Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Fantastic Four aka Mission Team from FBC, Rogers, AR

Well, after 2 delays, the team from First Baptist Church, Rogers arrived here around 7:00 PM last Wednesday night. Unfortunately, they were supposed to land at 4:00 PM, which is why I had arranged a dinner so that some families from NorthStar could get to know the group. I set reservations for 6:30, changed them to 7:00 when we discovered the plane was to land at 5:30 instead or 4:00 and then discovered, as I was leaving to go meet everyone at the restaurant, that the plane had been delayed further and wouldn't land until 6:59.
Some how I just didn't think that one minute would give them adequate time to get through McCarran International (one of the slowest airports to navigate), get their luggage, find the rental car desk, be shuttled to the rental car location and then travel 25 minutes north to our area of town.
Those of us waiting at the restaurant enjoyed our Bucca di Beppo, and Jake and the team arrived there as we were paying for our bills. At least they made it in time to go to the overlook of the city, where we had planned a brief prayer meeting. Each time I go there and look out over this city of 2 million it still amazes me. It seems so still and quiet from that elevation. All the twinkling lights, it looks as if you are looking down at the stars.
The team eventually got to eat dinner and got settled in at our house sometime after 10:00.

The goal of Thursday and Friday was to canvas area parks and shopping centers to get the word out about our Back to School Bash we were holding on Saturday. The temperatures were 108-109 both days, but they stuck it out. They were able to hand out close to 1,000 invitations to the party.

Thursday night we went downtown to the Rescue Mission, which is a homeless shelter. The shelter has free dinner every night of the week, open to anyone in need. Depending on the time of the month (earlier parts of the month don't have as many people because that's when wellfare checks are received) they serve anywhere from 150-400+ per night. The mission also has short-term housing--2 weeks, or long-term housing for those willing to enter their program.
The program consists of volunteering at the shelter, going to Bible studies, job training, etc. It really is a wonderful program that actually helps enable people, rather than just give them a free bed.

We served just under 200 people that night. I have never had the opportunity to go, because it is not safe for JD and Cora, but a friend offered to watch them for me. It really was an eye-opener. Especially when I saw a family come in with two small girls, about 4 and 5 years old, I would guess, a little boy who was barely a year old (and who only wore a saggy diaper) and a newborn baby, and by newborn I mean maybe a week or 2 old. I almost started crying. I wanted to take that newborn baby home with me.

How often do I complain because I have 2 house payments to pay and an electricity bill that shot out of the roof last month! Then I see that and it puts it all in perspective. I have 2 house payments because I have 2, yes 2 houses! God has blessed me with not one but 2 places I can live. I have an enormous electricity bill because God has blessed me with the ability to have air conditioning in a city whose temperatures sore well over 100 degrees during the summer months. I have a husband who has been blessed with amazing talents in the IT field, and therefore is able to work. Not only that, but for some reason God has chosen our family to serve Him as church planters in a city that many people have given up on. How humbling is that! Yes, our family struggles every month. I honestly don't know how I'm going to pay my 2 house payments coming up at the beginning of Sept., but He is faithful! He has blessed this family beyond words; well beyond what we deserve. And He has blessed you as well. We so often loose sight of this.
I would highly recommend finding your local shelter or food closet and volunteering there for a night. It really helps you find perspective. "Christ came not to be served, but to serve." We are called to do the same.

Saturday turned out to be a great success. The numbers weren't huge, by any means, but the contacts made were awesome. We were able to visit with and minister to several families. We had a water slide, a slip-n-slide, a giant bouncy castle, free food and snow cones. A good time was had by all.

Jake and Janelle (Pastor's wife) manning the slide, as Cora takes yet another turn
Hot dogs, chips, popcorn, water and snow cones were available under the tents

Two of our teenagers, Jordan and Harley, enjoying the giant bouncy-dog

In the end, everyone got in on the water play!

Because of all the canvassing done by the team and the great effort put forth at the Bash on Saturday, we had 5 families visit our church on Sunday! The children's area, which usually has no more than 10 kids (and 5 of those are staff kids) had 21 kids!!!
Total we had 69 people in attendance. That is the highest attendance we have ever had on a "normal" Sunday (as in non-holiday). It was so awesome to immediately see the fruits of labor. Jake, Mike and David are working this week to make contact with every visitor. Please pray that good contacts are made and that we will use the opportunities given to us to minister to those we are contacting.

Sunday was the last day of our VBS, Cactus Canyon. To celebrate, our pastoral staff dressed as cowboys. Don't they look good?From left to right, David Kanizar, Worship Leader,
Jake Bridges, Missions Pastor, Mike Ellis, Senior Pastor

The Fantastic Four with NSBC Staff and their families
To the left, the Ellis family: Thomas, Mike, Janelle, Alexa and Nathan
Back row: Darin Harryman, Jim Risenhoover, David Kanizar, Elaine Bridges, Chad Pratt, Cora Bridges and Lisa Kanizar. In front: Iris Epting, Jake and JD Bridges

The Fantastic Four with our familyFrom left to right: Iris Epting, Elaine Bridges, Darin Harryman,
Jim Risenhoover, Jake Bridges and Chad Pratt. In front: Cora and JD Bridges

I want to just take this time to thank the team for coming out. I hope they realize what an awesome impact they had. Also, thank you First Baptist, Rogers, for allowing them to come and for your support through prayer during this past week (and always). We would not be here and could not do what we do without the support of FBC!

Wednesday night, when we went to the outlook to pray over the city and for the upcoming week, Jake shared a brief message with the group. His references were:
Luke 9:51-56 and Acts 8:4-17
Summing them up, in Luke Jesus and His disciples were traveling to Jerusalem through Samaria, but the Samaritans refused them. James and John wanted to call down fire on the city. Jesus, however, did not allow this. Jesus knew the future, He knew that in time the area would come to believe in Him. In Acts 8, they did just that. Phillip was in the area and began to preach the gospel of Christ to them and they accepted it. Multitudes came to know the saving grace of the Lord.
Had James and John been allowed to destroy the city, hundreds of souls would have perished without ever getting that second chance.

In the same way, many people today have given up hope on Las Vegas (and New Orleans, and San Francisco, etc.). They believe that it is so full of evil that it should be destroyed. God, however, sees the big picture. Only He knows how many souls in this town need that second chance, need to hear about His love and grace. If we just give up on Las Vegas, how many thousands of souls will be lost that could one day be rejoicing with us in Heaven?

Don't give up on sharing the gospel of Christ. You never know what God has in store down the road!

1 comment:

Leslie Caubble said...

Hi Jake & Elaine,
Sounds like it was an awesome week. We wish we could have been there, but we were in spirit and in prayer!