Love One Another

This week I ready a ministry update from one of our newest partners who are finishing training in the US before moving overseas in June.  When I read his story I saw almost every aspect of Fitch’s Faithful Presence and ultimately a fulfillment of Jesus commandment to us in John 15:12 and 17, “love one another”.

Here’s the story…

Kyle went to a local coffee shop where we had seen a lot of international students and refugees. Kyle noticed an Iraqi man that he had seen at the coffee shop a few times. He approached him and simply asked, “What are you studying?”

“I’m studying for the TOEFL,” the man replied, “and it’s really difficult. I have a wife and kids, but I can’t get a job until I pass this. Some of my friends have failed it thirty times. I’m so stressed that I could cry.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that. That does sound really difficult,” Kyle responded. “And you know, to be honest, I cry a lot. Do you believe that it’s ok to cry?”

“Really? No, my friends and family always tell me to be strong and not to cry.”

“Have you heard of Jesus? Did you know that Jesus cried?”

“The prophet Jesus? No, I never heard that he cried!”

“Yes, he cried! And He is why I feel ok to cry. He cries in the story of Jesus and Lazarus. Can I show that story to you?”

“Sure! Here, let me Google it…”

Kyle and this Iraqi man read through all of John 11 together in the coffee shop, talking about what a good Father our God is, and that we can cry because we are safe with our Father. They talked about how Jesus cried, grieving with his people, even though Jesus knew he was going to solve everything by raising Lazarus from the dead. Then, Kyle offered to come back and have more conversations–both to help this man with studying English so he could pass the TOEFL, and to talk more about Jesus.

“You have been such a good friend,” the man shared, and before he left, Kyle gave him an Arabic New Testament so that he could continue to read stories about Jesus until they were able to meet again.

  1. The Table: they were at a coffee shop
  2. Reconciliation: acceptance of tears and our frailty
  3. Proclamation: “Have you heard of Jesus? Did you know that Jesus cried?”
  4. Least of These: Refugees have lost much
  5. Children… Okay so not all
  6. Gifting: Kyle is being a pastor and teacher
  7. Prayer: A praise that was also in the update– “We’re deepening our dependence on God, and growing a lot in prayer.”
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Serving with HART by Emily Fife

A couple of years ago a close friend of mine was sharing how her family was helping at a homeless shelter. She talked about how her husband was finding more homeless while he ran along the lake and wanted to help them. When HART was announced, I quickly emailed them to let them know there was an opportunity for them, not me, here in Folsom. I decided to go to an info meeting on a whim, when a strong pull began resonating through me. The next Sunday I found Judy Alexander and asked her if my kids could come with me and serve at HART. Yes they could-check. Then I asked what job would allow me to just show up, no work that I would have to do to prep. Welcome team-check. Last hurdle was time. How long would this position take? Two hours with dinner-check. All of this sounded like something that we could do, easily, as a family. My only pause was dinner. We’d be sitting eating with people vastly different from us. What would we say?

Serving on the Welcome Team is a very clear cut job. Our family arrives thirty minutes before the guests to wipe down cots, organize sleeping bags, find out where the restroom is, and meet the host church. Sonora or I usually log who has what bag, while Shad runs assigned bags to the different guests. Pete supervises and makes announcements. Wearing a smile while giving a bag to someone is quite simple, along with greeting them by name.

Once everyone is settled, it’s dinner time. We all line up, are served the food that was brought, and sit together at a long table to eat. This is when I become anxious, awkward, uncomfortable-still. Often I’m quiet for a while. Just listening, watching, trying to gauge the temperature of my table mates. Over the last year, our family has spread out amongst the diners, so we aren’t depending on each other for conversation. But I’m still never sure how to begin. I may ask about the weather, or wait for someone else to try a topic: current events, schooling, food, music. I struggle with this at times just because it is small talk. I’m not really getting to know them, they aren’t getting to know me. Yet we try, and I learn their names.

Before our two hour commitment every Friday night, I really didn’t see homelessness in Folsom. I went about my day, in my small sphere of influence, unaware of what was going on around me. But last week I took my kids to the library and we saw Sharon. Our family was walking along Sutter St. this summer and ran into Bill. I drove Sonora to taekwondo this week and saw Gary on his bike. If it’s possible, we say hi. I still struggle with the what to say, but at least now we see them and know their names.

What Lies Ahead

In 2018 I read Faithful Presence, by David Fitch.  The book looks at seven disciplines that shape the church for mission.  Since reading the book, it seems all I do is viewed through the seven disciplines.  I have also noticed Oak Hills offers people an opportunity to practice these disciplines in a variety of ways, therefore having an impact on what’s NEXT.

The book is so rich, I hesitate to summarize, but for blogging purposes I will.  First, Fitch reminds us these practices are not an end game, but ways to more fully experience the Kingdom of God. Second, each practice is expressed between you and God, you and your intimate community, as well as you and the larger community.

Based on each chapter of the book, questions that continually run through my mind are…

  1. The Lords Table
    1. Who am I eating with?
    2. Who can I share a meal with?
    3. When is it beneficial to fast and pray?
  2. Reconciliation
    1. Am I accepting myself as forgiven?
    2. Who can I offer forgiveness to?
    3. What area’s in my community and world can I begin praying for?
  3. Proclaiming the Gospel
    1. I am recognizing God’s truth in my life?
    2. How am I speaking truth over others?
    3. Where is God’s truth breaking forth in the world around me?
  4. Being with the “Least of These”
    1. How does my personal bias affect the way I read the Bible?
    2. Is everyone around me, like me?
    3. Who do I choose not to see?
  5. Being with Children
    1. I am recognizing my place as a child of God?
    2. Am I slowing down to listen to the children around me?
    3. What do they know, that I don’t remember?
  6. Five Fold Gifting: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers
    1. Can I believe God has gifted me?
    2. Where do I see friends and family using their gifts?
    3. Am I submitting  myself to the leadership of the community?
  7. Kingdom Prayer
    1. How can I pray the Lords prayer for myself, my family and community?

Each post this year will hopefully fill in an example of how these discipline are playing out in the lives of fellow Oak Hillians. You will also notice the disciplines have cross over.

I hope this encourages you to faithfully notice God’s presence with you and his presence in the world around you.

2018 Celebration

With 2018 drawing to a close it is fun to reflect on all that has happened over the year.  Not as a way to boast about all we have accomplished but as a way to celebrate all that God had done and is doing in our community and around the world.  All of these events were made possible by individuals who are following God’s call to love each other.

As Arts Camp 2018 taught us...“Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matt 5:16



Winter Shelter by HART

Jan 21-27 (cold, rainy) 7-12 guests a night

Feb 4-10 (warm, sunny) 5-9 guests a night

Oak Hills had 50 volunteers! Volunteers seemed to be more blessed than the guests!

Powerhouse Meals      7 weeks = 28 meals served

 

Alaska Missions Trip: April 21-30

An amazing team of 8 built a basketball court, cleared a home, volunteered at the community center, participated in cultural events and hosted community events at the church.  It was encouraging to Jami and Jason and increased their communities interest in the church.

Lenten Food Drive and Kleenex Collection

ThYouth Group sorting cans.jpgank you for donating 659 pounds of food to the Twin Lakes Foodbank over our Lenten Food Drive.  Your generosity will allow others to celebrate God’s provision.  135 boxes of tissue were also donated to Blanche Sprentz as a reminder that Oak Hills supports their staff and students.

Prayer Walk 2018.jpg

20 students volunteered to work at the food back on the first Monday of their spring break, instead of sleeping in!

Lent Prayer Walk  Blessed the neighborhood with prayer and prayer rocks.

 Added 2 new ministry partners:                                                        

  *Tati and Wellington Barros- We celebrated with them on April 25, with a delicious Brazilian BBQ with rice dinner.  It was a wonderful time of prayer and vision casting.

* Kyle and Kiya Schafer- We commissioned and prayed with them at church and at lunch on Nov 11.

Powerhouse Golf Tournament  6 players from Oak Hills, 19 sponsors for the event (Oak Hills was one), $28,000 raised

Commissioned 6 individuals on short term mission trips.

Arts Camp raised $1766.81 for Ylli our ministry partner in Albania and 85 crafting items for Folsom’s HopeAlbania Christmas 3.jpg

Gleaning: In July we picked 2000 lbs of  vegetables for local food banks!!

Gleaning 2018.jpg    Gleaning 2018 2.jpg

Twin Lakes 2018.jpg 

Backpack Drive benefiting Twin Lakes Food Bank

 

Collected 48 backpacks and tons of supplies!

 

 

Commissioned Debi Zacharia as a Sacramento Police Chaplain.

Hosted Vulnerable Children Awareness night  8 organizations were represented empowering the community to make a difference in children’s lives

Folsom Community Serve Day: Sept 15

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75 Volunteers Distributed 2500 bags throughout Briggs Ranch and Willow Creek.

500 Bags of food were picked up and delivered to Twin Lakes Food bank. Over 100,000 lbs of food were colleded city wide.  We joined with over 3000 others serving that day in over 70 projects throughout Folsom.

 

Break Free RunOn Sept 22, 20 Oak Hillians, ages 8-84, participated in the Break Free Run to support 3 Strands Global in the fight against human trafficking in the Sacramento region.  We raised over $500.

Commissioned Stephenie Carr in her new full role as Alumni Coordinator at Reign Ministries.

November 11th As part of the Youth Group’s Great Fall Adventure, 20 of our students served at Twin Lakes Food bank to sort the food collected during Folsom Serve Day.

November 18th, we hosted Irene Mota for a dessert to hear updates about Restoration Ministries in Brazil.

Powerhouse’s Christmas Around Towne:     400 items were collected for the Children’s Store.  Thank you for the generous donations and thank you to Woman’s Ministry who faithfully sorted and priced over 750 items.   815 people were shown love and dignity as they were able to shop for loved ones.

Fair Trade Market  By paying attention to how and where we shop we were able to empower and enrich the lives of individuals around the world.

Through HART we helped 3 gentlemen with transitional housing.

We partnered with Sierra Chaplaincy and the Folsom Chamber of Commerce to support victims of the Camp Fire.

December 30th we hosted Michel and Jadon for a dessert to hear updates about the good work India.

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Fair Trade and Advent

by Lisa Schmidt

For the past several years, Oak Hills has been partnering with local and international organizations to bring to our church goods that provide a fair wage and sustainable working conditions to artisans around the world as one of our Advent practices. While the market is certainly fun and, we hope, and enjoyable experience, this is not the main reason why we do it. At the fair trade market you can be sure that your spending seeks to build up people and communities.

The fair trade market  is a wonderful opportunity during Advent to engage in the practices of formation and mission. It invites us to look at our holiday spending and to invite God into the process. We can ask him to examine our hearts and to bring anything to our attention that is not in alignment with his will as we seek to have him be the focus of our Advent season. Why am I buying gifts? What is a reasonable amount for me to spend? How can I push back against the pull of consumerism during this holiday season? How does what I buy affect others?

The fair trade market also has a missional focus. God is at work around the world redeeming and restoring all things to himself. There are organizations already at work in our community and around the world to bring dignity and worth to trafficking survivors, and to provide a living wage to people in developing nations. We know that some of the goods that we see in the stores where we live are made by people who are working in terrible conditions or are being exploited in other ways. How can I use my spending this holiday season not only to bring joy to the recipient of my gift, but also to those who are involved in the process that I may never see?

Our encouragement this Advent season is that you would seek to more fully invite God into your holiday spending, and that you would consider how your spending affects those around the world. May God be glorified this Advent season, not only with our lips, but also with our spending.

If you can not make it to the Fair Trade Market at Oak Hills you may shop on line throughout the year.

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Mission and Formation

by Lisa Schmidt

Our highest calling as humans is to live in communion with God. As we follow him and become his disciples, he teaches us, guides us, and leads us in the best life possible – a life lived with God. As we know, this takes effort on our end. We need to cooperate with the Spirit, who ultimately does the work in us to make us more like Jesus.

There is another side of this, however. God does not call us to become more like him for just our own sake, but also for the sake of the world. Jesus calls us to become more like him so that we can a be a sign, servant, and foretaste of the kingdom of God. God longs to gather all people to him and is already working in the world to redeem and restore all things to himself. We are called to join him in what he is already doing in this world as we walk with him throughout our daily lives.

We are a sent people, and our God is a sending God. Throughout the bible, God gathers his people and sends them out. In the old testament, Israel was set apart as God’s people in order that they might be a light to the rest of the world. One of my favorite examples of this in the new testament is when Jesus gathers his disciples together on a mountain in Galilee after his resurrection. They worship him there and then he sends them back out into the world, giving them the Great Commission.

Our God is a God of mission; he is at work both inside and outside of the walls of the church. God is on the move everywhere we already go – the grocery store, our child’s soccer game, at work, in our neighborhood. Our calling is to be attentive to where the Spirit is moving and to join him in what he’s already doing. This discernment necessitates that we are actively listening to God’s voice and seeking to become more like Jesus. Without paying attention to one’s formation, we are on a road to burnout. Without mission, we risk become overly self-focused and we miss out on a key part of God’s heart for the world.

 

 

“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

On August 6th El Dorado Union Public School will be starting.

On August 13th Folsom Cordova’s Public School will be starting.

Right now teachers are prepping and parents are eagerly waiting.  Though it is not time for spring cleaning or New Year Resolutions, the start of a new school year always seems like a time to reset the schedule and evaluate priorities.  Having registered for sports months ago I didn’t consider what our fall schedule might look like.  Last week when I  received our schedule for 4 sports teams, I realized, this fall, we’ll be at a field seven days a week.  My priorities don’t need to be pondered long, they are quite glaring… I value my kids and their desire to play sports.  There is nothing wrong with that, but in this busy season I need to see where God is already at work and where He is leading me.

Children, not just mine, but all children are dear to my heart.  Is it their curiosity, innocents, potential, vulnerability, resilience … I am not sure, but one thing I do know, I want every child to know they are lovable because they are loved by God.  As the school year starts I see so many flocking to school and I wonder what will that child face today? What words of truth will seep into his/her heart.  What lies will be reinforced? What joys to they notice? What burdens do they carry?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary vulnerable is defined as able to be easily physically, emotionally or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked.  According the World Health Organization youth are among the most vulnerable and poverty is a major contributing factor in vulnerability.  Poverty in Folsom looks very different from poverty in a refugee camps, but in both places are in need of a community that can offer opportunity and the truth of God’s love.

God is already at work in the lives of children and in leaders in our community through The Playmakers, Adopt-A Ward, and Folsom’s Hope. But they need others, invested individuals, to walk with them and Jesus.  Adopt-A-Ward needs people to hold bible studies in juvenile hall, and artist who would like to share their craft, monthly or just once.  The Playmakers, hires individuals to run an afterschool programs to mentor youth on the core values of accountability, commitment, teamwork, and family to prepare them to become people of enduring character who will lead their families and community.  Folsom’s Hope runs after school programs and in-school mentoring programs.  Mentors are always need for elementary and middle school students.

I can see where God is meeting me in my passions and leading me to advocate for others. In just one week I received emails from 3 organizations requesting time to share ways they are caring for vulnerable children.  What I love about each organization is they believe not just in “rescuing” children but addressing prevention, crisis intervention, and reintegration.  It is exciting for me to see others who share the same passion for youth as I do and invite others to be advocates for the future.  As a result, Oak Hills is hosting a Vulnerable Children Awareness night.  The vision is to empower you to partner with organizations that are improving the livelihood of children both locally and around the world.  We will have speakers from World Relief Sacramento, the Institute for Children’s Aid- Refugee Foster Care, Defending the Cause and 3 Strands Global. Each organization will speak for about 15 min and have a specific ways you can get involved.

Please join us Monday, August 27th at 6:30 pm in the Family Auditorium to find out how you can empower the next generation.