Meal Packing for All Ages

rsz_2img_4921I was so excited when my mom told me that the Meal Packing Marathon is back in January 2017!  I had been doing it for two years, and I had had so much fun!  Helping at the Meal Packing Marathon makes me happy, because even though I am young, I could help the children in Africa who don’t have enough food to eat. I remember God says in the Bible: “If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” (Luke 3:11).

During the event, kids can help in many ways. They can pour the ingredients into the bags, weigh them on the scale, and seal them. I learned so much from the Meal Packing Marathon. I even shared my experience at school as part of my school project.

I am so looking forward and ready to help again in the next Meal Packing Marathon!

 

Register starting December 1 for the 2017 Meal Packing Event!

 

Matt Talbot Center: How We Approach Addiction

Twice a week, BelPres member Rich Morse drives across Lake Washington to volunteer at the Matt Talbot Center (MTC) in Seattle’s Belltown.“It’s a sweet Jesus place,” he says, “a place where people who are homeless, addicted, or mentally ill can get help on the spot. If you make a mistake and leave, you can always come back. It doesn’t enable, but gives grace. It offers know-how and gives people a new way of living.”

Rich exemplifies the ministry of presence that MTC offers for the healing and restoration of individuals and families. Its programs include Christ-inspired counseling; drug and alcohol treatment services; Bible study and prayer; housing and employment assistance, and literacy training.

As the November 18th edition of “The Seattle Times” reports, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy estimates that “one out of seven Americans will develop a substance-use disorder at some time in their lives, but at the present rate, only one in 10 will receive treatment;” and there aren’t sufficient programs.

“It’s time to change how we view addiction,” Dr. Murthy says, “Not as a moral failing, but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”

Rich Morse feels this is a significant question for Christians, as well: “What can we do as a church to help with the addiction problem in America?”

“I came to a relationship with Jesus 32 years ago at the age of 37 because I just knew I needed something way bigger than me. I come from a wonderful family, but one with lots of addiction. A compulsive, addictive, coping approach to living came naturally. I could do many things well, but not live very well.”

The love and healing Rich found through his faith has sustained him through more than 15 years of recovery and empowered his service to others.

Through work with black leaders in the community, Rich and his wife, Corky, came to know Greg Alex, founder and CEO of the Seattle Matt Talbot Center, and Terrence Lewis, MTC’s Operations Manager.

Rich’s heart for the underdog and his success in recovery prompted Greg and Terrence to invite Rich to visit MTC and see what they were doing.

“Soon I was facilitating a class on how we move from dependence on substances and behaviors that are destructive to our lives and relationships,” Rich says. “We discuss positive things we can use to replace our addictions and move into wholehearted living.”

Rich now leads three classes a week that offer hope, healing and a new way of living: “The work reminds me of who my ultimate hope is, who my Savior, Jesus, is!”

Next month, MTC will continue another of its traditions: providing a Christmas celebration and gifts for children in the community who would otherwise have none. Corporate funding for this event has dropped off, so BelPres members Steve and Kris Bennett are gathering funds to help.

“Each person on that staff is wrapped in so much compassion and love,” Kris says. “They’re real cheerleaders for the people they’re serving.”

If you’d like to get involved with the Matt Talbot Center, there is an upcoming opportunity to serve with the Justice & Reconciliation Team who will be putting on a Christmas mid-day meal. Email for more details.

A Community in Partnership: Bellevue Police Prayer Partners

This past spring, when the Bellevue Police Prayer Partners ministry needed a new leader, Deneen Blake felt called to step into the position, having prayed for a couple of BPD officers for many years and serving in many other roles at BelPres. Soon into her new role, Deneen, along with our mission partner Mike Ryan, Public Safety Support Services Chaplain, recognized that there were many officers without a current prayer partner. They decided to team up to further showcase this very valuable ministry. As the ordained minister and chaplain to all first responders in Bellevue, Mike read scripture in Sunday services while Deneen and Officer Jim Lindquist manned the kiosk in the lobby. At the end of the morning, over fifty Bellevue officers were matched with a BelPres prayer partner!

rsz_img_3327The importance of praying for our Bellevue PD and first responders cannot be understated. In a recent update, Mike very poignantly shared about the role he plays within our community:

“Thank you for continuing to be ‘the church the Eastside can’t live without.’ I see BelPres’ influence through my area of ministry. I’ve been busy this month: over the past two weeks alone I’ve been with a mother who lost her young adult son to suicide; and a second mother whose young adult child died from a drug overdose. I was also with two families who each lost a sibling to medical issues, as well as caring for a number of impacted first responders.”

Mike’s role in providing spiritual care for families in shock and grief gives him a front seat in mission and outreach to our community. Not only that, he also provides care and a listening ear to first responders, including police officers as they too are impacted by loss and grief. This places Mike on the front lines every day. Chaplain Mike is such a gift to our Bellevue community; and having BelPres members daily praying for police officers is such an encouragement to him and to Officer Lindquist.

Thank you to all who have signed up to be a prayer partner. You are bringing to the Throne of Grace those who care for us when emergencies arise. If you would like more information about the Bellevue Police Prayer Partner ministry at BelPres, please contact GetConnected or call 425-454-3082 and ask to speak with someone in missions.

Checking My List Against His: Alternative Gift Market

 

I am someone who enjoys getting caught up in the busyness of wrapping, decorating, and shopping for Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love Advent: going to church, singing hymns, and celebrating the birth of Jesus. My daughter laughs at my tears each Christmas Eve as we sing “Silent Night” by candlelight in the sanctuary. However, I am guilty of finding joy in the season by making lists of my wants so that my family knows what to get me each year. I am guilty of the selfishness of making sure that Christmas is perfect for me, the way I want it. Though I tell myself that I am just trying to make shopping easier for everyone. But the responsibility I have as a mom glares in my face when I see how that has started to make its way into my own children’s thinking and celebrating. It is up to me to reconsider, refocus, and model where the attention goes during the holidays.

And that’s when I find myself thankful for the work I get to do with the Alternative Gift Market.

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Each year one of the highlights of Advent is the start of the Alternative Gift Market (AGM). I work with an amazing group of people for a good six months leading up to Advent; collecting, editing, organizing, designing, and finally putting together all the pieces for the catalog and online store. It is a joy to see all our hard work come together. The hope of AGM is to raise funds to support the work of our partners in local and global ministries. A secondary hope is for our BelPres congregation to see just how far outward we are reaching and the many varied ministries we are working with. My own personal hope is that perhaps a particular ministry will grab a heart and pull at someone to not only buy a meaningful gift, but also to go deeper and seek a way to engage with that ministry.

I love how this catalog always refocuses my attention on what it means to give at Christmas and find joy in the season. I look at the pictures and the items offered through the catalog, and I realize just how blessed I am and how much I have been given. And I remember Luke 12:48 “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” So, at Christmas I have an opportunity to give a gift I will never see—clean water, malaria treatment, blankets, or chickens—to someone I have never met.

I am thankful that I can experience gift giving at Christmas in a different way and reflect on what truly matters to me and my family. It’s about a birthday for someone else. I am a guest at this wonderful celebration. It’s not about me, but about the King and the gifts he continues to give to the world. Through our Alternative Gift Market, I am able to be a part of giving for the glory of the Kingdom.

The Word of the Lord Reaching Beyond the Pages

One of the worst—and at the same time best—experiences of my early years in Bible translation took place one morning about 22 years ago. I was living in a small town in Cameroon and working with a team of mother-tongue speakers of Nugunu, one of the 270 languages spoken in Cameroon. As they translated Mark’s gospel into their language, my job was to provide them with verse by verse guidance as to the meaning of the original Greek text.

The five men on the team were good at translation, and all were members of local churches. However, when we had started our work a couple of years earlier, it wasn’t clear whether all of them had really surrendered their lives to the Lord.

As we gathered at the translation desk to begin our work that morning, one member of the team was missing. I asked, “Does anyone know where Pascal is?” A couple of the men hung their heads. Finally, someone said, “Pascal won’t be joining us. He left his wife and ran away with another woman.” I was stunned.

That’s when Crépin spoke up. Of all the members of the group, Crépin had seemed to be the least interested in following the Lord. So it surprised me when he said, “We need to tell Pascal that if we’re going to translate God’s Word, we have to live the way it tells us!” The others nodded in agreement. And that was my first hint that God was at work in the hearts of these men as they wrestled day by day to translate his truth into the language that spoke most clearly to them and their people. God’s message was transforming the translators!

Now, 20-some years after that incident, the Nugunu New Testament has been completed. It is being printed, and the Nugunu-speaking community is preparing for a big dedication celebration for next year. Crépin has become a spiritual leader among his people and is helping to train Bible translators in other languages. As for Pascal, he repented of his unfaithfulness, returned to his wife and family, and has also become a vibrant Christian leader. In fact, the lives of all those Nugunu translators have become the most compelling motivation for their people to pay attention to the Good News of Jesus.

Seeing God at work in people’s lives through his Word is one of the things that keeps me working with African Bible translators in many languages. I count it a great privilege to have a part in, but it’s certainly not something I’d presume to do on my own! I’m very grateful that the people of BelPres stand with me through prayer, encouragement, and financial support, as we trust God to speak through his Word to the language communities of French-speaking Africa.

In November and December, I’ll be off to Africa again for a particularly demanding six weeks of Scripture checking in four languages of Chad and Cameroon (including work with three new teams in Cameroon) and training Bible translation consultants. I value your prayers! If you would like to receive email updates, please drop me a line at keith_patman@sil.org.

Keith Patman

Wycliffe Bible Translators

Looking at God through Muslim and Christian Lenses

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts I have been writing on Islam. There are 3.3 million Muslims living in the U.S., and that number is steadily increasing which is welcome news for Christians who have been praying for Muslims. My hope for this series is that it will help us be more confident and comfortable as we build relationships with our Muslim neighbors.

 

So let’s look at three big ideas Christians and Muslims share about God and how our perspectives differ.

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Christians and Muslims believe there is only One God.

Muhammad, who is the prophet of Islam, grew up in Mecca where the people worshipped many different gods. This deeply troubled Muhammad and prompted him to devote his life to finding spiritual truth. Islam emerged from that context with the message that there is only One God. Today, many Muslims daily recite a phrase called the ‘Shahada’ which is “There is no God but ‘Allah’ and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

But the God described in the holy book of Islam, called the ‘Quran’, is different than the God described in the Bible. One of the biggest differences is that the God of the Bible is Triune. This means that there is One God, but this God consists of three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each Person has a unique role. God the Father created this world. God the Son redeemed it through the cross. God the Holy Spirit guides and empowers followers of Jesus in this world. Christians call this ‘The Trinity’, and there are several places in the Bible that show the Trinity of God at work: Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 3:16-17 and Matthew 28:18-21.  Muslims reject this doctrine. For a Muslim, there is only One God, so Jesus was only a prophet.

Christians and Muslims believe that God is Transcendent.

God exceeds the barriers of physical space and time limitations. This means God is Supreme, All-Powerful, and All-Knowing. God is the necessary and unique Creator of all things. There is no one and no thing like God. Christians and Muslims both agree on this.

For a Muslim though, God is so unique and so far removed from our lives that a Muslim cannot know God personally. The term Muslim means ‘to submit’ and the human-God relationship in Islam (which means ‘the submission’) is best described as servant-master. A Muslim submits to God’s laws and lives a life of obedience characterized by the five pillars of Islam (saying the Shahada, prayer, fasting, alms, and pilgrimage to Mecca.) A Muslim can know God’s attributes, and this knowledge gives a Muslim comfort and encouragement, but there is no personal relationship with this God.

Christians believe that the transcendent God burst into this world in the person of Jesus. Matthew 1:23 records for us that the angel Gabriel, in announcing Jesus’ birth, said; “they will call Him Immanuel, which means God with us.” Later, Jesus would tell His disciples “Anyone who has seen me has seen my Father,” John 14:7

Jesus came so that we could know the Father personally and relate to Him as His children, Galatians 3:26, 1 John 3:1.

Christians and Muslims believe that God provides guidance through this life.

We live in a world that does not know God or follow Him. So God has given us prophets and His Holy Word to show us His will and guide us. This is another idea we agree on.

Muslims have a very high view of the Torah (The Jewish Scriptures) and the Bible, in addition to the Quran. But Muslims also believe that the Torah and the Bible became corrupted over the years. So God gave Muhammad the exact words which are written in the Quran.  These words came directly from heaven and were spoken to Muhammad in Arabic, which is why the Quran is only read and spoken in Arabic. All other translations are imperfect versions or translations. The purpose of the Quran is to make people aware of God’s creation plan and to earn God’s pleasure. The Quran describes human beings as good, created with the capability of being good. Adam and Eve sinned simply because they forgot or became distracted from obeying God’s law. The Quran reminds a Muslim about God’s law and provides the guidance a Muslim needs to obey it. By doing so, a Muslim shows their devotion to God and hopes in return to inherit paradise.

Christians believe the complete opposite. The Bible teaches us that God’s law, summed up in the commandments, is good, but it does not have the power to make us good, Romans 7:7-25. Rather, the law shows us how corrupt we are and how unable we are to live righteous and obedient lives. This is because we have a sin nature that makes it impossible for us to be good on our own. We need a Savior. Someone who can make us righteous and heal our sin nature. We need Jesus because that’s exactly what He does for us.

The heart of the Christian message is “God loves you!”

“God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life”, John 3:16. God is personal, relational, and wildly in love with you. God goes to the most radical extreme to demonstrate His love. Romans 5:8 tells us “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” By placing all our brokenness and sin on Himself when He died on that cross, God received the Judgment that was coming for us all. Now we are totally free. That is really different from the God of the Quran.

So what can you do today? Begin praying for God to give you a Muslim friend. Have fun with the relationship. Love them. Serve them. Ask questions about their faith. And when the time comes, share your own personal experience with God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Prayer:  “Jesus, light the fire of your love in me for the sake of the world.”