World Outreach: Got Faith?

Because of your generous support and gifts to Immanuel through Accelerate, we are able to partner with God in the work He is doing around the world. Thank you!

by Doug Gillaspie, World Outreach Director

Travel is both ministry and pleasure for my wife Deb and me. We have been privileged to literally travel around the world. When I encounter followers of Jesus in different countries I am always amazed by the size of their faith and ashamed of the size of my own.

That was never more true than during our recent trip to India. Beginning with a tour of India and Nepal, Deb and I had the privilege of visiting a ministry in Delhi with which the people of Immanuel have already been introduced. The ministry is called Anurag. It is a school and training center for poor children and young adults.

Literally a few hours after landing we were whisked off to this place of hope in the midst of much hopelessness. We were greeted by Prem Gideon, the founder and director of the ministry. We were amazed at the breadth and depth of the work being done. Over 700 children and young adults are receiving education and training that was beyond their means. Most importantly, these 700 souls and their families were being exposed to the love of Jesus Christ.

During our two-day visit we not only interacted with many of the children but also heard the story of Anurag. Through faith and faithfulness, what started as a burning passion of God’s love, Anurag has grown from the humble beginnings of a single rented classroom to two entire buildings of classrooms and training facilities. Prem shared how each time she was burdened to expand the reach and service of Anurag God honored her obedience to do what she could while she trusted God to provide very great needs.

I’ve learned during the years that when I have much I trust God less; when I have nothing I trust God more. Hearing the Anurag story challenged me to let go of what I have so I can better grasp the hand of God.  It has prompted me to think daily about what I holding on to, what it is I have put my faith in.

So what are you holding on to for today, tomorrow and for eternity?

Anurag is a new Strategic Partner of Immanuel and World Outreach. Be sure to visit the display in the lobby on Sunday July 20th to learn more about Anurag and meet Prem.


The Monday After: Know Contentment Through Generosity {Dawn}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, July 13, 2014: Habits of Happiness: Know Contentment Through Generosity {Listen HERE!}

By Dawn Kelley

He was walking down the street pushing a shopping cart full of cans.

It was one of the ways he made his living. I would see him every Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning walking through my dad’s neighborhood collecting aluminum cans from recycling bins and trash cans.

He did it joyfully, most often with a smile on his face, and sometimes he would smile at me a give me a slight wave. One day I saw him walking with his cart in the pouring rain; he had only a light jacket and had a hat on his head. I was in my nice, warm well-covered car watching him as he continued to dig and collect cans. I felt a huge tug on my heart to give.

What was I to give? I had no money and his cart would not fit in my car to give him a ride home. I pulled the car over to see what I could give him and under my passenger seat I found an umbrella. As I pulled up to where he was stationed on his route I rolled my window down and greeted him while handing him my umbrella. He thanked me and walked away. I saw him many times after that with the umbrella hanging on his cart. His smile captured my heart, and it showed me what it really meant to give with a joyful heart. Pastor Byian’s words were a reminder for me that no matter what my circumstances, God has given me so many ways to be generous.

I read on wikipedia, “Generosity is not solely based on one’s economic status, but instead, includes the individual’s pure intentions of looking out for society’s common good and giving from the heart. Generosity should reflect the individuals passion to help others.”

For me that passion comes from Christ, and it reflects His love not only for me but for those He places in my path.

I often think about what people are thinking when they give. I wonder if they are giving a gift, money or their time out of obligation or because they truly want to give and they find deep joy in doing so. I know that sometimes I am giving because someone told me I need to or because scripture tells me to give.

This message challenged me to evaluate why I am giving. I am challenged to question my motives and give from my heart with pure intentions. Reading in Phillippians gives me a clear understanding of what God hopes for me in the area of generosity. He wants me to give without expecting any thing in return. He wants me to follow His leading in giving, whether it’s giving of my time, money, or even of my kindness. In the end, I can do it because God has given me the strength.

I want a happy life that reflects generosity.

Dawn Kelley is the wife of Andrew and the homeschooling mother of four, Jaden, Niya, Makayla and Aiden. She loves to read and write in her spare time, and she currently uses a personal blog to share her adventures in motherhood and womanhood.


World Outreach: A Pinch-Me Moment with Operation Christmas Child

Because of your generous support and gifts to Immanuel through Accelerate, we are able to partner with God in the work He is doing around the world. Thank you!

by Susan Schmidt, Operation Christmas Child Year-Round Volunteer, Immanuel attendee

Have you ever had one of those “pinch-me moments” in your life?  Well, I have!  It came this past January when I received a phone call letting me know that I was selected to go on a trip. Not just any trip … but an answer to many prayers and the biggest “pinch-me moment” God could have ever blessed me with.

You see, I serve as a year-round volunteer in the Chicagoland area with Operation Christmas Child (OCC – a project of Christian Worldwide Relief Organization Samaritan’s Purse whose mission is to reach children with hope and joy through simple shoe box gifts).  I have also been even more blessed to co-lead on the OCC Immanuel Leadership Team, which is awesome.   And I get to serve on both of these teams with my best friend (Connie Pfeifer), who has the biggest heart for OCC I have ever seen. It’s awesome!

IMG_4855Each year, select year-round volunteers have an opportunity to participate in an international shoe box distribution trip. I was privileged to be chosen this past January. Approximately 40 Operation Christmas Child staff and team members from all over the U.S. traveled to Rwanda from April 26 through May 3. It was such an honor to be selected, the answer to many prayers and the biggest “pinch-me moment” ever.

Our group was split into three teams and our “Green Team” would be going on a total of six shoebox distributions handing out these special gifts to children ages 2-14 who had never received anything before.

Before ministering to the Rwandan children and local pastors, we first went to the Kigali Memorial to learn about the Genocide that occurred 20 years ago in Rwanda.   Learning what had happened to one million adults and children in only 30 days time was very emotional and powerful, but we needed to see and learn where this country has been and where they are today. Most are still healing and others still hurting, so it was an honor to love on the adults as well as the children while we were there.

IMG_4946Throughout the week, our team went on a total of six shoebox distributions to children in groups of 80 to 200. We got to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to let them know of a God who loves them so much and how much we love them, too.  It was so interesting to see the children react to our light skin and varying shades of hair color.   We were so excited to see their beautiful faces and to have the opportunity to smile and laugh together. It was especially touching to see their joy at playing with beach balls or to hear the giggles and squeals of delight as they discovered the gifts inside their shoeboxes.

Some of the children received a letter inside their shoebox gift. When time allowed, we would bring over our interpreter who would let the boy or girl hear what we were reading. After that, we would take a picture with the child with the letter (address visible) so that the person that packed the shoebox could receive the picture once we returned to the states and forwarded this information on to the donor.

IMG_5051One day, we traveled to The Miracle Center, which was scheduled to have approximately 80 children receiving shoeboxes. Yet when we walked in, there were about 200 expectant children waiting. Would we have enough boxes to give each child one?  Knowing what a powerful God we serve, in a short period of time additional cartons of shoe box gifts were located so that each child could receive their special gift.

As an added blessing, we went to the Kingdom Education Center School to see two rooms filled with children who were there to be a part of the launching of The Greatest Journey Program, which is a 12-week Discipleship Program for those children that have already received shoeboxes and have chosen to learn more our amazing God. It was so powerful to be there to see them learning about our Savior and how to have a relationship with Him.

God used each one on our team in individual ways and blessed each one of us for a lifetime of memories.

For each one of us that was humbled and honored to serve alongside the OCC National Leadership Team in Rwanda, it is our hope and next steps that we will share our these experiences with other groups and churches.   If you know of any church or small group that would love to hear about Operation Christmas Child and my journey to Rwanda, please let me know. I will be glad to contact them.

There are millions more children that need to hear about Jesus and receive him into their heart. Operation Christmas Child is an effective ministry, and I am confident that lives all over the world have been changed by simple shoebox gifts.  Yet many churches, groups and individuals haven’t heard about OCC and are not currently packing shoebox gifts as we have been for many years at Immanuel.

IMG_5050Please know that each one of the gifts you so lovingly packed are greatly needed, and there are children just waiting to receive them. And what’s even more amazing is that God has already picked out by name the children that will receive your boxes in 2014.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  Ephesians 3:20

YOU can be a part of OCC this autumn at Immanuel! Check out the OCC tab at our World Outreach page to find out more information about our annual Packing Party and other ways YOU can help!

The Monday After: The Stressed-Out Life {Hyacynth}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, July 6, 2014 {Listen to the message HERE!}

By Hyacynth Worth

By all standards of expertise, I could likely claim status as a professional worrier.

(Imagine that on a resume!)

I’ve likely logged about 10,000 hours, which is what it takes to become an expert, engaged in the art of worry during the course of my life.

Before I realized this was a problem, I thought it was just, well, life.

I’m pretty sure I was operating under the life of mantra “to worry is to care.”

Those verse in the Bible about not worrying? Merely suggestions, I’d thought.

A few years ago when worrying started taking its toll on me physically, emotionally and spiritually, I met my life verse in Philippians; I knew Philippians 4:4-6 and I were meant to be because it read like a love letter to my heart:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Because peace? I could use some of that. So I began thinking on whatever was right, whatever was worthy of praise.

“The mind disciplined to dwell on things which have god’s approval is the surest way of increasing your christlikeness and decreasing stress.” -Pastor Kelly Davis

And that helped. It wasn’t until I took Pam Gillaspie’s No Worries study, though, that I realized Philippians 4:4-9 was not only a love letter but also a stand-out anti-anxiety prescription that really did reduce stress and worry and anxiety.

Philippians 4 second draft

During that study we dove deep into this prescription and also reflected on the very nature and character of God — a loving Father, a shepherd to His sheep, sovereign and good and all knowing. As I pondered God’s nature and steeped long in His deep love for me while I studied and began taking to heart and action His love letter to my heart, I began to seek a new expertise to replace worry: trust.

I’m not at expert level yet; I’ve still got a lot of hours to log before I can claim a title of expert truster, but I’m on my way to putting in on my resume, and I’ve got a lot of opportunities each day to log some man hours.

And that old life mantra of “to worry is to care”? I’m choosing to replace it with “to trust God is to fully live.”

Live fully today with me?

IMG_2528Hyacynth Worth is grateful daughter to the Perfect Father, wife to John and mother to two little boys and three souls she will one day meet in Heaven. In between mothering and coordinating online communication for Immanuel, she writes about grace, motherhood and living a healthy lifestyle at Undercover Mother.