Local Outreach: Stories of Being the Light

by Laura Forman

The words aggressive and Christian should perhaps never be paired. Maybe you’ve known someone that fits the description; if not, you’re probably not interested in meeting such a person. That said, when Immanuel’s Go! Group leader David Forman was asked to describe its purpose, he responded that it is to help the church be more “aggressive” in sharing God’s love.

Jesus said:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

It takes intent and initiative to share our faith, to shine our light. In these ways, we are “aggressive” by being fired up to love one another as Jesus intended, listening to and answering God’s call on our lives, praying for each other and nurturing our own relationship with God in order to mentor others.

Each member of Go! is committed to missional living, seeing our everyday lives as our mission field. Here is how some of us are doing just that:

Deborah Jensen prays for her neighbors as she walks past their homes. A former Micro Alpha host, she is currently on the summer Alpha Team. Deb’s outreach includes inviting neighbors, friends and her daughter’s friends to attend Alpha. She is looking forward to hosting an upcoming summer neighborhood block party, complete with a campfire, s’mores and a game of tag for the kids.

Also starting right where she lives, Beth Mccullough has led three neighborhood women’s Bible studies in her home since she felt God’s call to do so a year and a half ago.

Beth explained, “I have found that a neighborhood study seems to reach a group of women who are perhaps intimidated to enter a church building for a study, or who are short on time and appreciate a casual meeting right in the ‘hood that they can walk to. The women that have been coming are quite diverse in their spiritual backgrounds, and several do not have a home church. Two of the women who joined last time had never opened a Bible before- which was SO exciting to me!”

Lisa Stewart is working with Bridge House, a substance abuse treatment center.

In Lisa’s words, to share “how the programs that we offer at Immanuel have helped me to develop a personal working relationship with Jesus Christ has kept me clean and saved not only my soul but my life as well.”

As an employee of A Safe Place, a domestic violence shelter, Cindy Johnson is working on approval to lead Micro Alpha at the facility. Those in need of abuse services would be invited on a voluntary basis.

David and I currently host Micro Alpha in our home for a group of teens in substance abuse recovery. We felt the call to reach out to this vulnerable population because many drop out of twelve step programs due to confusion over the definition of “higher power.” In our fifth week, we continue to be amazed by their openness and excitement for the program.

Beth sums up our sentiments well, “The Go! Group at Immanuel has been a tremendous source of encouragement and support; I always leave the group meetings feeling refreshed and re-energized. It is wonderful to hear how God is working through the other group members’ lives, and to see glimpses of Him on the move in Lake County.”

Hear more stories of Go! members and get support or ideas for your outreach at our next meeting, the first Sunday of the month at 10:45 in room B113.

100_1824 Laura Forman is a follower of Christ and Immanuel Church member. She is  married to David and they live in Gurnee  with their five children. Working as  both a personal trainer and a freelance writer, she can be found at church  or www.lauralisaforman.com.

Local Outreach: ICU Project, Safe Families

Thank you so much for your generosity to Accelerate, our one-fund generosity initiative! Because of God’s goodness and His people’s generosity, we are able to share stories of how He is at work at Immanuel, in our community and around the world.

by Jaci Scheidemantle, Immanuel attendee

I was born and raised in Indonesia, a Muslim country on the equator halfway across the world from Gurnee. I’m not really American or Indonesian; I’m a third-culture kid who assimilated some of both cultures to make an “other,” a third culture. This means I speak English and look American, but I often still think and feel Asian. And that I’d still pick chicken sate over pizza and fried bananas over potato chips any day of the week.

As a missionary kid, I had the privilege of helping my parents plant a church. I witnessed my dad speaking the words “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” for the first time to the Gerai people. And I saw the joy of new believers reading scripture translated into their mother tongue. I learned to watch carefully for cultural cues, sit straight legged in church on the floor, wrap diaper-less babies in sarongs, winnow rice and cut grass with a machete (although, admittedly, not very well).

Since becoming a mom, I have felt a profound tension between wanting my daughter to experience the same joy I had in interacting with another culture, while still dealing with the cost of that lifestyle, which, for me, was feeling abandoned when sent to boarding school at age seven. For eleven years, I spent three months at school followed by two or three months at home, and this constant change, always leaving and being left, marked me deeply.

DoforoneThis is one reason my husband and I are getting involved with Safe Families. Safe Families for Children is coordinating with churches in the Gurnee area to offer a temporary safe haven for children whose parents are in crisis situations. Their goal is to minimize the risk of abuse and neglect to the children, while giving time for the parents to get the tools they need to be more successful so that ultimately the family can stay in tact.

We want to open our home to these kids, and in the process, we hope to teach our daughter how to love the “other” and to experience the challenges and joys of difference. God has showered us with grace and now invites us to love the ”other” too. And I trust God will help me love enough. I know it won’t be perfectly, but sometimes just being available is enough.

You don’t have to have a big house or extra income to be a part of this movement. We need prayer warriors, meals and hand-me-downs, too, as we launch the Immanuel Church Unleashed Safe Families project!

Find out how you can be part of this growing network of support for families in crisis by joining us on April 7 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Immanuel Church as we make fleece blankets for the Safe Family kids. Bring the whole family! We’ll have snacks and a short presentation.

Please RSVP at scheids1@gmail.com or 847-809-9400.

Local Outreach: How Action Leads to Transformation in Go! Mobile

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by Laura Forman

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)

My husband and I had been church shopping for months. I, a new Christian, and David, a bit deeper in his the faith, could not list the mandatory prerequisites. We told ourselves, “we’ll know it when we see it”.

We both came to Jesus later in life. The catalyst? A friend stepping out to share his beliefs, an accepted invitation to service and the Spirit moving us step by step through each. I know our friend Austin isn’t the reason I’m Christian- it was Holy Spirit working through him, reaching my husband first and then eventually grabbing hold of my heart. We are forever grateful.

Instinctively we knew we belonged, not only at Immanuel, but with friends that would help us share our faith in real and loving ways. It was an act of courage for Austin to reach out to David, and for David to me. We are simultaneously inspired, encouraged and supported in Go! Mobile (affectionately referred to as “the huddle”) .

I listen during our meetings to how God has worked similarly through our members- to touch a friend, neighbor, relative or even a complete stranger . Knowing that only those ready to hear will listen with an open heart, we pray for wisdom and for each other.

The action is both big- leading Micro Alpha, Celebrate Recovery or a neighborhood Bible study, and small- getting to know a next-door neighbor, praying with someone in need, walking beside a grieving parent.

We reach out as we are called. Starting with prayer, we move on to relationship (often involving meals shared) and eventually share the Gospel, following the beautiful nature of an Pray – Eat – Love lifestyle. There is no telling how long it will take or whom God will place in our paths. We don’t measure progress by how many come to attend church, but instead how well we follow the command to “go.”

Go! Mobile is a part of the larger Go! Project, focusing not only on our immediate neighbors, but everyone within our sphere of influence. It is about shifting from thinking to action — to becoming “doers of the Word”. Fear is addressed, as are busy schedules and not knowing where to start.

In a dark and hurting world, we have the opportunity to shine the light of Jesus as a beacon to others.

My husband shared my distress during a difficult time in our lives a few years ago. Little did I know, he had been praying with Austin that I would come to know Jesus. Unlike me, David had a certain peace about him. At a particularly low point, one line of scripture spoken at the same moment a cross came into view changed my life forever.

You may never know the answer of your prayers, relationships or love for others. A few words or a simple gesture lend love to those who are searching for it. Because I was shown the path from darkness to light, from death to life … because I have been re-born in Christ, I commit to “go” and help others do the same.

How are you going? Will you join us?

Go! Mobile meets on the first Sunday of the month during service, email David Forman at dforman7x70@hotmail.com for information. Visit the Go! Project website at www.thegoproject.org to watch training videos and to learn more about the Go! Project and Go! Mobile.

100_1824Laura Forman is married to David and they live in Gurnee with their five children. She is a personal trainer, freelance writer and can be found at church or www.lauralisaforman.com.

World Outreach: Updated News From China!

Xian soliders copy

One of our students from Immanuel is in China this summer. The following letter is from our student about his current experiences. 

After eight intense days of training in Arizona, and 30 long hours of travel, we are here! The Father blessed our group with safe and easy travel and has allowed us to slide right into living daily life in Asia. Life in another country has presented its challenges but has allowed us to grasp the culture on a much more personal level. It has been amazing to see how even halfway across the world He is working in and through people’s lives. While on the outside we may look and act different we are all part of His big picture.

Being American students, studying in China, we have been able to easily engage in conversation with fellow students and really share from our hearts. Students are very open and receptive about the things we share with them regarding our culture and core beliefs. And while we enjoy sharing with them, it has been a privilege to learn just as much if not more from the students here. Their desire to share about their culture and beliefs has made our friendships much stronger. The Father is truly moving through the lives of many students here, and your prayers are much appreciated as we continue to share with the students here in Asia.

I along with the other members in my group have appreciated the overwhelming support from those of you back home. It is our hope that we will continue to create close relationships with our remaining weeks in country. The Father has already allowed me the opportunity to share my life story with a student here in Asia. And through His will He has gained another member of the Kingdom! The upcoming weeks will present their challenges, but through the strength of the Father we are ready and eager to continue serving Him!

Xi'an city wall, China

World Outreach: Meet the Trims!

Meet Murray and Kathy Trim, Immanuel missionaries serving in Kobe, Japan.

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Spring has arrived in Kobe and we are enjoying so many varieties of flowers in full bloom.  What a great display of God’s creativity! Along with Spring, the first of April is the time when many changes happen in Japan. The start of a new school year often leads to folks relocating, college students headed to the big city, and changes in our schedules.

Kathy underwent knee replacement surgery on her right knee on March 13th.  During her one month stay in the hospital, she received excellent care and a great start on the rehabilitation.  She was also able to build a foundation for some excellent friendships with other patients and the hospital staff.

  • Please pray for her to be able to nurture those relationships as she continues to return to the hospital weekly for rehabilitation.
  • Pray especially for Mrs. Morita and Mrs. Miyaji, former roommates, who became especially close.  Mrs. Morita is still hospitalized, but hopes to be released by the end ofMay.
  • Pray also for Nurse Kimura who likes to use her English and wants to spend more time with us and visit our home.

Manae Ueno began attending Agape in April, when she moved Kobe from Takamatsu, where Murray lived for the summer 35 years ago. Back in 1978, Manae’s grandmother was Murray’s “host mom” and he lived with her then high school-aged uncle. We met Manae once about 5 years ago. She grew up in a church, but is eager to learn more and has asked to prepare for baptism. She has already brought a new friend to our April English Cafe, and told the kids’ Bible story one Sunday morning.

  • Please pray for her spiritual growth and that we can reach out to students on her college campus, which is anly a 6-7 minute drive from Agape.

Besides Manae, we have recently developed relationships with several other college students, and Kathy and our co-worker Ciara are praying about how to start a ministry to this age group.  It is very difficult to find a time in their varied schedules when they can all meet together at the same time.  For now, we are focusing on one-on- one opportunities, but we would ask you to pray that God would open the doors to start a group ministry. Interestingly, college sophomore Josiah is attempting to begin a similar ministry on the other side of Kobe on his college campus at this time.

Together with our mission, TEAM, we are involved in talks with a couple about our age who live in Seattle and have been involved in ministry to international students for over 10 years.  God has given them a vision to come to our area of Japan for at least two years to do follow-up with Japanese who have returned here after college in the USA, as well as reach out to international students here. They still need about $2,000 a month in support, and would appreciate your prayers for this need.

  • Please pray that God would give us wisdom as to how we can work together.

Elia Downey, Moody West Bible College Student in Spokane, has completed her support raising and will be arriving in early June to join the ministry of Agape for seven weeks this summer.  She has a great interest in Japanese and the language, and hopes to memorize
her testimony in Japanese before she comes.

  • Pray for her preparations and for all God is going to do in her and through her during her time in Kobe.

We are excited that Caleb and Beth Anne have applied to be missionaries to Japan with TEAM.  They would appreciate your prayers as they pursue the Lord’s leading towards ministry in Japan.

You can reach out to Murray and Kathy, send them an email of encouragement or just say ‘Hi’ at mtrim@teamjapan.org. They would love to hear from you!