GraceConnect eNews, No. 116, Week of September 7, 2015

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Fitness and Faith 

In a certain country in Central Asia,* churches are legally allowed to exist, but that doesn’t stop believers from facing persecution for their faith. Much of persecution they face is from their own families.

“Very frequently the family [of the new believer] will make threats against them, and sometimes there is even physical harm done to these folks as a result of their conversion,” explains Michael,** a pastor in Central Ohio.

“There’s definitely huge implications for those who trust in Christ…it’s a tough road to hoe.”

“For the gospel ultimately to take root, there has to be some sort of relational foundation,” he continues. “If they are not relationally engaged, then their message will almost certainly be dismissed. It’s a culture very different than ours.”

So how does one engage unbelievers there with the gospel? This past February, Andrew**, another pastor in Central Ohio, joined Michael to try something new: why not use fitness training as a means to share the Gospel?

“One of the ways men connect with one another [in this Central Asian country] is in the gym,” said Michael. “One of the neat things about this type of fitness is that you work out in groups, so it encourages people to be together to build camaraderie. These workouts tend to be quite intense -- there’s almost camaraderie by virtue of mutual suffering.”

During their week-long trip, the two educated gym members on the principles of “functional fitness” – a workout strategy similar to Crossfit -- and held a competition at the end of the week. They hosted two daily sessions for the week featuring training and practice in functional fitness techniques. At the end of the week, the two also hosted a dinner where they had the opportunity to share their testimonies with the group.

“The owner and all the staff of the gym we visited are all believers, which is pretty rare in this country. When we arrived, our mission was to try to help guys at the gym put into practice a new type of fitness and then use it as a rallying point for men, hoping for opportunities for further spiritual connection as they worked out together.”

Michael believes that the specific vehicle of fitness training has an important place in the cultivation process:

“The reason why we take stewardship of the body seriously because God has given us this body – he’s created it ultimately that he’s redeemed it.

“Anytime we have a common interest or passion with folks who aren’t yet believers, there’s the opportunity to let that interest to be platform for the Gospel. Fitness training is particularly effective in that regard, because it presents natural bridges and demonstrates a degree of credibility on the part of the believer. People involved recognize that the believer is engaged in something constructive and not just ‘calling something out’ in terms of a social issue.”

Plans are tentatively being made for another trip this coming winter. Michael asks for prayer for the seeds planted during that week in February, as well as a continued interest at the gym.

“One thing I would add is a call a plea for people to think of opportunities that the Lord has placed around them as they pursue their own physical stewardship,” he said.

*not named here for safety of believers involved.
**names have been changed to honor the safety of believers in Central Asia, some of whom are facing significant persecution for their faith.

 
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[Your Turn]


[Read:]

"As Christians, we are to be known for our love for one another. A fine way to show that love is to connect with one another through poetry. We can use this medium to express our walk with the Lord, to praise Him, or even, as David did, as an outlet in times of struggle."

A post on the blog of the
 Grace Brethren Church in Chico, Calif. (Matt Raley, pastor) reflects on why the now-rare art form of poetry can be an important tool to help Christians love one another and worship God. Click here to read more. 
 
--
 
"I am a strong believer that the people we call “friends” determine the direction of our lives. So if friendships determine the direction of our lives, the question becomes “who should I be friends with, and how can I be a better friend?” 

Keith Keltner, young adult resident at Grace Church Bath Campus in Akron, Ohio (Jeff Bogue, senior pastor) addresses these questions with three specific ways to build stronger friendships in his recent blog post. Click here to read more. 

[Pray:]

John Shirk, author of The Sacrificial Poet, who has a spoken word ministry in Chicago, recently sent a note about a tragic event that took place in his neighborhood over Labor Day weekend. Click here to find out more about how you can pray. 

--

Also, don't forget to pray for wisdom and guidance as Grace College's recent challenge to contraception provisions of federal health care reform, otherwise known as Obamacare, was struck down. Click here to read more about the decision.

 

Events in the FGBC

September 21-23, 2015 – Northwest Focus Retreat (FGBC) 
September 25-26, 2015  Revive '15 Fellowship Forum, Indianapolis, Ind.  (WGUSA)
October 5-7, 2015 – Central Focus Retreat (FGBC)
October 19-21, 2015  East Focus Retreat (FGBC)
October 30-31, 2015  WLS: Principles of Effective Bible Study, Columbus, Ohio  (WGUSA)
November 2-6, 2015 – Charis International Leadership Encounter, Bangkok, Thailand (EWP)
November 13-14, 2015  WLS: Women & Scripture, Elizabethtown, Pa.  (WGUSA)
January 15-16, 2016 – WLS: Women & Scripture, Ocala, Fla.  (WGUSA)
January 22-24, 2016  Kalahari Retreat, Sandusky, Ohio (FGBC)
January 25-27, 2016  Southwest Focus Retreat (FGBC)
January 27-19, 2016  Fellowship Council (FGBC)
March 14-16, 2016  South Focus Retreat (FGBC) 
June 19-25, 2016  The Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Canada (GBC)
July 22-25, 2016  Vision Toronto (FGBC) 
July 26-31, 2016  Momentum Youth Conference (CEN)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA

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