by Chris Schutte
It’s quite common to hear friends, neighbors, and co-workers (though not so much my co-workers) describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” What does one mean by that? Generally, one means that there is, indeed, more to life than the physical world, and that there is some kind of transcendent meaning to be found. For a “spiritual but not religious” person, however, that “more” and that “meaning” are not the exclusive domain of traditional religious communities. In fact, being “religious,” in “spiritual but not religious,” is often seen as a liability in seeking transcendent meaning, inasmuch as “religion” means keeping a proscribed, and, in many cases, seemingly arbitrary, set of rules, fixating on who is “in” and who is “out” based on those rules.
Interestingly, many people who identify as spiritual but not religious are deeply attracted to Jesus. On the surface, this may seem counterintuitive, as Jesus is intimately associated with the largest “religion” in the world – Christianity. However, as one reads through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, it becomes clear that Jesus had little patience with “religion” per se, reserving his harshest critiques for those religious leaders who, in his words, “tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4). In this, Jesus is squarely in the tradition of Old Testament prophets like Micah, Amos, and Isaiah, who spoke against Israel’s rulers – both kings and priests – in the eighth century BC when they had moved away from God’s intention for them to be blessing to the nations (cf. Genesis 12:3).
The difference, however, between Jesus and the Old Testament prophets is that, rather than simply announcing the coming of God’s judgment on human sin – sin deeply embedded in the religious life of the people – Jesus took the consequences of that sin, the very judgment of God, on himself, thus opening the way of freedom to all under judgment, meaning each one of us. In other words, Jesus came to set us free from the burdens, and the pitfalls, of religion as commonly understood.
However, Jesus also came to help us to be “spiritual,” although in a very specific way. When Paul speaks to the Corinthians about a “spiritual person” (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:15), he means someone who has been filled with the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. To Paul, when one is filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she inevitably begins to bear the fruit of the Spirit, which Paul describes as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). My guess is that among our friends and neighbors who identify as spiritual but not religious, a life marked by the fruit of the Spirit, a life that looks like Jesus, would be deeply compelling. The question is just how to offer this kind of spiritual life in a way that it might be received.
One of the most urgent missional challenges we face today is distinguishing between an authentic Christian life – rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit – from the traps of “religion,” which are predictably judgment, self-righteousness, and control. This requires paying serious attention to the failures of ancient Israel and the prophetic critiques of their leaders, meditating on the words and actions of Jesus, especially his rebuke of the religious authorities, and, finally, an unapologetic embrace of the Holy Spirit, who makes us “spiritual” people capable of living lives marked by the Spirit’s fruit. I hope and pray that we at Christ Church might become a community marked first and foremost by Jesus and his Spirit, sharing the fruit of that Spirit with a world longing for its beauty.
Father Chris Schutte is the pastor of Christ Church Anglican in Phoenix and a friend of A2J
by Jeff Skeens
When many of us hear the word compassion and we are filled with good feelings and thoughts of love and joy by the mention of it. We like to think of ourselves as compassionate people, after all who wouldn’t have compassion on a “poor” old man whose body has broken down, a malnourished child, a woman who has been sold into sex slavery, or a family on the streets.
The problem we have here is a semantic one. What Western Christianity understands compassion to be and what it has always truly meant are worlds apart. Compassion isn’t the same as having sad feelings for someone’s situation, or thoughts of pity for those who are poor or oppressed. Those thoughts are just that; thoughts of pity. This is not compassion. For many of us, when real opportunities of com-passion present themselves, we are too gripped by fear of loss and pain, or frozen by feelings of not being able to do anything about the situation, so we often never enter into compassion.
At the root of the word compassion are two Latin words, pati (with) and cum (to suffer); meaning “to suffer with.” Compassion is when love intentionally moves you into the suffering and brokenness of others; it is to allow your love to meet someone’s worst moment. “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts… to be weak with those who are weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.” Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, Nouwen, McNeill, and Morrison, 3-4.
Feelings and thoughts of sadness and pity is not compassion, however, they can be the beginnings of us moving into compassion.
This is fully seen and realized in the New Testament account of Jesus’ final week before he was crucified. Many people call the week before the crucifixion, “Passion Week.” We learn in the gospel narratives that Jesus turned his face towards Jerusalem, the very place where he would suffer intentionally, where he would move into our place of sin and brokenness, so that we would receive the fruits of his compassion; light shining out “of the darkness”, offering a divine presence in the midst of our brokenness. Maybe we should call the Holy week, “Compassion Week,” since his suffered was for our sake.
Thus, compassion is not a natural human virtue as is sometimes understood to be. If compassion were to be seen as a front and center virtue of the Christ follower’s life, we might begin to question the fruitfulness of compassion because of the cost it would place on our lives. A society governed by compassion may very well be seen as a foolish and weak society, and indeed, Christ was seen as foolish and weak. Nationalistic movements among Christianity have historically not cared for the weak or foolish within their societies, and view the call “to suffer with” as a death wish that destroys healthy progress in society.
Many people may even say or think to themselves, “Our world will not survive if compassion is a chief virtue.” This thinking would be especially true in a society like ours today, where our greatest ideals are to maximize our satisfaction and limit the amount of loss and pain we experience. We see this is in our business ventures, in start-up ministries/churches, in the way we pick neighborhoods to live in, how we choose to raise our children, in the laws we legislate, etc.
This is not all bad. In fact, much good comes out of limiting loss and pain, but in the process of longing for a better society, we forget that there is still suffering, and those who are on the margins of society likely do not have the ability to choose differently. In our pursuit of our own “right” to happiness, we have lost sight of those who have been robbed of theirs. Thus, on this side of redemption, compassion is a necessary and central virtue among God’s people.
We would do well to turn our ears on to the moment Jesus calls us to compassion: “You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” Luke 6:36. This, in the context of real compassion, is a daunting call to sacrifice. This is a call to renewal within a “Christian” system that seeks to protect number oneself or one’s nation as “first” priority. This is a call that we ought not take too lightly.
As Jesus has first died to offer us life within these decaying bodies, he is now our example and leader in sacrificial living. Salvation for the Christ follower is not merely a cognitive belief that places them in the security of the heavenly realms with no earthly commitment to good. Salvation is a call to a whole new way of being human; a call to living out the upside down economy of God’s kingdom on earth; a call to be willing to lose it all for the sake of God’s kingdom being realized and embraced by those who are in darkness; a call to be the liturgy of the church and not merely partaking in liturgical acts.
To the Christ follower, Jesus’ life is not the exception, but the norm. My prayer is that Christ followers would begin to take seriously the implications of the life of Jesus and allow God’s Spirit, who lives in his people, to move them into compassion, not for approval’s sake, but for obedience’s sake. After all, Christ, our savior and leader, learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8), and we are not exempt from this learning method. The renewal of the Western Church is dependent on the compassion of Christ followers. No compassion, no true renewal.
“In a poem entitled ‘The Good Samaritan,’ Mark Littleton captures the essence of compassion”:
The stoop of a listening father.
The touch and wink of a passing nurse.
The gnarled fingers of a grandmother steadying a swing.
The clench of a surgeon’s teeth as he begins his cut.
The open hand and pocketbook of a traveling Samaritan.
The dew of heaven on dry lips.
–Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement, Prediger and Walsh, 221.
The call to compassion, to suffer with others, is not a call to induce suffering in your life, but a call to courageously stand, sit, walk, or crawl with those whose lives are fragile, broken, in tragedy, emotionally distraught, hopeless, diseased… you get the point. Christ came to us in our death moment, we are called to presence ourselves to others in their death moments.
Jeff Skeens is a friend of A2J! You can read more of his writings here: jeffskeens.com
By Evelynn Malakowsky
It is 7:44 am on a Saturday morning, the day before mother’s day. To start off the day the first words my 2 year old son uttered were, “Mommy, I hear the birds,” embracing me with his snuggles and in return I kissed his forehead. As I wiped and swept up the muffin crumbs that exploded in the kitchen and made its way to the living room mysteriously, I wondered if God will bless our family with another child growing in my womb. The longing for another baby seems to keep its little tug on my heart, even as I think, “how in the world can we stay up all night again?!” Deeply reminded that I need to focus on my health if that were to be so, in prayer I asked God if he would have it in our family’s future to adopt and if I have already heard his answer on that.
I washed dishes as my busy bundle of blessings built a fort with every blanket in the house, and, for the most part, with cordial team work. With Mother’s day on my mind and the call to embrace the role of a mother, I am reminded of the precious reality that as we take our journey through life with Christ, our children have been gifted to us. There is also an entrusted calling to give them Jesus, all of him, all of his love, all of his affection, all of his truth.
Years ago, as we were just beginning growing our family and serving in ministry, I often struggled with “having to miss study nights” because I needed to nurse, chase my toddler outside or go home early to put my daughter to bed. It was a season where I often felt isolated and a deep sadness, loneliness and resentment started to well up in my heart. There were times when our living room was filled with families from our neighborhood and we would have crafts, guitar lessons, 'drama rama’ and so much more. The passion for children to experience our amazing Lord and how he has changed my husband and I could not be put in a box never to be expressed. In the midst of that season of serving, so grand and God’s work visible among us, the Lord reminded me that out of all the people in the world I express him to, of utmost importance should be my daughter, the very precious, sweet person he has entrusted me with.
I began to unpack deeper and deeper the call to motherhood. That even though I couldn’t always participate in the most magnificent outreach events I could reveal a real and loving God to my children. It takes one disciple to make a difference. What if I raised 3? What if they rise up to be missionaries, pastors, worship leaders, lovers of Christ in their work places, friends in high school that change another child’s life? It can be easy to be pulled into being stagnant and not offering more of ourselves or our families to serve Christ and on the other end allow ourselves or our families to become so busy with life, or even busy with serving, that we miss the little gifts God desires for us to impact as well.
Its now 8:12…We had breakfast, the kids got into a scuffle, all the furniture is moved, clothes are everywhere as they dressed up for their imaginary play. I still have not combed my hair or brushed my teeth and the song by Audrey Assad, “Good to Me,” plays in the background. Embracing the words from the chorus…. “You are Good to me, Good to me, Your goodness and mercy shall follow me all my life, I trust in your promise ” and I stop washing dishes to raise my hands up high to the king.
I thank him for spit up that fell into my eye when my youngest was a newborn and how I called the doctor frantically asking if I was going to get pink eye. I thank God for the stomach bug we had last week and pray we NEVER EVER go through that again, I thank God for the days my kids throw themselves in full on melt downs, ask me to read a book when I just want to end the night with a chat with my husband. I thank him for the walk down the sidewalk with video recorder in hand as my daughter walks off with her kindergarten teacher the new person I will trust being with my baby longer than myself. I thank him for the milk spills, ripped clothes for myself so I can stay home with them as preschoolers. I thank him for singing worship songs with them in the car and how they minister to my heart, their love to read the Action Bible, their decisions to follow him and be baptized, their desire to serve him in A2J, MOPS, everywhere and anywhere else we go. I thank him for the calling to be a mother.
by Jeff Skeens
This past Sunday evening we gathered together with various churches, denominations, ministries, ethnicities, and generations. To say it was beautiful would be an understatement. It was so utterly normal and unimpressive on so many human levels, but the message this gathering shouted reverberated throughout my soul. It shook the heavens. It defied cultural norms. It was a corrective to the usual Christian gathering.
Each church/ministry/ethnicity/gender was able to contribute to our time of worshiping Jesus. Multiple gifts were exchanged. Blessings were offered. Confessions were made. And the Lord's table brought us together as one broken body. All this was done on a Sunday night when some families were stressed trying to get there, others sacrificed other routines, and a night at home to rest alone or with friends and family was forsaken.
The inconvenient exchange was a night to display the brining together of diverse peoples and beliefs, a foretaste of the "every tongue, every tribe, every nation" reality that is proclaimed in the book of Revelations. It was beautiful, but disrupting of rhythm and comfort, and as we all worshipped together, I couldn't help but to reflect on the way in which we've formed our typical weekly worship experiences.
We live in a culture that is fairly homogenous (ethnically, denominationally, generationally, etc.) when it comes to Christian worship. Some say we've splintered the table of the Lord into little pieces, and each Sunday we partake, we are only getting scraps compared to what God intended to offer his people. I'm not sure about that, but I do know we've been divided over the Lord's table, and as the words of a good friend once said, " It's not our table to divide." Some will read this and begin to defend their church, or stance, etc. My point isn't to stir up a defense, but to call us to something altogether different than what we're normally used to.
I'm reading a book by James K.A. Smith entitled You Are What You Love. In this new book, he shares a short vignette about the polar expedition of the USS Jeanette in the late 1800's. The whole mission was established on a faulty map and false visions of what the Arctic was really like. In short, the ship and crew got stuck in polar ice, only to break free months later and eventually parish in the cruel Arctic. After this vignette he writes this:
"We become misdirected and miscalibrated--not because our intellect has been hijacked by bad ideas but because our desires have been captivated by rival visions of flourishing... this contest of cultural practices is a competition for your heart... More precisely, at stake in the formation of your loves is your religious and spiritual identity, which is manifested not only in what you think or what you believe but in what you do – and what those practices do to you." 22
It's my opinion that our ideas of church and how we form as corporate entities have been terribly misguided by cultural homogenous norms. What we do and how the practices of what we do actually affects us is not fully known. But what we do know is that we are changed by the habits we have in life. What we believe to be the way life is supposed to be is made known to us by how we behave, who we gather with, and the things we make time for. What we love shines brightly in our thought life and in the way we organize our social world.
To say we love diversity and unity and are “All for it!”, yet have little to no experiences of eating, praying, worshiping with those who are radically different from us, is to prove that we “like” the idea of diversity and unity, but we do not “love” it. We are not committed to it. We make time for the things we love. We sacrifice other good things to ensure our “loves” get primary time in our lives.
This is precisely why a worship gathering with those who love Jesus and are of various ethnicities, tribes, denominations, and generations is a corrective voice to our typical way of living. These gatherings stimulate our prophetic imaginations. This is why an evening like last Sunday is worth the inconvenience, discomfort, or any awkwardness you may have while joining a gathering like this.
We've had many cultural practices that compete for our hearts, our loves. And if diversity and unity isn't an intentional part of our lives, it will be left out every time, and we will either admit we don't really love it, or will make excuses as to why diversity and unity aren't a major part of our Christian worship.
What are you calibrated to? What is it that you love? Be slow to answer these questions. Take a life survey of the last month before you answer. Who do you hang out with? Who do you worship and pray with most? What's your church look like? Does your church intentionally connect with other ethnicities and denominations? Or are the gathering mostly a single local church focus? What events are promoted in your tribe?
I hope you can admit with me that we can do better, that we have work to do. We have some decisions to make and some things to consider sacrificing for the sake of glueing the splintered table of the Lord back together, metaphorically of course. And we need to be able to do this in humility without pointing the finger; offer a voice of correction, YES... start accusing certain people, churches and movements, NO. Look around you. Who's crossing the aisles, joining other tribes, carving out space to do life together with those who are different than they are?
Join them, but don't leave your church. Invite others from your tribe to join you. Be a change maker, a trendsetter. Make it attractive and mainstream to be uncomfortable and uncommitted to homogenous worship gatherings and leadership teams. We need new normals, and I know that our time this past Sunday night was one of many of gatherings that have already been laboring towards this end. I pray for more to come and for a flood of professed Jesus lovers to welcome inconveniences for the sake of diversity and unity.
By Daniel Malakowsky
Today marks three years since the passing of a man many knew through his ministry, Hope Thru Art. The reality is that he was more than that. He was a friend, an anchor in times of need, and a constant source of encouragement, especially in his later years to young artists and writers. To me he was simply my father, Steve Malakowsky.
In honor of the anniversary of his passing, it was on my heart to write a message to artist and those whom God has gifted to create. While not one personally endowed with such talents, my life has been saturated and enriched by those who are. If the call to create stirs in your soul, then this message is for you. If not, then find someone in which the gift of creativity resides, and encourage them today.
Beauty from Ashes - A Message to Artist
Your creativity, your talents, the skill-set you have been blessed with belongs not to you and you alone, but to the world. As one created in the image of God you are called forth to extend the kingdom reality of truth, love, and beauty, the harmonious reign of the King through art and the work of Christ's recreation. Yours is to take the chaos and nonsensical voids, the perverted creation of a world dislocated from its purpose, and to saturate it with the narrative of the Gospel. The world needs hope and when one creates meaning, they stir the depths of the soul and draw forth life from the valleys of pain, sorrow, and suffering, bridging in Christ the gulf of our despair in the glorious hope of his love.
The world needs artist. It needs art. It needs meaning, narrative, and purpose, a rediscovery of the majestic possibilities and limitless dreams of life in perfect union with the Father. It needs creativity to embrace and kiss the divine, and in so doing, to give symbol and sign to the kingdom as it is heaven, now only as it is expressed on earth.
Pointing to Heaven
In doing this, and those who create it, it must move beyond the empty and shallow pools of meaningless nonsense that so often convince the world of being art. We need to be reminded anew that there is a realm of angelic beauty, where the chorus of heaven, even if only briefly, can be heard. That the one who created the majesty of snow capped peaks and starry nights of unfathomable grandeur is still creating and recreating. His creation, us, now the extended brush in his hand, and the recreated life of Christ the eternal canvas upon which his gentle grip is reaching towards.
Fill the world with beauty. We need you to. Touch the depths of our beings with the graces of God that are in you. Saturate yourself in the Gospel and proclaim the message of hope to the world. Dance with words, swim in seas of color, sing the octaves of the angelic, and let mercy reign in you.
The world needs artist. It needs art...it needs hope.
Wooohooooo! We are jumping for joy full of gratitude for God's love expressed through your friendship. Stop and listen can you hear it. Our Father says to each of us, "I have loved you with and everlasting love"
– Jeremiah 31:3
To read our year in review and see a photo montage of 2015 click here
1) REPORT NEW YORK CITY
Earlier this month as part of the John 17 team, I had the privilege in helping facilitate a historic first ever large gathering of Protestants and Catholics coming together to pray and worship in New York City. It was a powerful gathering and once again Pope Francis wrote a personal letter hand delivered by his good friend Giovanni Traettino (who is part of the John 17 team) Click link below to watch a short video from this gathering
Thank you for reading and for caring! Without your friendship, prayers, and financial support we would of not made it this far. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you have a rich Advent and Christmas Season. In each section there are links you can click on to go deeper by
Ryan and Noleen and the kiddos
1) REPORT FROM ROME
Seven us from the A2J Fellowship were able to join the Antioch Network team and others for our fourth of six meetings surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that will take place October 31st 2017.
Why are we spending so much time, energy, and resources around this? Simply stated it is God's heart and goal that we will all be one in Christ (John 17:21). I personally believe that as God’s people increasingly become reconciled and united in Christ and this grows in visibility and influence it will foster the healing of human divisions and mankind will know that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
You can read more on this below: https://ryanmthurman.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/why-is-christian-unity-so-important/
Danny has written three excellent short articles about these meetings that are very powerful.
You can read them here: http://www.a2jphoenix.org/blog
To see more photos click here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10153498123033153&type=1
2) SIGNS OF HOPE
I found myself recently bent down with the burdens of the world, so much pain and despair all around. Yesterday on the way to Church I found myself connecting with the words of Job, Oh God, I cling with feeble fingers to the ledge of your great grace. God in his mercy heard my cry and stooped down and lifted me up strengthening me through the truth of this Advent Season that Jesus came into the midst of darkness, and the darkness did not – and will not – overcome the light that he brings (John 1:5)
Then in God's kindness returning home from church as I was getting ready to pull into our driveway I saw Anthony (photo above with my son Micah). You may remember that Anthony was a man struggling and in a season of homelessness when God brought us together, we gave him a home living with us for over year, graduating from culinary school and getting a job and doing really well. Then it all fell apart as the 'demons' of his past came back and darkness overcame and he left like many before him. We pleaded with him to stay but he left and our hearts were broken. We affirmed our love and our open arms to return at anytime. When I saw him I was so happy. I gave him a great big hug and he shared with me how God has restored him and shared all the ways he is thriving. Thank you God. Through this God reminded me that the story is not over and God will continue to surprise us with joy as we get glimpses into the beauty of HIS redemptive and healing work! I resonate with the words of Dorthy Day who said,
"if I did not have faith that the works of mercy do lighten the sum total of suffering in the world, so that those who are suffering…somehow mysteriously find their pain lifted and some balm of consolation poured on their wounds, if I did not believe these things, the problem of evil would indeed be overwhelming.
Be encouraged my friends, no labor of love is ever in vain and each of us can change the world one person at a time!
3) A2J QUARTERLY GATHERING - Saturday December 5th
This time is open to all. Come for the entire time or for just part. Schedule below:
10:00-10:45 Morning Prayer and Worship
10:45-11:30 Sisters from Canaan share
11:45-12:30 Maureen Alianza and Danny Malakowsky Share
12:30-1:00 Reflect on what God has been doing in our midst (Extended time for those who are able)
1:00-2:00pm Solitude on your own or small group fellowship and then join the Sisters for their monthly open time of Fellowship that begins at 2:00pm
4) YEAR-END FINANCIAL GIFTS
As you might know the work we do with Antioch Network and Apprenticeship to Jesus is enabled by the gifts of God's people. We have a prayer team and a financial team that support us monthly. Our committed monthly support is almost $2000. The other half we raise comes from one-time gifts and most of those are year-end gifts. Would you consider joining our prayer team and/or monthly financial team. Or would you prayerfully consider a year end gift. All gifts are tax deductible and checks can be made out to Antioch Network and mailed to the address below or you can donate online on our website by clicking below: http://antioch-network.org/donate/team-members/
1101 W. 34th Street; Box 315
Austin, TX 78705-1907
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.