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Some Having Compassion And Making A Difference

This was the verse for our service this past Sunday...in York! Grace Words Bible Church officially kicked off with an incredible time of worship, preaching and fellowship. P. Jay's message was that, yes indeed, some will have compassion, and it will make a difference (Jude 1:22) and this is his vision and his belief for York, Pennsylvania. Please continue to pray for the church plant there. Thank you so much, P. Ray and the Carlisle church, for coming out and supporting us. We are very blessed and privileged to have an older sister church so close to us, to hold up our arms in the work, and encourage us along the way.

As you know, we're already well into our second semester of Maryland Bible College of York, and now, having a local assembly there will be a great base for building people up in the love, grace, and truth of His word. Pray for the next two weeks, with Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. We also just signed a five year lease on an incredible building, but the building needs to be built out, so pray for all the construction, and permits, and inspections that need to happen in order for us to move there.

This past Sunday, we even had our first visitor. She came out from our Valentine's Day cookies, handed to her in a Walmart parking lot. Can you believe it? It is the joy and rejoicing of our souls to embark on this journey of adding one soul at a time to this local portion of the family of God. God loves the people of York. We are marveling in His specific manifestation and unction here in York.


 
Buy A Field From Prison

There is much to report. The photo to the left is taken from a slave fort in Shamah, Ghana. It was one of the largest forts in the west of Africa built to hold imprisoned slaves waiting to be shipped off to Portugal during the slave trade. Walking through the castle and seeing the conditions in which these victims were held captive was horrific and sobering. The victory was in the ability to preach the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ to the coastal town full of poor fisherman on the steps of this slave castle. We set up shop for the evening and did set after set of song, mime, and preaching. Never have I seen a crowd so enraptured by the production. They were screaming at Satan and cheering for Christ as we acted out the salvation message. It was a beautiful means of redemption where such an atrocity had taken place.

This is just a picture of what occurred in Ghana as a group of us went on a two and half week missions trip there. Whether the captivities were physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, it was a privilege to be able to be used by God to proclaim a new hope, and for some, a renewed hope of a life with God.

Shortly after our return, a group of sixteen ladies headed up to the women's conference in Dover Plains, NY. The theme of the conference was "Good News From A Far Country". One of the main speakers, Gwen, gave a short word and testimony about her time in Ghana that I have been ruminating on since she spoke. Her portion was from Jeremiah 32 and the story of Jeremiah buying the field. We often hear about the principle of buying a field to get the treasure as described in the parable of the hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44). However, I had never seen Jeremiah 32 the way she portrayed it until last Saturday. Not only did Jeremiah buy a field, but, he bought the field from prison during impending captivity. Why, she asked, would anyone consider buying a field, when their present condition is prison and the future is only getting bleaker? But, nonetheless, from prison, Jeremiah 32:8 says, "Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself."... and in verse 15 it says, "For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.'" The key is that often we will find ourselves in some kind of prison. We struggle through life. I can't remember the last time my life was rosy all around nor do I look for the day on earth that it ever will be. It is not promised to me. However, buying the field, and in Gwen's case, buying the foreign field of Ghana during this missions trip, was the right of her inheritance, and the right of her redemption regardless of the personal prison she was in. Incredible. Ghana is the richer for it, and so is Gwen.

 

 

 

 

 

Gleaning from these words, we mustn't stop our forward vision. The gospel takes preeminence and it is our right and our inheritance to participate in this manner regardless of the personal prisons we are experiencing. In it, we find much redemption. We are gearing up for another Valentine's Day holiday. If you remember, last year we gave out beautifully decorated heart cookies with a tag on it that said, "Nobody loves you like God loves you" with the gospel on the back. This year, we will do the same, except that our efforts will be focused on the town of York, PA. The new church plant is scheduled to kick off in the next couple of weeks (please pray that we find the right location). The second semester of Maryland Bible College of York is already in full swing and has expanded since last semester. There is a lot going on. We are excited and privileged to be a part of it. Thanks for all of your prayers and support.

 
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

To all of our donors, prayer warriors, volunteers, and cookie evangelists, we cannot thank you enough for all of your help during this past Christmas season. It was a red banner year for us.

I think the first year we did the cookie outreach, we made about 300 cookies and passed them around to our neighbors on platters. In the second year, we went up to 1,000, the third year, 3,000, the fourth year 10,000, and this year, we had anticipated anywhere from 12,000 to 14,000 but due to the overwhelming success and demand for more, we ended up baking 20,000 cookies.

It's a joy to think about where all these cookies went. Each year, we have wondered, "what can a cookie do?" and in years past, we have searched the highways and byways looking for those who were down and out and needed a touch from heaven. This practically meant people at malls, bus stations, train stations and the like. But, this year, much of the cookie distribution went into the hands of others to give out in their areas of influence. From just a few of the testimonies, we know that these cookies went out to mobility drivers, methadone clinics, dialysis clinics, homeless shelters, government agencies, college campuses, and diverse neighborhoods all around the greater Baltimore area. Each cookie pack, with two beautiful homemade cookies and a cookie tag talking about the love of God and the gospel message. Up until the last days before Christmas, people were calling for more cookies to hand out. This year, more than the previous years, people's hearts were so very open to these cookies. We are grateful to God to have had the experience of the past four years to aid us in being able to make 20,000 cookies this year while this window is still open. Thanks again to everyone who played a part. Only heaven knows what a cookie did this year! I just have fun thinking about it.

 
A Quick Update

A lot has been going on, so I will quickly try to keep you in the loop.

First off, thank you, thank you, thank you for all those who have donated to us during this Christmas season. From gift cards, to Christmas trees, to commercial kitchen access, to just plain old money, this Christmas outreach has greatly benefited from your benevolence. So once again, thank you.

We have baked about 8,000 cookies so far. This weekend, we'll bake another 4,000 thanks to the generosity of Ed Hoffman and his catering company, Hoffman & Company, who has allowed us to use their commercial kitchen to bake these cookies (a commercial oven makes a big difference)!

This is our fifth and largest year for the cookie outreach. When we're done, we'll land somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 cookies. Because the word has spread, this year, we got started early with our Cookie Promise program. This allowed people to preorder sets of cookies to use at their own outreaches, or at their workplaces. We have also been using these cookies to jump start various church plants to break the ice in these new areas. Tonight, we were in Laurel, MD where Pastor Love is beginning a new church, and through the coming weeks, we will be doing the same in areas like Federal Hill, Maryland, York, Pennsylvania and Silver Spring, Maryland. Each cookie tag still has the same gospel message, but the backs have been customized to promote whatever church or events are going on in that particular area. In addition, we will still continue to hit the popular areas of Baltimore as well as our own highly populate apartment complex to share the good news of Christ's birth and love for His people.

Lastly, this year we partnered with New Vision House of Hope to help with their annual Christmas party for the homeless. (This is the same non-profit that we worked with on Thanksgiving to serve two of their women's shelters.) It was such a joy and a blessing to be there. Charles Culver, the founder of New Vision House of Hope, who we met in York, PA, is quite an incredible guy. His heart for the people he serves is hard to put into words, but let's just say... astounding. There were probably about 150 homeless there. We went from table to table caroling their favorite Christmas songs as well as giving out the cookies. By the end of the night, some were singing carols to themselves with such joy. One of the board members looked at us and said, "you really started something here". We look forward to joining hands again next year, this time with a full Christmas production in mind. Glory to God, He is doing great things. As the days continue, more and more cookies will reach the hands and hearts of those who are hurting and need a touch from God. Please continue to pray with us that He would anoint every step, every word, every cookie, that souls would be reached, comforted, and added to His kingdom. God bless you all.

 
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