#MyStory :: Barbara Martin - Serving in the Dominican Republic

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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.

 

 

 

#MyStory :: Corbin Pearce - Making Connections Through Serving

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In October I ended up serving at Winter Relief, although it was not quite my plan for the night. I came for the youth Bible study, but it was cancelled because the church was hosting the Winter Relief guests. I decided to go up to where Winter Relief was happening and I met a man with a really heartbreaking story. He told me about how he loved to work. He explained to me that his son was a heroin addict, and his life had gone downhill. He used to be a great student, physically fit, and very smart. He could have been a programmer and had a good life. Instead, addiction had destroyed his life, and he was living on the streets.

This man told me he was working so he could get his son off the streets. Every day he would give him money so he could rent a hotel room, or buy food. Of course, addiction tends to affect priorities so the money would often go to drugs instead of housing. Still, there wasn’t much else this man could do, every day he could he would bring his son to the addiction treatment center, but if he didn’t want to join the program, no one could make him.

So, here was a father who was just doing everything he could to give his son a chance to recover his life, even at his own expense. It vaguely reminded me of the prodigal son; his father didn’t care what he was wrapped up in, he only wanted his son to be okay. As I listened to this man talk, more and more I wanted to pray for him. This was kind of a new and weird experience for me, because I’m not the best at praying for people and I get nervous about praying in public. But God wouldn’t take away the feeling I was having that I had to pray for him. Eventually I asked him if I could pray for him and his son.

Lately I’ve been in a lonely spot in life, and that’s made life depressing for me. When I started praying with this man though, it was really strange…I felt like I suddenly had a real connection with someone. In that short moment I wasn’t lonely. Having that common relationship and trust in God, and having the willingness to call on him together brought us closer in that moment, and that destroyed my loneliness.

It seems to me that when we connect with other people and do what God is calling us to do, we can feel more fulfilled and happier.

Level 1 Serving Opportunity - Serve at The Gear Shop

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Saved people serve people. That’s a phrase that you probably haven’t heard very often, right? That is, unless you attend the church here at Severn Run of course. Then you’re probably rolling your eyes at me because we hear it all the time right now. Hopefully you’re not too tired of hearing it though, because we really don’t want people to get tired of it.

Saved people really do serve people, and because we’re so serious about it around here, we have a ton of different ways that you can serve, and we’ve been highlighting a lot of those so that you can find a spot that’s just right for you. We understand that not everyone is used to serving, and that serving on some of the larger or more visible teams might seem a bit foreboding, so we wanted to highlight a few places that were more ‘low key’, and where you don’t have to jump in head first serving an entire Sunday. (Of course, if you want to do that, we’d welcome it, and we have a lot of opportunities for you to do so!)

One of the places where you can serve in the church on Sundays is at the Gear Shop. You’ve probably seen it if you’ve ever attended a service here. The Gear Shop is a place where you can buy goodies that we’ve created so you can share about Jesus and Severn Run wherever you go. We have mugs, coffee cups, t-shirts, magnets, car stickers, and a variety of other things. (Because who doesn’t want to drink coffee on the way to work in a spiffy Severn Run polo shirt while showing the upset driver behind you that they can find peace from the anger of you just (totally accidentally) cutting them off, right!?) Ok, maybe a bit over the top, but you get the picture. So yes, the Gear Shop is a totally cool way that you can serve and help people show those who they come into contact with what their values are.

We reached out to Rebekah Twardowski who’s the Gear Shop coordinator. Here’s what she said about getting involved at the Gear Shop.

I had been looking for a ministry that I felt God calling me to. I have two little ones and was trying to find something that I could really sink my teeth into. I had been praying about what to do when I was told that our church had a graphic design team. Earlier in the year I had started painting and lettering and had helped design a t-shirt for our Mom's Group. I loved it so much and I thought the design team is something I could step in to and use for God’s glory. In May, I finally emailed Bonni Mace about the design team, and she responded telling me that she was already planning on asking me to lead the Gear Shop. God's hands were clearly all over the situation preparing my heart for this. 

We currently have six consistent volunteers in the Gear Shop. We have had a lot of interest with the ‘Be The Difference’ challenge, and are so happy to be adding new faces to the team! This summer we changed to an "after church" schedule - we are opened from the end of service until the atrium starts to clear after the beginning of the next service (about a 40-minute serving time). Serving includes putting out inventory, making sales, and greeting people with a smile!

Our mission is to creatively reveal the love of the Father through the life of the Son in the Power of the Spirit. We do that by equipping people with gear that they can wear into the world and proudly (and literally) wear their faith on their sleeve.

Our goal this next year is to keep things fresh by keeping our inventory numbers smaller and bringing in new designs fairly often. Our hope is to get some gender-specific t-shirts (since we have always just had unisex tees), and also new products like water bottles and mugs.

So, there you have it! If you’re creative, good at customer service, or just like to smile, the Gear Shop might just be the perfect place for you. If interested, you can go to SevernRunner.info and sign up directly via the ‘Be The Difference’ challenge under ‘Level One’ (look for ‘Empower people to share their stories with Severn Run gear’)!

This is a great place start serving for the first time because this is something that you’d be comfortable doing. If this serving opportunity doesn’t excite you, keep an eye on the blog because we will be highlighting lots of other places in the church and you just might find the perfect one for you.

  Sign Up to Serve!

Be the Difference at The Well - A Level 3 Serving Opportunity

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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 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.

Be the Difference in the Café! - a Level 1 Serving Opportunity

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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.

Yes!

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!)

Register for your Level 1 Service Challenge Here

 

 

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