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BC 10 and Beyond...I Mean Really Beyond

As I mentioned before, in the beginning of the summer we set out with a goal of the BC 10. This stood for adding ten new bible college students to the school by the beginning of the fall semester (Bible College 10). The open house had been great, but registration was where the rubber was going to meet the road and boy did God do above and beyond. We registered twelve new students ...in Baltimore..., and somewhere around fifteen new students in our new extension school in York, PA! I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, "wait, what? where?. It's a crazy story and I can't wait to tell you.

About four years ago, we lived in a rental home in Towson, MD. It was our first, true Grace Women home. For two years prior, we had been moving from place to place (for a while living in a 2 BR apt with up to 11 people in it) just waiting for the right place to open up. Well, finally God gave us our house on Providence Rd. During this time, the property manager contracted some guys from York, PA to service the house for all of our maintenance issues. Why York, PA? Probably because labor is cheaper out there. Either way, we're grateful, because the main electrician was a very humble, sweet-spirited Christian. I used to encourage him to consider Bible College and although he liked the idea of getting more training, he was petrified of going to school. So, he sat in on one or two classes, but it never seemed to stick. Since then, we have moved a few times, and hadn't really kept in touch.

However, a few weeks ago, out of the blue, he contacted us saying that he is at the end of himself and is desperate to get more training. His church is going through a hard transition and has caused the church members to become very hungry for God. So, voila, he signed up for Bible College in Baltimore as a full-time student. A wonderful addition to our BC 10. But, the story gets better.

In order to make the transition easier, we decided to visit for a Sunday morning service. It seemed like he was getting a lot of questions and other church members were a suspicious because it sounded too good to be true. So, we thought, what better way to settle any doubts or suspicions than by meeting face to face. As the day approached, it seemed like we were going to get ambushed with questions and potentially accusations and we were hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst... And we did get ambushed, but not in the way were expecting. These people wanted to ask us questions because they wanted to know how they, too, could get Bible College training! Weeknight classes in Baltimore were too difficult to attend, but nevertheless, the desire for intensified study of the word of God was evident. So, we decided to pitch the idea of an Extension School, taught all day every Saturday, that if attended to faithfully, would be equivalent to the amount of hours they would be getting in Baltimore as a full-time student. The schedule is rigorous and intensified, but they were game. Documents were furiously prepared, materials purchased, and professors secured. This past Sunday, we visited the church again to do registration and the room was packed. Wow. Thankful to have been available and sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit to be used for such a time as this. It was a real privilege to be a part of. Classes will begin next Saturday and continue through December. The first two weeks will be open for all who are curious. Please continue to pray for God's leading as we embark on this new endeavor.

 

 
Let's Travel Back In Time A Bit...

In efforts to be as transparent as possible, AND fill you in on all that's been going on this summer, SORRY for the lack of updates. To get you caught up, I'm going to have to ask you to take a little journey in our time machine. I know you'll enjoy the ride.

First off, if I had to label this past summer, I would have to say that the phrase that comes to mind is that we have been INCREDIBLY FRUITFUL. Starting with the present and going backwards...

August

Bible College is starting in just two weeks. At the beginning of the summer, we set out with a vision of adding ten new Bible College students to the Bible College, which we named the BC10. After coming from our Bible College open house this past Friday, I would say that God did exceedingly and abundantly above our expectations. We have had people leave everything (I'm talking jobs, homes, etc.), moving from Pennsylvania and Washington DC, to give God the ability to develop them in their calls under a disciplined study of the Word of God. Amazing. Below are some pics from the open house. A total success.

 

July

July was focused on the implementation of the BC10 vision. We had weekly visitation meetings where we would talk about all of the different people we were investing in, give updates, brainstorm, send out teams for the next week and plan for the upcoming weeks and events. One event we did as a house is throw a neighborhood cookout. We invited various neighbors we had been befriending and various potential Bible College students we had met throughout the summer. The cookout was a blast and it was great getting to know everybody. I think my favorite part about the whole thing is that these people are our new friends. La Tascha described it best. In the Christian faith, no matter who you are, if you have been born again, you are my brother or sister in Christ. Meeting new Christians is like meeting a new brother or sister you never knew you had. At first, it might be awkward, because you don't know each other. But, there is such joy in getting to know that you have a new family member and to be able to lock arms with them in this journey of fighting the good fight of faith. God has greatly enriched us this summer with many new brothers and sisters we never knew about. Below are some pictures from the cook out.

June

June was a whirlwind of a month. It began with a missions conference in Marlborough, MA. We had an incredible time fellowshipping with the church there. It's an amazing time to bring the people of Baltimore to a branch ministry of a completely different setting and personality, but with the same spirit and rich gospel message. It was important for the people that came to get a larger vision of what they were a part of and to get out of their surroundings. Sometimes, that is all we need to be able to hear God speak. We then rolled right into our International Convention which is hosted by the Baltimore church. We had an incredible year of ministry here. It was our privilege to run bookstore at the convention in order to supply the guests with a rich resource of books and Bibles to take back to their prospective places as a source of food and inspiration for the year. We had many rich times of fellowship and opportunities to encourage people on their journey of discipleship. Here's a peak at what our bookstore looked like.

May

Lastly, May was an incredible month for a lot of reasons. We had the finishing of a Bible College semester, a Bible College graduation, and a missions trip to Haiti. For some, it was their first time out of the country. What a blessing to have the first trip be a missions trip! We had an incredible time soul winning in the plazas, street singing, and doing mime. Crowds would gather around us as we would culminate with proclaiming the gospel message. During this trip, we had our first four-year Bible College graduation with over twenty graduates. This was a great blessing given that the pastor who originally sowed the seeds in Haiti passed away, giving his very life for the country of Haiti. Before I share the last story in Haiti, here are some pictures from the trip.

Now for the last story, during our time evangelizing there, we met an amazing woman named Almeta. She was lining the park walkways with coconut shells as a park attendant. We learned that she had previously been rescued from a life of prostitution where she had been stabbed and badly beaten. Amazingly, some missionaries some years back pulled her from that life and set her up in a little tin home, no larger than an 8' by 8' room and found her the job that she currently has collecting coconut shells in the park. Her hunger for Christ was remarkable. She would pay her own transport on a motorbike to find us at every meeting place we had. Some venues were up to 45 minutes away up mountainous dirt roadways. Nevertheless, she would come to hear the word of God. As the days went on, we arranged to visit her house to get to know her a little better. We went on motorbikes through the pitch dark night sandwiched in-between two other pastors on motorbikes to her very small abode. We were greeted by a man sitting on a bed that took up the entire room, a little boy, and a small kerosene lamp. Apparently, this was her husband, Jagenson and her son Jason. As soon as we came in, he thanked us for coming. Knowing that we were missionaries, he explained that he knew he should have died in the earthquake back when it hit in 2010. Since then, he had held a reverence for God knowing that the only reason he was alive was because God has saved him, but today, he said, he was finally ready to give his life to Christ. In that moment, we prayed with him and he received Christ. It was totally mind blowing. This was a dream come true for Almeta, as it was always her desire follow God as a family. They next day, they were all in church together, and we have been hearing reports that they are still doing well. Below is a picture of Almeta and her family. Her humble brokenness was mesmerizing and awe-inspiring. What a great reality check.

Going Forward

As a vision for going forward, we are looking to start teaching some free GED classes. Many of the students who have been interested in Bible College have unfortunately, never received their GED. So we are looking to partner up with a local pastor and teach classes at his church to help these men and women succeed. Also, we will be planning on taking some trips oversees. More on that as plans firm up. For now, the word is to keep striking the ground with arrows and not to stop (2 Kings 13). May God bless you.

 
A Rare Treat

It's not everyday that you get to see an act of ministry come full circle, but yesterday was one of those blessed days. Tuesday night is our usual night for Bible Study and La Tascha taught an awesome message on the gift of exhortation. (Stay tuned for the message, it should be posted very shortly.) We had a couple of newer people at the Bible Study and one of those ladies asked if she could find the recordings of previous messages. Someone pointed her to our website, and the first thing she saw was the picture of the Valentine's Day cookies proclaiming, "Nobody loves you like God loves you". Immediately, she recognized them and proceeded to tell us about how down and depressed she had been on Valentine's Day. The plaguing feelings of loneliness had overwhelmed her and that was all she had been thinking about when we interrupted her shopping trip with a beautifully decorated Valentine's Day cookie in the Giant parking lot. She wasn't sure quite what to think until she read the words, "Nobody loves you like God loves you". She said in that moment, her spirit completely lifted and she realized that God was the best Valentine, and that He loved her, and everything was going to be ok. She could not express how much it blessed her and made her week and after learning a little bit more about her life, I got to understand all of the suffering that she has been through over the past couple of years and how much that reminder of God's love really touched her. To be able to hear the testimony of "what a cookie can do" was more than we truly expected. The icing on the cake for us, of course, was to be able to then fellowship with her at a Bible study more than a month later, and to learn about her life, and encourage her in deeper pursuits of God's calling as she is hungrily feeling after his will and how He might want her to make an impact on this world. Very cool.

 
What a Valentine's Day!

We are definitely still learning about what a cookie can do! In light of our great success during the Christmas season with our Christmas cookie outreach, we hit the streets again for Valentine's Day, this time with beautifully decorated heart shaped cookies tagged, "Nobody loves you like God loves you". What better day to reach the craving hearts of men and women in the city of Baltimore than on Valentine's Day and boy was it a success.

The response was tremendous and we could have given out triple of what we made (note taken for next year). But more importantly, the conversations were moving, hearts were touched, and God's love was expressed. Thanks to all those who helped. Easter is coming around the bend so stay tuned. Please pray for us as we continue to explore creative outlets to reach this city of Baltimore with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 
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