Showing items filed under “Severn Run Life”

Compassion for the World

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For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

(Ephesians 2:10)  



We are often reminded of our “first world problems” on days when things just don’t go right. The drive to work is slow, the bus is late, the coffee tastes lousy, the day of work or school is demanding, the refrigerator isn’t stocked with the favored snack of whatever it is we happen to be craving. 

We are grumpy, frustrated, irritated until someone finally reminds us these are first world problems - be grateful! Begrudgingly we agree but continue to count our problems.

Throughout the world there are problems to which we can’t relate. Problems we have no experience dealing with on an everyday basis. Daily problems that are found in third world countries. Places where the one water source is contaminated and is available only after a hike of several miles. A place where the average income is less than a $1 a day. Where education is only available to those who can afford it and are not needed to work at home. Homes are largely constructed of mud - the only available and affordable building material. Transportation is a scarce commodity if one would need to traverse rutted mountain roads. The local communities have been decimated by AIDS leaving children to be raised by older siblings, who are children themselves, or by grandparents.

Pastor Drew, in meeting his sponsored child for the first time, thought to himself, “These children are real.” They are real and they have true third world problems. 

Imagine if you were able to provide an education and clean water to a specific child who’s name you know and family you know about. Imagine being part of supporting a community that is able to have sustainable businesses and services that once seemed impossible. Imagine being part of releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name! 

Don’t just imagine, go do it!! 

Compassion International is an organization that can and does make this happen with the support of people just like you. According to Compassion International regarding their child sponsorship programs, “All of our child development programs provide opportunities that encourage healthy development in four areas — spiritual, physical, social and economic.”

The Bible speaks specifically to our role in helping the poor. Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” God doesn’t tell us this because it’s a nice thing to do, he tells us this because he created us and in doing so he knows that joy comes when we give our lives to serving and caring for others. 

Jesus modeled this compassion throughout his ministry. Ultimately he told his disciples to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” (Matt 28:19) 

We are to go!!

Will you spend time focusing on third world problems and being grateful for your first world problems? Will you pray and search for guidance on how God is asking you to respond? Will you take the steps of compassion as Jesus modeled?   


For more information on child sponsorship, go to https://www.compassion.com/child-development-model.htm. For ways to get involved locally go to severnrun.com/get-involved  or call the church office at 410-551-6654.

He didn't think a connect group was for him...

Anthony Lyle is originally from Pittsburgh and moved to Maryland with a company for work. We asked him about his experiences with his connect group. Here's what he had to say...

What is your occupation?

I move furniture and perform sound system installations. I do a lot of sound work for churches. I work on man caves as well. I have setup personal recording studios as well.

What drew you to the Church at Severn Run, and how long have you been a member?

I’ve been a member for about three years. I kept driving by and stopped in one day and stayed.

Do you consider yourself a “joiner”?

I am not usually a joiner, no.

What made you choose to get connected, and how did you decide which Connect Group to join?

Amber Adams, the Connect Group leader, played a big part in my joining a group. She is persistent!

I joined the Gambrills/Crofton Connect Group (GCCG). It is a diverse group of people from all walks of life who love to fellowship together. We believe that our differences make us stronger and our backgrounds enhance our stories. We believe that Christian education is the way to grow in our faith. We love to share the goodness of Jesus through our personal testimonies of loving well, living Jesus and believing big.

Once I met the leader of the group, Terence Lynch, he and the group made me feel very welcome.

Have you noticed any changes in yourself since becoming a member of the group?

I find myself talking to people more. I share more, spread the Word more.

Some folks may not have become Connect Group members due to schedules or other issues. Has it been a challenge to balance work/life commitments and keep up with the group?

Stuff happens, I had a recent experience with the Red Line Metro in D.C. where I was delayed for a while. For the most part I am able to meet with the group when I need to. God will make a way.

Has being in a Connect Group helped you with relationships, work, personal issues or spiritual growth?

I want to go out and minister more to other people. I like to visit other houses of worship and see how they are growing.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a member of a Connect Group?

It opens the doors for relationships. We learn how to become a disciple, and not just exist as Christians. Connect Groups are important because they help us grow in the Word. We start to graduate from milk as new Christ followers and become disciples who are feeding on the meat of God’s word.

 

At the Church at Severn Run, part of loving well, living Jesus and believing big is connecting with other members and working together to grow the body of Christ.

We invite you find a Connect Group as you continue on your walk.

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 

#MyStory :: Vicki Delair on Why I Lead a Small Group

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I guess I first should say that before I was ever a part of a small group I used to think that these groups were for “weird” or “religious” people. Even being an outgoing person by nature, I didn’t think it would be something I was comfortable participating in because I had a fear of not fitting in. Then Sean (my husband) and I joined one because of a specific financial study they were doing. It is something that to this day I look back on and I am so grateful we decided to try it. It grew our faith and relationships in so many ways, and it was the furthest thing from being weird!

So, when the idea came up about starting or leading one myself, I thought, “Ugh, now people are going to think that I am weird too!” But, I also knew that if I was willing to be okay with that and put myself out there, God would use it to bless me and other people through authentic relationships. Of course, I also thought a lot of other negative thoughts as well, like most of us tend to do when the enemy wants his way. Things like;

  • “Am I qualified?”
  • “Who am I to want to start or lead a group?”
  • “Who in their right mind would want to hear what I have to say?”
  • Or, “Who in the world would want to hang out with me?”

Those were a lot of things I had to work through by remembering that it wasn’t about me, it was about Jesus, and that if he had a hand in it, people would get what they needed from it. So, I did it!

When I first felt a small tug from God to lead a group, I think I did want to do it, but I was hesitant because of fear. I’m sure I am like a lot of people when it comes to opening myself up to others because most people just don’t like being vulnerable. I had a fear of being unqualified, a fear of failing, a fear of not knowing enough Bible verses, a fear of not knowing how to lead a group, or what I was supposed to do. But, what I have learned is that you can’t let things like fear and hesitation stop you from doing what God has called you to do. That’s called disobedience, and that’s not something I wanted to be to God after what he asked Jesus to do for me. After all, it repeatedly says in the Bible that we are supposed to be in community, that we are supposed to be relational, and that we should look after the interests of others. So, who am I to tell God “no” when I see verses like Galatians 5:13, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Or, in 1 Peter 4: 10-11, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen”

Of course, even once we decided to take the plunge, I would get all in my head with things like imagining opening my home and having no one show up. I also would play out scenarios about what I would do if this or that happened and even found myself worrying about seating, or if they’d be hungry or bored. So, as a result, I over planned, over bought, over prepared, and prayed a lot for God to help me figure it out. I also had this ridiculous fear of praying out loud, and I had to work through that as well, realizing it was the enemy, once again, trying to psych me out, getting me to play his games, and stop me from doing what I knew God was telling me to do.

But you know what? I was amazed that after the very first small group meeting, everything came easier! It was like I just had to get that initial hurdle over with and from there I was good to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I would still get nervous or worry about things too much (which I think is silly now), but I also got a taste of God’s joy and peace just from being obedient and connected to others for God’s glory, and that completely outweighed any of the other stuff.

In general, I think that we all hesitate at some point to put our “true” selves out there for fear of judgment or rejection. But, what I have found instead is that when I am at my most transparent, people are most willing to hear me. When I am the most vulnerable, people feel the most trusted by me. When I am willing to walk out my faith in real life ways and I am not content to stay the same, the more people want to be a part of that journey too. Even today, after years of leading small groups, there are studies that Sean and I do that are out of our comfort zone, or sometimes the size of the group gets big and I worry about all those “Martha”-type things (Luke 10:38-42) that make me think people are not going to enjoy themselves. But that’s when I remember that there is nothing “special” about me or Sean that make our group or our leadership something fantastic and wonderful, except for our relationship with Jesus Christ and our willingness to be his disciples. “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” (2nd Corinthians 3:5). The key is the Holy Spirit, just like we see in the book of Acts, where he goes before us and apart from him, or without his blessing, nothing we do will bear fruit.

We also must remember that spiritual warfare is a real thing. The enemy wants us to stay on the surface with relationships and keep us superficial and putting up a front like we’ve got it all together, because when we aren’t truly connected with other believers he can keep us isolated and alone and it is in those isolated places that he can do his best work. He uses things like guilt, shame, or embarrassment to prevent us from making bold moves in our lives for Christ, and if we aren’t careful we tend to believe those things and avoid stepping out because we feel we have to “protect” ourselves from the ridicule we believe we are going to receive instead. The craziest part is that the complete opposite is true- because when you do put yourself out there for Jesus, you get to truly experience the joy, comfort, and peace that comes along with it, and it is something not worth giving up on.

Despite things getting better, there still have been (and continue to be) some hurdles to get past. Like most people in our area, the biggest challenge for me is time. I’m a wife, a mom of three active kids, I work two jobs, I serve and volunteer when I can, my husband owns his own business, and we have very big extended families that are all close as well. If we aren’t careful, and praying, and working together to keep it prioritized as something that is important in our lives, it would be easy to push it to the wayside or not give it much thought. Add to that, we live in such a busy time, and such a busy area of the country, that it is difficult to find the time, energy, and sometimes even desire to keep it on the schedule. But the funny thing is that we have taken breaks in the past and I can honestly say that during those times life feels a little bit harder, and we really miss the connection with other people.

But despite all the difficulties we’ve had, nothing can compare to the eternal friendships, life change, and growth we’ve experienced. Not to mention, what a tremendous impact it has had on us personally with our own faith and family! To see friendships and bonds form, to see marriages restored, and families transformed is an amazing thing to witness. We have had people become believers by coming to our group and have watched so many people grow and mature in their faith. We have had the privilege of walking beside people who were down in the deepest valleys of life in a variety of different ways, and I can’t even put in to words what it feels like to see them persevere and stand firm and come out on the other side. And, to be able to witness to one another about all we are seeing happen in each other’s lives and how the blessings of God are visible in one way or another, it’s just an amazing experience. Just think… when we are really doing life together then we’ll have the opportunity to make friends right now in this broken place; friends that we’re going to also know in heaven where everything is perfect. Isn’t that cool?

Vicki wanted to offer two things to those people out there who might be considering becoming a small group leader. Here’s her advice:

First, pray! John 15:4-5 says “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Ask God to show you what you are supposed to be doing, and once you know what that it is, you need to act. Don’t ignore what he is telling you to do because you will miss the blessing in it.

Next, don’t do it alone, after all, life is better connected! Ask for guidance from people who have started them in the past or from the connect group leader. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel and other leaders can be a good resource for helping you narrow down your vision or purpose for your group.

Also, I can’t stress enough for you to be obedient in putting your armor on daily like it tells us in Ephesians 6: 10-18, because I can guarantee you that as soon as you step out and act boldly for Jesus, the enemy will attempt to push you back down.

Finally, C.S. Lewis once said, “Remember that He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted –i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk—don’t keep looking at it.” (C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 3).

If you are letting God direct your path, there’s nothing to worry about. Be courageous and step out in faith! God has a plan and you are part of it, and what is he going to say if you refuse to do your part? If you really do believe you are going to meet God face to face one day, do you want him to ask you why you wouldn’t serve him? Or, do you want him to say “well done”?

 


If you want to get involved in a group, or lead a connect group, contact Amber Adams on our Connect Page.

 

Bring on the Blankets

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As she walked around the corner at the train station, a man who appeared to be homeless, made eye contact and began moving toward her. He seemed to be inebriated. As he mumbled to her she heard, “I wan’t to be delivered from my addition today.” Walking to him, she placed her hand on his shoulder and felt God move.

 

Jill Poldervaart was at Union Station in the heart of Washington DC. She was handing out blankets to the needy and offering prayer to anyone who would accept it as part of her Blanket the City ministry. Over the years she had meet and spoken to many people living on the street. She knew immediately that this encounter was different than any she’d had in the past.

It begin in Colorado with a lunch-hour invitation. It seemed innocent enough. A co-worker invited her to join their group serving the needy and homeless that day simply by handing out food and offering prayer.  On one particularly cold and raining day the group was heading out at usual.  Jill considered not going due to the elements. The warmth of the office was inviting and comfortable. Despite the taunting in her mind, she choose to go. As they handed out food one of the recipients made it clear, it’s not just food that he needed, it was cold, he needed a blanket. He laid out where he’d be should someone such as Jill be willing to return later with a blanket. Circumstances as they were, a long drive home and a long drive back all while not knowing if the man would be traceable, made it impossible to  fulfill with the request.

That’s not where it ended as it was through this man, Filling the Void Ministry was launched. An annual event lead by Jill and her family to reach out to those who were cold and living in the streets. With a few volunteers to help procure and deliver, new blankets began being gifted on an annual basis to those in need living in the Colorado cold. Although the blanket is a tangible gift, some may recognize the gifts that are given of even greater worth - a conversation, an exchange of names, and a look into the eyes of the recipient with an offer of prayer.

The ministry in Colorado continued and impacted numerous people over the years. God then moved Jill and her family to Maryland. Not knowing the area, their first winter in their new home left Jill wondering if the ministry could continue not just in Colorado but could it come to this area as well? During the second winter, the Holy Spirit prompted Jill encouraging her to take a step into a new ministry in the area she now lived. This lead her and her family into Washington DC. January easily created a homeless population at Union Station of people needing blankets. People needing conversation, People needing prayer. Jill, along with volunteers from her connect group, boarded a train to their destination seeking out those in need.

It was on one of those trips that as she sought out people to gift with a blanket that she encountered the addict needing deliverance that day from his addiction. And that was the day, the power of God reach through Jill and into the man. Jill could feel the Holy Spirit move through her and into the addict. Jill’s husband who witnessed the event was certain he’d never seen anything like it.

A huge smile came across the addict’s face. He appeared to relax immediately and it seemed as though something had left him. They exchanged a few words and parted ways. Had God healed him? What became of the man? This we will never know, but God does know. There’s peace and confidence in believing that God has healed and that he has provided for the addict touched by the Holy Spirit through Jill.

Through this experience and many others Jill sees clear evidence of God's agape or unconditional love. God's love that is always giving and impossible to be taken away."God loves everyone and we should treat every person we meet in the same way,” explains Jill.

Blessed. Righteous. Selfless. These are just a few words that describe taking to the streets and gifting those in need. In Matthew 25:35-46, Jesus reminds us that when we take the time to feed, clothe, give drink, and visit the “least of these” we are doing these things to and for him, Jesus Christ. To those righteous followers, the Bible tell us in verse 46 that they will be rewarded with eternal life. Jill, her family, and the volunteers of Blanket the City are touching the lives of the needy.

Not only is this act of service changing the lives of those being served, it is changing the lives of Jill, her family and each person who participates. They are witness of God’s great love while being his hands and feet. As Jill explains it, "Those in need are more than the people who appear homeless…we are all in need, we are all broken."

 

Want to get involved? People can support the ministry by donating small, new, inexpensive blankets easily carried. Jill will also tell you, "If any other group would like me to take them out to do a Blanket the City they can rally their folks together and I will be happy to show them the way!"

For more information, reach out to our offices at The Church at Severn Run @ 410-551-6654 or  find ways to serve on our website at http://severnrun.com/serve/.

 

JW

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