By Ryan Thurman
This morning we had the privilege of visiting the catacombs of St. Callixtus, where many of our Christian brothers were buried. It is a powerful reminder of the many who gave their lives for the testimony of Jesus. We stand upon their shoulders and have received the faith that was passed down from them.
We experienced this reality in a beautifully symbolic way as we held a worship service in a small chapel that was built on top of the catacombs. This service was led in such a humble and honoring cooperation by a Catholic bishop, An Anglican priest, a Catholic priest, and two Lutheran pastors. During the service these leaders washed our feet following Jesus command to serve and love one another.
It was a beautiful expression of the body of Christ and a sign of why we are here in Rome, to pray that the Church would be reconciled and restored and we would all be one (John 17:21). These meetings have been full of prayer, worship, repentance, teaching, and strengthening of friendship. We are 70 strong from different contingents, ages and Christian tradition.
Our days are long, from sunrise to late into the night. We sense God is deeply at work, we have 3 more days of meetings, please pray for us. This is our fourth International Gathering in four years. There will be one more June 2016 and the final will culminate Nov 1st 2017 around the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 thesis which often symbolizes the split of the Catholic church by the Protestant reformation. If you would like to learn more about this you can click here.
Thank you for reading and for caring! Without your friendship, prayers, and financial support we would of not made it this far. In this update we will share an overview of our family and ministry. In each section there are links you can click on to go deeper by reading more.
Love, Ryan and Noleen
Noleen’s health is good and she is thriving in her new role as a Birth Doula, she has assisted in seven births the past couple of months and has seen God use her to minister to each of these families in beautiful ways.
As a family we continue to enjoy the work God has for us in downtown Phoenix, as the kids get older they continue to embrace this way of life with Jesus living open to those God bring into our community. Just recently we provided hospitality to a woman released from a detention facility who had been separated from her children for almost a year, it was powerful for our kids to watch as this mother and her children reunited, the children ran to their mother and jumped into her arms in a long embrace with tears of joy falling freely. Our children routinely bring smiles and an infusion of hope as they share their lives with the homeless we live among as they pray with them in our Community Garden and hand out care packages as they pass by our house.
2) APPRENTICESHIP TO JESUS (A2J)
Please take a minute to check it out, it is still a work in progress as we continue to build out the resource section but it gives a good picture of who God is calling us to be. a2jphoenix.org
A2J is now a publisher
God is leading us a fellowship to increasingly create resources that will bless and strengthen God’s people. This month A2J published its first book.
Heidi reading passages from "By Law of Grace, a journey with the people of the streets." This special book contains her raw and honest journal entries of her interactions with people on the fringes and how she learns to see with new eyes the dignity and worth of every human being, created in the image of God. You can download the entire book here.
Last month eleven of us who are part of the A2J fellowship made formal commitments before God, family, friends and mentors. We were a beautiful mixture of Catholic and Protestant believers from different traditions and local churches.
To learn more about what A2J has been up to click here.
3) ANTIOCH NETWORK (AN)
President for a year
We have been serving with AN for over ten years now and I have been the President for a year now. I continue to be inspired by the work of my AN colleagues as they serve all around the world some in very challenging areas such as the Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula. I love the broad scope of work we are involved in from church-planting to relief and development. To get a fuller picture you can look at our new website www.antiochnetwork.org, something I have been working on the past few months.
4) LEAVING FOR EUROPE
I leave this Saturday for a two week trip that will first take me to Malta to explore ministry partnership and also connect with colleagues around the Wittenberg 2017 initiative. From there I will meet up with Noleen, and several A2J and AN team members in Rome for our fourth of six key Reconciliation Gatherings leading up to November 1, 2017. You can read more about the Wittenberg 2017 initiative here.
While in Rome we will also spend time with the Kincaids whom we have been partnering directly with the past few years. We will visit their newly acquired immigrant ministry center.
Thurman Family to Europe in 2016?
During this time in Europe, Noleen and I will be meeting with key partners to continue to discern God's leading as we consider spending a year in Europe, beginning Summer 2016. This is something we have been praying about for the past three years. We will write more about his next time.
I was at Home Depot yesterday with my family getting supplies for the Community Garden and I was moved by the many day laborers standing around hoping, praying for someone to choose them to allow them to have the dignity of a hard days work as well as the accompanying pay that comes with it, that would perhaps allow them to buy their girlfriend a gift or bring home dinner to their family.
Whenever I see this I always think of the parable of the day laborers in Matthew 20. I wondered if this would be the day I could be brave and move past the excuses of; what if this person hurt my my family, or what if I can't communicate effectively because I don't know Spanish. I think I would of left the Home Depot parking lot like many times before without hiring a day laborer but God in his kindness intervened. As I was loading the bags of soil with my girls, Javier came out of nowhere and reached to lift one of the 8 bags of soil and in broken English simply said, "here let me help you my friend" We invited Javier back to the Garden and we worked side by side as brothers and before God we were both day laborers, dependent completely on being 'hired' to work not only for a daily wage but the privilege of working with Him in his redemptive purposes.
A few weeks ago we had our monthly garden work day, held the 3rd Saturday of each month. We were able to get a lot accomplished in the Woodland Community Garden but we also began our first phase of using our grant money to help others. We were able to build three garden plots for the Neighborhood Ministries preschool. The goal is to get the kids envisioned for health and nutrition at an early age and engage their parents in this process and then at the end of the year help build a plot for each family at there own home. To see more photos click here
Next week we have Thankful Sounds on Wednesday night 7:30pm Noel Barto will be the special guest.
To learn more about the vision and to stay connected click here
Next Thursday at the Thurman's house we will have our second 3rd Thursday Study night at 7PM.
Click here for more details.
The study focus this month will be on Saint Francis of Assisi
To see full details of what's going on check out our calendar on the new A2J website http://www.a2jphoenix.org/calendar.html
friend and follower of Jesus