GraceConnect E-News, No. 22, Week of November 18, 2013


The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Helping Hands

This week's eNews looks at two different groups of people who have taken Jesus' words in Matthew 25 seriously.

 "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

In Ohio, a young man is looking for partnerships to draw awareness to the issue of child slavery in Haiti -- children who can't help themselves. A few states away, a congregation looks to help those who are in need by sharing from their own abundance.
For daily news in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, keep an eye on, the news site hosted by the Brethren Missionary Herald Company. If you see breaking news or have a story to share, email

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Addressing Injustice in Haiti

Cory St. Esprit (in photo at right) is an academic with an activist’s heart. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in geography at Ohio’s Kent State University, where he is studying child slave injustices in Haiti. But that’s not all. Cory is also the director of the STOPdoingWRONG Campaign, a ministry of CPR-3 that seeks to address the social injustices that plague the people of Haiti everyday through education, advocacy, and collaborative partnerships.

“My dissertation is broadly looking at issues of human trafficking and, more specifically, child slavery [restaveks] in Haiti,” Cory explains. More than 250,000 children in Haiti are restaveks, a modern day form of child slavery that persists throughout the country of Haiti.

“Restavek” is Creole for “one who stays with.” Children born into rural poverty are sent to live with families or strangers in the cities, lured through false promises of education, food, and jobs. Once there, they are forced to work an average of 18 to 20 hours per day for no pay, given inferior food and clothing compared with other children in the home, sleep on the floor rather than in a bed, and are kept hidden from Haitian society. If these children do not perform, they are beaten, cast into the street, or killed.

His research looks at increasing collaboration among agencies working to fight restavek through a Collective Impact framework. He examines what work is being done, where they are located, and what is the sphere of influence, then looks at how to increase collaborative partnerships through meeting the five criteria of Collective Impact (common agenda, shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support agency).

Prior to joining CPR-3 as a volunteer, Cory was on staff with a church in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pa., where he served with student ministry, sports ministry, and was a part of ministry in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Cory traveled to Haiti four times and wrestled with whether God was calling him to move to Haiti full-time.  

“On my last trip, God made it clear that I was not to move there but find some way to continue to serve Haiti from the United States.” Letting the Lord lead, Cory decided to do just that.

“In August 2011, I prayed that God would give me vision for what serving in Haiti stateside looked like,” he explained. “He took me out of the church I worked at in Pittsburgh and threw me into very uncomfortable situations. He brought me to Ohio, gave me a wife, gave me a paid-for education, and a way to serve.”

At CPR-3, Cory looks for groups that share the vision for helping others. “If someone is doing good work, we want to partner and utilize their resources,” he says. “We want to educate and open up community conversations, pulling those in restavek and the families into the conversation about how to fight it.”

Cory and his wife, Abbey, live in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where he also works with the United Way of Summit County. They attend Grace Church in Akron, Ohio (Jeff Bogue, senior pastor), the church through which he first became involved with CPR-3.

(CPR-3 is a cooperating ministry in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches that serves in crisis, catastrophe, and extreme poverty through relief, rehabilitation, and development. It is headed by former Grace Brethren pastor, Dan O'Deens.) -- by MariJean Sanders

A Thankful Community

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, food drives are in full swing. While community meal giveaways are widespread, Grace Fellowship Church, a Grace Brethren congregation in Waterloo, Iowa (Rob Borkowitz, pastor), has taken it a step further – they partner with another local church to provide a community dinner.
They also send a bag of non-perishable groceries home with each family who attends for a meal. It’s all part of their way to serve for Thanksgiving.
For the last 15 years, Grace Fellowship has partnered with First Wesleyan Church to provide the community dinner. This year it will be held at Lowell School from 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 23. (Lowell School is the local elementary that Grace Fellowship has partnered with to help as needed.) They expect nearly 600 people for turkey and all the trimmings.
People from both churches sign up to bring turkeys, pies, cookies, or brownies. Grace Fellowship purchases the mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, and dressing. Those are prepared at the church and then transported to the school. Volunteers from both congregations also sign up to be host/hostesses, serve, and clean up.
While the goal is to serve the community for God’s glory, the church faces a challenge. Since the event is held at a school, they are unable to include anything spiritual in the event.
“Pray that we will be able to be a good testimony by our willing service to the people who attend, that they will see Jesus in us even without words,” said Connie Mullins, the office manager at Grace Fellowship.
The church is also asking for prayer that they will have enough food and enough help, and that the whole event will run smoothly and be honoring and glorifying to God. -- by Julia Marsh

How are you reaching out to those who are less fortunate this Thanksgiving season? Click here to leave a comment.


Ruth PoupartAt Polaris Grace, a Grace Brethren congregation on the north side of Columbus, Ohio (Mike Yoder, lead pastor), Ruth Poupart (pictured at right) has stepped into the role of director at Grace Early Childhood Center. Ruth has been on staff at Grace for the past 15 years, serving seven years as one of the mentoring staff at the preschool, and the last eight years in the Counseling and Discipleship Department.

In making the announcement, Pastor Mike Yoder said, "Ruth was born in Santa Paula, California but spent the majority of her formative years in Puerto Rico. In total, she has spent 26 years of her life overseas (17 in Puerto Rico and 9 in Valencia, Spain), which has had a significant impact on her world view. Her sensitivity and heart for other cultures will help the ECC continue to reach an audience that is at least 40 percent international."

Ruth replaces John Teevan, who has accepted the position of children’s pastor at the Ashland, Ohio, Grace Brethren Church (Dan Allan, pastor). That's John, his wife, Christina, and their children in the photo at left.
A Heart Opened Wide: Studies in 2 Corinthians
This week's featured book:

A Heart Opened Wide: Studies in 2 Corinthians

by Homer A. Kent, Jr.

Regularly $14.99, now available for GraceConnect eNews subscribers ONLY at 50% off plus FREE shipping!

Simply enter the code "heart" in your shopping cart at (Price is good only until midnight, November 26, 2013.)

On sale now!
Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians has not always fared well in translation. Some of the older English versions, in their attempt to achieve accuracy, have rendered Paul's emotional passages with such wooden literalness that at the meaning is obscured if not lost altogether for modern readers. Partly for this reason, 2 Corinthians is not as familiar to most Christians as the first letter. Plus, the systematic discussion of problems that characterized 1 Corinthians has captured the attention of most students, and has tended to overshadow its companion letter.

Yet 2 Corinthians is worthy of serious study. Of all Paul's letters, this one is the most revealing about the author himself. His ties to his readers were strong. A number of prior contacts between him and the Corinthians had occurred, not all of which are known to us. One must read between the lines, reconstruct th esteeming with due caution, and then be sensitive to the nuances which are there for the discerning reader. Through the remarkable glimpse of Paul which this epistle conveys, the reader can see what it really means to minister to others. The letter is the result of a "heart opened wide" (2 Cor. 6:11).

Regularly $14.99, now available for GraceConnect eNews subscribers ONLY at 50% off plus FREE shipping!

Simply enter the code "heart" in your shopping cart at (Price is good only until midnight, November 26, 2013.)

Events in the FGBC

January 27-29, 2014 â€“ Southwest Focus Retreat, Oaks Conference Center (FGBC)
January 24-25, 2014 â€“ Biblical Foundations of Leadership, Long Beach, Calif. (WGUSA)
January 29-31, 2014 â€“ Fellowship Council Meeting, Seal Beach, Calif. (FGBC)
March 17-19, 2014 â€“ South Focus Retreat (FGBC, location to be announced)
May 19-21, 2014 – Northwest Focus Retreat, Camp Clear Lake (FGBC)
June 27-July 3, 2014 – Encounter ATL (EWP)
July 17-21, 2014 â€“ Vision2020 DC (FGBC)
July 22-27, 2014 â€“ Momentum Youth Conference (CEN)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC â€“ Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
WGUSA â€“ Women of Grace USA

Send events for the calendar to
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