Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Shop On Purpose

Remember when we could serve coffee at church? 

Did you know that the coffee we served was intentionally chosen, not only for quality, but also for impact? At Stafford Crossing, we buy coffee from Hope Coffee. As a coffee supplier, they are committed to the Gospel mission of Jesus Christ. They purchase coffee around the world from impoverished farmers. They
pay a fair price for the coffee in markets where other buyers might exploit the conditions and cheat the farms. By paying a fair price, the farmers can pay the workers a fair wage. This improves the living conditions of entire communities. 

Then, Hope invests their profits in the mission. They use proceeds from US coffee sales to fund local churches as they reach their communities with the Gospel. Recently, 37 people in a village in Honduras heard the Gospel and responded by trusting and following Jesus.You can read more about it here.

Let's remember that where we spend our money matters. Together, let's shop on purpose.

      He has told you, O man, what is good; 
      and what does the LORD require of you 
                  but to do justice, and to love kindness, 
      and to walk humbly with your God? 
Micah 6:8

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Community Impact

Thank you for your generosity!

A few weeks ago, we hosted a drive-through donation opportunity at Stafford Crossing. We were collecting food items to help stock the pantry at SERVE. The items collected will be distributed to families who find it difficult to keep groceries in the house. During this pandemic, many families have lost jobs or had hours decreased. The result is a limited ability to make ends meet and many food budgets have been heard hit. Your contribution will help reduce some of the stress and uncertainty in these homes.

We also collected items for the McKinney-Vento program of the Stafford County Public Schools.
This office serves the needs of families who have found themselves without a safe and clean place to live. With the impact of the pandemic, many families are facing homelessness and these supplies will help them get through a difficult season.

You contributed over 2000 pounds of much-needed supplies to your neighbors.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Gospel Is Not Locked Down

One of our missions partners, Elam Ministries, plants churches and equips leaders in Iran. They have had amazing success distributing Bibles in the region and starting house churches. In fact, the church in Iran is now sending missionaries to plant churches in places like Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Gospel is truly exploding across the region.

One house church has taken advantage of the difficult circumstances presented by COVID-19. The figures released by the Iranian government are grossly understated, but even with those numbers, Iran is one of the hardest hit countries in the pandemic. As a result, the medical system is stretched to the breaking point and resources are scarce. A small house church (10 people) saw the opportunity to meet a need. The leader has a sewing machine and some skill. He and his church family began making masks and distributing them in the city. hundreds of masks were given away, and, get ready for this...37 PEOPLE HAVE DECIDED TO TRUST AND FOLLOW JESUS! The church has shared the hope of Jesus in the pandemic and seen nearly 400% growth.

Now, there is a need to disciple these new believers and a need for new churches. It would be impossible for a church of 47 to meet in one location. The government would detect and destroy a church like this. While new pastors are being trained, believers will be discipled through a program called Safar. This is an online 1 to 1 discipleship tool that Elam has developed and implemented. Currently over 2000 people are discipling others using this tool.

Disciples make disciples. That is the reality of Jesus command to us. If we are not making disciples, we are not being disciples. Safar is a great tool for us to use in our context as well. It is a 100 day journey (Safar literally means journey) to help disciples make disciples.

There is someone in your circle of influence who would benefit from your investment in them. Let's get started. Now is the time. Begin the journey online and continue face-to-face when it's possible.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Not the Same

I am thankful for the time in which we live. In a season of social-distancing and online-only church,
today's technology is an amazing and useful tool. We are engaging in worship services and small groups and student ministry from the confines of our homes. It's good...but it's not the same.

As a guy who travels a bit, I'm familiar with these tools. I will check in with my wife and family from thousands of miles away. It works well. It is a good measure for the times when we just can't share the same space. I have used these technologies to connect with friends, too. A text is nice. A voice call is better. A video chat takes it to the next level. There is a higher level of interaction and community when you can see a face. I am thankful for the tech that allows this higher level.

I also recognize the limitations. We are social. We desire community. We even crave contact. Technology gives us a shadow of these. There is no substitute for sharing the same space. My marriage would not exist if we could only rely on video chat. That is a stop-gap measure until we can be together in person. Similarly, my connection to church family would not exist if we could only rely on virtual gatherings. The tools that are so readily available today can carry us through a difficult time, but they can not sustain us.

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Church Planting in Kyangwali, Uganda

Two years ago, I had the privilege of worshiping with about 150 brothers and sisters in a refugee camp in western Uganda. We met under a tree. It was hot and dry. About 30 people came forward at the end of the service to either commit their lives to Jesus or to commit to the disciple-making mission in the camp.

Last year, Stafford Crossing provided the resources needed to build a church building on that
location. It's beautiful, because the tree that used to be the church is now used for children's classes and the worship gathering happens under a new roof. They have already taken down one wall of the church building to expand and meet the needs of nearly eight hundred people every Sunday morning.

One of the elders was telling me this story and he mentioned the need to expand the building again. I suggested the idea of planting a new church instead. He got a big smile and told me he didn't think the western church thought that way. He then pointed in the direction of two locations they were already praying over for new churches.

Sunday, February 16, 2020 was the inaugural worship service for two new churches in the Kyangwali Refugee Camp. People who have traveled from the Congo, under great hardship and danger are praising Jesus in these two new church plants. One meets under a tree. The other has fashioned a roof out of the tarps that the UN provided when they arrived in the camp.

Healthy disciples make disciples.
Healthy churches plant churches.
This stuff never gets old.