CrossCulture Update

Dear Pastor Dave,

I pray that this email finds you well.  It seems like ages have passed since I was with you all last fall.  Yet, it hasn’t been but about 6 months!  A lot has happened in these past 6 months.

Our Center has been a hub of activity this year.  We have hosted 2 mission teams, various outreaches, and, of course, been busy with our regular programs. Most recently, the children in our Center were the recipients of Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.  This was a huge project with preparation spanning several months.  It was so worth it.  OCC gave us all the materials we needed to hold an evangelistic outreach and a follow-up discipleship program.  The idea was for our own children to each bring a guest.  This turned out to be an extremely successful strategy.  The new children were so excited to be able to attend one of our activities.  We have a very long waiting list.  Many of the new attendees were from this very list.  Now they will be able to attend a weekly discipleship program that will last for 12 weeks.  They are thrilled.  We are thrilled.  We can’t wait to see how Jesus transforms their lives during these sessions. 

This weekend, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day and next month, we will host our first-ever Father’s Day.  Although we have been extremely busy planning and hosting all of these events and activities, we have not forgotten to take time to be intentional and personal with the families we serve.  We have visited the homes of the sick, prayed for new babies, taken time to counsel troubled teens, listened to heartbreaking stories, and offered hope in Christ.  We have rejoiced with those who are rejoicing and wept with those who mourn. 

I am attaching a photo of two chickens that a family gave us to show their gratitude.  These chickens were selected from their own flock, killed, plucked, cleaned, and given to our staff to enjoy.  It was an act of sincere gratitude.  The other day a teen gave a bag full of mangos to our staff to enjoy to show her thanks for our help with her homework.  It seems that no matter how much we give, we always receive more!

I hope you enjoy these photos. Thank you for being a part of what we do.  May the Lord bless you and the congregation.

Samaritains Purse Update

Pastor Schneider,

I hope this email finds you well and encouraged in the Lord.

I wanted to share some ministry updates, prayer requests, and engagement opportunities that may be of interest to you:

·       Ukraine Update: We’re hosting a special Zoom event for ministry partners on Thursday, April 18, at 4 PM ET.  Our Projects team will provide an update on the ongoing response in Ukraine, offering an inside look at current developments.     https://samaritanspurse.zoom.us/j/89418652292

·       Israel Update:  I hope you will join me for a live Zoom call on Tuesday, April 16th, at 2 PM ET, where I’ll provide an update on Samaritan’s Purse’s work in and around Israel. Due to the sensitive nature of this work, updates will only be shared via phone or Zoom. This will also be an opportunity for us to come together in prayer for the situation in Israel. If the Tuesday time doesn’t work for you, please let me know, and I’ll be glad to provide the update individually.               https://samaritanspurse.zoom.us/j/88264651878

·       Operation Christmas Child (OCC): Exciting news – The Greatest Journey is being translated into Braille! This initiative aims to reach children with special needs with the hope of the Gospel.  They are all Equal is a powerful video of how Jesus transforms the hearts of deaf and marginalized children in Namibia through Operation Christmas Child.  If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to share a shoebox gift and the Gospel with 11 million kids, you will be encouraged to know that 118,000 evangelistic outreach events are currently planned globally within OCC, through local church partners.

·       Prayer for Sudan: Please join us in prayer for the worsening humanitarian situation in Sudan. Kenny Issacs recently updated Franklin and our VPs, highlighting that approximately 1 in 5 children assessed in the South Kordofan region are malnourished. The region faced a 40% decrease in last year’s harvest due to locusts, exacerbating food shortages.  With an additional 700,000 people seeking safety in the area, the need for food is urgent. Samaritan’s Purse now preparing to rush convoys of food aid. Each 16-truck convoy (800 tons) can feed 33,000 people for three months. The window of opportunity is closing because once rainy season begins – the roads will be impassable. Below is a Sudan Emergency Food Partnership Opportunity Overview, along with photos I took in 2005 when my wife Jen and I were serving in Sudan, illustrating the challenging road conditions.  Please pray for God’s provision of food as well as rains which bring this year’s crops.

Thank you for your steadfast partnership with Samaritan’s Purse. It’s truly encouraging to see how God is working through you and Samaritan’s Purse to address urgent needs worldwide. Please join us in lifting up the affected families in prayer, as well as the local churches striving to serve those in need within their communities.

God Bless,

Brian

Brian Gresham
SAMARITAN’S PURSE

Regional Director, Church Engagement | DONOR MINISTRIES

Letter from Samaritans Purse for Ukraine

 Dear Pastor David and Deacon Body,

Last Saturday, February 24th, marked the two-year anniversary of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Thanks to the generosity of many church partners like you, we continue to serve the people of Ukraine in Jesus’ name.

Since the conflict began, our focus has been on serving, equipping, and supporting the Church to meet the critical needs of those who are suffering and displaced. The church has been heroic in its response, faithfully serving its neighbors in need. Church partners are reporting that God is moving greatly and that the church is growing!

Ken Isaacs, Vice President of Programming and Government Relations, has spent a good deal of time on the front lines of our ministry there. Ken offers this perspective: “Since the war in Ukraine started, there is one network across the country that is consistently helping people, and that is the Church. I see Christians on the frontline delivering goods, caring for people, running soup kitchens, distributing blankets, hygiene supplies—all of this is going on. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And so we are tapping into that network.”

As you review the statistics in the attached report, please remember that each number represents a person served in Jesus’ name at their time of great need. Whether it’s a meal for the hungry, shelter for the displaced, medical care for the sick and wounded, or a listening ear for those in trauma, the opportunity to serve and share the love of Christ is significant—and often opens the door to the Gospel.

Samaritan’s Purse remains committed to meeting needs in Ukraine, which you will note in the “Looking Forward” section at the end of the report. For a deeper look at the ministry on the front lines, you can view these videos, and this dedicated webpage.

I  hope you are encouraged as you read the stories of all that God is doing in Ukraine through His Church. Your partnership in this response has eternal significance as the Church ministers to people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. How grateful we are for your partnership in the Gospel!

God Bless,

Brian

Brian Gresham
SAMARITAN’S PURSE

Regional Director, Church Engagement | DONOR MINISTRIES

Bishop Mission Trip part 2

Thank you for your support as we prepared to go to N. Africa. Today is the day we head out! We are excited and expectant about what the Lord will do. We wanted to pass along some things that you can be praying for each day in addition to whatever the Lord puts on your heart. We very much value you as prayer partners during this trip. THANK YOU!

–       Fri 2/16

o   Pray for our travel to go smoothly. For us to catch all our flights and get rest if possible. Also, that we would use our layover time well.

–       Sat 2/17

o   Pray for a smooth path through our destination airport and as we get in country and begin to settle in.

–       Sun 2/18

o   We get the opportunity to worship together as a group and with local believers. We will also begin our orientation and training. We will also go out into the city and talk with local folks expecting opportunities to share truth with them.

–       Mon 2/19 – Fri 2/23

o   We will spend our mornings and mid-afternoons prayer walking neighborhoods and no doubt crossing paths with folks. We will spend our evenings going out into the city and intentionally connecting with English speakers. We will be looking for opportunities to hear people’s stories and also share the Good News of the Gospel with them. The boys and I will have opportunities to play pickup basketball and soccer near where we’re staying. We are praying for opportunities to share good news with folks and that we would each establish a relationship with 1-2 people that we can keep in touch with long-term and be part of them coming to know Jesus.

–       Throughout our time, please pray for:

o   Carrie and Ellerie. That they would be drawn closer to the Lord and that they would have peaceful and meaningful time together.

o   Our endurance and energy in country. We will be doing a lot of walking.

o   For us to be an encouragement to local believers.

o   We know that God is preparing folks for us to share His truth with. Pray for that preparation and for our interactions with those folks.

o   That our interactions with folks in neighborhoods untouched by the Gospel would be genuine, helpful, and effective in sharing God’s love and truth.

o   That our work would be effective in helping to establish churches throughout the city.

o   That our team would know that the Lord is with us every step of the way. Psalm 46:1

o   That we would enjoy our time there as well as our fellowship and work with each other.

o   That the area we are in would be opened to the light found only in Jesus Christ.  Acts 26:18

o   That we would all stay healthy. 

If there’s anything we can be praying about for you please feel free to let me know.

Brandon, Sage, Asher

bishopva@gmail.com

Bishop’s Mission Trip

We are excited to tell you about an upcoming short-term mission opportunity that a team from our church has in Northern Africa. In late February, we will spend 9 days in a predominantly Muslim country working to help spread the good news of the Gospel to those that may have never heard it but so desperately need it. While there we will work to share the good news of Jesus in a city that has little or no access to the Gospel. Our work is part of a strategy to establish churches in the city. We would very much value you praying for us before and during the trip. Listed below are some things that you can pray for now. Just before leaving, we will also send out some things you can pray for each day while we’re there. If you have any questions or want to talk with us we would love to hear from you. Thank you for supporting us in this way and please let us know how we can be praying for you. 

Please pray for:

·      Our preparation and our training once we get to N. Africa    

o   This includes memorizing key verses and a story-form Gospel presentation to help us effectively share truth with local folks.

·      Our endurance and energy in country. We will be doing a lot of walking.

·      For us to be an encouragement to local believers.

·      We know that God is preparing folks for us to share His truth with. Pray for that preparation and for our interactions with those folks.

·      That our interactions with folks in neighborhoods untouched by the Gospel would be genuine, helpful, and effective in sharing God’s love and truth.

·      That our work would be effective in helping to establish churches throughout the city.

·      That our team would know that the Lord is with us every step of the way. Psalm 46:1

·      That we would enjoy our time there as well as our fellowship and work with each other.

·      That the area we are in would be opened to the light found only in Jesus Christ.  Acts 26:18

·      Please pray for Carrie and E while we are away. Carrie is staying back while the boys and I venture out.

Finally, if you are interested in making a financial donation to support the trip you can do so by donating to West End Baptist Church via check with “Twin Cities Trip 2024” in the memo line or by visiting https://westendrva.churchcenter.com/giving and using the “Missions” designation.

We so appreciate your partnership in helping reach people created in the image of God with the best news they could ever hear.

Grace and peace,

Brandon, Sage, and Asher

Asher, Brandon, Sage Bishop

Faith | Prayer | Fasting

I confess that I am not a biblical theologian, so please only take the word of the Bible and not my write-up. Please share any scriptures that point to a different or more complete explanation of these spiritual practices. The scriptures I used to make the key points are just a few possible passages we can discuss. 

Faith

Faith in Jesus Christ is our means of Salvation. We would not have salvation without devoted faith in Christ’s sinless and finished works, His death on the cross, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension.

Keys:

  1. Everyone is unrighteous before God. Romans 3:10-11: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
  2. The only remedy for our unrighteousness is to have Christ’s righteousness imputed to each of us. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
  3. Christ’s righteousness is received ONLY by faith. Romans 3:25: “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance, he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.

Knowing and believing in God and doing His works is not enough. We must have faith in Christ alone for our salvation. James 2:19: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”

  1. Eph 2: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
  2. 2 Cor 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight
  3. Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
  4. Hebrews 11 The entire chapter
  5. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  6. Luke 7:50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
  7. Luke 8:48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
  8. Luke 18:42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Prayer:

Let’s be careful how we understand this next statement, but it does not change the truth of God’s word. Prayer itself does not bring salvation. Salvation is by the grace of God in Faith in Jesus Christ. 

Why should we pray? 

Prayer is not to furnish God with new knowledge. He knows our needs. We pray to pour our hearts out to God, confess our sins, beg for forgiveness, and make requests for ourselves and others. Does He hear all of our prayers? 2 Chronicles 7: “14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.”

How to pray effectively. 

“Prayer becomes effective only as the truth of the Scriptures shapes it. The Holy Spirit takes the Word and enables believers to pray in accordance with God’s will.” anonymous. James 4: “2 … You do not have to because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.” How often do we pray for something without expectation or confidence that it will come to pass? Our confidence in prayer is directly proportional to our faith (trust).

Prayer is effective because God has chosen to use it to accomplish His purposes. Therefore, it is essential to know how to pray correctly. Prayer should include adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (asking for something earnestly). We should not pray in a manner that does not glorify God. This is why knowing His Word and being directed by His Spirit when we come before His throne is essential.

How the Holy Spirit helps us pray with Faith.

In Romans 8, we learn that Holy Spirit helps us pray effectively even when we don’t have the faith we want.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. How does prayer complement faith?

Prayer and Faith are not separated but complementary. They are two sides of the same coin. 

Do we have so much faith in Christ that we boldly ask for what we want? Read Matthew 8:5-10. How much faith did the centurion have? We need that boldness as well. Faith, at its core, is trust! Do you trust the word of God, Christ, as your personal Savior, God the creator of all, the power of the Holy Spirit? 

Can prayer change the world?

Yes, without question! James 5: “…A prayer of a righteous person, when brought about, can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

Fasting

The Biblical definition

Fasting means, In Hebrew, it means to “cover over the mouth.” In Greek, it means “to abstain from food”. Still, fasting can be accompanied by other “things” we give up during this time of fasting. 

I did not find anywhere in the bible that food was not given up for fasting. For instance, Daniel gave up food, but in addition, he also gave up wine and ointments. Dan 10: “3 I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment until the entire three weeks were completed.” Ezra 4:16: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

The Purpose of Biblical Fasting

The brief answer is that fasting shows our dependence on God. Biblical fasting is not a hunger strike between you and God. Going without food puts us in a state of helplessness. Shows how we rely on His grace in every situation. Mandates that we ask in prayer for the Lord to help with all our hearts.

Scripture often links the spiritual discipline of prayer to fasting (Dan. 9:3; Luke 2:37).

Brief History of Fasting

The Law called the first fast once per year on the day of Atonement (Lev 23:27.) Christ atoned for all once without the need of an additional sacrifice, so we no longer look to a day of atonement. 

The Bible contains examples of people who have abstained from food to seek God:

  1. Jesus fasted before He began His public ministry (Luke 4:1,2).
  2. Nehemiah fasted to help him confess his sins to God, turn away from them, and ask God for favor in the sight of the king of Persia to get permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4).
  3. David fasted to ask God to intervene because of injustice (Psalm 35:13). In 2 Samuel 12:17, 23, he asked for a miraculous healing.
  4. The early church fasted while worshiping and committing their ministry to the Lord. They also sought the Lord through fasting for guidance when they appointed leaders (Acts 13:2; 14:23).

Why fast

  • To follow Jesus’ example
  • To humble oneself before God
  • To express grief or repentance
  • To seek God’s guidance or answers
  • To grow closer to God and worship Him
  • To gain spiritual strength and freedom
  • To discipline oneself and depend on God
  • To strengthen one’s prayers

Are we required to fast?

Fasting in the new covenant is not commanded by God. Fasting is not a means to earn anything from God. Fasting is an act of humility where we acknowledge our lust for the flesh and then prayerfully focus more on who we are in Christ.

Fasting places no obligation upon God to respond in a way we have asked. He does delight in us when we show our helplessness in fasting, and He will respond by giving us more knowledge of Himself, a sense of our dependence on His grace, and yet He may give us the specific request we bring to Him.

For the Glory of God

Not to be confused with biblical fasting, but anything you refrain from self-denial of fleshly desires is a perfect way to bring glory to God. Denying ourselves and putting more trust in God will increase our faith, prayer life, and commitment to God.  

Tie these three concepts together.

The best way to consider these three biblical concepts would be to group them as Faith and (Prayer and Fasting). Ultimately, the two are both sides of one truth (two sides of one coin). 

Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Fasting without praying isn’t fasting. It is dieting or deprivation. The only reason to fast is to make space for you to seek the Lord more urgently.

Prayer and faith are linked in prayer is the expression of faith, and faith is the foundation of prayer. 

When taken together and acted on in unison, these three critical spiritual exercises increase our spiritual maturity, in which we grow closer to God and each other and increase our strength to take the Gospel to the world. 

Letter from Samaritan’s Purse

Pastor Schneider,

On behalf of Samaritan’s Purse, thank you for your generous support of our US Disaster Relief efforts.  Fairport Baptist Church’s recent donations empower us to serve a lot of hurting people in Jesus’ name.  We thank the Lord for your partnership in these efforts.

As you know, it has been a busy season for our US Disaster ministry.  Here are updates on how our partnership is currently making it possible to meet needs and promote the Gospel of Jesus in both Maui and Florida. 

Maui Wildfire Response: The city of Lahaina is scheduled to open to volunteers on Monday, September 25, and our teams will help homeowners sift through ashes to find any mementos that survived the fire. According to Edward Graham, our Chief Operating Officer, “Sifting is extremely important. We may think it’s something simple, but it helps bring healing and closure like no other way for a homeowner.” Billy Graham Rapid Response chaplains will continue working alongside us to offer emotional and spiritual care for these hurting people.  We have constructed a tent city where volunteers will be housed, and several thousand have already signed up to help. Samaritan’s Purse volunteers recently completed work in Kula, an upcountry region of Maui, and we praise the Lord that 52 families were assisted and 23 individuals placed their faith in Jesus Christ!

  Hurricane Idalia Response: We deployed Disaster Relief Units and support equipment to Taylor County and Pasco County in Florida, and Valdosta, Georgia, where our volunteer teams are helping homeowners with debris cleanup, mud-outs, roof tarping, and chainsaw work. Billy Graham Rapid Response chaplains are working alongside us to offer emotional and spiritual care.

Thank you again for your partnership with us in ministry. We give thanks that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

On a personal note, I wanted to let you know that I look forward to meeting you and learning more about you and your church.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or update requests.

God Bless,

Brian

Brian Gresham
SAMARITAN’S PURSE

Message from Cross Cultural Jesus

Dear Pastor Dave,

How are you?  How has the summer in Reedville been?  I miss summers on the Bay.  I spent much of my childhood at my grandparents’ summer home in Reedville—lots of great memories. 

I am attaching a couple of pictures of the academic reinforcement classes for you to enjoy.  This year we have been able to offer consistent classes to help the students get back on track with school.  These classes are once a week, in addition to our feeding center.  We also give them a nutritious, hot drink to fill their tummies during academic class sessions since these classes do not coincide with feeding center days.

This has been a great year for us.  We have been able to identify areas in the lives of our enrolled families that need extra support, and by the grace of God, we have been able to offer that support.

I am planning a trip to Virginia in the fall.  I have several Sundays in October available and wondered if you would like  me to come and share in more detail what my staff and I have been doing this year.  I would be happy to share during the Sunday School hour or the worship hour, whatever works best. I could visit any Sunday except the 22nd.  Or, if you would rather, I could share during a WMU meeting during the week.  

Please give it some prayerful consideration and let me know your thoughts.

Serving Him,

SARAH R SMITH

www.crossculturejesus.org