When We Say “YES” to God–a Pikeville Report

by Angela Hines, a member of the Pikeville Missions Team and a member of our Worship Team

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are having technical difficulties with the blog and therefore cannot publish photos. You will find photos on Facebook Tuesday evening, which you can view even if you are not part of the Facebook community.

Several months ago, just days before the application period closed for the summer missions trip the Dominican Republic, I sat in church and could not shake the sense that I was supposed to apply.

After talking with my husband, I applied and then proceeded to sit back and watch. Over the next few weeks, it first appeared that I would not be able to go after all due to an unexpected pregnancy. Then the trip location changed from the DR to Pikeville, Kentucky, once again allowing me to go.

As I watched, I wondered, “Why God?  Why are You sending me on this trip?”  I honestly didn’t know.

But I said “Yes.”

Fast forward to nine days before we leave and I receive a phone call from Dave Kroeze, Outreach Pastor, asking me to pray about leading worship for a variety of events at Aflex Missionary Baptist Church, one of the churches we’d be partnering with on our trip. Due to the timing of the request and circumstances at the time, I sat back and said, “God, if You want me to do this, You will have to enable me to.”

And then I said “Yes.”

One of the times of worship I had been asked to lead was during the Sunday morning service. The pastor made it clear to me that I was to follow the Lord’s leading on what I was going to share of my personal testimony and what to sing. “Don’t quench the Spirit,” he said.

That week, as I got to know the members of Aflex while I serving beside them, sitting with them in Bible study, and sharing meals with them, I prayed: “God, what would You have me share with these people?”

You see, my story that God has been weaving for the past 10 years primarily centers around six miscarriages, but most of the people I was meeting were men and teens.  How could my story apply to them?  So I prayed, and I waited.

Saturday night, I sensed the Lord giving me direction on how to share the following morning, and I was filled with His peace, knowing that even if what I had to say was for one person only, God would use it.

And so I said “Yes.”

Sunday morning, I sat at the church piano and shared of how after two healthy pregnancies I had two beautiful sons, but then I began losing babies. I miscarried two, and then God gifted my husband and I with a third son.  I lost another…and then God did the unexpected.  He gave me the promise of “Eliana” – a name which means “The Lord has responded to me.”  He was promising me a daughter, but His fulfillment would not look like what I would have expected.

My next pregnancy also ended in miscarriage…and it was then that God showed me how He was trying to remove anger from my life.  “Be like Job,” He said.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

 Job 1:20-21

It was nearly three years before I conceived again, but in that time, God did a mighty work in my life. He changed my heart – softening and molding – and bringing me to a place of peace in Him.

During that pregnancy, I was cautiously optimistic, but it again ended in miscarriage.  And as I sat alone in ultrasound room with tears streaming down my face, I said “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  I told the Lord, “I do not need a daughter to know You are good and that You love me.  You are sovereign.  Your will be done.”  I was at peace and content.  I surrendered.

At this point, I was able to sing the song “I Surrender,” which speaks of giving ourselves fully over to the Lord and submitting our lives to knowing Him more as He fills us with His spirit.

My story takes a joyous turn here because the following year, 2015, God allowed me to carry to full term a beautiful baby girl, who we named “Eliana Grace” – The Lord has graciously answered my prayer.

Eliana is His special, undeserved gift to us and has brought untold joy to our family.  My deepest desire for Eliana is to be gifted with a sister to share life with, and so when I found out I was pregnant in April of this year, I was thrilled and excited.

But God once again chose to bring that baby straight into His presence and three weeks before we headed to Kentucky, I once again miscarried.  But I am being true when I say, “God’s timing in gifting us with Eliana was perfect and while I would not have chosen the painful path to get there, God used it in mighty ways and so I would not change it.  And this gives me the confidence to say, that should He choose to bless us with another daughter, her arrival will also be in the perfect time.  And through it all, my eyes are on Him.”

I sang “It Is Well” here, not the old hymn, but the modern twist on it that calls us to trust in the Lord’s work in our lives, to keep our eyes on Him, and to say “It is well…with my soul”.

As I shared and sang, I could see people responding. Tears.  Bodies bent in prayer.  People coming to the altar and being prayed over. As I finished, Dave came to the front and asked me to do the second song again, calling the church to pray and give to the Lord those things that were burdening their hearts and to Let Go – and Let God.

The Holy Spirit was at work in that room.  It was filled with the sound of prayers and tears and the tangible evidence of Jesus in our midst as brothers and sisters laid hands and arms on each other in support and surrender.

Truly, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I walked away from that time in awe. Not of what I had done.  But of what God had done… of what can happen when someone says “Yes” even when they don’t understand why.

And I walked away knowing that I had just experienced the very reason that God had called me to participate on that trip.

Say “Yes.” Open your heart and your life to being available to be used as a vessel of God.  Your story and your gifts are there because He wants to use them to bring glory to His name and further His kingdom.

Say “Yes.”

Pikeville Report on the Way Home

As our time in Pikeville comes to a close, we are so excited to share with you what the Lord has been doing in and through our teams this week. Each of our three teams served at different churches doing various different things.

Working with Aflex Baptist Church

Team 1 worked with Aflex Baptist serving alongside the Aflex community repainting the church’s interior and classrooms, fixing leaks in the roof, and building shelves to increase storage. The team helped lead Bible classes and spent time building relationships with the church’s youth.

Vacation Bible School and Invitations to Church

Team 2 spent most of their time canvassing the Island Creek community, passing out fliers for Vacation Bible School and inviting members of the community to a barbecue.

While going door to door the team encountered a woman named Angela who had been disconnected from a church community for a long time. She felt judged and unwanted by the church but had recently started feeling the need to seek out a church and get involved in a Christian community again.

Earlier the same morning, Angela had prayed about her feelings and then our team showed up on her doorstep and invited her to church.

So often, we focus more on how the Lord answers our prayers that we don’t see how God uses us to answer the prayers of others. Angela came to church this Sunday and loved it.

Please keep Angela in your prayers, asking that she would feel welcome and wanted by her new church family and that she would have an easy transition into her new congregation.

Meals for Elkhorn City

Our last team prepared meals and delivered them to the Elkhorn City community. They spent time cleaning out different rooms in the church. They also led a Backyard Bible Camp.  Despite severe weather conditions, the team was able to give a gospel presentation that resulted in at least 3 children accepting Jesus into their lives for the first time.

Pikeville Mission Trip – Shoes, Roof, & Prayer

Greetings from Pikeville, Kentucky! The Lord is doing amazing things so far!

Shoes of Hope

On Thursday, we worked with other missions groups in the area on a project called Shoes of Hope. We had the opportunity to present the gospel to children in the community while washing their feet. After their feet were washed, they were presented with a new pair of shoes. The children were so happy and it was a blessing to hear some of their stories.

Roofing

We’ve also had a team working on a roofing project. The team worked diligently all day from morning until evening and were able to complete the project as well as share the gospel with the family of the home. Poverty is not the only problem we have been confronted with on our trip. Many families suffer from server health problems and depression as well.

Prayer

Some teams went door to door handing out fliers and conducting spiritual surveys, having the opportunity to hear people’s stories and pray with them if they were willing.

Other Service Projects

Other teams worked on service projects all day alongside members of the church community painting, cleaning and building, ending the night with a worship service followed by a movie.

Looking Forward to More

All in all it was a great day, God was faithful and evident, and we are excited to share what God has been doing and we are looking forward to what tomorrow has in store.

Uganda—Self-Sufficiency, part 3 of 3

by Dave Kroeze, Outreach Pastor

This Week’s Blog Series

In this, the final segment of our blog series about our ongoing work in Uganda, I want to express MBC Loudoun’s practical plan for transitioning our partners to self-sufficiency. (For background on our work in Uganda, read the first and second in this series of blog posts.)

Two chicken coops that will be renovatedFrom Short-Term to Long-Term

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert in their book Helping without Hurting in Short-Term Missions said exactly what’s been on my heart:

“Improving short-term trips actually involves taking fewer of them, dedicating more of our resources to long-term missions and poverty alleviation work within a community” (page 9).

Yes! That’s exactly it!

Friends, if we believe that we should be good stewards of the resources that Christ has blessed us with, then we need to look at transitioning our short-term trips into long-term partnerships for the sake of the Gospel and the welfare of these communities.

Practical Skills

chicken_coop5-72dpiSeeking the welfare of this specific community has been difficult to put my finger on until recently. There are many ways we could do this, some helpful but many unhelpful.

And then I was recently informed that in the past few years, 200 students have graduated from Destiny Village Boarding School without any marketable skills or job training. This reality needs to change.

Agriculture is a need in Katwe and providing on-the-job agricultural training is a first step towards providing job skills that will serve these students for the rest of their lives.

Getting Practical with Chickens!one of the chicken coops that will be renovated

After much prayer and discussion with Pastor Fred, Mamma Evah, and Pastor Julius, we have decided to pursue a project that facilitates long-term sustainability for Destiny Village Boarding School. We are going to:

  • renovate 2 out-of-date chicken coops
  • build an additional chicken coop
  • purchase approximately 3000 chickens and a year’s worth of food for the chickens
  • hire two farm hands that can provide care for the chickens as well as facilitate educational opportunities for the students

My favorite part about this project is that once the money is fronted, they are in a position to provide for themselves with the additional resources that come in from the chickens and eggs.

Let me first say, that I have learned more about chickens in the past month than I ever anticipated knowing about!

inside of a chicken coop that will be renovatedThere are two general types of chickens. Layers (these chickens lay eggs) and broilers (these chickens are used for meat). 50% of the eggs that are laid will feed the kids, and the other 50% will be sold to sustain the chicken project.

The broilers will operate under the same principle. 50% will feed the students and the other 50% will be sold so that they can replenish their broiler supply.

The total cost of this project is $45,000. Due to a generous donation prior to the trip and some additional funds that have been provided by MBC, we only need $12,000 to begin construction and finalize this piece for the school.

If the Lord is leading you to be a part of this project, you can donate in a couple of ways.

1) You can donate by credit card online at mcleanbible.org/Loudoun-Uganda.

2) Or, you can write a check to McLean Bible Church and in the memo line write Uganda Partnership Fund.

I would love to see the construction and everything completed by the time the students arrive for school in September. What a blessing that could be for them!

Please prayerfully consider being a part of the self-sustainability and the long-term partnership that we have with Destiny Village Boarding School.

Prayer

Lord, I trust You to provide for this project. Make it clear to me if you want me to play a role in this and how we can continue to support this school in Uganda. We entrust these chickens to You and pray that You would be glorified and worshipped as a result of this opportunity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: The link above is to Amazon.com. It is not a commission link, so McLean Bible Church will not receive any money when you follow the link.

Uganda—Magnifying Jesus, part 2 of 3

by Dave Kroeze, Outreach Pastor

This Week’s Blog SeriesFaces of Katwe

To continue this week’s blog series about our ongoing work in Uganda, I want to express MBC Loudoun’s goals for partnership. (For background on our work in Uganda, read the first in this series of blog posts.)

MBC Loudoun’s Global Impact Goal

When the Lord has shown you which partners you should pour into, one of the greatest struggles is determining how to genuinely help them accomplish their vision.

I want to talk about 4 different ways to support our partners in Katwe, Uganda without hindering their ability to accomplish the mission that God has given them.

4 Ways to Support Our Partners in Katwe, Uganda

1. Submit to their authority over the situation.

They know their people, they know their culture, and they know the struggles that they encounter—significantly better than I can. It doesn’t matter how much cultural awareness I have. It doesn’t even matter how many times I have visited Katwe. These folks live their reality day after day.Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, Pastor Julius

We need to submit to their authority with regards to how to help them. If they say it will help them to bring clothes, we will gladly discern the most effective way to bring clothes. If they believe pastor’s training is necessary, we will gladly do that.

“What we absolutely do is leave our western ideas at the border.”

What we absolutely do is leave our western ideas at the border, and we allow them to share the needs that they have.

Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and Pastor Julius each have a responsibility to shepherd the flock that the Lord has given them. They are responsible and willing to serve for the well-being of their people (1 Peter 5:2).

2. Seek the welfare of their city.

IMG_9671-72dpiThese people are suffering in many different ways. They struggle to provide food each day for their families. They suffer from physical ailments that are minor in the USA. They struggle to find employment due to lack of education or skills training.

I believe that we have a responsibility to seek their welfare as a nation (Jeremiah 29:7). This is always through prayer, but other times the Lord opens up doors to be invested in their welfare and to build them up in powerful ways.

3. Allow them the freedom of being self-sufficient.

When I was first hired at MBC, my mentor at the time told me that I was going to struggle in ministry because I needed the paycheck to survive, rendering me unwilling to speak up when necessary. He expected me to find tension between pursuing what the Lord wanted for me and providing for my new wife. I am grateful that this has not been a tension for me, but I fully recognize the psychological truths in that sentiment.

IMG_9775-72dpiAs an example, if we send a team of doctors over there, is it more helpful to train other doctors to perform surgeries or to go there and perform surgeries themselves? Clearly, training a group of doctors is a more efficient way of spending our time and of bringing an attitude of reproducing ourselves in other people.

Likewise, from a tangible resource standpoint, is it more helpful for us to send food or to purchase animals that will provide food?

When crisis hits, there is a place for freely giving tangible resources. The book When Helping Hurts refers to this as relief. Once the crisis is at bay, you must transition from relief to development so that you can actually help the people long-term instead of creating an attitude of dependence.

4. Give Without Expectation.

I do not want our partners to feel as though we are in charge because we hold the resources. The Bible instructs us to give freely and generously and to not expect anything in return (Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Luke 10:25-37).IMG_0069-72dpi

But if you are anything like me, then you not only expect to be paid in full but also expect compliance…”I will gladly help you out, as long as you do it this way.”

I grant you that both passages (Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Luke 10:25-37) are between individual people, but I think the application behind them extends further.

If we say that we will give our partners resources but then say that they need to sing songs a certain way in return, are we really giving generously?

If we say that we will support the school as long as they instruct the students in a particular way, are we helping?

Friends, we must be givers that give generously, humbly, and from the conviction of our hearts out of obedience to the Lord, that give in ways that genuinely help these schools move forward. They have the expertise to accomplish that in ways that we can never have.

Short-Terms Trips to Long-Term Partnerships

IMG_0161-72dpiFriends, this whole process of turning short-term trips into long-term partnerships for the sake of God’s glory and His kingdom rests upon empowering our partners for ministry. They engage in relationships every day, and they truly know the needs that are legitimate. They know what it takes for the community to develop and move forward because they live in the midst of it each and every day.

“Friends, this whole process of turning short-term trips into long-term partnerships for the sake of God’s glory and His kingdom rests upon empowering our partners for ministry.”

Let’s support them in the ways that they see as vital for the sake of the kingdom and the wellness of their community.

PrayerIMG_9681-72dpi

Father, help us to provide resources that actually help. Give us clarity on the opportunities that invest in these individuals and lead them toward self-sufficiency and honoring You with their time and energy each day. You redeem all things to Yourself, through Christ , and I pray you would use us to see redemption happen in Katwe, Uganda. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: The link above is to Amazon.com. It is not a commission link, so McLean Bible Church will not receive any money when you follow the link. If, however, you would like McLean Bible Church to receive donations from Amazon based on your purchases (whether the resource above or anything else you might purchase), then you can choose to participate in the Amazon Smile program. Read more about Amazon Smile to see how it works.

Uganda—The Work is Not Done, part 1 of 3

By Dave Kroeze, Outreach Pastor

This Week’s Blog Series

Just because we are not in Uganda right now does not mean that our work there is done. You know that we send a mission team to Uganda over New Years, but what you don’t see is the ongoing relationships that we have throughout the year.

This week, allow me to share with you how we are at work with our Ugandan partners throughout the year to empower them to do the work that God has called them to do.

Supporting Our Partners

Missionaries used to go to Africa, convert a bunch of people, and then leave.

It was wonderful that there were a bunch of new Christians who had said the sinner’s prayer, but they were unequipped to encounter the immediate struggles of life. They had made a profession of faith, but oftentimes they did not know what that entailed nor the implications of that decision.

As a result, the quantity of people sitting in church services each week increased because being a Christian was the popular thing to do, but the number of people reproducing their faith was minimal.

Today, many churches take a different approach to international work, including McLean Bible Church. Instead of flying overseas to convert people, we fly overseas to support our partners.

“We see so much more fruit when we
support the work that God is already doing.”

Yes, we have salvation conversations and many people are born again. But, we see so much more fruit when we support the work that God is already doing and when we empower these local pastors for the ministry that God has prepared them to do.

In Uganda, we have two partners that we have grown to know and love over the past two years of our short-term mission trips: Saint Gate’s Church and Destiny Village Boarding School.

Great Partnerships

Background: The Village of Katwe

The village of Katwe is a small urban community within the limits of Kampala, capital city of Uganda.

Africa showing Uganda and Uganda showing Kampala

There are approximately 500,000 people who literally live on top of each other. To get from home to home often involves a climb on a rickety bridge across a stream of contaminated water at best. The children have significant health ailments with basically every one of them having worms in their tummy’s and rashes and sores caused by rabies. These families are in need of redemption in a way that only Christ can provide.

Rickety bridge in Katwe across a stream of contaminated water

Our Partner: Saint Gate’s Church

Right in the center of this community is Saints’ Gate Church. This church regularly has 1300-1500 attendees that have nothing but trust and dependence upon the Lord for their needs each day.

Sometimes, the Lord uses us, MBC Loudoun, to provide in a tangible way. This past trip, we had the opportunity to work with Saint Gate’s to provide a 3-day medical clinic.

How beautiful it was to see nearly 1000 individuals come to the church to receive medicine for physical healing while also hearing the Gospel for spiritual healing. This was an amazing opportunity to empower local doctors, pay them a small salary for the day, and get out of the way so that the Lord could work through this church family!

It was truly beautiful.

Our Partner: Destiny Village Boarding School

Closely connected to the Church (in that the staff overlap completely) is an evangelical school called Destiny Village Boarding School. On this campus, there are 1800 students, including 100 children from infancy to 5 years old who have been rescued from the worst of situations.

The vast majority of these students come from the community of Katwe where they have been abandoned or orphaned. They receive sponsorship through World Help. The school and church are run by the leadership of Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and the Worship Pastor/School Director Pastor Julius.

Our short-term mission trips this year and last were hard work but so rewarding. We worked side-by-side with Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and Pastor Julius as well as many others, and we have become friends and partners with them in remembering the poor (see Gal 2:10).

Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, Pastor Julius

Prayer

Today, take a few moments to pray for Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and Pastor Julius as they lead these people and shepherd the flock that the Lord has given them.

Father, we lift up Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and Pastor Julius as they lead your people in Uganda today. As Paul says in Philippians 1:3-6, we thank You every day with joy for their partnership in the Gospel. We pray with confidence that the good work You have begun in them would be brought to completion in Your perfect timing. Use us, Lord, as humble and generous supporters to provide resources that enhance Your kingdom through their humble efforts. For Your namesake and not our own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blog Posts from our Uganda Mission Trips

If you’d like to re-read our blog posts chronicling our trips to Uganda, follow the links below.

2015-16—This Year

Uganda Update 1–In the Slums of Katwe

Uganda Update 2-The Clinic, The Slums, The Conference

Uganda Update 3–Clinic, Slums, & Fellowship

Uganda Update 4–Mulago Hospital, Destiny School, & New Year’s Eve Bash

Uganda Update 5–Children in Luwero

Uganda Update 6–Juvenile Detention Center

2014-15—Last Year

Uganda Travel Day!

Uganda Day 2 – Saints Gate Church and Destiny Boarding School

Uganda Day 3 – Destiny Boarding School

Uganda Day 4 – Destiny Boarding School Sports Camp

Uganda Day 5 – Katanga Slums and New Years Eve

Uganda Day 6 – Good Samaritan School and Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center

4 Ideas for Developing Your Prayer Life

by Brian Walters, Discipleship Pastor

Doug just became a new believer in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Doug believed in his heart and professed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord.

Immediately, Doug began reading his Bible. He got into a small group. He attended weekly worship services and began serving.

However, even though Doug did all of these things, he felt extremely awkward and uncomfortable when it came to praying.

Praying just seemed weird to Doug–to talk out loud or by himself to God. He didn’t know what to say. He thought his prayers to God must be eloquent and passionate. He thought his prayers had to sound good when others listened.

Doug didn’t like praying.

Are you Doug? Does prayer feel uncomfortable or awkward? Do you struggle with what to say?

I don’t know about you, but I used to strauggle with these exact things. In fact, I was Doug and to this day I still get nervous sometimes when I pray in front of people, but here are a few things that helped me to overcome my struggles with praying:

  1. It’s just a conversation.
    Someone once asked me how good my relationship would be with my spouse if I never talked with her. I naturally responded, “not very good.” Then that someone told me the same thing is true about prayer. He said prayer is just a conversation with God. It is not a monologue, but a dialogue with God. It’s you talking to Him and listening to Him just like you would talk to your spouse or a friend. Without talking to God your relationship will only be surface level and never have any depth. So just begin talking with God. Prayer develops intimacy with God. Here are some examples of Jesus talking with His Father (Matt. 26:29-44; John 17:1-26).
  2. What do I say?
    The Lord's PrayerIf you don’t know what to say, don’t worry. Per usual, God doesn’t leave us to guess. Jesus gave us the blueprint on how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Read and study this passage and you will notice we are to worship and revere God (v. 9), we are to surrender and confess our sins to Him (v. 10), we submit our requests to Him (vv. 11-12), we ready ourselves to be used by Him (v. 13), and we close out prayer with more reverence of Him (v. 13). Did you notice that prayer starts and ends with thanksgiving, reverence, and praise to God? That is because the more you focus on God, the more you will be aware of your neediness and then your heart will be aligned to His. You can never go wrong with praying the way God taught us to pray.
  3. Pray Scripture.
    If you still don’t know what to say, then pray God’s Word back to Him. God loves it when we do this. God doesn’t need us to tell Him anything so the best way to talk with Him is to leverage His Word. For example, read Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Then you can pray something like this:

    I praise you, God, that you are completely trustworthy and your promises never fail. Thank you, God, that you are our refuge and source of strength in good times and in bad. Thank you, Lord, that you care and want to hear the yearnings of our hearts. For you alone are worthy of all praise, honor, and glory. Lord, forgive me when I have forgotten to trust you to get me through hard times. Forgive me, Father, when I have forgotten your faithfulness and promises. Lord, help us to never forget that you alone are trustworthy, faithful, and our place of refuge. Lord, thank you for loving us when we don’t even deserve it. May my heart and the hearts of believers everywhere always sing your praises.

  4. Pray for each other! impactloudoun.com/prayerKeep praying.
    The things above helped me greatly to overcome my struggles with praying, but the ultimate key to helping me become comfortable with praying was to just do it continually. I discovered that praying is like anything else in life: the more you do it, the more you feel comfortable with it and the more it becomes second nature.

Lastly, I would encourage you to visit our Prayer Wall every day to post a prayer and/or to pray for others. Visiting the Wall will give you something to pray and will help you get more comfortable with praying. Start off by just praying for a few requests and build upon this as you get more comfortable.

Guilty, Your Honor

Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams

It was a typical Thursday evening. I was driving to my destination when out of nowhere I see flashing blue lights in my rearview mirror....through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

Was I speeding? No. Was I on my phone. Absolutely not…this time, anyway. Did I have a light out? Most likely not.

I pull over, watch the officer walk out of his car, and he asks, “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Absolutely not, officer” I defensively replied. Apparently there is a little sticker that is required on one’s vehicle when registered in Loudoun County. Who knew?

Well, my ignorance landed me a court date in the Loudoun County Courthouse. Not accustomed to the ways of the court, I arrived remarkably early,  leaving plenty of time for waiting, thinking, and observing.

There were a lot of people in this small court room that had ugly red carpeting and hard wooden benches that brought me back to my pew days in the Baptist church as a kid—an experience that no doubt instilled a sense of reverence mixed with some fear.

As the Judge entered the room, all stood to show respect. He sat in his long black robe and proceeded to begin with his memorized script of the responsibilities that he possessed.

Then he called the first name. It was a DUI offense. All the details and dirty laundry were aired for all of us to hear. It felt awkward to listen to the wrongdoings of someone that I did not know. Then followed the lawyer’s response, along with an explanation of the remorse and regret of that night. The judge declared a sentence with a fine and they walked away.

Person after person was called up with the same process. Some cases made me angry because of the lack of remorse. Some cases brought tears to my eyes because of the consequences that could have resulted with a lifetime effect on these peoples’ children or the endangerment of other drivers.

Each punishment was different. It was based on first, second, or third time offenses. It was based on their admittance of wrongdoing and law-breaking. It was based on their lawyer’s defense and pleas for reconsideration. But every person was judged differently by that one man who held the power from the state of Virginia.

It got me thinking: this is how we will one day be judged. Matthew 22:1-14 tells us that there is a God who sits on the judgment seat and will ask us one day why we should be allowed into His Kingdom. He is the One who will declare us “guilty” or “not guilty” of eternal condemnation. And He knows all our faults, offensives, and wrongdoings.

It’s not our good deeds or law keeping that will get us into heaven. Romans 3:20 says that the law shows us our sin and that we are not justified by the law.

In the following verses, Paul writes that it is by the gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are made right before God. So, as believers, we can stand before the Judge with boldness and confidence that all of our shame and sin is forgotten because of our right standing in Christ.

Time passed on that afternoon in the courthouse, and when we got to the more minor traffic violations—like not having a sticker displayed on our dashboard—my name was called. I nervously pleaded “guilty.” I had to pay a fine for my ignorance and prove that I made my wrong right. Will I ever forget to get that little sticker again? Absolutely not.

Will I be forever grateful that I will stand confidently before The Judge some day? Absolutely!

Knowing that my sins put Jesus on the cross, knowing that He suffered a brutal death, and realizing there was a payment that had to be made—a payment I don’t have to make—brings me to a place of humbleness and gratitude.

It drives me to a place of striving for holiness and sanctification.

We are declared free because of Christ! No more guilt or shame to bear. We have Christ as our defense. We can walk out of that court room as free men and women, grateful and glorifying the One who paid our debt.

Live today as a free person, no debt, no guilt, no condemnation!

5 Practical Ways to Fight Trafficking Locally

Lord, open the eyes of our community to the atrocity of trafficking. Protect the most broken, vulnerable, and abused in our midst and shine a light on the darkness around us.by Dave Kroeze, Outreach Pastor

27 Million people in the world are trapped in some form of trafficking. 27 million!

This number is absolutely staggering. I must confess that because it is often communicated as a “3rd world country problem,” it is often far from my mind. Then Friday night happened…

Friday night at the Human Trafficking Awareness Event here at MBC Loudoun, we were confronted with the reality of teen sex trafficking right here in Loudoun County. Not even the ambiguous “Northern Virginia” where we can still disassociate from this horrific reality.

Right here in Ashburn, VA, not more than a few miles from MBC Loudoun, a young teenager was repeatedly trafficked for the past couple years. Last week, they re-lived their horrific story in front of a jury and a judge and the abuser received a guilty verdict.

This is happening right underneath our eyes.

[You can read about the court case and the Friday night event that took place on our campus by reading “‘They Feel Trapped’: Community Wants to Raise Sex-Trafficking Awareness” on the LoudounNow news web site.]

Psalm 82:4 is a plea from the Psalmist, Asaph, to “rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

This has been my prayer every day–that the weak, needy, oppressed, broken, lost, disadvantaged, and destitute would find redemption in Christ and that the God who sees all things would see fit to deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

MBC Loudoun Leadership

A few years back, our own Campus Pastor Jim Supp and a group of NOVA pastors came together to start NOVA HTI with the intent of eradicating human trafficking in Northern Virginia. This organization has become the victim services ministry that we see today.

In addition, MBC Loudoun has been blessed with two fantastic leaders facilitating opportunities about this issue:

Larissa Nguyen has been serving as our ministry leader for the past year. Her eyes were opened to this passion at our awareness event last fall and has been serving as the assistant volunteer coordinator for NOVA HTI ever since. It is a blessing to have her facilitating ministry for us at MBC Loudoun.

Kathy Hatem has spent a good portion of the past two decades advocating for and publicizing efforts that  protect the innocence of our children. This past year, she teamed up with Detective Woolf who is on the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task force and on the front lines of identifying and rescuing children who are being sexually exploited across our region. He opened her eyes to new trends that grabbed her attention. We are blessed to have her on the front lines and continuing to facilitate opportunities to spread awareness and shine a light on this evil.

Practical Ways to Fight Trafficking Locally

For the bulk of my last two years, I have been struggling to discern practical ways to engage in this issue locally. There are plenty of great organizations that are doing work on a global scale, but until recently we haven’t been able to specifically label opportunities to invest locally.

5 Opportunities to Take a Stand Against Trafficking

Below are 5 specific opportunities to take a stand against trafficking in the immediate area.

  1. Write a letter to your school board and law enforcement leaders as a concerned citizen.  Let them know you are aware of the issue and ask them what they are doing specifically to address the issue. NOVA HTI has a template letter. Contact Larissa.
  2. Encourage your place of business, school/PTA, or organization to host an awareness event. You can reach out directly to area leaders from organizations like:
    JustAskPrevention.com (Just Ask Prevention Project – focus on awareness and education)
    NovaHTI.com (Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative – focus on aftercare of trafficked survivors)
  3. Consider donating your time or make a financial donation to either of these non-profit organizations listed above that are dedicated to combatting the issue here in Northern Virginia. You could be as a mentor to a victim or use your specific talents as a graphic designer to support these organizations behind the scenes or use your spiritual gifts in another way.
  4. Ask your child’s school to host a poster and wristband campaign (provided by the Just Ask Prevention Project).
  5. Most importantly, be aware of what is going on around you.  If you suspect something, say something.  Make sure you and your child are both getting the same information when it comes to teen sex trafficking.  Often times, we hear from teens that were trafficked and that they didn’t even realize they were being trafficked.  Open communication is key.

Trafficking is an issue near and dear to the Lord’s heart, and I firmly believe that the Lord can use us at MBC Loudoun to facilitate redemption for victims and the eradication of this dark issue in Loudoun County and beyond.

Meet the Prayer Team–Mic Zilles

by Cheryl Krichbaum

Pastor Jim Supp asked, “What if we were a praying church?”

What if we got updates from each other while drinking our coffee and then prayed for each other?

What if we had a line of people asking for prayer after every service—a line that wrapped around the auditorium?

What if?

Does it make you nervous to pray with a stranger? That’s understandable. There may be some things that you don’t want to share. That’s okay. You can still ask for prayer.

I can pray for your job search without knowing that you were fired from your last job. I can pray for your marriage without knowing that there has been infidelity. I can pray for your kids without knowing that they are experimenting with drugs. And, besides, I’m not going to discuss your situation with anyone but God.

But what if the prayer team weren’t strangers to you because you were so used to praying with them?

Let me introduce you to Mic Zilles, leader of the Prayer Team. You have Mic Zilles leads the prayer team at MBC Loudounprobably seen Mic and his wife Linda near the door after services offering to pray with you. You’ll also find Mic praying before church service as well as actively involved in the Men’s Ministry, helping Matt Broderick with transitioning people out of homelessness, and many other special activities throughout the year.

Mic is always quick to smile, and he has a great testimony that perhaps he’ll share with you one day.

But this is a story about Mic’s passion for prayer. I asked him a few questions. Listen in.

Mic, how did you become leader of the Prayer Team?

About 2 years ago, Lon preached about praying for our country, which I am very passionate about, and I began going to the prayer meetings before each Sunday service. I have a passion for praying for our country. About a year before Lon preached about praying for our country I wrote a prayer that Prison Fellowship posted in the Prayer Room. It started with a simple idea of writing a prayer for our country. It was on my mind for days, and then, for some reason, I had woken up in the middle of the night 2 nights in a row and started writing.  On the second night, I stayed up until it was completed. I brought it to work with me at Prison Fellowship for comments. Well, they liked it and printed and posted it in the Prayer Room.

When Lon had initially requested prayers for the country be said each Sunday before each service (and because I believed in it so much), I was in the Prayer Room with other church members.  Then one day, Amelia (Sipress, former Associate Director of Ministry Teams) asked if I would consider leading the prayer team. I was uneasy with the idea at first, but leading the prayer team has helped me tremendously to vocalize my prayers and speak up.

Why are you so passionate about prayer?

Why am I so passionate? Because I came to Christ as an answer to my father-in-law’s prayers. He died in December 2010, and I know he prayed for years for me and Linda to come to accept Jesus.  I came to Christ in 2011, and I truly believe it was a result of his prayers. It proves that God answers all prayers—but it’s always on His timetable.

Why aren’t there more people lined up asking for prayer after services?

  1. People are afraid to approach others to ask for prayer. Maybe they don’t fully believe in the power of prayer.
  2. They may be intimidated by praying out loud even though they aren’t necessarily the one praying out loud.
  3. They may be bashful about standing in front of others asking for prayer. Or it may be that they think there’s a special knowledge needed to pray, but it’s really as simple as having a conversation at a dinner table, but with reverence to our Lord.Mic's Prayer for Our Nation

How can people get started praying?

They can listen to how our Prayer Team prays. It’s a sincere conversation with God where they can either listen in, or be part of the conversation.

Some people think that prayer is very formulaic. Formulas like ACTS—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication—can help you get started, but then it becomes your own self-style of communicating with God.

Will their prayers always be the same?

No, of course not. I’ve changed how I pray. After 4½ years of praying, I just recently read Billy Graham’s book The Holy Spirit, and he made the whole act of praying with confession, repentance, and submission all make sense to me. I could feel the improvement in my prayers that night. I was so excited about what I had learned that I was eager to get up the next morning to say my prayers!

I also enjoyed reading Prayzing! by Daniel Henderson this past year. It’s about prayer style and how to lead a large group of prayer warriors.

What would you like to see happen with our church’s prayer life?

I am such a strong believer in prayer. It saddens me to see people come to church but then not to have some special one-on-one moments with God when they pray. It’s wrong of me to think this, but if they’re not praying at church, then they’re probably not doing it at home.

My big desire for prayer is for families to pray together at a specific time each day or times both morning and night.

I wish that when they go through the day, they would just realize all the little blessings God is bestowing.  People should feel that all of those “little things” that put a smile on our face are blessings. Those always deserve our thanks.

When they notice unpleasant things, they say that Satan was at work. Why not associate pleasing things with God’s work? We tend to be very shortsighted about things that are pleasing.

What is the most important part of prayer?

I think it’s the confessing, repentance, and submission of our sins. It’s almost too easy to only confess. People say they want to repent, but they seem to stop there because they don’t want to give control over to the Lord. If they would just learn that confession and submission are part of a continuous process, it wouldn’t seem so hard – and the best part is, it works!

Once I got the submission part, I had three prayers all answered in one day. Wow!

What other books on prayer do you recommend?

CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity is my number one recommendation. Of course Billy Graham’s book, The Holy Spirit, which I already mentioned. Also A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller and Meditating On The Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Editor’s Note: Many of the McLean Bible Church staff have read Daniel Henderson’s Transforming Prayer this past year. Daniel has also led staff and leaders through prayer using the method he discusses in his book.

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