Jinsi Flush yako Mabomba Kiroho na Ken Glassmeyer

Hakuna jambo muda gani mimi kufanya kuwafikia, Mimi mara nyingi kushangazwa kiasi gani athari kuwahudumia wengine kwa kweli ina juu ya afya yetu wenyewe kiroho. Wakati sisi kulisha masikini, au kufanya baadhi ya ishara ndogo ya wema, si tu ni sisi kuwapa ladha ndogo ya ufalme, sisi kupata nishati kiroho kama vizuri. Nimesikia zaidi ya mmoja mchungaji kutumia mfano kwamba sisi ni mfereji au bomba kwa ajili ya neema ya Mungu wakati sisi kumwacha kati yake kupitia kwetu kwa wengine.

Wakati mwingine, when that grace sprays through us, it clean our pipes.

This fall, I had my hot water heater fail on me. I live in an area that has extremely hard water, and frugal skeptic that I am, I have always resisted getting a water softener. I am also not the most knowledgeable guy when it comes to home repair. Little did I know that you are actually supposed drain and flush your hot water heater and lines at least once per year, because calcium, lime, and other minerals in hard water will calcify and gunk up your taps, fixtures pipes, and even the hot water heater itself. In my case I went 15 years without ever having the heater serviced. At first, I noticed white grit in the aerators and reduced flow from the tap. Then a few weeks later every hot water line in the house slowed to a mere trickle. After a few thousand dollars and few days with a plumber, my lines were very clear, I had a new hot water heater, and a softener. I had to help the plumber carry the old heater out of the house because it had over sixty pounds of sediment that had built up over the years. All of this could have been avoided through the simple discipline of flushing my plumbing from time to time.

Can’t the same thing be said for making outreach a regular habit in our lives?

Maybe it goes back to the idea of a man with no shoes suddenly being very happy with his life when he meets a man with no feet. When we serve people that are more impoverished than us, whether it be emotional, spiritual, or fiscal poverty, it helps put our life in perspective. It flushes our spiritual pipes and gets the gunk out.

I had a similar experience with my personal ministry right around the same time the hot water heater went out. Even though most folks assume I do outreach almost as often as I breathe, it does not really come natural to me. If truth be told, I am not a very nice person. I am actually kind of jerk. Kwa kweli, that is proof that effective servant evangelism is absolutely dependent on God’s kindness–not my politeness. Serving others does not come naturally to me. It might look that way if you were elbow to elbow with me doing ministry, but you aren’t seeing me in my natural element. You are seeing the power of God’s kindness transform me on the spot as it flows through me to those I am serving.

As such, sometimes I get in a funk. Wakati mwingine, I slack off with regard to ministry. Weeks and months can slide by, and then I can spiral into a really funky spiritual place. I was in such a place this fall. I had a few serious set backs in my personal life, a few deaths and illnesses in the family, and a number of financial problems. While I wasn’t shaking my fist at God, we weren’t exactly on the best speaking terms. I certainly was in no mood to serve other people, much less be cordial toward them.

I am real big fan of Harry Chapin, and if you happen to have his Greatest Hits CD around, put it in. There is a little rant he goes on between two of his songs where he talks about the ludicrousness of churches and schools getting excited about feeding the poor around Thanksgiving: “sure they eat good for one or two days off of your food drive, but what are they going to eat the rest of the year?"

I happened to be listening to it in the car and it occurred to me, that not only do the impoverished go hungry the rest of the year, some of us get spiritually lazy the rest of the year. Before I heard the CD, I had not only skipped several planned church outreaches, I had even slowed down my personal servant evangelism. I wasn’t “making my rounds” as Steve Sjogren often teaches: simply follow your daily routine, but be attentive and ready to serve the people you meet as you run daily errands and go about your normal business.

My pipes were clogged.

I had actually even thought about skipping my church’s annual Turkeyfest, an event I helped start and refine over twenty-five years ago.

I was in a funk, and while I know and have often taught others that the best way to get out of a funk is to serve others. I didn’t want to. I conjured a hundred reasons not to join Turkeyfest. Spiritual inertia had set in.

It was a very rough autumn. My grandmother had just died just as I was finally really getting to know her and visit with her regularly. Sadly, I’m still a bit unsure just where she landed on the Engle scale before dying. I felt spiritually impotent. Here I was, a type of outreach guru, and I couldn’t even witness effectively to my mostly unsaved family. The rest of my family are pretty dang near the bottom of that same Engel scale. They have a casual awareness that there is a God, but they aren’t Him. It pretty much ends there with regards to faith with most of my family members.

Then my mom was attacked by the third type of cancer she has encountered in two decades: breast cancer, skin cancer, and now finally fatal stage four renal cell carcinoma. She is way down in Florida and, living in Ohio, I can’t really see her as much as I would like to. She has less than six months left. There’s a bit more. . .I am sterile, yet changed that into a passion for being a teacher and I was pretty good at it and even won a few awards, but then I had a heart attack breaking up a fight at school and I was diagnosed with severe CHF and forced to retire early.

I spent a great amount of time in and out the hospital and have several pieces of my anatomy sliced, diced, and removed. I tried to get healthier, but with a heart that works with less than 30% efficiency, my days in the classroom were over.

I threw myself into ministry becoming an outreach maniac and even became the editor of a national magazine dedicated to teaching folks around the world how to do two things:

  1. Notice the needs of people
  2. Help them notice God that is overjoyed to meet those needs for them

Sadly that groove only lasted a couple of years. Due to medical pension stipulations, I had to resign. In fact I had to curb all of my organized ministry endeavors for I am no longer able to lead or instruct others formally—even as a volunteer. I now have to submit a report to the state board delineating my activities proving that I am not doing any form of leading others; I can’t even teach a Bible study or lead a small group. All this for the joy of collecting 21.25% of my final year’s salary—before taxes.

Then I found out I have a brain chemistry problem that the doctors still have not put their finger on. I have become a test subject for pharmaceutical companies, only I am paying them, rather than them paying me as they try medication after medication to stabilize my brain chemistry. Quite possibly it is never going to be fixed and could be a result of all the other medications I take for my Congestive Heart Failure; Hypertension and the fact that I no longer have part of my intestinal tract and stomach.

Some mornings I wake up and wonder why Job was being such a cry-baby.

In other words, I still love God because He is my Father, but lately I haven’t been in the mood to talk to him very much and being around people that are more “cheery” than me makes me even edgier than some of you have ever seen me, and if you thought me rude and brusque before, I am down right spiritually cantankerous at the moment. . .kinda like a crotchety Christian Dennis Miller who thinks he is funnier and smarter than he really is, and says everything he is thinking out loud. So I began to stay away from gatherings so I am not toxic to others.

My spiritual pipes weren’t just clogged—they were backed up.

Anyway, I was almost in such a funk that I dang near took a pass on handing out turkeys this year, causing me to miss my first Turkeyfest. . .well since before we really didn’t have a name for it. Back when we started it in the late 1980’s we just all pitched in out of our own pocket, loaded up a few pickup trucks with frozen turkeys, stuffing, canned goods, pumpkin pies and just doing the best a group of loving amateurs could do to hand out mercy and kindness from the back of a tailgate.

Twenty five years later and we were feeding over a thousand families each Thanksgiving—with a really nice spread. I was going to bail on it.

Then two things changed my mind.

1) I heard a rumor that we might revisit the “old-school model” and have a bit more freedom to freelance/pray and stretch a few atrophied prophetic muscles and find random families to serve as the Lord led rather than use leads (with triplicate paperwork) from a social services agency making us little more than pizza delivery boys. One time last year I was yelled at by the person I gave the turkey dinner to, that I bought out of my pocket, because I was ten minutes late arriving.

2) My youngest nephew, Adam, would be joining us for his first Turkeyfest. This precocious young man is the life of any party: a kid that is two parts scoundrel and three parts saint. You never know what is going to come out of his mouth, but more times than not it would be profound and sometimes even holy.

We reduced down, not going with a larger group this year; just our little extended family of me, my wife, and some of my inlaws. They are Catholic, but let me tell you, that particular faith has forgotten more about service and kindness than any cutting edge parachurch you can name. We bought two turkey dinners to give away. The organizers at my church provided heavy-duty laundry baskets (This is an awesome idea by the way—it holds a great deal of food and a full-sized turkey without breaking, and can be used to do laundry later!) and we just went to the store and filled it with a Thanksgiving bounty including a good sized bird.

The worship was awesome, but I had to chuckle when little Adam leaned into his mother’s shoulder and said: “Uhhmm, mom, I think we went to the wrong place cause this sure ain’t no Catholic church.”

It was going to be a good day.

We drove through Lincoln Heights with our turkeys. The landscape has sure changed since the days of the white bus and food runs I used to organize in this impoverished neighborhood when I was on staff over twenty years ago. The entire place has been gentrified, but if you look close, you can still see the hidden poverty sprinkled around all the new condominiums city planners put in when the bulldozed the eight block grid housing project. I almost go lost.

As we were driving down Chamberlain Ave. little Adam was inspired: “Uncle Kenny, Instead of driving around all day and looking at houses, why don’t we just stop and ask that lady if she knows anybody that is hungry–she looks like she knows where we should go with the food.”

I look over and there is a single mom trying to load her car with a ton of laundry in plastic bags as she also herded two young kids. I hop out of the van and help her load her car introduce myself and ask her if she “knows of any families in the neighborhood going through a bad time that could maybe use an thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings?”

She stared and me blankly for a moment and started crying and pointed to the door of the house. “I don’t live here–that’s my dad’s place,” is all she said, but kept crying.

I motioned to the van and we all carried the pies and stuffing and potatoes and turkey etc inside to meet Marcus and his grandson Javonian.

Marcus explained that his wife had just recently passed and he was trying to make things okay, but it was real rough on the family. To make matters worse, the heater was out, his car was broke, and he was about to lose his job. On top of all that, his wife had always put out a large spread for the family at Thanksgiving, but not only did he not have a clue how to cook, he didn’t have the money to afford such a spread

I started to show him that we had even gave him some basic cooking directions and showed him the cooking tips guide in the basket, but he stopped me. He pointed out the window at his daughter, “She won’t come in here right now ’cause she’s mad at me and the rest of the world. She can cook just like her ma could though, so we are good there. Don’t worry. She’ll come around. She just knows we’re about to do church in this living room, and that is probably more than she could bear right now.”

Adam frowned up at the man, “Why is she mad?”

“Well. . .” tears welled up in his eyes, but he laughed, “we were just arguing this morning about what to do about Thanksgiving this year, and I told her I would pray and God would provide–then you all showed up a few minutes later. She ain’t really mad-mad, she just knows it is time to get right with God again, you know? You folks showing up is just God messing around with her–and some folks don’t think God has a great sense of humor,” Marcus smiled down at Adam as he wiped a tear from his face. “Little man, you and your kin are an answer to prayers this morning,” and with that Marcus grabbed all our hands and we did church in his living room.

We prayed for Marcus and his grandson while his daughter lingered and watched with curiosity from the porch. Then Adam tugged on my jeans: “Aren’t you going to pray for his heater?”

I picked up the broken thermostat in my hand and Adam covered it with his and we prayed that God would “send a friend over that could help him hook it back up right.” The phone rang just as we were leaving. It was a friend of Marcus calling to see what would be a good time to come over and rewire the thermostat that had been lying on the floor.

My pipes are clean now.

Kuwahudumia Pamoja = Kupanda Pamoja na Austin Cooper

“Enjoyed spending my morning with the kids and my church family doing a Winter Survival kit outreach!! It’s an awesome experience and I am so thankful to be able to have the opportunity to teach my kids how to show Gods love in simple, practical ways.”

“I am blown away by God’s mercy, just to be a part of His work…it’s amazing!!! Today we got the opportunity to drive a little boy and his sister, whom we met on an outreach, to church and he said are you taking us to Jesus’ house??? He was SO excited! What a blessing to be able to be used by God to draw people into Himself…we are SO unworthy!!! It BLOWS my mind.”

These quotes are real Facebook posts from two different people in our church that have occurred in the past month. As a culture of Servant Evangelism is enveloping our church there seems to be a two part blessing that has occurred from our church developing an outward focus: a blessing for us as a church and a blessing for the people we are reaching by showing them God’s love in simple and practical ways. Nothing highlights these two blessings better than the two Facebook posts above.

In August of 2010 our church started participating in Servant Evangelism. As a church we did a kindness outreach on a Saturday from 10am-noon once a month in which we served people in very simple and practical ways such as $1 car washes (wash a car and give away the dollar), leaf raking, toilet cleaning, soda and water giveaways, washing windows, etc. When we were asked by the people we were serving why we were doing this we would just respond, “We wanted to show you that Jesus loves and cares for you in a practical way.” Furthermore, we passed out a card with a big smiley face on the front that says: “We hope this small gift brightens your day, there are no strings attached. We just want to let you know God loves you.” We had so much fun we decided in January of 2011 to start doing the kindness outreaches twice a month. Finally in June of 2011 we decided to completely dive in and start doing a kindness outreach every single week whether we have 1 person show up or 20 (trust me there has been plenty of weeks where we have had only 1 person show up to an outreach, but God still uses it) and we have seen the outpour of blessings that God has put upon our church, both from the inside and the out.

From the very beginning of our outreach efforts it became apparent that God was using this outward focus to bless and bring our church together. Whenever we step out and look to further God’s kingdom there is a great deal of joy involved. I have never felt or seen strangers within a church grow to become a loving family quicker than when we are serving others in fun and practical ways. When we set out on our outreaches whether it be simply giving away soda or putting on a block party there is an overwhelming sense that God’s Spirit is going before us and just as in Acts 13:52 which says, ““And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” there is a great deal of fun, bonding, and joy involved. Sisi wote habari maneno: "Familia kwamba anaomba pamoja anakaa pamoja" vizuri mimi kama kusema "kanisa kuwa mtumishi pamoja kukua pamoja." Hii ina maana ya ukuaji unafanyika kimwili na kiroho. The two Facebook posts at the top of the page illuminate this truth greatly. Mungu huwabariki sisi katika njia kubwa inawezekana wakati sisi kuwabariki wengine.

Of course our ultimate goal in reaching out to others in our community is to allow God to use us to bring those who he chooses to a place where he can draw them to Himself. When we pass out sodas, or chap stick, or whatever it may be we always pray that God’s spirit will use such a simple, material thing to change someone’s heart towards him. I like to think that through Servant Evangelism and a simple offer of a 10 second prayer after we serve someone, we are giving people a new and redefined first impression of who Jesus is. This impression destroys any other impression that they may have had in the past through bad experiences with other Christians. We constantly get comments from people who say “I have never heard of a church that would do something like this” or “I have never felt so blessed and loved by a simple act of kindness”.

After consistently serving every Saturday for just an hour and a half for 6 months we have started seeing many of the people we have reached out to come to our church on Sundays where they get to hear in even more detail about who Jesus is and what he has done for them.

At a recent free block party outreach we put on I met a student, introduced him to Christ then baptized him. This was one of the neatest moments of my life. We have multiple people in our church picking up those who we have met during kindness outreaches and bringing them to church (I.E. second Facebook post at the top). We have people that have never been to church before coming in our doors and actually enjoying it. The truth is God chooses to bless those who are warriors for his kingdom. Strangely enough our warriors clean toilets, rake leaves, mow yards, and pass out soda, however sometimes there is nothing more fulfilling to us, and useful to God, than to reach out to the Lost providing them with a spotless toilet, a clean looking yard, and a quenched thirst.

Kuwa Aina Kwa Duni na Robert Pittman

"Kuwa aina maskini ni kama mikopo kwa Bwana; ndipo atakapomlipa kwa nini umefanya. " (Mithali 19:17)

 

Once a month we go out as a church and we call it “Love Louisville.” We also do an annual event that is city-wide with the same name (kuangalia nje: www.lovelouisville.org for more info).

As a follow up to Christmas, we recently did what we called: "Winter Warm Outreach.” We collected new or gently used coats, hats, gloves and scarfs for men, women and children. We worked with Starbucks and they donated coffee and hot chocolate along with freshly baked muffins.

We often do other types of outreaches like bottled water giveaways, business blast where we take goodie bags to area workers, or gas buy-downs where we give out $2 bills at area gas stations and wash people’s wind shields for free. We still do those, but recently God has given me a heart to reach out more to the poor, the abused, the lonely, the neglected. So every month we have been very deliberate about doing outreaches that touch those people. So off we go to “Winter Warm.”

We drove to one of the poorest areas in Louisville and set up our giveaway in the area park adjacent to the projects. While people set up, a couple of guys and I started knocking on doors to invite people. “We’ve got FREE coats, hats, gloves for you and your kids along with hot chocolate” and people came in below freezing temperatures because of love. Up to 100 people loved, served, clothed, conversations with, thanks given, prayers prayed.

But there was one person I’ll never forget. Her name was Sellina. I was walking back from knocking on doors when I met her. She was in her car getting ready to take off when I walked up to the window and told her about the giveaway in the park. She said, “I thought about coming over, but I didn’t want to take away from other people who needed it more than me.” And then to my surprise she pulled out a $5 bill and insisted I take it to put in our offering for outreach. I normally don’t take any kind of donations because we don’t want people to think there are any strings attached to our outreach. But she was insistent and started to tear up as she said, “Please, please take this and put it toward your outreach.”

She placed the $5 bill in my hand and as she did I joined hands with her and asked if I could pray with her. After I prayed, I looked up and there were tears streaming down her face and she could barely get the words out: “You don’t know how much I needed that…I’ve just been evicted.”

$5 dollars to her was like $50 to someone else, au $500, au $5000. It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the poor widow who gave money to the offering: "All the others gave what they do not need, but this poor widow gave out of her need” (Mark 12:44).

I never saw Sallina again, but I’ve never forgotten her and neither has God: "He puts poor people on their feet again; He rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives” (1 Samuel 2:8). Guess what? He uses you and me to do it.

All God asks is this: "to remember to help the poor—something I really wanted to do” (Galatians 2:10). Because on one of the coldest days of the year, a woman who was evicted touched my life. And I believe God used me to touch hers.

Aina Deeper ya Upendo na Steve Sjogren

“Love one another deeply for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet. 4:8

Kama Valentines Day mbinu lets kuchukua Peek katika nguvu ya upendo kwamba hatua kupitia kwetu - wote wakati sisi kufikia nje na sisi lengo katika juu ya ndugu na dada zetu katika Kanisa.

Sometimes outreach people can become so fixated on reaching out we can poo poo the need for the obvious – to show love to the obvious, the already gathered.

Let’s pull that verse apart:

"Love one another deeply"

Love those inside the church first.

The call here is not just to merely love but to love “deeply.” It takes far more grace and power to love insiders than outsiders. Here’s my thought – God will develop our ability to love others through the difficult people he places in our lives in the Church we are unable to avoid. As that capacity to love deepens, we will be all the more effective at loving outsiders.

“…love covers"

As we love, something redemptive is released.

“Love covers…sins.” That’s an amazing promise! There aren’t many promises that bold in the Bible. When we fail we can choose empowered attitudes and actions that God will anoint to cover our failures. Amazing!

“…love coversa multitude of sins"

God’s power is released, our sins and failures are covered, when we love other Believers.

The key is that are willing to aim our love toward others in the Body of Christ. It is easy to shy away from taking advantage of the promise of 1 Pet. 4:8. Believers are far more difficult to love than those outside the Church! They are people in process, thus they are more irritating, sometimes stuck in repeating, irritating patterns and when they change it seems like a very slowww process. Let’s face it, those on the outside, the ones we have no relationship with, are ones we can extend grace to far more readily.

Christian love is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

This kind of love is not brought by human effort. As people who move in the world of kindness outreach we all know from experience that it’s not an act of deciding with our wills that we will love that makes outreach love happen. We need God to give us the desire and ability to move in the power of his love. It works the same way when we reach out to those inside the Church.

…Keep in mind:

Don’t wait until you get your love skills perfected on the inside of the Church before you reach out and serve.

I’ve heard confusion on this point from those in leadership who are concerned about the point of readiness for outreach. I appreciate the concern, but the truth is we will never perfect our love this side of heaven (1 Michezo. 13). We will in in a continual process the rest of our earthly lives. We will always be moving toward greater effectiveness in our love. Our role now is to be available to do the bidding of God. He will use us as we are willing to be sent. Ready – FIRE! – Aim. That’s our guiding motto!

 

“What we do in life…echoes in Eternity”

(The Gladiator)

Sasa mpango Kwa maana siku ya kufikia walio nje Fadhili wapendanao! na Janie Sjogren

"Je, wewe kupata Valentine wako leo?" Ni rahisi kuweka Siku ya wapendanao kuwafikia pamoja katika muda mfupi. Watu ni kweli kufungua wakati huu wa mwaka, na kila mtu anapenda kupata upendo kidogo umeonyesha yao!

Roses ni wazo kubwa, amefungwa kwa pumzi ya mtoto na baadhi ya karatasi florist kutoka florist mtaa wako. Agizo sehemu na kuwa na timu yako wrap kila kitu juu. Wrap up kila red rose mmoja mmoja. Wrap kwa pumzi ya mtoto, nyekundu florist karatasi na karatasi ya plastiki, kisha kufunga Ribbon na kadi kuwafikia ni. Roses ni kubwa na kutoa nje kando ya barabara, na watu ni kushangaa ni bure. Baadhi ya makanisa kutumia "$ 1 Roses" ishara na kisha kutoa rose na dola kwa watu! Carnations Red pia kazi vizuri kwa ajili ya mradi huu.

Chocolates ni zawadi kubwa ya upendo wakati huu wa mwaka. Weka Hershey kisses au nyingine pipi amefungwa katika mifuko midogo wazi amefungwa na Ribbon na kadi na kusema kuwa "Hii ni njia kidogo na basi unajua Mungu anakupenda, bila kuwa na masharti!" Zawadi ya pipi kwa wafanyakazi katika maduka ni mara nyingi pamoja na kupokea, vilevile kuonyesha upendo katika uuguzi na nyumba. Kununua 3 "X 5" zip-kufungwa mifuko online.

Weka tarehe na wakati! Kupata timu yako pamoja, kupanga nini utasikia kutoa na kuweka tarehe kwa ajili ya Siku yako kuwafikia wapendanao. Hakikisha una vitu vyote kukusanyika kabla ya kuwafikia.

Kama pakiti yao, watu wako kuwapa mbali! Njia nyingine kubwa ya kupata pipi kufanyika kwa watu ni kutuma waliohudhuria Jumapili yako nje ya mlango na 5 au 10 seti ya pipi na kadi masharti tayari kutoa mbali.

Watu wanahitaji kujua wao ni kupendwa, na hii ni njia rahisi ya kufanya hivyo!

Kwa kadi kuungana na mifuko zip-kufungwa, kuangalia nje KindnessResources.com.