. Our dear brother, from Honolulu, Paul Schaefle, encouraged his mother to attend service today in Chicago, and afterwards, she told the sisters here that she “loved it!” Iwona, from the South Region of LA, was visiting family here and brought her mother and younger brothers out to service today, and they too shared that they loved it! Also, a sister here had been praying to have an old friend come out to church. She asked her long-time friend in Phoenix to visit the Phoenix Church. Not only did her friend attend service in Phoenix, she brought her other friends as well! Also, a young woman named Lydia, who is originally from Portland, started studying the Bible here at Columbia University. It turns out she is childhood best friends with Ricky Challinor and Gordo Esparza of LA.

Lastly, an incredible young man with great talents in film, Dom, was baptized today! During his studies this week, he shared with his friend Marcus about his upcoming baptism, Lord willing, on Sunday. Dom’s friend Marcus shared about how his sister was just baptized in Los Angeles. After talking some more, they realized that Marcus’ sister was Morgan, who just became our sister in LA in the AMS Region last week! She had been urging him to go visit the Chicago Church and Marcus saw God’s hand working in amazing ways by placing Dom in his life. (Acts 17:26-27) He attended service today, saw Dom get baptized, and started studying the Bible immediately after service! Here in Chicago, we’re so grateful to be part of a unified movement that Jesus prayed for and gives us hope for everyone’s family and friends throughout the world!

Vic Gonzalez Jr.: Greetings from the church way down here in the Southern hemisphere – Santiago, Chile! God continues to bless us with more and more fruit! In the 42 weeks since the “supplemental mission team” arrived, our gracious Lord has blessed us with 54 baptisms! So far in 2012, God has blessed us with a Campus Ministry baptism, a Singles Ministry baptism, and a Marrieds Ministry baptism! Now that’s team work! To God be all the glory!

Lola Lof of Kinshasa: What a wonderful service today as we had a big time together with brothers and sisters in listening to a powerful sermon entitled, Victory Over Prideful Attitudes. This lesson helped all of us – disciples and visitors – take care of our heart more than anything else. We praise the Lord as 80 attended the service! The greatest good news is the restoration of an awesome couple: Jean-Claude & Henriette, who decided to come back to the Lord and serve Him with their whole heart! (Joshua 14:8) Keep us in your prayers!

Luke Speckman: Greetings from Phoenix, where temperatures got up to 80 degrees on this sunny winter day! Today, Vic Jr. of Santiago preached a powerful and convicting lesson to 200 people! So many people came up to him afterward and were very grateful, because it was just what they needed to hear! Our giving was great today, as we came in about $500 over budget, and we also collected about $3,000 for our Special Missions Contribution! It was great to have Vic & Aurora in town so that the church could meet them and see what we are giving our Special Missions to!

I am very excited about our Campus Ministry! We had 45 in attendance at our Campus Devotional on Friday, which is especially exciting considering we started last semester with only nine campus students! We had our first ASU student of the semester baptized today! Dale, a dynamic RA at the ASU Polytechnic Campus, had six of his residents witness his baptism at church today! They are all currently studying the Bible, and prayerfully, one or two of them will be baptized this next week! We are fired-up to bring in the harvest in Phoenix!

Blaise Feumba of London – the overseeing Evangelist for French-speaking Africa:Great news from Abidjan, Ivory Coast! The Abidjan Church had a baptism yesterday under an outpouring of rain from heaven! Our sister Adele was added to the Lord’s church and our Father blessed them with 145 in attendance! Pray for the speedy recovery of our brother Amadou, the preacher, who is presently sick.

Evan Bartholomew of San Diego: Sunday was all the more incredible as Liz, an awesome single woman, was baptized at the end of our service! There’s lots more to come here in San Diego!

Jeremiah Clark:Greetings from the Mighty Eugene Church! It has been a faith building couple of weeks for the Eugene Church. Last week, we were greatly inspired by Cory Blackwell at our annual Bible Talk Leaders Workshop, and this past Friday and Saturday, we had a much needed Leaders Retreat where we “laughed, cried and got unified”. On Sunday, we had an encouraging place membership with Jessie Owens from Portland, and, best of all, we also had an amazing teen baptism last week! We love you all and thank-you for your prayers!

Jay Hernandez of Hilo: Greetings from your brothers and sisters on the Big Island of Hawaii! God’s mercy and grace continue to shine here in Hawaii. This last week was an incredible week for the church here as we continue to pick-up momentum. On Friday and Saturday, we had our first 24 hour prayer chain for the church, begging God to mold us into workers and bring us fruit! In response, God has graciously given us more Bible studies and more visitors to church than ever, as we build toward our Bring Your Neighbor Day on Super Bowl Sunday. Two particular people stand out in our Bible studies. First there is Ken. He is from Thailand, and was met by Stefano and Marley. The first thing he came to was our New Year’s Workshop with Kip & Elena! He sat in the front row and he felt that Kip preached right to him! To say the least, he was blown away, and now is eagerly studying the Bible!

The second person is a single mom named Carolina. Stefano also met Carolina, but truly it was God reaching out to her. Stefano was sharing his faith in the mall when he got a phone number of a guy who said he wanted to study the Bible. A couple of days later, Stefano called the guy to set up the study, however, a woman answered the call. Stefano asked for the guy, but the woman on the other end of the phone told him he had the wrong number. He explained he was supposed to study the Bible with the guy, so he asked the woman if she would want to study the Bible. She said yes, as she actually had been wanting to go to church and to get closer to God! Stefano asked her if he could have one of the sisters call her and she said yes again. What makes this even cooler, is that Carolina was on the Island of Maui at the time, but was coming to live here on the Big Island! Now, Carolina is eagerly studying the Bible and should be baptized this week! God does “determine the times and places,” and people are wide open as our brother Chris Broom preached this last week! We love you with all of our hearts, pray for our BYND as we pray for God’s blessings in your lives!

Andrew & Patrique Smellie of New York City: Greetings from the Big Apple! “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) At our Campus Devotional last Friday, the entire NYC Campus Ministry cheered as they embraced the vision of being united under one “banner” (Isaiah 1:10-12) by adopting one name to make our presence known on our Campus Ministries across New York City and Long Island – Disciples of the Cross! (See the banner and our new invitations below.) The image of the Jerusalem cross (the red cross representing the blood-stained cross of Christ and the four white crosses representing the gospel going to the four corners of the earth) represents the dream of world evangelism that unites us in our mission to save “the harassed and helpless.” (Matthew 9:36) We re-committed ourselves to the dream of evangelizing all the campuses of New York City, Long Island, and the metropolitan area, as we carry the message of the cross to this lost world! Pray for us as we continue to proclaim the truth at Columbia University, New York University, Brooklyn College, City College of New York, and several other schools through the NYC area!

Disciples of the CrossFront of NYC Church InvitationBack of NYC Church Invitation

Today was also a great day in the Lord as we had numerous visitors join us in worship as we began our Book of Acts Series! Visitors from past weeks were eager to introduce their own visitors to us! The church was also excited to hear several of the names for the Boston Mission Team that have been finalized! For our Wednesday Midweeks, we are about to begin a new series to keep our fear of God as we study out the topic of Humility in our relationship with God, his church, and the world. While God has been working to bless our faith through nine additions in January (six baptisms, two restorations and one place membership), Satan is also lurking to hinder our efforts. Please pray for us as we are in the midst of searching for a new building to meet since the Supreme Court’s decision to bar churches from meeting in NYC public schools in December of last year. Our entire church will be praying and fasting this Friday, as we focus on finding a great facility for our growing fellowship! Please join us in prayer for God to work miracles by our final move-out date of February 12th! We know that our “[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), and to Him be all the glory!

What a tremendous first month of 2012! Please remember to put on your calendars, the 2012 Global Leadership Conference officially beginning on Sunday morning August 5th and ending on Tuesday afternoon. As usual, the Central Leadership Council will gather on the preceding Thursday and Friday (August 2-3); our Campus and Teen Devotional will be open for all early arrivals on Friday night (August 3); a Special Women’s Ministry Training Session will be held on Saturday morning (August 4); and there will be a Shepherding Couples Reception at 5PM on Saturday evening (August 4). Finally, let’s be praying that February will be our most fruitful month yet as a movement! And to God be all the glory, honor and praise! Amen!

Much love,