GraceConnect eNews, No. 148, Week of April 18, 2016

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
Vessels, Renewed

Heather Geertsma and Aviv Telang joined Renew Church, the new church blend in Missasauga, Ontario (Bartley Sawatsky, lead pastor), several months ago. As they set down roots with the church family, they also paid close attention to the refugee crisis in Syria, which is displacing thousands of Syrian families from their homes.

The couple keenly felt the disconnect: they had a home church and their brothers and sisters in Christ across the world did not even have a home.

“We feel moved to help,” said Heather.

“The Syrian refugee situation is the largest crisis in the world right now. It cries out for action. We want to help and this seems like a good way to do it. It was my husband that came home one day from work and said we should sponsor a family. I agreed and we started our research.”

They came up with a plan: partner with others in their church, in the form of a private sponsor group, and bring a displaced family to Canada.

Undertaking a venture of this magnitude is no easy task. The couple is looking for four additional families who will join the group, “who are willing to make a serious commitment of time, money and resources to bring a displaced family to Canada,” says Heather. She notes that Canada is one of only two countries in the world that allow private citizens to sponsor unrelated families (even the US doesn't allow this), so living in Canada gives them a unique opportunity.

As does their place as a part of a church – not only the local church in Missasauga, but a global church that can gather around them to pray, give resources, and come alongside them as partners. Over the last several months, they have spent time researching, praying, and preparing for the next step.

“We hope that first God will guide us in this process of simply getting our application off the ground,” Heather says. “Once we have completed the application and are able to welcome a refugee family, we pray that God will use our service to witness to the family, our church, and our neighborhood. We would like this service to bring glory back to God's name, by providing to those who cannot return the favor (Luke 14:13,14).”

As the husband-wife team have started their journey with this initiative, they have already felt God changing them. “Due to this commitment, God is already moving in my heart,” says Heather. “It struck me that I felt more alive due to this service opportunity. I thought to myself - if I don't feel alive at times, it’s because I'm not letting Jesus use me - we become like the old vessels before our rebirth.”

But they are, as their church’s namesake implies, renewed.

The Geertsmas currently have four families committed to the project and have sent out an application to be matched with a SAH (sponsorship agreement holder). They are still accepting cash donations. As they continue the process as a partnership with their church, don’t forget to pray for their efforts. Send Heather a letter of encouragement at hgeertsma@gmail.com.
 

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[Your Turn]


[Read:]

Past and Public Sphere, the blog of Grace College's History and Political Science department, recently gave a recap of students presenting at various research events. Click here to read the recap. 

[Laugh:]

What's neat about being a fellowship of Christian believers is that, even though we are not perfect, God can use even our mistakes for His good. Because of that, we can give a sigh of relief -- and let Him do his work in our lives. It also means we can take a break from taking ourselves so seriously!

We're compiling a list of "Top Ten Ways You Know You're Part of the Grace Brethren Fellowship."
 Click here to send us your lighthearted, laughter-inducing submissions or hashtag #gracelaughs on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

[Engage:]

"I’m convinced that a mind cut off from fellowship will become sick. I need to share what I value in terms that will be meaningful to others. The theology of the Bible, the beauty of the arts, the power of words will all become my poison rather than my food if I don’t interact," writes Matthew Raley, pastor at the
Grace Brethren Church in Chico, Calif., on his blog, TritoneLife. In it, he explores the paradox that the center of the dissonance and tensions of life is Christ. 

"My culture of evangelicalism, in its gnosticism, tells me that sensual pleasures are filled with temptations. My mind answers, 'So are churches.' And my senses protest, 'Our Creator commands that we praise Him.'

This dissonance tests my belief that the Word became flesh.

All these dissonances are spurs toward integrity, toward wholeness in living."

Click here to read the rest of the post. 

Events in the FGBC

April 21, 2016  Day Away - North of 55, Greencastle, Pa. (CEN)
April 22, 2016   Day Away: North of 55, East Earl, Pa. (CEN)
April 23, 2016   Connect & Equip, Regional Mission Conference, Pickerington, Ohio (EWP)
April 29-May 1, 2016  Awakened Weekend at Urban Hope, Philadelphia, Pa. (CEN)
May 7, 2016  Grace College Commencement, Winona Lake, Ind. (GC)
May 20-21, 2016   WLS: Women and Scripture, Ashland, Ohio (WGUSA)
June 13-17, 2016   Encounter SoCal (EWP)
June 19-25, 2016  The Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Canada (GBC)
June 20-July 11, 2016  Operation Barnabas Tours (CEN)
June 22-28, 2016  Mission Trip to Haiti (WGUSA)
June 27-July 1, 2016  Encounter Atlanta Atlanta, Ga. (EWP)
July 4-10, 2016  StreetWise (formerly Crosswalk) Philadelphia, Pa. (CEN)
July 22-25, 2016  Margins Conference Toronto, Canada (FGBC) 
July 26-31, 2016  Momentum Youth Conference Cedarville, Ohio (CEN)
 
CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA
GC – Grace College

Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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