When I came to work on Monday, in my mailbox I found a stack of thank-you notes from the children at Guilford. These notes were in response from our recent book drive, which provided over 2000 books to these kids, most of whom had no books of their own before the drive. When you give from your abundance, it is so humbling to be thanked. Some of the kids wrote that they wished they could come to our church (I wish that too!). One even wrote that we must have a good God and a great faith. This came from a first-grader, just because we gave him a couple of books.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
When you come to services this weekend, we will have on display some of the thank-you notes that we have received from the students of Guilford. It seems appropriate on Thanksgiving weekend to share these sentiments with the congregation. Thank you for enriching these children’s lives by putting books in their hands. In the words of one student “Thank you. Really, I’m not kidding.”
If you weren’t able to bring in your books this fall, we will be having another book drive in the Spring. Hold on to those books, and keep your eye out for an announcement in March 2012.
Snow. On October 29th. During our Trunk-or-Treat Halloween outreach event. Is that even possible? Well, it’s not only possible – it happened! Many thanks to all who with very little notice jumped in and transformed their creative car trunk decorating ideas into inside, car-less decorating ideas.
We had 46 spots filled with decorations, games, and wonderful people in costumes giving out candy to the hundreds and hundreds of children who came out to trick or treat with us. I have to admit, I had my doubts about how many people would venture out on a cold and slushy night with their kids in costumes – but as usual, the Lord showed me what a waste of time worrying is. With a warm and bright place to trick or treat we had an overwhelming turn out, with kids and parents dress in costumes and ready to spend a safe, fun filled evening with their family. After playing games and trick or treating, the children were treated to a puppet show and snacks, or could stop by and do a Halloween craft. For me the best part was there wasn’t a single crying child getting scared of what might pop out in the dark. Many of our neighbors and friends from Guilford came to see what we are about.
Our “parking spots” were amazingly creative with the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea Party, pirates, campers, and Christmas, just to name a few. Our grand prize winner for creativity was our new Pastor of Young Adults, Wayne Johnson and his Shepherd Group who did the movie UP, complete with the house, balloons, Carl (now we know what Wayne will look like when he’s 80!), Russell, and the rare bird, Kevin.
A huge thanks to everyone that helped – set-up, clean-up, snacks, crafts, and of course the “parking spots”. It takes a lot of help to put on an event like this, and we couldn’t do it without our wonderful volunteers.
In the end – despite the snow and last-minute adjustments due to less-than-ideal weather – we were able to serve RBC families and bless many neighbors from our surrounding community (several of whom showed up for worship services the next morning!) We continue to pray for hearts to open to the Gospel as we show the love of Christ in fun and practical ways through events such as this.
Picture the Clubhouse room in the RBC Children’s Ministry area with crowds of people all speaking different languages. Women wearing head scarves. Buddhist monks in their orange flowing robes. Children of all colors racing around. The smell of Thai noodles and Iranian pilaf. This was the scene of the annual International Connection Thanksgiving Dinner on Tues. Nov. 15th.
International Connection is the English as a second language program at RBC. We have classes on Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings. Last year’s enrollment of adult students was a little anemic as local internationals had a hard time finding our new church facility. This year is an entirely different story! Student registration has been extremely robust. We finally had to cut it off when class sizes started to outgrow their effectiveness due to their growing sizes.
Every November, we put on a Thanksgiving Dinner for the students and their families. This year, the Bereans adult fellowship group provided the traditional Thanksgiving food (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies, etc.) and students brought dishes from their home countries. It was an outstanding buffet! Homemade spring rolls, pupusas, taquitos, rice pilaf and more! To make matters more complicated, we had the greatest number of participants ever – 160 bodies! The Clubhouse was set up for 150, but we stretched the limit and were forced to make a classroom the buffet room.
Before dinner, one of the teachers, Marca Fritzemeier, explained the 5 corn kernel story concerning the plight of the first Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock. Each place setting had a small cup of 5 candy corn kernels to illustrate the story.
After dinner, the children were dismissed to their childcare workers and we enjoyed a post-dinner program. A short video was shown on the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. This was followed by student speeches. A couple of representatives were selected from each class to tell what they were most thankful for. A surprising number of students mentioned their thanks to God and Jesus – totally unprompted by their teachers! Some expressed their thanks for our program, for their jobs, for their families and their health. One young man expressed his hope that someday soon his young daughter would be able to join him here from El Salvador. These were heartfelt words, and I was reminded of the
many everyday blessings that I take for granted.
Erik Palmer ended the evening with some well-chosen “Thanksgiving “songs that we all joined in on, thanks to the words on the screen. Appropriately, he also presented the gospel in a simple but thorough way and invited anyone who had questions to talk to him or I.C. staff later. It was a meaningful ending to a memorable evening. May God use our words, our relationships and our lives to reflect His goodness and love to these wonderful people.
Men, it has been a few weeks now since we were at the 2011 RBC Men’s Retreat. Three weeks is typically about the time it takes to instill a new habit in our lives. Hopefully, you were encouraged to begin to walk closer with the Lord, but maybe you couldn’t attend or maybe life is just back to normal. For any of those circumstances, the Men’s Ministry wanted to provide you with the following resources to equip and encourage you to continue strengthening your walk with the Lord.
As you may remember, our overriding theme was Strength in Numbers – that we are stronger in fellowship with other Christians than we are alone (a 3-cord of strands – Ecclesiastes 4:19-21). We experienced great teaching from Pastor Steve King and great fellowship with other RBC men, all at a great location with amazing scenery.
Steve gave us four challenging keynote messages. Below, we are providing a brief synopsis of each one, as well as links to the audio so you can re-listen as needed. We pray this will serve as a helpful post-retreat reminder of some of the things we learned and experienced there.
SESSION ONE: The Realities of Living by Faith – Pastor Steve taught on how properly setting expectations for our lives on the Lord and his promises will increase our joy. We should filter the world through God’s Word, not vice-versa. We are designed to live by faith and God tests our faith for our good and our growth. Listen to full session audio here. Session Slides are here.
SESSION TWO: Living in the Community of Grace – We are loved by God, and we are to show hospitality (love) to others. Marriage is to be honored and our contentment is valued by God. This sounds simple, but why is it so hard? We drift and too often allow ourselves to be deceived, become dulled, then defiant – which results in being disciplined by God. Listen to full session audio here. Session Slides are here.
SESSION THREE: “Whatever!” – We can experience the ‘whatever’ of relationships or we can experience Jesus in ‘whatever’ circumstances we are in. The most significant relationship other than with God is the one with our spouse. The Lord uses our marriage to refine us. As a husband/father we have the most significant role in the moral direction for our family. Listen to full session audio here. Session Slides are here.
SESSION FOUR: How to get Honey from a Rock – We can experience contentment & joy in the midst of trials because God will never leave or forsake us. Life is a wilderness, and God is our greatest treasure and reward. This world won’t ultimately satisfy us. We must worship God even when we don’t feel like it. Listen to full session audio here. Session Slides are here.
You can view the retreat photos below! (Thanks to Dave Waldrup, Mike Emory and Kim Strickland for the images.)
Mark your calendars now for next year! On October 5 & 6, 2012 we will be hosting Alistair Begg as our speaker. You can listen to him daily (weekdays) on WAVA 105.1 at 8:00 am.
As always, you are welcome to contact me with any questions or comments regarding Men’s Ministry here at RBC.
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Brad Hummel, Men’s Ministry Director
Have you ever videotaped your children when they first see what is under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning? That was what the children’s faces looked like last Tuesday at Guilford Elementary School. We surprised the students when they came in for “Picture Day” with 2,000 books piled on tables. The students were told that they could choose 3 books each to have for their very own. For many of these kids, these will be the first books that they have owned. They went back to their classrooms hugging their books and excited to be allowed to write their names inside – proof that they could keep them “forever and for always”. Many thanks to all who donated books to our first Book Drive for Guilford Elementary School, and a huge thank you to the volunteers who helped set up, assist the children, and clean up after the event.
– – –
‘Twas the night before Book Day
When in the Guilford gymnasium
Tables were set up
for the big surprise yet to come.
The boxes were unloaded by volunteers with care
In hopes that kids’ smiles soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
With no idea of the special day that was ahead.
For our people are caring, and they give when we ask
So we stacked up those books – a formidable task!
We sorted those novels, the fiction and non
Picture books, tall tales and stories from beyond,
Goosebumps and Pokemon and Jillian Jigs
Sports books, and math books and tales about pigs.
The teachers were skeptical
as they waited their turn.
Would there be enough books
so their students could learn?
When what to their wondering eyes should appear
Books and more books, (there was no reason to fear!)
There were more than enough for each child to have three.
The hard part, of course – Which three would it be?
More rapid than eagles,
The children they came
And they whistled and shouted
And called books by name.
“Star Wars, and Hardy Boys,
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Junie B. Jones, and a book about squids!”
“Do you have Curious George?
Oh we just love them all –
Choose a book, choose a book,
It’s like a book mall!”
We had to explain to each little peep
That these books were for them
To take home and to keep.
Forever their own to love and to read,
Our people were so generous to help fill this need.
Each child stopped to thank us with words, waves and hugs.
Each child made an impact – my heartstrings felt tugs.
So I thank each of you for your giving and love.
Such a great witness of our Father above.
Jr. High Friday Night Live events (FNL) are monthly fun, safe events where our teens feel comfortable inviting their friends and the Gospel and the truth about Christ is clearly presented.
On September 16th, we had Jello night, where we threw Jell-O, shot Jell-O, swam in Jell-O, and ate Jell-O. It was a blast, but also a total mess. We also got to talk about the messes in our own lives (e.g., divorced parents, lying to fit in), and the God who has come in human form into our mess, to renew and restore by dying on a cross for all of our sins, and rising from the dead to give us everlasting life. We had over 60 friends attend and over 10 indicate decisions for Christ.
On October 14th, we put on our own version of Minute to Win It. Erik Palmer hosted a series of games from the TV show for an excited crowd of almost 200 Jr. Highers (about half were visitors). We also had 20 middle schoolers from Cornerstone School in Anacostia. The teens played games, won prizes, and ate pizza. But as the games puts contestants under pressure to perform, we face a huge pressure to perform in academics, athletics, relationships, etc. Thankfully, God hasn’t left us alone in those pressures, and says our identity isn’t based on our performance (we will never be good enough to get to heaven), but on what He has already accomplished for us by dying to pay the penalty for our sins and rising to give us life. Please pray as we follow up with over 20 visitors that indicated decisions for Christ that night.
Below are highlight videos from both of the events. Please continue to pray for the seeds that were planted at these events and the new faiths that began.
We have a huge praise for the overwhelming success of our Welcome Back to School Breakfast at Guilford Elementary school. This event was the kick-off to our ministry at the school. The entire teaching staff was there and I was given the opportunity to share with them about the different ways Reston Bible Church will be able to come along side them this year. The teachers were told about the water cooler and coffee that we will be providing for them, and about the school supplies and field trip fund that they have already been given. Each teacher was given their snack box, filled with their first month’s supply of snacks for the children that do not bring a snack to school. The teachers were also able to choose items for their student incentives – stickers, pencils, flashcards, etc. Each grade level team was also given a gift card to purchase more supplies.
The teachers were hesitant at first to ask questions about how we could help, but once they started to share the needs of their students it was obvious that they love these kids, and would do just about anything for them. The thing that overwhelmed me is that the school is not asking for big things like better computers that would make their lives easier. The things that I was asked about were small things that would help these children maintain their dignity and be able to learn – things like packages of new underwear for when a child has an accident, or a student who has difficulty reading because he needs glasses that his family can’t afford. Through the generosity of our body here at RBC, we can help with these kinds of things.
It was humbling to hear that this was the first time anyone had brought in breakfast for the staff. Such a simple thing, that meant so much. The teachers were grateful, appreciative and we felt no resistance to our involvement with them. Clearly the Lord has gone before us in this endeavor. A huge thanks to those that donated food, and who came and helped serve.
There are still lots of needs, so if you haven’t already, check out www.restonbible.org/guilford to get involved.
A number of people have asked about the set list from our Melodies & Marinades event this past Saturday. Ask and you shall receive:
HOW GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS – Matt Redman
HOSANNA – Hillsong
GOD IS WITH US – Michael Olson
AS IT IS IN HEAVEN – Matt Maher
YOUR LOVE NEVER FAILS – Jesus Culture
HOW GREAT THOU ART – Charlie Hall
GREAT IN ALL THE EARTH – Starfield
MIGHTY TO SAVE – Hillsong
YOU NEVER LET GO – Matt Redman
O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES – Erik Palmer
GLORIOUS – Paul Baloche
LORD OF ALL – Kristian Stanfill
BEAUTIFUL JESUS – Kristian Stanfill
I LIFT MY HANDS – Chris Tomlin
In March of 2011, the RBC congregation was asked to take a survey that would help gauge the health of our body and provide insight as the leadership looks ahead in planning ministry strategy. In this video, Executive Pastor Ed Nalle gives a brief overview of the survey findings. (From June 2011)
We have had an awesome last couple days. We spent 2 days running a summer camp for the kids at the children’s home. Tuesday evening we did another street meeting and went to see the huge sea turtles! We even got to see baby turtles hatching! Wednesday we did our second day of summer camp and left for the team debrief in Port of Spain. Last night we heard from Ronnie and Meela. Today we spent the day on a boat swimming and fishing. Then we returned to the church for a farewell dinner with the church (A very touching experience). We will give you much more detail when we see you late on Saturday.
Our flight is scheduled to land at Dulles at 11:20 pm. We are planning on students being picked up at the airport.
Thank you for all your prayers! God has definitely answered them and many more.
Last Saturday, June 25, RBC held our annual Clothing Exchange, which was a great success. Approximately 500 bags of clothes were donated, with less than 30 bags left at the end of the day. Six of the leftover bags will go to Lifeline Pregnancy Center, a Christ-based crisis pregnancy center in Landsdowne, VA. We were also able to supply clothing to multiple missionaries, our ESL families, people in the congregation, and many families in our local community. Families from Guilford Elementary were also well-represented.
This is a huge praise! Thank-you to the congregation for donating and the many volunteers who made this a wonderful outreach to our new community. We are grateful to God for what He did through this year’s Clothing Exchange.
Conversations is the church-wide RBC production which takes place annually the week before Easter. All about stories, Conversations is a performance incorporating elements of music, drama, and real life testimonies – all interwoven into a unified production. The ultimate goal of Conversations is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly in a non-threatening environment to those who may otherwise not attend church.
This year, Conversations took place on a city street – complete with a billboard, café, movie theater, vendor cart, and an impressive street band. With a balance of humor and emotional intensity, the scenes told stories of scavenger hunts, forgotten anniversaries, blind dates, awkward meetings with “the in-laws”, and long days.
Our band performed a great mix of songs – from artists like U2, The Beatles, Coldplay, and Jackson Browne and others. And the real life stories were powerful accounts of God’s loving pursuit of individuals and families… through His provision, redemption, reconciliation, and satisfaction.
This year, about 3300 people attended Conversations throughout the week! There were well over 300 people who participated as volunteers, doing everything from baking, to serving coffee, to providing childcare!
As we reflect back on the week, we continually see the grace of God in every step of the process. He is faithful to remind us that we are overwhelmingly dependent on Him and that His word will not return void.
Thank you to everyone who participated in volunteering, attending, and inviting your friends and family to Conversations this year. We trust that God will use this production for His glory and look forward to seeing what He will accomplish with the seeds that were planted through this production!
(Photos by Mike Kelly. You can check out his gallery of Conversations photos here.)
Thanks again to all who were able to attend the RE:NEW 2011 Conference featuring Ed Welch. The leadership of Reston Bible was greatly encouraged by the turnout and we pray that the conference content would be of great benefit to all of us in our walks with Christ. We hope you have been able to process and implement some of the things God brought before you during that time.
Since fear and anxiety are things we all deal with, let us recommend some reading resources that will help strengthen you for the battle. Included here are several books and studies that were mentioned during RE:NEW, as well as others that have been hand-picked by RBC staff. These resources are available in the RBC Bookstore. (Our bookstore is not-for-profit and open between Sunday services.)
The RBC leadership is thankful for the many who were able to attend last weekend’s RE:NEW conference with Ed Welch. As a help to you were (and were not) able to attend, here is a list of most of the Scriptures Dr. Welch referenced in his sessions. The beauty and power of the Word of God cannot be overstated, so great is the power of committing Scripture to memory. We pray you will commit these to memory; they are vital tools in our battles with fear, worry, and anxiety.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Genesis 26:24)
“Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you where ever you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10).
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 43:1)
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:14-16)
“Peace be with you.” (John 20:19, 21)
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper (alongside of one), to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth. …He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:16ff.)
The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
This year’s First Fruits took place on Saturday, November 20. First Fruits is a service project that has rallied the RBC church body for over 20 years. It is a unique serving opportunity for families, shepherd groups, and individuals to come together and make a difference in the lives and families of others in our area who are in need of help and encouragement.
You may have heard the numbers in church. By God’s grace we had over 400 volunteers spread over 27 teams, doing more than 120 jobs (including some random acts of kindness), that raised $31,500 for families having a tough time financially in our area – 59 families in particular were blessed this past weekend. The numbers are truly amazing. But, First Fruits is about so much more than the numbers.
The body of Christ was in motion like I haven’t seen before at RBC — working together, getting out of the salt shaker, and encouraging families in our area. I love how each year First Fruits brings together people that start out as strangers or acquaintances early in the morning and end as friends in the evening. This year was a particular blessing because Pastor Salvador Medina and 10 members of his congregation (from the Spanish Church that also worships at RBC) joined in and helped out during the day. They also played a key role with team visits to 3 of the Spanish-speaking only families in the evening. There is one body, but many parts (1 Cor 12:12-28) and it was neat to see this in action on Saturday — how, by working together, we were able to do more than any part could have done separately, even overcoming language and culture barriers and planting seeds that we hope and pray will yet bear fruit. It will be exciting to see how the Lord will use the relationships started at First Fruits both within the body and within the community to advance His Kingdom. The Medinas have already invited several of the families to come to church.
I also loved seeing our teens getting out of the salt shaker. This happened throughout the day, and there are many stories. One captured it well for me. In particular, one Sr. High teen shared how she and some friends went to the neighbor’s house of the job they were working on to help the woman take care of her yard. They discovered that her husband had died 2 years ago and and she was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after. They were able to minister and pray with her in ways they could not have imagined when they started the day.
First Fruits also burst the bubble that insulates us from the world right around us. One teen shared how their team visited a family of 4 living in a motel because they did not have a home. The size of their room for living, eating, sleeping, she relayed, was no bigger than her bedroom at home. She had no idea that people lived like this in Northern Virginia. “This has changed me,” she said,”I see how spoiled I have been, and I know how much I have to be thankful for.”
All of us were touched by the individual stories of the 59 families served through First Fruits. Here are a few snapshots:
- A family of 12 living in a 3-bedroom trailer with another family. Two RBC regular attenders are a big brother and a big sister to 2 of the children in the family.
- Nineteen families attend local Sterling public schools that serve some of the most economically disadvantaged in the area. All the children in these families are on the free lunch program. The father/husband of one of these families died 2 weeks ago leaving his wife and 5 children behind. The Women’s Ministry is already continuing with one of the schools a partnership started through First Fruits and we hope to continue to partner with some of the others through Backpack Buddies and tutoring.
- At least 6 families have been, are, or may soon be homeless.
- One family just moved into their own apartment after being in a shelter for the past year.
- At least 8 families (includes RBC attenders) are struggling with unemployment and being underemployed.
- Twenty or more are single parents
- Four are widows
- Many do not yet know the Lord.
The First Fruit gifts brought tears, smiles, hope, and prayers of thanksgiving. Please join us in praying for these families and thanking the Lord for the amazing team captains and co-captains that led the army of 400 workers who blessed so many. May God alone receive all the glory.
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, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of these brothers of mine, you did for me.