Showing items filed under “Erin Allison”

Having Compassion

 

I walked to the table and there he was. Amanuel Habtamu. Not smiling exactly, but looking expectant. Or maybe that’s just how I perceived his expression. I felt he looked expectant of me, of anybody, to follow the leading of their heart. His face seemed to say, “I am God’s child. He has great things in store for me. He wants to use you to help me achieve those things and be a part of His plan.”

I was hooked. After years of feeling like we could not commit to yet another monthly debit from our checking account, it became clear to me that this might possibly be one of the most important debits every month.

"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.'”


Matthew 25:40

My kids were excited too. He was the same age as my oldest son, and it became a joy to pray for Amanuel every night. If there was a night when he was inadvertently forgotten, my kids were quick to remind me, “Let’s pray for Amanuel”. There were lots of questions from them about his country, school, and family.

From the beginning it was humbling to know that Amanuel was one among the many Compassion children that Severn Runners supported at a particular facility in Woliso, Ethiopia. When some of the church staff visited the Child Development Center in Woliso, they were able to take packages from Severn Run partners to their Compassion children. Our family sent Amanuel a pair of jeans, 2 shirts, pictures and letters.

 

Our middle son, Jonas (age 8), sat in church with us the Sunday morning the mission team was away. From the stage, we were reminded to pray for the team and their work in Ethiopia. On the screens before us was displayed a collage of some images of their trip. As we scanned the pictured faces, Jonas said, “Look! There’s Amanuel!” In the upper right corner was Amanuel holding up one of the shirts we had sent with the team. For Jonas, in that moment, Ethiopia didn’t seem so far away. He made the connection between the prayers we say, and the letters we write to a real live boy in another part of the world. Jonas saw the light in his eyes and understood the value of our investment in Amanuel’s life.

We may never have the privilege of meeting Amanuel in person, but we have no doubt about our impact in his life. More than a long-distance PenPal, our resources allow Amanuel access to healthcare, clothing, food, education, and most importantly, opportunities to hear about God’s love.

Pray about how God can use your resources to change the direction of a child’s life through Compassion International.

 

For more information, please visit: https://www.compassion.com/about/about-us.htm 

Our Hearts and Minds are on the Western District

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In the middle of what was supposed to be a restful night’s sleep, Bob Ogle heard from Jesus. It was 3 AM and He had a response for something Bob had been pondering.

Bob & Rose OglePastor Drew always encourages Severn Runners to serve outside of the walls of our church building. Bob and his Connect Group, Hearts and Minds, had been exploring options for where their group could become involved in Loving Well and Living Jesus in our community. At 3 that morning Bob felt his heart turn toward the men, women and families represented in the Anne Arundel County Western District Police Station.

Hearts and Minds decided they would utilize Valentine’s Day to share “Boxes of Love” that included a donated Chick-Fil-A gift card, a hand-written note, several edible goodies, and a laminated “Policeman’s Prayer” card. They prayed over the boxes and delivered them to the station on February 13th so that the officers coming in at midnight in the wee hours of Valentine’s Day would receive a box at the beginning of their shift.

On Valentine’s Day at 11:30AM, this “unofficial” response came via the Severn Run website:

“I wanted to take a second to thank you all for the Valentine’s Day gifts you brought to us at the Western District. I can’t explain just how much these acts of community service mean to myself and my colleagues, and how appreciative we are when our community reaches out to thank us.

This message is not being sent to you as representative of the police department, but as a fellow citizen and community member who is extremely moved by the gesture your church has made to us as law enforcement officers. I want you all to know that I am thankful to be able to serve you, and that coming in today to the box on my desk helps me to maintain the perspective that despite the troubled times we find ourselves currently facing in our profession, we have the support of our community. Thank you all.”

Signed “Thankful Detective”

Hearts and Minds are continuing to grow their relationship and ministry with the West County department. They performed lawnmower tune-ups for the officers, and recently teamed up with the Moms of Severn Run Group to host a Police Appreciation Breakfast in the Severn Run Atrium.

The Mom's and Hearts and Minds Connect Groups serve breakfast for police. The Mom's and Hearts and Minds Connect Groups serve breakfast for police. The Mom's and Hearts and Minds Connect Groups serve breakfast for police.

“You can really form relationships over a heaping pile of bacon!” Bob mused. “The officers got to see that we are not the ‘caricature of religion’ that Andy Stanley talked about in Go Fish and truly had a good time just getting to know us.”

A Severn Runner gets to try out a police cruiser.The morning was lively and fun as officers let the kids attending the breakfast sit in their cruisers and blast the siren, and warm conversations abounded.

Next, Bob and the Hearts and Minds Group are planning to host a car wash and cook-out for the officers in the coming months.

“Our goal is to never let them forget that there are so many out there who respect them, admire them, and appreciate the sacrifice that they (and their families) make to keep us safe. AND to pray for them daily.”

You too can make and impact like Hearts and Minds! Find a Connect Group that is actively serving in the community or join a ministry that reaches beyond the walls of Severn Run--until Heaven is Full!

What is Prayer?

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The best way to establish, develop, and maintain any relationship is through conversation. Relationships must be centered on trust. It is upon trust that intimacy is built. How do we establish trust and build intimacy? Through conversation. 

Prayer is conversation with God. Through conversation we build a relationship with him.

If, upon meeting someone for the first time, the conversation ended after an exchanged “hello”, the relationship would not go beyond the introductory level. A relationship can’t continue to grow without extended conversation. The conversation needs to eventually move from the basics of getting to know each other, to sharing thoughts and feelings on a personal and emotional level. That’s the level of intimacy we can have with God the Father.

 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (Psalm 139:1-2)

He already knows the thoughts and feelings of our innermost places, but when we willingly share those with him in prayer, an intimate bond with him develops in our own hearts.

Another failed technique in relationship building is to dominate the conversation. It’s hard to be friends with a person who only talks about themselves – THEIR problems, THEIR successes, THEIR families, THEIR jobs, THEIR drama. God is so much more tolerant of the kind of conversation than a human friend would be. The thing is, WE are missing so many benefits of having a relationship with the Lord when we don’t stop to listen to what he has to say to us!

These handy acronyms offer a couple of ways to guide our conversation with God:

From Bible study leader, Priscilla Shirer:

P – Praise God for who he is and what he’s done.

R – Repent for any areas of your life where you’re resisting what God wants to do in you.

A – Ask for God’s help and guidance in your life or the lives of others.

Y – Yes! Confirm God’s truth and promises to you by praying His own words from Scripture.

Or similar to PRAY, practice ACTS:

A – Adoration

C – Confession

T – Thanksgiving

S – Supplication (Praying for the needs of others and yourself)

Get to know your Lord and Savior. Reading your Bible and prayer (conversation) are the best ways to grow in your relationship with him. He longs for you to willingly share every part of your life experience with him. We can do that through prayer.

My 15-minute Challenge

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Full disclosure: I do not always have time set aside in my day to read the Bible and have a concentrated amount of prayer. It’s actually one of the main things I’m often convicted of. It is an area that I’m repeatedly asking forgiveness for and repeatedly committing to do better. Then I’m failing again and I’m back to asking forgiveness.

So a 15-minute challenge…Surely I can do 15 minutes for 15 days, right? I’m on day 2 and going strong! 

Day 1.

I had to sneak in 15 minutes of Bible reading and 15 minutes of prayer right before bed.

I wondered where I should start. When I’m on a Bible-reading roll, I’m usually involved in a group study so without having a book to guide me, I pondered where I should begin. My mind went to James. It’s my favorite book. It’s short (you’ll find out how short momentarily), and God has some great stuff in there.

I started the 15-minute timer on my phone, turned my phone face down and thumbed through the feathery pages to the book of James.

About half way into the book of James I thought, “Man, has it been 15 minutes yet? Did I set my timer right? Is it on silent?” Then I told myself, “You’re half way done anyway. Just go ahead and read the whole book.”

Somewhere during the last chapter of James I thought, “Yeah, I definitely forgot to hit start on my timer, but I’ll go ahead and finish anyway.” 

I read the last word of the last chapter of James, turned my phone face up and the timer went off. Reading (and re-reading a few parts—probably the parts when I was distracted as I contemplated the accuracy of my phone timer) the book of James, took me exactly 15 minutes.

Earlier that day I had a conversation with my son about the phrase, “I swear to God.” He was relaying it in a story as something his friend had said. I took the opportunity to talk about the word “swear” in terms of it meaning a promise, or an oath, OR being an inappropriate word. I said, “There’s verse in the Bible that says, ‘Let your yes be yes, and let your no, be no.’ If you just say what you mean and are truthful, you really don’t have to promise or swear to anything—least of all God, because he knows your heart anyway.” I wanted to tell him where that verse was, but I couldn’t remember and he scampered off to play.

So any guesses as to where that verse IS in the Bible? Yep. That’s right. James. James 5:12.

Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, or you will be condemned.

I was thankful that God led me to read James. He knew exactly how long it would take me to get to that verse and exactly why I needed to read it.

God is real and present in my life, in my parenting, and in my marriage. The truth of his Word is always right at my fingertips anytime I can take 15 minutes to meet him there.

For real, I’m committing to the 15-minute Challenge for 15 days. I’m excited about what else God will show me! Join me and see what He reveals to you!

 


Do you have a story about how God is speaking to you through the 15-minute Challenge? Log in and share your story as a comment, or share your story here and we will use it to help encourage others!

Dime Store Dream Come True

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A Winter Relief Story

As Pam wandered around the Dollar Tree looking for Bingo prizes, she never imagined how God would use one of the items to bring a smile to Nan’s face.

No Bingo this year.

That was the word passed down from who-knows-where. The Winter Relief guests and volunteers alike were crestfallen. Playing Bingo for a chance to win prizes is the highlight of the week for many of the Winter Relief participants.

Pam and a few other volunteers decided that everyone NEEDED some Bingo in their lives. Pam climbed into her car and headed to the Dollar Tree to pick up some prizes. Right away a decorative sign with a saying about friendship caught her eye. She passed it by thinking that a decorative sign was probably the last thing a person without a home would want.

She continued to pick up more practical items. Fun socks, pretty headbands, scented lotion…   But her heart kept going back to the sign. She finally added it to the pile in her basket thinking that surely no one would want it.

Later, as Pam set up the prize table for Bingo Nan, a Winter Relief guest, was immediately interested in the sign. Pam recalls, “How I just wanted to say ‘go ahead, and take it’ but it wasn't my place to give away the bingo prizes and so I just prayed that she would win it. “

Pam didn’t stick around for Bingo as she had to run some errands, but upon her arrival back at church she noticed that the sign was absent from among the prizes. “I asked around as to who had won” Pam said, “and when I heard that Nan was one of the winners and that she picked the decoration, the one thing that I was for sure nobody would want, my heart was filled with joy.”

Such a simple thing.

Pam adds, “Now I know that it was God who was leading me to select that item for Nan and I'm so glad I listened.  She was so very happy.  When you consider the hardships that our guests go through on a day to day basis, and that something so simple as an item from the dollar store could bring such joy - well, that is what serving at winter relief is all about - seeing that joy.”


 

You never know how God is going to use you to bless others, or how this serving opportunity can bless you. 

Learn More About Winter Relief

 

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