As Barbara Martin walked into the church building on Sunday, she was approached by her husband, Youth Pastor Chris Martin. He made her aware that the youth team traveling to the Dominican Republic was in need of a female chaperone. She politely declined. Barbara Martin did not want to go to...
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As a mom, I want to give my kids their hearts’ every desire; tempered with a healthy dose of fiscal responsibility and work ethic, of course. As my kids create Christmas wish lists, we discuss the limits of our budget but also, that we indeed have a Christmas budget. While they may...
We’re cruising down the road on a sunny, Sunday morning. My husband has finally convinced me to serve in the café at church. Appealing to me is the fact that our children can serve with us. The trees swish by and the pavement flows beneath like a river carrying us to the body of...
In 1955 Pittsburgh, there was an accident in a steel Mill. Perhaps there were lots of accidents in steel mills during that time, but this one changed the perspective on race in one man’s mind. Billy was working a fire in the mill. To make the fire hotter, a kind of lacquer was added to...
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...
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. Pastor Drew always encourages Severn Runners to serve outside of the walls of our church building. Bob and his Connect Group...
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...
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...
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...
They emerge from beneath the water to party music and the roaring approval of the crowd. If there’s a celebration in the Worship Center, you can be sure there’s an even bigger celebration in heaven. Baptism. A public way of showing that you have asked Jesus to be in charge of your...
As Barbara Martin walked into the church building on Sunday, she was approached by her husband, Youth Pastor Chris Martin. He made her aware that the youth team traveling to the Dominican Republic was in need of a female chaperone.
She politely declined.
Barbara Martin did not want to go to the Dominican Republic (DR). She had no interest in the heat, the bugs, and the number of out-of-her-comfort-zone experiences there would potentially be on the trip.
She walked through the doors of the worship center and find her seat. Unbeknownst to her, God had called Pastor Drew to share about missions. During that time, Barbara felt the Lord tugging at her heart and knew that he was calling her to meet the need for a female chaperone. She walked out of the worship center that morning and into the commitment to go with the youth mission team to the DR.
The team spent their days in the Dominican Republic building a house for a woman and her children. Barbara said that children came from all over to witness the work being done. She and some of the team were able to love on the neighborhood children while work on the house was being completed. The children had dirty clothes and most had no shoes. The team handed out snacks to the children and to most, it was a precious gift.
Barbara saw dirty clothes, dirty children, mud walled houses, the heat from the stove where the fire was fed all day, more dirt, bugs, dirt that became mud when it rained, rain that did not cool the air but instead made it more oppressive, sewage that began to mingle with rivers of mud that flowed around and sometimes through the houses, more dirt, and more heat.
To be honest, little about the trip was enjoyable for Barbara.
However, God spoke very clearly to her about several things.
Sometimes, when we answer God’s call, like Barbara did to go on the trip, we believe that since we’re being obedient everything will be sunshine and roses. We think that beautiful blessings will flow out of God’s abundant love for us and it will be the best experience EVER because we are in God’s will for our lives! But, that’s not always the case – at least in terms of sunshine and roses. Paul, for example, was obedient to God’s call and he ended up in many uncomfortable places, not the least of which was prison.
But our work for God is not in vain.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58)
God used Barbara’s experience in the DR to teach her about gratitude and dependence on Him.
Barbara witnessed the woman’s house being built and saw how she and others in the community were so dependent on God for EVERY THING. Barbara realized that in our blessed, American lives where so much comes easily, she is often not dependent on God for 30 minutes, much less dependent on him to provide everything and meet all her needs.
“The more (stuff) I have, the more I take for granted and the more I don’t depend on God,” Barbara said.
Barbara does not want to go back to the Dominican Republic. It was not a “fun” experience, but perhaps her obedience enabled the Lord to reach her on a level, out of her comfort zone, that she would not have allowed him to penetrate from the comfortable surroundings of the familiar.
In the dirt, heat, and discomfort of a foreign country, God showed her she should be doing much more at home. Barbara changed her perspective on missions and learned that she doesn’t have to go to the DR to make big changes for the kingdom of Christ. There is much to do in her community and in the lives of people she comes into contact with every day that will bring others closer to Him.
If you find yourself serving in a way that you don’t enjoy, ask God what he is teaching you. Then seek out somewhere you can serve that better meets your gifts. And remember that nothing we do for the Lord is in vain.
As a mom, I want to give my kids their hearts’ every desire; tempered with a healthy dose of fiscal responsibility and work ethic, of course.
As my kids create Christmas wish lists, we discuss the limits of our budget but also, that we indeed have a Christmas budget. While they may be disappointed that much to their dismay, we do not have unlimited funds for toys, books, games and the highly desired video games and electronics, they do have hope that some of the items on their lists may actually end up packaged neatly beneath the tree on Christmas morning waiting to be unwrapped.
However, this is not the reality for many children in Curtis Bay. They may or may not have gifts under their tree this Christmas.
This is why The Well hosts a Christmas Toy Store.
New, unwrapped donated toys are carefully displayed by age and gender in a large room that becomes the toy store. Community members begin lining up by 8 a.m. in a line that begins to snake around the building on the corner of Church Street and Pennington Avenue. Children are led inside, out of the cold, to a “Christmas Party” where they play and make crafts while their parents wait for their turn in the toy store. Line volunteers serve warm beverages and treats, while they make conversation and offer to pray with those waiting to get in.
At 10 a.m. the first of the community members comes inside. They are paired with a “personal shopper” to assist them through the toy store. The personal shopper gets to know their needs and guides them to the proper areas of the store where they are likely to find age-appropriate toys for their children. After they have made their selections, they make nametags for the packages and hand the toys over to gift wrappers.
The personal shopper leads the guest to The Well’s desk where they are given flyers and information about upcoming events and programs. They can make appointments to visit the Hope Chest (clothing closet) or fill out an application for the mentorship program. While they wait for their gifts to be wrapped and delivered, guests make their way upstairs to enjoy more treats and mingle with other community members before receiving their packages, picking up their children from the party, and heading home.
The Well’s Toy Store enables low-income families in Curtis Bay to purchase donated toys (valued at $10 or more) for a fraction of the store price ($2 per toy). The toy store allows them the opportunity to shop and choose toys based on their children’s interests as well as promotes dignity and responsibility in the act of being able to purchase toys while on a limited budget.
Severn Runners have the opportunity to be involved in a couple of different ways! Be sure to sign up on severnrunner.info and look for:
Be the Difference Level 2
- Donate new, unwrapped toys that are valued at $10 or more
Be the Difference Level 3
- Sign up for a volunteer position in the Toy Store
Help spread Christmas joy this year in Curtis Bay by helping meet such an important need for the community.
We’re cruising down the road on a sunny, Sunday morning. My husband has finally convinced me to serve in the café at church. Appealing to me is the fact that our children can serve with us. The trees swish by and the pavement flows beneath like a river carrying us to the body of believers we call family. We stop momentarily at a red light. Wishing to impart the heart of service I toss a question into the back of the van at my kids, “Why is it good that our church has a café?”
Their initial response was, “Because coffee gives people energy!”
Right. Probing further I respond, “Yes, but why do we want people to have coffee?”
The oldest says, “Because it’s warm and cozy?”
“Yes!” I declare, “we want to welcome people to our church and make them feel warm and cozy. We want them to have a good experience so they will want to join us again and then eventually, they may have a relationship with Jesus.” Again I ask, “So why should we serve in the café?”
“So we can help people have a relationship with Jesus,” they reply.
So, as we pull into the parking lot at The Church at Severn Run, we have our hearts centered and focused on why we left the house 45 minutes earlier than usual, why we will fill carafes, and stock cups. It’s so others can know the God we know (and have a warm and cozy experience while they’re seeking).
It’s an easy thing to do, and the Café is always looking for smiling faces to fill cups and welcome guests each week. Severn Runners who serve in the Café can sign up using SignUp Genius on a Sunday at a time that works best for their schedules. Shifts begin at 7:45AM and go until 12:30PM.
While my kids were excited to don the Severn Run Café aprons, they are optional. Volunteers will receive instruction and training on how to fill coffee carafes and where to find necessary supplies to serve and stock.
The Café is a great place to serve when you’re new to Severn Run. While smiles and conversation are encouraged, an introverted person can work in a behind-the-scenes position while they get familiar with faces and names.
If you’re ready to step into service at Severn Run, the Café is a great Level 1 serving opportunity to get plugged in to. You could get all 3 Level 1 stickers in a matter of 3 weeks!
Contact Kevin McLaurin at to let him know you’d like to receive a link to the SignUp Genius to get started! (And be sure to register at SevernRunner.info!)
In 1955 Pittsburgh, there was an accident in a steel Mill. Perhaps there were lots of accidents in steel mills during that time, but this one changed the perspective on race in one man’s mind.
Billy was working a fire in the mill. To make the fire hotter, a kind of lacquer was added to the flames. It only took an instant, once Billy added the lacquer, for the flames to leap up and engulf his arm. A man came to his rescue and as he lay in the hospital recovering from his own injuries, he recalled with great emotion, “The young lad was running, a ball of flames…I did all I could…” Billy’s father thanked him and later remarked, “I have a different heart and mind set about white people. Everybody stood there, frozen to the floor, but it was the white man who risked his life. He risked his life for my son and I have a different opinion now.”
Billy’s dad had faced many prejudices in his life. Not the least of which was the inequality he endured during his service in WWII. However, the selfless act of one person showed him that his ideas and opinions did not apply to an entire group of people. Sadly, Billy succumbed to his injuries and passed away. His accident though, was a catalyst for change in his family.
Billy’s sister, Arlene was profoundly impacted by her brother’s passing. Arlene went on to raise her five daughters with love in their hearts toward all people. Even though the community, school, and church where they lived was entirely black, many of the white teachers at their school were loving and poured encouragement and support into their lives. However, the girls did see and experience a lot of discrimination in the extended parts of their mostly-white church organization. It didn't stop them from worshiping with them or attending the events, but it helped them to learn how not to treat people.
Arlene worked at Teen Challenge year-round, and during the summers she took her five girls along with her. Patrice Lyle watched her mother minister with the love of Christ to people of all races. Because of this modeling, Patrice is driven to see and love others as Christ does; humans with beautiful differences all created in the image of God the Father.
After the events in Charlottesville, Patrice hosted a Coffee and Conversation event. She invited others as an opportunity to learn to love each other by getting to know each other...one conversation at a time. The meeting was attended by 3 of Patrice’s sisters, her brother-in-law and 1 white friend. Patrice was so thankful for the friend that came because it lent a different voice to the discussion. “Every time you allow yourself to hear a different perspective, it opens your heart and mind a little bit more,” Patrice said.
The bottom line for Patrice with racial reconciliation is trying to know and understand each other’s hearts. Most times when people begin a racial reconciliation conversation, even if they don’t necessarily say the “right” things, they’re trying to get there—to racial reconciliation or an understanding of one another. People willing to enter into these conversations need to understand that no one is intentionally trying to offend but to change themselves and their thinking.
Ultimately, Patrice says, “How can you bring people to Jesus if you see people as different from you? When we allow our differences to affect if we share Jesus with someone, it’s sin.”
Patrice refers to the “journey” of racial reconciliation. She offers these steps:
- Surround yourself with people different from you
- Understand how you process those differences
- Make intentional steps to lean, to understand, and then to love and embrace those differences.
Above all, Patrice says, “Allow yourself to be covered in grace. Grace allows you to not see the wrong and the faults in others”. This is great truth for interaction with ALL people!
*Quotes in the 1st paragraph are from “The Story of Billy” by Arlene Thompson. https://lilliethompson.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/the-story-of-billy/
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.'”
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