In these videos, Pam Swope-Bland and Rob Schulman give updates on the RBC Food Pantry and Community Garden.
Visit annualreport.restonbible.org to see the rest of the 2020 Annual Report!
2020 has been a crazy year, but there is still reason to know God is working. One clear example of that is First Fruits 2020.
During First Fruits, lives were impacted in our local community for the glory of God. Check out the numbers below to get a snapshot of God’s goodness, but know it is the individual lives within those numbers that matter most.
We had around 524 volunteers who took care of more than 120 jobs and delivered food to 27 homes.
In total, $39,455 was generously given for the jobs, and another $9,545 was donated online. We are thankful for this outpouring of generosity, and for the Lord’s great work in it!
Below you can watch our recap from right after the event.
If we truly know Jesus, we will not allow time, fear of awkwardness, a judgmental spirit, or other obstacles to hinder us from loving our neighbors as ourselves. To follow up on The Heart of Neighboring message, here are some resources and starting points for you to consider as you apply Jesus’ call to “be neighbor” to those around us (Luke 10:36-37).
EQUIPPING THE SAINTS COURSE: The Art of Neighboring
This course looks at “His Kingdom come” in your neighborhood – practical ways to be salt and light close to home. This 4-session class will include a biblical basis for neighborhood ministry and will cover the means, methods, and resources available. We’ll discuss topics like meeting felt needs in Jesus’ name, the impact of everyday kindness, youth coaching and other community involvement, and the power of hospitality, among others. You’ll hear from other RBC brothers and sisters and learn from their victories as well as their failures. Our next session will be held March 8-29, 2020 on Sundays at 10:45 a.m. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
BOOKS & ONLINE RESOURCES
- The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World (Amazon)
- The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life (Amazon)
- The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door (Amazon)
- TheNeighboringLife.com Resources (Website)
FIRST FRUITS – NOVEMBER 23
First Fruits is a service project that has rallied the RBC church body for over 30 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 in our area who are in need of help and encouragement. It’s coming up soon! Get info at www.restonbible.org/firstfruits.
The Hope ministry at RBC is focused on serving vulnerable children who are in need of families locally and globally. Part of serving these children is supporting the foster and adoptive families who care for them.
At this time, the ministry is considering how it might best serve foster and adoptive families who consider RBC their church home. To that end, we’d like to hear from you. We’ve put together an online survey that we are asking all current or potential adoptive and/or foster partents at RBC take time to fill out. Some of the ideas listed are only ideas at this point, so we will take all feedback into consideration as decisions are made regarding how the ministry moves forward given interest, need, and feasibility.
The survey can be completed anonymously if you prefer. We’d also be happy to speak with you in person, by phone, or by email to follow up or hear more, just check that box at the end. Any questions can be directed to Kate Reen at email@example.com.
Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. – 2 Corinthians 9:13
Jesus was kind to use your gifts of time, talent and treasure you invest in our International Connection ESL program, Food Pantry and Guilford Partnership to impact Marleny’s life forever. RBC, thank you for being a generous church.
A volunteer-lead imitative that began in the Spring of 2018, the RBC Community Garden Project grows and provides several hundred pounds of food a year to guests of our weekly Food Pantry.
If you’re interested in volunteering, we are always looking for help with planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and produce delivery. We also can use help with special projects like mulching, garden box construction and grounds maintenance. If you want to volunteer or would like more information, please contact Rob Schulman. You can download a Garden Volunteer application form here.
We are thankful for many who seek justice and love mercy. Over the past year, we have been able to contribute to both of these organizations because of your generosity.
As the leaves begin to change, the air becomes crisp, football is on, and you may hear the words “First Fruits” thrown around at Reston Bible Church.
Each year the fall season and First Fruits go hand in hand. First Fruits is a church-wide community service project. That can mean a lot of different things, so let me explain a bit more.
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, an army of over 700 volunteers in different teams move in full force across the Northern Virginia area from 8:00-5:00 p.m. raking leaves, cutting grass, moving things, cleaning yards, and more. Donations are then collected from the jobs, and at the end of the day the teams go to Shoppers in Sterling to buy food for a family whom they will deliver the food to that night. In physically delivering the food to the family, you have the privilege of making a personal connection with families in our community. This is enjoying the “first fruits” of your labor. We work hard together all day and then get to see what our hard work accomplishes.
First Fruits began some 25 years ago with a dream to do something different than the norm. There are a lot of great service projects out there, like collecting blankets for the homeless. Yet a desire was born to help those who are under the radar—like a single mom who has no government assistance and is working many jobs, but still cannot make ends meet. Or a family with both parents working that still has financial struggles. Or a family where one parent is battling cancer or a spouse has died.
First Fruits works with the local schools who know those who fit what this project is looking for. RBC attendees also submit forms for those they believe could benefit from this day. God has consistently used this one day of serving to provide in a unique way for our local community. Last year over $37,000 was raised in ONE day!
First Fruits started as a Youth Ministry event, but has morphed into a church-wide one, as the Lord has blessed and grown the efforts of so many since its conception. The need is BIG to allow the day to happen. We truly cannot do this without the help of each person at Reston Bible Church playing his or her part. We are in need of over 700 volunteers. Yes, 700! There are a few ways you can be involved:
- This year we are praying and asking the Lord to provide more Team Captains so we can have more teams that are smaller and more manageable.
- You can be a volunteer to work that day.
- You can provide a job for a team to do that day.
- You can refer someone you believe is in needs of food assistance.
- You can make a donation toward First Fruits.
Having participated in First Fruits for the past three years, I can say the day is truly soul satisfying, not to mention you sleep well that night. First Fruits is being “The Church” outside of the church walls. I believe the emotional and spiritual impact we have far outweighs the physical and financial gift we bring. Yet the physical and financial gift is what paves the way for the emotional and spiritual impact.
The mission of our Adopt-a-School relationship with Guilford Elementary School is to help meet the physical, relational and spiritual needs of the disadvantaged through service and generosity, and to encourage the staff who work with these families.
By leveraging the talents and resources of many RBC volunteers, we have the opportunity to positively affect the lives of students, their families, and the staff of Guilford. We can help to fill the gap created by budget cuts and a poor economy with our abundance and share the hope that is in us.
One of the ways in which Reston Bible serves Guilford Elementary is through Backpack Buddies, where we send bags of food home every Friday with the children of families living below the poverty level.
Right now, Guilford has 250 families that meet that criteria and need assistance. Last Thursday, volunteers gathered together in the clubhouse to pack bags for our first delivery of the school year. It was a time of fellowship, service, and an opportunity to show the love of Christ to our local community. Thank you to the volunteers who came out to help! This ministry would not be possible without your faithful service. We are in need of many more weekly volunteers – especially for Backpack Buddies delivery on Fridays when we take the bags of food to Guilford. If you are interested in serving with us, please click here for more information.
During the summer, International Connection, the English as a second language program at RBC, does not have classes. Instead I match upper-level students who can carry a conversation, with volunteers from the church. Students benefit from having someone that they can regularly speak English with all summer long. We suggest meeting once a week or once every other week at a public place such as cafes, fast-food restaurants, playgrounds, the mall or parks.
Recently, I met with a good-sized sampling of the 26 pairs that I put together in June and we chatted about their experiences over the summer – both the students as well as the volunteers. Early on, I had heard some negative responses from those who had trouble maintaining communication with their students (this was the tiny minority) so I was not prepared for the inspiring comments that I heard from the partners who attended last week’s meeting.
One volunteer had waded into the bureaucracy of a government-run, low-income, home-buying program in which his Chinese student and his wife had found themselves. Imagine dealing with all of that government and real estate jargon in another language! The volunteer patiently helped them figure out what documents were needed and then also why they had not heard back from the agency in question. They finally ended up with an application that is now being processed and this couple will soon start the search for their new home! This volunteer also assisted the student’s wife as she tried to find books in the library that were at her reading level. All of these activities are intimidating to people not born in this culture.
Another volunteer helped her student navigate the complexities of scholarship programs available to her high school child – a task that she was eminently suited for as a Fairfax County school teacher!
Several volunteers mentioned the hard-working nature of their students and cited their international friends as admirable examples to their own children of perseverance not only in language acquisition but also cultural integration. These students were/are serious about living and working here!
Very often we take our comfortable lives here for granted and we do not realize the uphill climb it is for 99 percent of the immigrant population that choose to settle here. When we do not develop a personal relationship with an international person, we miss out on knowing the great highs and lows of the immigrant experience. My faithful volunteers got to see this and are richer and more empathetic people because of it. Thanks be to God!
We want so give a huge THANK YOU to all who donated of their time and resources to make the Guilford Elementary School’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner a huge success. Our congregation donated over 90 pies and 1000 servings of stuffing. We also had 12 volunteers who helped serve the families by pouring drinks and carrying trays for moms with lots of small children. This was the largest Thanksgiving Dinner that Guilford has hosted to date, with over 900 people enjoying traditional North American Thanksgiving foods, many for the first time. Parents who often don’t have the resources to feed their families an abundant meal like this were truly grateful. We are thankful for you, our generous congregation and our faithful God who allows us to serve these families and staff at Guilford Elementary.
For over 20 years, the youth ministry has run the First Fruits project the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Every year, we raise money by raking leaves and doing other jobs throughout the day. That evening, we purchase lots of food and deliver the food to families in need in our community. This year, with an army of over 650 workers, we raised over $43,000 to provide food for over 100 families. We were also able to provide college scholarships to five local high school seniors.
Because we have been doing this for so many years, it is easy to just assume numbers like these will happen. But every year God does something that just makes us realize it is His work and His plan, not ours.
First, this year we had over 200 students from Parkview and Herndon High School sign up to work with us. These students have no affiliation with RBC, but the schools announced the project and they came to work with us. As a youth ministry, we are always trying to think of creative ways to reach out with the truth and hope of the Gospel to the students around us, and it’s so cool how God has taken something we designed to care for those in physical need and open so many doors for us to tell so many students about their greatest spiritual need. We never had a “strategic plan” or “vision” to turn First Fruits into an outreach, but it is now our biggest outreach of the year. Please pray for the hundreds who heard the Gospel at First Fruits.
Second, God orchestrated several food deliveries in ways that only He could. To identify many of the families we assist, we work through parent liaisons at several local public schools. We seek families that are experiencing hardships, but not currently being helped. These families are then randomly assigned to one of our 32 teams.
This year, as one team was entering the home of the family they were delivering to, the face of a young girl and her parents lit up. They were excited not for the food, but that one of the people delivering the food was the girl’s preschool teacher from several years prior. This instantly broke the ice and allowed for a powerful opportunity to share the love of Christ. When a group of strangers walk into someone’s home with bags of food and gifts, it can be awkward. But God, in providentially working out the right family with the right team, completely changed the situation. Only God can work out situations like that.
A similar situation happened with another team. They were supposed to deliver food to a different family, but at the last minute their delivery was switched. It just happened to be switched to a family a team member knew, which has opened the doors for additional ministry and care for the family.
God is not random. Our God is powerful and is doing great things in our midst, even when we don’t recognize it. Thank you so much for giving us jobs, working with us, donating to the project, and being part of what the Lord is doing to make His name known in Northern Virginia.
Below are some highlight pictures from the day. Enjoy!
Praise God with us for the work and blessings during First Fruits this year. Last Saturday, November 21, we had 32 teams composed of 659 volunteers completing 133 jobs. This day raised $43,490! The teams used some of what was raised to buy groceries and bring gift cards to 32 families with financial need that night. An additional 40 or more families will also be receiving grocery gift cards in the next few weeks. Five local high schools will be participating in a Perseverance Scholarship for seniors as they prepare for college. Teachers will also be nominated for a gift from us. All of these opportunities to exemplify God’s love to our neighbors is only possible because of the many people who sacrificed their time, energy and finances. Thank you!
To learn more about how First Fruits has an impact, read First Fruits: Beyond the Leaves.