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Fellowship Deaconry Blog

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Vision Bits #3

I observe that atheism, agnosticism, and “unbelief” in general is based in disappointment.  In almost every conversation I have ever been in with an “unbeliever” I find the most common explanation for NOT believing in God runs along the line of, “If there really were a God there would NOT be ..” followed by a complaint: There would be no “pain,” “sickness,” “war,” “babies suffering,” and even “death” itself. While these sad things are offered as evidence of there being no Loving God, folks do not seem to ask themselves, “From where does my outrage spring?” If life is an accident, and we all are here due to an improbable series of genetic luck, then there is no injustice, there is no tragedy.

I often share with my unbelieving friends that it is only because there is a Loving God that we experience a sense of “just” or “unjust”.  We mourn someone dying because in the depths of our being we know that death should not be. God created humans to have Eternal Life, and it is only because of sin let loose in the universe that death even happens to us. The “complainers” in fact agree with God!

God hates injustice; God hates death; God hates sin, that we are oppressed, victimized and imprisoned by it, and that we cannot visually see Him because of it. If God is so loving and kind, why doesn’t He just “fix it”? Peter explains this (2 Peter 3:4-9). God is not slow, nor inattentive, God is “patient … not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God hates the condition of our world more than we do. He sent His Son Jesus to drink from the cup of suffering and provide a way to Life. God holds off on ushering in the Final Day so that more, even more, might be rescued from the ravaging blight.

Christmas is Christmas only because all the rest is true. The Cross, the resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and our Hope in what God intended for us from the beginning – eternal joy-filled fellowship with Him.  That is Christmas.

- Rev. Joel Davis, Executive Director

 

 

 

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How Do You Vote?

Our country recently had elections. Pundits make much of the outcomes: The question is whether the way people voted reflects what is in their hearts and minds. 

In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  That which is in someone’s heart will manifest in words and actions. People “vote” every day: Where people put time and money is the most powerful “vote” they have.

Some people vote to honor the past and preserve a rich heritage, others to support the present to acknowledge what a ministry is doing, and others for the future to equip a ministry to accomplish that to which they have been called. Fellowship Deaconry Ministries (FDM), I think, could receive your  “vote” in any, or all, of those ways.

In Matthew 13:52 Jesus said, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” As FDM steps into the future we do not jettison our heritage. Our heritage (which began here in 1933, eighty-five years ago next June) helps shape and enrich the future of this ministry.

In the present, Day Camp Sunshine, Sunshine Preschool and Fellowship Conference Center are all running more efficiently: We do need your help to support the Sisters and address the many repairs and upgrades that are needed, but we have embraced necessary changes in our operating credo. With your continued support, the Deaconry is on a positive heading financially and spiritually

What about the future?

I am genuinely excited by what God is speaking into us. The enthusiastic responses we received about “Family Praise Fest” have been beyond encouraging. The Ball Brothers concert was truly exciting. People have said, “Why aren’t you doing MORE here?” Praise God!  

We believe we are entering a time for the Deaconry to open doors for outreach into the youth community. (How many of us have been waiting for the words “Deaconry” and “youth community” to be spoken in the same sentence?) We are scheduling concerts and events for evangelism, discipleship and mentoring: remember, the ministry begun by the Sisters in 1933 was outreach to young women. 

We ask you to “vote” for us with your support: It’s not the past over the future, it is to equip us to move forward into new manifestations of the call, while honoring the heritage, and continuing with the important daily work the Lord has set before us. How exciting!

Surely FDM will “…bring out of [our] treasure things new and old”! Pray for us for discernment, anointing and protection in the spirit. Pray that the Lord cleanse us, that we may see Him. Pray for those the Lord will meet and bless through this ministry, and our new outreach. 

We need your “vote”. 

- Rev. Joel Davis, Executive Director 

 

 

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Praise Fest Recap

Saturday, October 21, was the Family Praise Fest at the Fellowship Deaconry. I am excited because people are excited.  At least three or four pastors and other ministry leaders who were there said to me, “Next year how can I be involved …,” or a variation there-of.  A woman visiting the Deaconry on Tuesday stopped by my office to share how she had been blessed at the Praise Fest, and as she shared she became excited and joyful and ended up praying right there for the Deaconry and for “God’s move” and for “souls”. If nothing else, she was excited by what she experienced as the presence of the Holy Spirit manifested in the praise and worship that went on Saturday.

The sense of awe, worship and praise carried on into the evening and the Greg Buchanan concert. The joy he expresses to God with his playing cannot be captured on a CD or in a video (as great as they are): being present during Greg’s performance was such a perfect cap to a day of proclaiming God’s Kingdom.

The entire Deaconry team did a fabulous job. The logistics and infrastructure were well done, and the numerous activities for the kids were fun yet peaceful. Every staff member, and every volunteer, invested fully in the day, and Jesus was glorified.

The only way I could have been more pleased by the outcome would be if there had been more people there.  Then again, being this was the first time we’ve tried an event like this, it was for the best that the crowds were manageable and gradual, i.e., steady all day long. 

This truly was THE FIRST ANNUAL Family Praise Fest at the Fellowship Deaconry.

Please continue to pray for us for God’s provision, for His leading, and for His anointing that we might grow in Grace and effectiveness.

- Rev. Joel Davis, Executive Director 

 

 

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Discovering Columbus on Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day. I recently finished reading a book sourced on Columbus’ own journal entries, and documents of the time, and, I must say, based on what I read, I was surprised by a few things. Note below:

1 – In 1492 literate people did not believe “the world was flat”. Since the days of the Greeks and Romans, and certainly after Marco Polo, there was debate about how large the circumference of the earth was. One reason Columbus undertook his venture: he believed the trip would be short, maybe only a couple of weeks or so, because he believed in a smaller Earth.

2 – The novelty was not that Asia could be reached by going west: The surprise was that there was a continent in between.  Columbus, himself, probably never fully understood this, even after four trips he believed the civilizations of the East “had to be around here somewhere.”

3 – If we are to believe his own journals and logs (remembering 1492 is about 20-years before Martin Luther), Columbus was a Christian believer who knew the scriptures.  Besides seeking a trade route to Asia, Columbus was focused on the opportunity to peacefully bring the Gospel to people whom he believed had not heard about Jesus. He was thinking about the people of Asia, but part of his fundamental motivation was missions work.

4 – The Crown in Spain issued a decree specifically forbidding mistreatment or enslavement of any native peoples, instead commanding that they should be treated with respect and dignity. Yes, that deteriorated and eventually collapsed into bloodshed and exploitation, but that was due to the frenzy fueled by thoughts of enormous riches, and that unleashed greed: Columbus’ hope of peacefully spreading the Gospel was trampled as well in the stampede.

5 – As Columbus meandered around the Caribbean looking for Asian civilization, he encountered several tribes and groups of people. The Caribe tribe were cannibals, who harassed and victimized other tribes. There were hostilities and conflict among other groups too. All was not Eden.

6 –On his first journey an attempt was made to leave a colony on “Hispanola” (present day Haiti and Dominican Republic). Columbus left a group there while he, himself, returned to Spain to repair, equip and resupply his ships, leaving instructions that there should be peace and respect between the colonists and the native peoples.  It was during this absence that “something” went horribly wrong at the colony in the Caribbean. When Columbus returned many had died from disease and starvation (the Europeans did not adapt well to the climate or diet), and hostilities had erupted with the local tribes.  One side accused the other of one offence or another: Neither Columbus (who was a brilliant sailor and a lousy administrator) nor the Crown were able to enforce their hopes for peace. This colony was eventually abandoned.

7 – Finally, this culture clash did not turn out all good and well for the Europeans either: A big surprise to me was learning that the disease of Syphilis, and the ravages that brought to Europe, was carried back home by none other than the crew from Columbus’ voyage. It seems there are no recorded instances of Syphilis in Europe until after 1494, or thereabouts.

Columbus was a superb seaman, a good enough leader to hold together a crew who had undergone tremendous suffering and deprivation, and a man who pursued good intentions. Was Columbus naïve and inept as a governor, and as a politician? It seems, yes. Whether it be the Iroquois conquering the Mohawk, or the Vikings plundering the French and English, or the atrocities in Rwanda, or the Mongols racing across the Steppes into Europe, or Muslims invading Spain, or the Aztecs absorbing surrounding tribes, and on and on, history has shown that when cultures and peoples clash the outcome is usually grim.  It is the fallen human condition: It is sin: It stinks.  Ultimately Jesus, and the Gospel, *are* the only remedy … one heart at a time.  At least to some extent, according to these documents, that was what Columbus hoped for too.

- Rev. Joel Davis, Executive Director 

 

 

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Is there a place for me in Global Missions?

Many believe that there isn’t a place for them in global missions, unless they sell all their possessions and move to a distant land.

You can contribute where you are right now! There is more than one way to get involved and whatever your skill or trade may be, it can be used to benefit the cause of Christ worldwide. 

If you don’t have time to offer, but have resources, consider financially supporting a missionary. God may plan to have you serve him abroad, and others may help in sending you! All of us must pray, as reaching he nations is God’s heart and desire. 

Come to CROSSroads 2017 global missions emphasis weekend sponsored by Liberty Corner Missions to discover how you can be more actively involved in fulfilling the Great Commission and find out how you can join!

 

CROSSroads 2017

Global Missions Emphasis Weekend September 29 ~ October 1

Liberty Corner Mission USA will again host three rich days of challenging messages, stirring testimonies and meaningful worship, all based on the theme of sharing the Gospel with the unreached, as well as making disciples worldwide. This year’s keynote speaker is YWAM’s Brian Hogan, PERSPECTIVES course speaker and former church planter to Mongolia. “Reaching the Nations ~ The Family Business” is the theme. Plan now to attend … you won’t be disappointed!

No registration or fee is required for any session; reservations are needed only for meals and overnight stays. Overnight: $37-46/room/night ($10 per person registration fee) Breakfast $7.50 Lunch $11 Dinner $14

To register, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with CROSSroads 2017 in the subject line, or phone 908-991-3212.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vision Bits #2

To have a “vision” simply means to have an idea of what something should look like.  That can include, “Where are we going?” but it also includes practical and mundane things.

I recently visited a Bed & Breakfast in an old Victorian house: One could see the place reflected respect and dignity: “Respect” and “dignity” do not have to mean “stuffy” or “fancy.” There were no gold doorknobs, but there was order, and care taken with how things were arranged, and it was clean. These things reflect a godly view, and we find this in scripture, not only with God’s instructions for assembling, cleaning, and maintaining the tabernacle, but also in the “rules” he gave the Israelites for building and caring for their houses. In the temple the Levites were the priests who took care of the place, and God gave them a vision for what it should look like, providing specific instructions for even how to clean the utensils.

How we care for a place is a reflection of what we think of that place, but also, maybe more profoundly, what we think of ourselves in that place.  What is given to us to take care of, where we live, it should look like it is loved. We should love where we are because God has us there, and we respect God. It is good to keep this in front of us to encourage and remind us to maintain our places. We strive to do that everyday here at the Fellowship Deaconry. 

- Joel Davis, Executive Director

 

 

 

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Vision Bits #1

 II Chronicles 20:15 was sent out at the turn of the year as the Sisters’ “Verse of the Year”: “… for the battle is not yours, but God’s”. Fine and good. There are many instances in scripture where we are told how God aided, rescued or miraculously delivered Israel, and we are encouraged to believe that He is with us in the battles we face.

But what about BEFORE the battle? When Israel went out to battle they went out EQUIPPED for battle.  YES, in many instances they saw God’s deliverance. In every instance they went out to battle with arrows for their bows, spears, swords and shields, and sandals on their feet.  This means that BEFORE there was a battle, someone in Israel was making arrows! Someone was making swords! They prepared.  

I believe the Fellowship Deaconry is in a place of preparation: God has provided a time for us to regroup, rethink and repurpose. If we mistake this for a time of rest, when the battle comes – when the OPPORTUNITY comes – we may, at that time, find ourselves helpless to enter into what God calls us to do.

- Joel Davis, Executive Director

 

 

 

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Summer Blog Series Recap

This summer we had a weekly series of conversations with staff members of the Fellowship Deaconry. Thank you for following our interviews! In case you missed any, follow the links below to read and get to know some of our staff who make Fellowship Deaconry Ministries what it is today. We will be resuming this series again for a Winter 2017 Blog Series after Thanksgiving.

  • Emma - Camp Counselor from Australia
  • Chiara - Deaconry Volunteer from Germany
  • Renee - Director of Sunshine Preschool
  • Matt - Hospitality Manager and Ropes Course Manager
  • Sister Ruth - Passionate Gardener and Evangelist
  • Shanti  - Conference Center Manager
  • Sister Maria - Housemother of the Sisters
  • Paul - Food Services Manager

 

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A Conversation With Emma

This week, we sat down with Emma, one of our summer camp counselor managers for Day Camp Sunshine who comes all the way from Australia.

Where are you from?

I’m from a little town called Evans Head in the eastern side of Australia and I’ve lived there for 27 years.

When did you first come to America?

I first came on a school trip in 2005 where we did an exchange program, and I went to a school in Seattle for a bit. I started coming to America frequently in 2013.

How did you end up here today?

In 2013 I went through an agency called Camp Leaders. Basically you put in an application with this agency and camps take a look at your application. I had an interview with two camps before Day Camp Sunshine and I had to say no to them because they weren’t Christian camps, and my main purpose for coming over to America was for ministry. Day Camp Sunshine came along and interviewed me and now I’m here!

What do you do here?

For the past two years I have been the middler-camp manager. I oversee about 100 kids between the ages 5 and 8 for the summer. I work a staff with about 17 underneath me, and they work directly with the kids. Before that I was a camp counselor and I had the same group of girls for three years.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment I don’t have any. I’m a qualified teacher - I have a teacher’s degree specializing in early childhood, so there’s potential for me to go back to that. At the moment, my future is in God’s hands.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I live in a small beach town with a lot of sea-life, so I love to go to the beach and going for walks. I love spending time with my family and having coffee with friends. Australia has an awesome coffee culture.

What are some of your favorite movies or TV shows?

I love to watch the Gilmore Girls, The Office, and Friends.

Do you have a favorite scripture?

Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

I love that one because we use ‘busy’ as an excuse to not spend time with people or God. I say I’m busy all the time but it’s important to draw back and be in God’s presence.

Any leaving thoughts?

It’s tough. You spend so much of your life with these kids - you’re with them everyday for three months of the summer, and I did that for five summers. So on Friday it really hit me when I said goodbye to like 10 of the girls and I lost it. We were talking about memories and how little they were. Then they started crying and I started crying. So I’m really going to miss it. A lot of my heart is here and I think it will always be here. This is where my life basically changed forever. I learned a lot over the past five summers and God has really changed and molded me to who I am today.

 

 

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A Conversation With Chiara Ege

This week, we sat down with one of our helpful volunteers all the way from Germany, Chiara Ege.

 

Where are you from?

I’m from Schiltach, Germany. It’s a small town of about 4,000 people in the black forest of Southern Germany.

 

How did you end up here?

I went to a conference in Germany looking for something to do after school for a year. There was the Marburger Mission and so I applied. I had to go to Marburg, Germany for an interview, and they made the connection here and told me I could come.

 

What do you do here?

In the beginning I was just working in the preschool, but then I began helping with housekeeping and the dining room. Right now I’m working with Clyde [Rengulbai] and the Sisters maintaining the guest houses, helping with the dishes and general cleaning.

 

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I’m really into the arts. I like singing, fashion, design, reading, and hanging out with my friends.

 

When did you begin speaking English?

They started teaching us English in the second grade in school, but we didn’t really talk too much. I first came to the United States two years ago and it forced me to talk a little bit more in English, but since I’ve been here [at the Deaconry], I’ve gotten pretty good. I also sing and watch movies in English.

 

What are your plans for the future?

I’m going to apply for college to do something with art when I get home, but in the meantime I’m going to work. I still want to do mission trips and just travel a lot. I really want to see the world.

 

What places have you been to in the United States?

I’ve been to Arizona where we visited Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. I’ve also been to Las Vegas and San Diego. In Germany, I’ve always wanted to visit the United States. There’s so much to do in so many states, because in one state you have a desert and the next you have the ocean!

 

Any leaving thoughts?

I liked it here and I loved the people. I really learned a lot about myself, plus my English got pretty good! Overall, it was a nice experience and I would definitely do it again if I could.

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