Letter from the Editor

It’s easy for me to go for periods where I do not actively read my Bible. I get my “fix” from the sermons on Sunday or online devotionals I read or that I am sent. Sometimes I look at my Bible and think, despite so much evidence in my own life to the contrary, “This 2000-year-old book is great, but how applicable can it really be?” But then, when I am eager to hear God’s voice, I flip open my Bible and let Him know, “I’m ready! Let’s get down to some wisdom.”

God-on-demand – is that what I really want?

I page through the Scriptures, using my handy topic index in the back of my Bible to find the words of wisdom I know are waiting for me and usually I get back…nothing.

“Hello, God, I’m here. I’m ready for an answer.”

Silence. (more…)

Happy New Year 2016

Resolution One: I will live for God.

Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. 

~ Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

As 2015 closes and 2016 opens, many of us will make resolutions for the New Year. We can all think of common resolutions to quit this, do that, lose this, et cetera—perhaps we made one ourselves last year or in previous years. While all of these are rooted in positivity, 1 Timothy 4:8 reminds us, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Although there is nothing in the Bible or notable in Christian tradition about New Year’s resolutions, many good stewards take advantage of this time of year to become closer to the Lord. Whatever your resolution may be, turn to the Lord. Ask the Lord for guidance, strength and perseverance in achieving your resolutions. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength,” (Phil 4:13). If God is the center of our New Years resolutions, they have a better chance for success.

Top Books BelPres Library*: Part 1 of 2

*According to user data.

Explore these books and check next month’s Messenger for more of the most popular books at BelPres.

These books and many more are available in the BelPres Library. See our online catalog, listing over 5,000 resources, at belpres.org.

Surprised by Hope Rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church.
N.T. Wright

What happens after we die? Wright shows how most Christians get it wrong. We do not “go to” heaven; we are resurrected and heaven comes down to earth—a difference that makes all of the difference to how we live on earth.

Simply Jesus: Who He was, what He did, why it matters

N.T. Wright

Summarizes 200 years of modern Biblical scholarship and models how Christians can best retell the story of Jesus today. (more…)

Do the Work: Perseverance in Haiti

It is a glamour job when you see if from afar at the conferences…doing incredible things for impossibly poor people in places that could be Biblical times if people weren’t dressed in thrift shop clothes. Today we are doing to get dirty, on top of already sweaty and smelly. Not something usually mentioned at missionary conferences, the sweaty and smelly. We put the culvert under the road for this irrigation canal a couple of years ago knowing full well we didn’t have the money to connect the canal with it and bring the water through. Now we have a little bit more money do some of the canal–not enough to get water flowing, but closer. We have learned to do what we can knowing or hoping that another year we can finish this canal and make a much more effective irrigation canal system for hundreds of people.

It took a long time for us to figure it out. Or for God to open our eyes,  whatever happened. There are a lot of things that could be done to grow a lot of food here in one of the poorest driest parts of a place that wears out a lot of adjectives. A LOT of food. It is the ‘could be done’ part that is the fine print. Things have to be done. People can’t eat potential, which means someone has to plan and work with people and communities, and have the equipment and the technicians and the expertise. All of it as far out as you can get in a country that is already challenged for infrastructure. And then, get something done.

By American standards it isn’t that much money or big a project. And from here, you might miss the urgency. After all, while food from Miami is expensive, it isn’t prohibitively so, and it’s currently plentiful. But that won’t last, and famine conditions are clearly on the horizon. So we have to dig down next to the culvert which is buried under runoff from the hill and find the elevation for the bottom of the culvert. From there we can do the grade for the rest of the canal upstream and downstream. We brought the backhoe to hopefully save a couple of days of digging by hand. We keep digging deeper and deeper.

Finally, we are down in the hole with one of the men, digging the last little bit with a machete, the all-purpose tool of choice in most of the developing world. The hole is nine feet deep and sliding down in it’s clear that the soil is good all the way down. All it needs is water. Runoff is not an issue because the same rich soil is 100’ deep.

We find the bottom and mark a spot on the top of the culvert to use for a bench mark for surveying. It looks hopeless. There is nothing here but scrub mesquite and the canal is going to have to be deep, expensive and hard to build and we aren’t even going to see the water flow in this iteration. This project is a building block to get closer to one day having a canal: a canal that will be a game changer for hundreds of families. We have to keep that goal in front of us, or we might lose hope.

The irrigation canal project before last looked more hopeless than this one. For months we were dreaming about putting in an irrigation pump on the big river 12 miles away. There are 23 big pumping stations on that river. Nearly all of them don’t work now if they ever did. I had it all thought out in my head how we could try something different. Not complicated, just different.

Then on the day we were going to go over there and start working, reality hit. The brush had grown up and we couldn’t even walk to the site without hacking through the impenetrable brush. All of the sudden it didn’t look very possible or very promising. Self-doubt showed up then, saying: What kind of crazy harebrained idea is this anyhow? Who are you to think that you can do an irrigation canal over here when no one else has succeeded? And by the way that is solid rock you are talking about cutting a slot in to bring the water in to the pump. But God is faithful. That project works, and this next one will too. It’s time to practice perseverance.

There is no book. There are no plans. There is no one to go to and see if this is a good idea at this stage. It is you, God, and a crew that is has taught you the meaning of the word ‘loyal.’ You do the next thing next because this is what you said you were going to be doing at this stage months ago when it looked so much more possible from far away. Feel that gentle urging of God to just do a little bit more and keep going. Keep telling yourself that the other one worked so this one should too. You just have to do the next thing next. If God is in it, it has to work even if you aren’t so sure.

Two of the men from the community are present and helping enthusiastically. As they work, they point out that it hasn’t rained in months, the drought is two going on three years old and there has not regularly been any water in the river that feeds this canal for months.

You have to remind them (and yourself) that there are off years here which is why cactus grow so well. But there are years when there is plenty of water. In the plenty years you can’t be building canals because there is too much mud. So if you are going to work, you have to work now when there is dust in your teeth from the wind and dirt in your shoes from sliding down into the hole.

Today just worry about measuring to build this little section of canal as far as the money flows. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

As for the worries the team discussed? A week after we did the digging to check for the elevation there was a surprise rainstorm that didn’t show up on the weather forecast. It rained all night. At our house we got an inch of gentle rain. At the canal site and in some areas that feed the river that feeds the irrigation canal they got five inches of rain overnight- more rain than had been received in the last year. So we work, So we trust in God. Not so glamorous, but good work all the same.

 

Pack a Meal. Change a Life.

If you were asked to design a perfect service opportunity for our church family, what would it be? It would need to appeal to both young and old, and to those muscular and not so muscular. It would have to overflow with the joy of serving, the fun of new friendships, the call to impact lives, and, of course, be infused with an overwhelming sense that God is there.

Friends, I introduce you to the Meal Packing Marathon.

Last January, you may have been one of the lucky 300 people who joined us for the first Meal Packing Marathon at BelPres. In two hours, this hearty group of volunteers packed 70,000 dried meals for vulnerable children in Sierra Leone, West Africa. By investing a morning of energy, our BelPres community made a lasting impression in God’s rescue operation to the world, feeding children who would otherwise go hungry.

Wearing aprons and hairnets, these 300 joyful servants put chicken, rice, lentils, and spice into bags, which were then weighed and sealed, and later boxed. Children who participated were happily running food bags to the sealing stations, coloring boxes, (more…)

The Longing in My Heart

Psalm 1 (and other Psalms) speaks about loving the law of the Lord, and for many years that felt stifling to me. Loving laws? That seems contradictory to my desire for relationship. But when I delve into the Psalmist David’s engagement with God, I see a relationship that is real, relevant, and brutally honest. There was something about meditating on scripture that fed David’s soul. He clearly had a sense of calling, and if he ever forgot, he had Samuel there to remind him. David put all of his emotions, his sense of being chosen, his whole life on paper, as he records his conversations with a relational God.

Over the years, I have come to understand David’s longing for God’s word, as my longing has morphed from an “I should” to “I want to,” because of the ways that God has met me in His Word. Through the practice of personal lectio divina (“Divine Reading”), I have found longed-for answers, challenging directives, and revelations that have left me breathless. For many people, reading scripture for information (facts – who, what, where, when, and why) has breathed life into the words on the page, but for me, with two degrees in theology and a life of studying scripture for information, the practice feeds a feeling of disconnect from a relational God. But when I began to read formationally, listening to the voice of my heart in the reading, and trusting that God has a specific message for me in each and every day and story, I have found that it is true that when we seek God, we will find Him. Scripture has connected to my life in whole new ways. (more…)

Coincidence or God?

It has been said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Well, I need to “out” God. Many times I receive very appreciative and thoughtful comments about the Sanctuary worship music and about its close relationship to the message of the day. Truth be told, I often sit there in the service and see endless connections of the message and music that are completely unintentional. At least to me. It is uncanny how often this happens, and not just in the Sanctuary but in Modern Worship as well. I’ve been witnessing this for years, going back to the days of our former pastor Dick Leon in the old Sanctuary up the hill. So I thought I would take a moment to share a case in point, the first Sunday following the Paris attacks the evening of November 13.

A PARISIAN KYRIE. When we sing we not only proclaim God’s word and minister through the incredibly emotive language of music, but we also pray. Music in worship is also intended to support the preacher’s message but musicians have to plan far in advance and preachers don’t always have that luxury. Sometimes I haven’t a clue as to what the scripture or message will be (and Scott Dudley might say the same thing!)

In September I was looking for an opportunity to work into our fall worship services a remarkable setting of one of the oldest known prayers, the Kyrie (prayer: Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy) from a lesser-known Mass by the French composer and organist of Notre-Dame (Paris), Louis Vierne (1870-1937) for the Sanctuary Chorus to sing in worship. November 15 was thematically “open” so I scheduled it, even though I had concerns it may be too “stern” sounding or “loud” for a prayer of mercy. I didn’t realize the connection the piece had to the Paris massacre until I was doing my final score review that Sunday morning at about 5:30am. It was as if we were praying, pleading, and, yes, demanding, for mercy and peace for all humankind with an inner gentle section calling on the love of Jesus. It was a powerful, emotive, cathartic, experience for the singers and judging from comments on Facebook or elsewhere, for many in the congregation as well. (more…)

Changing Lives: High School Fall Retreat

Danielle Merseles, Pastoral Resident

High School Ministries annual Fall Retreat might just be my favorite weekend of the year. There are the staples – s’mores, mountaintops covered in snow, lots of hot cocoa, and spending Saturday afternoon playing games together. This year was no exception. Rev. Daniel Triller spoke on friendship. Who were Jesus’ closest friends? How do we create strong, life-giving friendships? I got to witness our students grow in relationship with each other, with leaders and with Jesus. I saw God show up through a volunteer leader offering students a morning devotional time and the abundant laughter during a game that turned into a dance party. I experienced the presence and power of the Spirit through the all-student worship team that led us in song and prayed over us. My Fall Retreat experience is just one of the 66 leaders and students that came together in Leavenworth.

Here are some stories from a few students…

Lindsay Metz, Sammamish High School, Class of 2019

Never have I felt God’s presence stronger than I did at Fall Retreat. I got to better my relationships with friends and get to know new people as well. Fall Retreat for me was a little break from chaos and a breath of fresh air. I had prayed that Fall Retreat would be a chance for me to reconnect with God and feel His presence in a new way. So I walked into the worship room, and it was full of people I love and music I like to sing. We then ‘opened ourselves up to God’ in any way we chose. I bowed my head and tried my best to listen. All of a sudden I burst into tears. Now I am not one to share my feelings in a public manner, as a matter a fact, I dread bonding on a deep emotional level with really anyone. But there I sat, unable to stop crying in a place full of people. (more…)

Finding Our Balance…Again

Leaving work a few weeks ago, I noticed two bike riders approaching the stoplight on 12th and Bellevue Way. Single file in traffic, they pulled up side by side at the intersection. They slowed down carefully, avoiding a full stop, to keep from losing momentum and putting a foot down on the pavement. 

One of the riders began to wobble precariously, and as he was losing his balance, the other biker reached over and steadied him, keeping him from tipping over, until the light changed and they got moving again. Once the rider regained control of his bicycle, his friend let go, and they continued their journey—together.

We all lose our balance at times – if not on a bike, in life. Our deacon can be that rider beside us, who reaches out to keep us from falling, helping us to regain our balance.

When I was newly married and just a year into seminary, my husband and I were knocked off balance by the sudden discovery of a mass in my brain, leading to emergency brain surgery and a long and difficult recovery. The church we belonged to had a small but effective group of deacons who appeared at our sides, keeping us from crashing to the ground. They brought hugs and company, hand-picked flowers and a hand-stitched quilt, notes, a meal, a phone call. Small things, I suppose, but I remember them as bright lights of love and connection amidst a consuming darkness. In a time when my family’s balance was tested, those deacons reached out and steadied us, more than a few times, as we scrambled to get our footing and get on our way.  (more…)

Truth and Grace

“Dad and Mom, I’m gay.”

A few years back, our daughter—age 19 at the time and away at college—announced to us that she was gay. She told us that she

had known since early junior high.

Our daughter’s coming out challenged us to reflect on our understanding of homosexuality and scripture. Now 24 years old, she is a generous and talented young woman whom we love for who she is. We want to be able to talk candidly to her about faith, the church, and what it means to live into God’s plan for our lives. (more…)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day

Monday, January 18

“Things are different now. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s often vocal sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.”

Excerpt from “The Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Martin Luther King, Jr., April 16, 1963 (more…)

Behind the Scenes with Steve White

I don’t really relish Hawaiian shirts. I think it takes courage to wear one, especially at church while greeting. You risk falling victim to whisperings from us female fashionista types. But that doesn’t bother Steve White. Greeting is just one of the ways he serves at BelPres. And when he does welcome us, that Hawaiian shirt goes on! He explains that when folks come through the door they’ll think, “Who is this nut in the Hawaiian shirt anyway, and maybe it will make them a little more joyful.”

Steve was raised in a large Presbyterian church where Sundays started at 6:30am. That’s when they arrived at church – not got out of bed. He folded bulletins, attended Sunday school, the main service, and Fellowship Hall. The family would head home around 2pm.

Fast forward 25 years. Steve landed a promising career in Seattle with Boeing. He couldn’t be happier to give up that Sunday routine! He’s a free man; except for the nudging in his heart that something’s missing and those weekly calls from mom asking if he’s found a church. Through someone at work, he’s directed to University Presbyterian Church in Seattle.  (more…)

Birth Announcements Jan 2016

William David Schlitt
Born 6-2-15 to
Michael and Desiree Schlitt

Bradford Thomas Jackson
Born 10-17-15 to
Brad and Jill Jackson

Tessa Fe Kaloper
Born 10-8-15 to
Scott and Nemecia Kaloper

Tyler Franklin Burdulis
Born 5-18-15 to
Kelsey and Nathan Burdulis

Blakely Hope Sherlock
Born 9-10-15 to
Chris and Amy Sherlock

The New Baby ministry seeks to greet new babies in our church community with the love of Christ. If you know of a family who is due to have a baby or adopt a baby in the coming months please contact Di Alexander or the Church Office, 425-454-3082, so we may include them in this ministry.

Thank You!

Thank you, Christmas Eve Volunteers! Your gift of time made it possible for over 6,000 people to share the joy and celebration of the birth of our King! Parking hosts, technical crew, greeters, ushers, snack room helpers, medical personnel, candle crew, child care, and all of the very many vocal and instrumental musicians, thank you!

We also would like to honor all of you that reached out to our community this Christmas season. To those that prepared a meal or gift boxes for those without homes, helped with Angel Tree, or prepared boxes for Operation Christmas Child, thank you! To everyone that helped with KidREACH or contributed to the Alternative Gift Market, thank you!

You all made 2015 a wonderful season of giving.

Gratefully,

GetConnected and BelPres Staff

Experiencing Christmas Overseas

This time of year, my heart turns to missionary friends living overseas. Christmas for Missionaries can be a mixed bag. For the first time missionary experiencing Christmas in a developing world context, Christmas can be hard. But then, it isn’t. First, you’re missing all of the trappings of Christmas in your “home country”, but then, you also get to skip all the trappings of western Christmas, which isn’t always a bad thing. You’re missing family. Loneliness hits, big time. But then, you’ve also got your new family of friends on the mission field.  Folks who you bonded with over transportation, shopping or language learning woes. These people take up residence in your heart very quickly, and at Christmas, having them around makes all the difference.

When you do Christmas overseas, you’ll certainly miss some of the sights, smells, and sounds of Christmas back home. However, most missionaries have that sense of hope, peace, joy and love that sometimes are missing in Christmas in the west. If you’re serving in the developing world, or in an unreached place, all around you there are people God loves, people Jesus came for, and you’ve got a unique opening to talk about who Jesus is and what he did, because of this world famous holiday. So there’s a lot of joy and hope in Christmas overseas for folks working toward fulfilling the great commission.

This is also the time of year when families get reunited on t
he mission field. Children who are over 18 generally roll off their parent’s visa, so have to go back to their “passport country”—which is rarely home. For some missionaries this means the end of their overseas service. But for many, it means sending kids to college in the US while the parents and younger siblings remain “home” in faraway lands. Christmas has a heightened sense of waiting when you’re waiting for a plane to arrive.

So my heart turns toward these families this time of year, when many mission agencies support flying college-age kids back to the field for Christmas with family. Sometimes the planes go the other direction, though, allowing the whole missionary family to experience the wonder that is Christmas in America. I remember friends of ours delaying furlough by 6 months, because they, and their children, had not experienced Christmas in America in more than a dozen years. There are some pretty great things about Christmas here in the states—live church music comes to mind—and it’s special to let kids experience it for the first time.

No matter what stage of life, from those new to the field, to those who have just moved back to the states after years of fruitful ministry, missionaries need to be remembered in prayer at this time of year.

May your Christmas be filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love!

 

New Horizons: Helping Street-Involved Teens, One Coffee at a Time

On a beautiful autumn day, Community Outreach Team Member Kris Bennett and I traveled into the heart of Seattle to visit New Horizons. Created in 1978 to serve street youth in the downtown Seattle area, New Horizons has grown substantially, and provides comprehensive services to youth experiencing homelessness. New Horizons is a safe place for youth ages 13 – 23, who find themselves homeless, on the streets,  vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking as well as drugs and deep loneliness.

As we toured, Executive Director Mary Steele shared about street youth. In 2015, over 5000 young people ages 18-24 experienced a period of homelessness in Seattle. On any given night, between 800 and 1500 youth are sleeping on the streets, under bridges, and in city parks. The New Horizons website states, “The young men and women we work with hear the same story day after day: they are unloved and unlovable. We choose to tell a better story – one of restoration, reconciliation, and sustainability. It’s a story of transformation over time; gradual, subtle change that leads to long-term, lasting success. Ours is a story of walking alongside homeless youth on their journey toward healing.”

One of New Horizons’ beautiful gifts to street youth is the establishment in 2012 of a 12-bed onsite housing facility on the top floor of their building. Kris and I were struck by the safety, security and hominess of each “bedroom.” Every night, twelve young people have a safe place to stay, with cubbies for peIMG_7506rsonal items, a clean bed with a gorgeous quilt, and a living room for gathering, reading, writing and dreaming about the future. This housing area enables youth to get back on their feet and prepare to move into permanent housing.

Additionally, New Horizons offers street youth food, clothing, life skills, mentoring, help with homework, and case management. This is life-giving to young people on the streets, many of whom have left abusive homes and are in need of loving guidance and safe adults who will listen to their stories and care for them without judgment.

As one young person shared, “New Horizons has been a big help in changing my life. To tell my street family that I have to go home at night is bittersweet. Bitter, because they cannot come with me, but sweet, because it has been years since I had a place to call home. The staff make me feel safe and they do not judge you, just love on you like you were of their own family.”

New Horizons also runs Street Bean Coffee shop on the first floor of their building. In 2007, New Horizons’ leadership dreamed of a place where homeless and transitional youth could learn job skills in a supportive environment. This dream became a reality when Street Bean Coffee opened its doors in 2009. Youth learn more than just how to be a barista. They learn how to be good employees and coworkers, the value of great customer service, how to give anpouring-latte-art-smaller-file-300x225d receive feedback, and they grow in leadership and self-confidence. After 3-6 months, apprentices walk out of this program knowing how to be successful in any workplace.

Additionally, Street Bean Coffee Roasters are opening a new job training program in partnership with Overlake Christian Church. Having purchased a coffee roaster, Street Bean is now selling their own special blends of coffees. Street Bean is a delightful space for business people, students, neighborhood residents and visitors to gather. Of course, when Kris, Mary and I toured the coffee shop we had to “sample” their delicious coffee! I recommend that you stop by for a great cup of coffee—and an opportunity to see BelPres mission dollars at work!

As Kris and I left New Horizons and headed home, we reflected on the gift that New Horizons and their staff are to our most precious gifts, our children. Isaiah 58:6-7 says;

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
To loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
To set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry,
And to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
When you see the naked, to clothe them,
And not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

New Horizons enables young people to find freedom from oppression and exploitation, food and shelter, clothing and acceptance, all in Jesus’ Holy Name.

Have you ever encountered a young person experiencing homelessness? What was your response? How did you feel?

What do you think of Jesus’ mandate above as it applies to young people experiencing homelessness? Have you considered how you could step in to care for young people who find themselves on the streets or in a shelter like New Horizons?

For more information see New Horizons, or go to Street Bean Coffee.
To provide a meal, or volunteer, complete the form, below: 

BelPres Serve Service Opportunity Contact Form

Contact information for ministry opportunities.
  • Please indicate the areas in which you have interest in serving.

 

A Christian Response to the Stranger: Faith and Courage–Never Fear

It’s a little early to be thinking about St. Patrick’s Day.  After all, March 17 is nearly three months away.  But St. Patrick’s life and witness couldn’t be timelier to think about than right now.

Patrick was 16 years old when a band of Celtic pirates from Ireland invaded his homeland in Northeast England, captured Patrick, brought him back with them to Ireland where he was sold as a slave.  During his 6 years as a slave, Patrick committed his life to Jesus, developed a deep love for his captors and grew to understand their culture and way of life.  Patrick then escaped from Ireland and returned to England where he eventually became a Parish priest.  One night Patrick had a dream. In that dream an angel came to him and delivered several letters from his former captors, pleading with him to return and help them.  The dream was not like anything Patrick had been thinking about.  Reflecting on its meaning, Patrick realized God was calling him to live among and share Jesus with the Celts.

Patrick returned to Ireland and started a movement, which resulted in tens of thousands surrendering their lives to Jesus and being baptized.  Roughly 25% of Ireland’s formerly unreached tribes became devoted Christians. All forms of violence significantly decreased and the Irish slave trade came to a halt.

So just what does any of this have to do with what is going on today?

We are living in a time when fear and anger, particularly directed at Islamic extremists like the group calling itself Islamic State (ISIS, ISUL) and the international community is increasingly calling Daesh, are fueling concerns that the U.S. is not a safe place to live.

Fear drives a sort of exclusionism which wants to build a wall, either real or figurative, which would prevent foreigners–Muslims and anyone else we label as bad–from entering our country.  But history reminds us that walls built to keep us safe, like Japanese internment camps, actually hurt us instead.  Those WWII camps made us victims of our own fear and violated the freedom principles on which our great country was founded.

The conversation for us as Christians, however, must start with Scripture.  We submit to the authority of Scripture to guide us rather than the sentiments and forces of the culture around us.

The Bible shows us God is on a rescue mission to restore and redeem our world.  First He called a man, Abram; then a nation, Israel; then a Savior, Jesus; and now the Church is called to partner with Him in redeeming every people and every nation.

We are in a spiritual battle where Satan is wreaking havoc, literally bringing hell on earth.  Jesus death and resurrection mean that the final victory is God’s and one day it will be ours too.  Until then, we are to welcome the stranger and the foreigner, (Deut 10:19); Love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, pray for those who despise us (Mt 5:44); make disciples of all nations, (Mt 28:19); seek and save the lost, (Luke 19:19).

No one ever won a war by retreating and hiding.  No one ever found victory by building a wall.  And that is why Patrick is so important for us now.  Patrick didn’t stay in England filled with fear and anger over his Celtic Oppressors.  Patrick returned to Ireland.  Lived among the Celts.  Loved them and served them.  Showed them and told them about Jesus.  That is how the movement that brought Christianity to the West got started.  That is what changed the world back then.  That is the only thing that will change our world now.

Faith and Courage required.

Renewal Food Bank, Sharing Dignity and Respect

default-logoby Rich Bowen, Director

What I’ve learned after seventeen years as the director of the Renewal Food Bank is that every family that comes to us has a story. No matter what circumstances first bring them here, what I have found to be most important is how they are first received. Making them feel welcomed and respected will go a long way in easing the stress and often the humiliation they feel in having to enter a food bank. I want to share two of those stories of families that we have served.

Maria first came to the food bank around 2011. She had heard about us from her sister who was also a client of Renewal. She would come regularly every week, and always by herself. She is married and has two children. She was always appreciative for the food she received, and would thank us each week. We came to learn from Maria that her husband was an auto mechanic who had been out of work for some time. He would get part-time work off and on but nothing full time that would cover the family’s needs. Maria shared with us that her husband was opposed to her using a food bank. She said he was too proud to have his family come to a food bank. For the welfare of her family she decided they needed the help we offered. Maria is one of the few stories for which we are allowed to witness an end to our ministry to her family. In the spring of last year, her husband got a full time job as a mechanic! Maria has not needed the assistance of Renewal since last year.

My second story is about Anna. Anna came to the United States in the early 1990’s. She and her husband emigrated from Russia. At the time of their arrival to the US, both Anna and her husband were in their early sixties. They had emigrated here because they had two adult children who lived in the Seattle area. They moved into a government-subsidized apartment in Bellevue. Their total income was about $1,000 per month! They began using the food bank soon after we opened in 1998. The food they received from us was vital. It helped supplement what food they could afford to purchase. Anna’s husband passed away about eight years ago. She still lives in the same small apartment and now nearly eighty years old, she still drives to our food bank every week.

With the great majority of our clients we never know the outcome of our work. Many families come and go. Those we no longer see, we can only hope their situation has improved and that is why we no longer see them. All we can do is minister to them by not only meeting their physical need for food but try and meet their emotional need of being treated with dignity and respect each time they come through our doors.