Relationships Make all the Difference

In September, Kody Renfro’s (Communications Administrator @ Oak Hills) grandmother moved into Folsom Care Center. Since Kody lived just down the street she decided to visit her grandmother daily as much as possible. Though Kody’s grandmother recognizes her, she is not aware that Kody is her granddaughter. Sometimes Kody is a childhood friend, other times she is “one of the neighborhood children”, but most often she is “my best friend”. Kody commented that she is happy to be whoever her grandma needs her to be that day. As she walks in she is not sure what time period they will be in or how their relationship started, but what is beautiful is that there is a relationship.

Although this looks like a blessing for Kody’s grandmother (and it is), Kody is noticing what a gift it is for her. She is learning how to slow down and be more present with others; there is no purpose in worrying about errands and to do lists or incessantly checking the cellphone when sitting inside Folsom Care Center. And after a difficult or frustrating day, sitting with her grandmother for a while tends to put things in perspective, and Kody leaves a little more centered and renewed. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when she doesn’t feel like going or it feels like another item on the to do list, but she is grateful for the opportunity to make these visits a part of her everyday life rhythm.

Kody is not only getting to know her grandma more she is getting to know other residents and staff. Over time, they made the connection that Oak Hills and Denise Gregorini have been serving at Folsom Care Center through SuperSeniors for years. While helping with Cappuccino Christmas last year, Kody had the vision of inviting seniors. Little did she know that just a few days after pitching the idea her grandmother would be moved to Folsom Care Center. Now Kody has the connections to see this desire come to fruition. Personally, I love this story because it embodies “life on mission.” Kody took her everyday life, used it to love others, noticed that God was already at work, and was able to further connect Oak Hills with the community around her.  I look forward to seeing how life, ministry partners and church programs continue to weave together!

 

Denise Gregorini and SuperSeniors holds church services at 10:00 AM at Folsom Care Center.  Denise would love to see more children at the service.  The service is not long so you’ll have plenty of time to back to Oak Hills for the 11am service.   If your family is interested in joining please contact Denise at denise@gregorini.com.

Super Seniors also has special events throughout the year that are great ways for families to serve together. http://superseniorssacramento.org/

 

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Prison Ministry Around the World

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”    Mathew 25: 37-40 

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Oak Hills supports two ministries that work directly with those in prison.  Adopt-A-Ward provides weekly Bible studies in the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility and Ylli Beqiraj has a prison ministry in Albania.  Beyond these two wonderful ministries there are numerous Oak Hillians who serve those in prison and their families through various organisations.  Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in physical chains that God would break any strongholds on their soul.

Adopt-A-Ward

It is a beautiful thing that Jesus meets us where we are.  And it is beautiful that Rick and Chris Johnson are meeting youth where they are; the students they happen to be meeting with are at Juvenile Hall.  Rick and Chris have been faithful to lead weekly a Bible study, providing the Johnson’s opportunities to support children and their families. 

Recently Rick and Chris received the Sacramento Youth Detention Facility Annual Chaplaincy Volunteer Awards for their service and commitment to the Adopt-A-Ward Program being piloted by Oak Hills Church.  The Chaplaincy Volunteer Banquet was attended by a couple hundred people including local county supervisors, the chief probation officer, and top juvenile hall administrative staff.  Part of the ceremony included a video highlighting certain programs, including the Adopt-A-Ward program featuring mentee Anaya B who is being mentored by Oak Hillian, Christine Evanson.

 If you’d like more information on how you can be part of Adopt-A-Ward and the wonderful impact they are having please contact Rick at rick_johnson@comcast.net

A Story From Yllialbania map

A young man from Vlore was condemned in Norway for two years. Through the local chaplain he found out that there is a Christian organization that helps people either in prison or soon to be released. He was impressed and asked if anyone could help him travel home from Rinas once he was released because he didn’t have anybody expecting his arrival.  SHKBSH, the organization that supervises prison ministry in Albania, contacted Ylli, because of his local prison ministry. Ylli agreed and met the young man in the airport and drove him home. As Ylli puts it, “In the long journey from Rinas to Vlore we talked about many things that have happened in Albania and in his life when in Norway but a little about God. I had the feeling that he was expecting me to take advantage of the situation so I didn’t talk much about religion. Towards the end he warmed to me and promised to phone and have coffee with me soon.”

Reminding people of their value because they are created in Christ’s image is a wonderful testimony to God’s unconditional love for us!  

To read more about Ylli’s ministry in Albania click here.

 

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Fellow Oak Hillians, Jerry and Lois Scott, are involved with a prison ministry called Kairos.  They will be part of a retreat at Folsom Prison with 48 inmates, April 12-15.  Part of the decorations for the retreat are cut out hands with bible verses on them.  This is a visual reminder for the participants that there are people supporting them in prayer.  Our youth group made over 100 hand prints, what a beautiful reminder there is forgiveness in Christ. 

Missional Living is Alive and Well

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“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into Exile, Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

What a joy it has been to be part of the Oak Hills staff for the past 4 months!  My name is Emily Hooey and I am the new Missional Living Coordinator.  I was hesitant to accept this position, unsure of what I had to contribute.  But at a meeting with all the volunteers who lead various compassion ministries at Oak Hills  I was so inspired and encouraged by all that God is doing through members of Oak Hills, I couldn’t help but want to be a more permanent part of the of the community.  It is also because of that meeting that I want to start this newsletter.   It is incredible and live giving to see all the ways Oak Hills is serving the local community. I want everybody to know what we are up to and what is going on.

My vision for the Missional Ling Blog is to highlight some of your local and international partners each month and provide a list of upcoming service opportunities to get involved with.  I hope you enjoy reading about our amazing ministry partners and are as encouraged as I have been.  I also hope this is a resource you will use when looking to get more involved with what God is doing in Folsom and the world.

Local: HART of Folsom

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Last week Oak Hills provided hot meals, fresh clothing, and a warm, safe place for our community’s homeless who wanted to take advantage of HART’s Winter Shelter.HART of Folsom is a community based volunteer organization assisting those experiencing homelessness in Folsom toward self-sufficiency and greater independence.

The Winter Shelter is a joint effort with local church to offer temporary, emergency shelter for people in Folsom.  The Shelter rotates between churches each week December-February.  Oak Hills hosted the shelter Jan 21-27 and Feb 4-11.  It was a great success! One of the beautiful things about the shelter is it gives the guests an opportunity to get to know HART and the services they provide year round.

What we heard from so many of our volunteers is how blessed they were by the experience.  But don’t take  my word, here is what Debi Zacharia had to say, “My volunteer experience was the highlight of my week – truly a blessing.  I will be more proactive next year and sign up a lot more!”

To get involved please contact Judi Alexander: judialexander496@gmail.com

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International: Procaim!

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Steve, Dawn, Bianca and Sofia Liberti moved to Germany in 2011 to pursue a ministry among an increasing Muslim population and to have greater access to bring Christ’s love to Central Asia, North Africa, the Balkans and Europe.

As the Lord led them to leave their home, He placed them in a community where others forced to leave their homes were settling.  There are three refugee communities within 20 miles of the Liberti’s home.

Last week Steve was asked to bring his Drum Circle beets to a refugee community in Kander & Efringen Kirchen. Activities like this have been going on for the past two years and to this point only women and children have attended.  While a bit unsure of the “long term missional strategy” of this event Steve was faithful to bring his giftings to the community.  Of course God showed up.  For the first time a group of men attended the community gathering. Steve will continue to reach out to Refugees in Kandern & Efringen Kirchen with his Drum Circle.

sliberti.wordpress.com

 

Get Involved: Folsom’s HOPE

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Folsom’s Hope serves the physical, educational, relational, material and spiritual needs of children and their families.

Sutter Middle, Theodore Judah and Blanche Sprentz have lunch time mentoring programs that connects children with a caring, supportive adult mentor once a week during their school-scheduled lunch hour. Mentors have the opportunity to truly get to know their student over the course of the school year — and provide ongoing love, guidance and encouragement. Male mentors are always in high demand.

To get involved please contact Salwa: salwa.kasabian@FolsomsHope.org

kleenexWe are collecting non-perishable food items, particularly canned meals with pop tops, for the Twin Lakes Food Bank and boxes of Kleenex for Blanche Sprentz Elementary. Drop off your donations for these ministry partners at the Mission Booth in the lobby any time throughout Lent. 

Diversity, the Body of Christ, and the Why Christian? Conference

On Saturday, September 12th, I led the Spiritual Formation Academy retreat on mission, and, specifically, on friendships at the margins (if you haven’t read Friendship at the Margins by Chris Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl, I highly recommend it).  One of four sessions was on the necessity of such friendships: not only is it important to recognize those who have been pushed to the margins, relationships with them are necessary for our (privileged) hearts, our spiritual formation, and our calling to love all of our neighbors (not just the ones who look, talk, or act like us).  After the retreat was over, I scrambled to get my work for the next week done and then quickly left for the Why Christian? Conference in Minneapolis.  There, I was going to hear over fourteen women pastors, writers, and leaders speak about their lives and experiences.

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First, let me just say: wow.  The cathedral where we met was gorgeous, the worship was a source of joy and renewal, the gathering of so many different denominations together to dialog in love was hopeful.  But above everything else, I was strongly and forcefully reminded of the necessity of diverse voices in my life, and in the life of the body of Christ.  It made my talk the Saturday before feel like someone describing what a tiny rainbow reflected from a prism might look like, when all the while outside the window there is a glorious rainbow splashed across the sky.  I was struck to the core by the reminder that I am living in a muted echo of the true body of Christ when I am cut off from those with different experiences, traditions, beliefs, and practices.

At the conference all of the speakers’ talks centered on the question, “Why am I a Christian?”  This may seem simple, but each of the speakers had come from a place of rejection or deep wounding by the Church, and all of the speakers still choose to engage with the Church in spite of those wounds.  We heard from women who had been rejected for their gender, their sexuality, their race, their ethnicity, and their “rebellious” individuality.  What an amazing blessing to hear so many women of deep faith share their stories, wounds, anger, and hope.  Over and over again I realized how little I could understand Christ, or the Church at work in the world, when I limit the voices I hear to solely those who sound like or agree with me.

I need to be stretched by the struggles, anger, and stories of those who are different than me.  I need to be able to listen with love and compassion to ideas and experiences that I may not want to hear, or that I don’t understand.  Those who have experienced abuse, rejection, or violence at the hands of the Church or Christians have a right to express their frustration, anger, hurt, or betrayal without being judged for it.  Without everyone’s presence and voices at the table, the body of Christ will never be a full or vibrant reflection of God and God’s kingdom.

What does this mean for us?  Well, practically for me it means that I am subscribing to and reading blogs that represent different perspectives.  I am praying that God will open me up to be ready to enter in to and listen well to new/different/diverse perspectives.  These perspectives could be here in Folsom, or across the U.S., or elsewhere in the world.

I am also making sure that I make space to honor other peoples’ anger.  So many of the speakers talked about not being allowed to be angry.  Because they are Christian, they have felt the pressure to end their story on a high note, with forgiveness and healing, rather than raw wounds.  That’s not to say that forgiveness and healing are not important–they are integral to life in the Kingdom of God.  However, when I want someone who has been hurt/marginalized due to her race to talk about her healing, it more often has to do with me being uncomfortable with her anger, rather than simply a desire for her healing.  I need to understand that many wounds run deep, and I need to make space for and honor the pain that my brothers and sisters in Christ have experienced, rather than gloss it over.  Even if that makes me uncomfortable.  Especially if that makes me uncomfortable.

Lastly, I am reminding myself daily that really, this is about love.  I am called to love all of Christ’s body, from the toes to the arms to the split ends.  I can’t love what I have never met, and when I meet a part of the body that is new or different (or just gets on my nerves) with fear/frustration/judgement, it becomes very difficult for me to love well.  And loving God and our neighbors is pretty central to the Gospel (read: the most important things we are told to do, according to Jesus).

And there summer went…

Summer went by so quickly!  It seems like it was just May yesterday, and now we are in August.  So much happened in between day-to-day activities and summer camps.  We had a great visit from our partners, Mayette Ativo-Bueno and Tony Bueno.

Mayette and Tony in office

We also got to have Ireni back to update us on Restoration Ministries!

Ireni in the church

We had a backpack drive that brought in 24 backpacks, 14 bags of school supplies, and several Payless Gift Cards.

Backback Drive!

Not to mention raising over $2000 for the Bicol Center and bringing in over 120 toys during Arts Camp week!  Our campers were so generous!

We’ve got a lot going on when we look ahead, too.  More Powerhouse Meals, Shawn Young’s dessert and information event on August 20th (more to follow), a food drive for the Twin Lakes Food Bank on September 6th, and the Folsom Community Service Day on September 19th.

We have some much to be grateful for as this summer draws to a close, and so much to look forward to!  Thank you all for your dedicated service to furthering God’s Kingdom in your lives and our community.

Summer Visitors and Opportunities

This summer we have some awesome things going on!  Ireni Mota and family are visiting from Brazil, and Mayette and Tony are visiting from the Bicol Center, Philippines.  Ireni will be interviewed in the services on June 21st, and Mayette and Tony will be interviewed the following week, June 28th.  Mayette and Tony are only here for a few short days, so be sure to stay afterward and enjoy a delicious lunch with them, hosted by the Asian Missional Group.

We also have our a annual Backpack Drive for Twin Lakes Food Bank coming up in the month of July.  Bring in a backpack stuffed with school goodies so that students in need in our community will be totally ready for their first day of school.

We always have Powerhouse Meals to serve.  This summer might be a great time to dip your toes in by bringing ingredients or a meal to the Powerhouse Transition Center.  You can stay and cook (and eat!) with the women there, or just drop off a recipe and ingredients.  Our weeks this summer are July 20-23 and August 17-20.

At the end of August we are also going to have a Food Drive for Twin Lakes Food Bank.  They often run short during the summer months, so our drive will help them get through the first weeks of September, until the City-wide Community Service Day Collection helps them restock for the fall and winter.

Another fun thing to check out this summer is the Community Garden located in the back lot at the church.  Come and hang out in our new (to us) wicker furniture, come to a workshop on the last Saturday of every month, or check out the info and gardening tips on the blog at oakhillscommunitygarden.wordpress.com.  More info about the workshops can be found on the blog.

Have a wonderful, restful, and joy filled summer!

Megan

Upcoming Opportunities

Wow, time flies!  I thought things would calm down between Christmas and Easter, but I was wrong.  We had a Ministry Partner Fair, Leadership Trip to Restoration Ministries, in Brazil, a Birthday Kit Drive for Twin Lakes Food Bank, and a Good Friday Prayer Walk in the community.  It’s been a busy season!

As we enter the 3rd week of Eastertide, I wanted to update you all with upcoming events and opportunities.

May 2nd – Community Garden Work Day.  We are starting a community garden in the back lot of the church and we will be installing water lines, laying out bark, and building composters from 9am to 1 or 2pm.  Please join us at the northmost part of the parking lot!

May 3rd – 2015 Mission Conference at Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento.  The theme is “Our Neighborhood is Today’s Mission” and it runs from noon-4:30.  There will be exhibits from local non-profits, speakers, and lunch!  Get more info and register here: http://missioninfo.itsabout.com/ 

May 11th-14th & June 1st-4th – Powerhouse Meals.  We are providing meals for the women in the transition center both of these weeks.  Dinner is at 5, so please either drop off food by 4:30 or bring the ingredients at 4 and stay and cook.  These women and their children are awesome!

Later this summer we will have our Backpack Drive as usual.  I am also hoping to schedule a gleaning day for the Twin Lakes Food Bank in July or August.  I will keep you posted as the details for that become available!