Behind the Scenes: Lindsay Metz

Lindsay Metz can’t remember a time when Bellevue Presbyterian Church was not part of her life.  Baptized there as an infant, she has been a part of the BelPres community from her earliest days.

Since kindergarten, Lindsay was not only a regular Sunday School attendee, she also sang in all the Children’s Choirs of each age group.  Today she sings in the Bel Canto choir, and extends her love of music to Band Jam and Modern Worship.

Lindsay’s BelPres involvement stems from a family that is active at BelPres.  Her parents – elders Julie and David Metz – encouraged her to participate on family mission trips to Nicaragua, as well as to join her father on the weekly BelPres Sermon Review team.

One of this 17-year-old’s greatest joys is serving on the Sammamish High School Student Leadership Team to help plan the group’s direction and activities. Lindsay gives priority to church activities and feels most passionate about her relationships in the Youth Group. But it’s important to her to be involved in “the whole life of the church, not just Youth Group,” she explains.

Lindsay finds herself most comfortable at church, where it just “feels right,” she says.  “Even when I’m exhausted, youth group fills the needs of my heart.”

“Lindsay has a vision for the future of God’s church and is helping it get there,” says Steven Johnson, high school director. “She helps others become their best selves by facilitating community, speaking into people’s lives and personal one-on-one care. She is a developer of people.”

Lindsay thinks about her future after high school, and is considering ministry. “The lie I tell myself is one of confidence,” she says. “I struggle with convincing myself that I can lead.”

But lead she does: assisting at middle school camp, singing at church, advising on sermon reviews, helping create a peer mentor group for high school girls, speaking at church gatherings, and most recently becoming an elder.

Senior Pastor Scott Dudley explains, “Lindsay has faithfully attended my Sermon Review Group on Thursday mornings at 6:30 am, (Quite a commitment for anyone to make), and has been very helpful in critiquing and improving them ─ especially from a youth point of view. Lindsay has a clear connection to Jesus, loves our church, and has an enormous amount of wisdom to offer,” he adds.

Lindsay looks forward to her new role as an elder. “It has been really cool watching how our church is striving to become more intergenerational and seeing how much youth are valued in our congregation,” she says.

“Lindsay has a huge heart,” says Alischia Bestemann, high school small group leader. “She is a natural gatherer and nurturer.  She cares deeply about her relationships, invests in them and gives selflessly to them.”

“When Lindsay says she is praying for you, you can rest assured she’s got you covered.”

Behind the Scenes: Garret Van Zwol

Gerrit Van Zwol says, although he has been a part of BelPres since birth, his true involvement started in 2008, after spending four memorable years with his family as missionaries in Indonesia. “I loved our time in Indonesia,” Gerrit recalls, and he hopes to return some day for a visit. The eldest of three boys, Gerrit is the son of BelPres members Nan and Ted Van Zwol.

As an 18-year-old Running Start high school student at Cascadia College in Bothell, Gerrit keeps very active. His BelPres involvement extends from the High School Student Leadership Team (SLT) to his audio-visual work with elementary, modern, and traditional worship. Most recently, Gerrit was elected a church elder, expanding the intergenerational perspective on the leadership team.

He treasures his time with SLT and considers it the “best experience you can have in high school.” He refers to the group as a tight-knit community, calling them his brothers and sisters and explaining the love they share. He includes not only his fellow teens in the circle of camaraderie and care but also the high school leaders. “No matter what time of day or night, I know I can call on my peers in the group for support,” he says. “We are all there for each other!”

Gerrit’s work with the communications department in the audio-visual arena also keeps him involved, learning new skills, juggling responsibilities, and fueling his passion. He is interested in a future career in video production and believes “God may grant a way” for him to follow his interest. He points to Whitworth College in Spokane as his dream school and hopes to attend after graduation.

A mentor to Gerrit, Senior Pastor Scott Dudley says: “I have known Gerrit most of his life and have watched him grow up. From the time he was young he had a passion to follow Jesus and a clear sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. He has always been very mature. His love for both Jesus and BelPres is contagious.

“I am thrilled that both Gerrit and Lindsay Metz have joined the elder team this fall. They will help us to follow Jesus and make him known in our continually shifting cultural context,” he adds.

Gerrit also served on the Baja, Mexico Mission Trip in 2016. “We built two houses in one day and because of that, two families now have homes,” he says.

Like many teens, his biggest challenges are balancing the demands on his time with the stress that sometimes goes hand-in-hand.

Gerrit explains his BelPres volunteer work like this: “I volunteer not because I need to or because it’s what a good disciple of God should do. I do not do it out of duty. I volunteer because it is how I have found and grow my faith, and how I help others find theirs.”

“Gerrit has a passion and the heart to love and serve others,” says Steven Johnson, high school director. “He is willing to do whatever it takes to help care for those in his community. This love for others is driven by his continually growing relationship with God.”

“Volunteering is one of the best feelings I have ever had. It’s awesome to see others praising the Lord and know that I was able to help with that,” Gerrit says.

Clearly, Gerrit loves serving at church and following Jesus. “BelPres just feels like my second home,” he says.

Behind the Scenes: Williams Family

“Volunteering as a family is two good things put together,” says 13-year-old Emi Williams. “First, I get to volunteer to help others, and
second I get to do it with my family.”

Emi, her 16-year-old brother Reece, and her mom and dad – Alicia and Doug Williams – have volunteered for the past 3 years to supervise the preschool class during all the Easter morning services at BelPres so that other families can attend worship.

The family reminisces about some of their favorite memories with the 3, 4 and 5 year-olds. They speak fondly of the time a tiny 3-year-old boy jumped up during the preschool worship time and announced: “God loves us so much; He loves us forever.”

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Behind The Scenes: Lily Larsen

Picture of Lily Laursen

“Church feels like a blessing. It feels like home to me,” says Lily Laursen, who has been at BelPres since she was a baby.

Her grandparents — Lew and Judy Steves — have been involved at BelPres since its early years and raised Lily’s mother Dana in the church. Lily’s parents Ross and Dana Laursen are also active at BelPres and have participated in teaching, playing on the softball team, serving as an elder and volunteering with the youth ministry. Lily has a 13-year-old brother Erik.

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Behind the Scenes: Abbie Weaver

Abbie Weaver Volunteer

When her youth group peers and leaders talk about Abbie Weaver, a 17-year-old student going into her
senior year in the fall of 2017, they smile.

“Abbie leads and loves through a compassionate heart,” says high school director Steven Johnson.

Her friend Lily Laursen adds, “Abbie is good at serving people. She knows how to get ‘messy” with people – she asks real questions and goes deep.”

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The Family Caretaker and Historian: Celebrating Arlene Darby

One of the first people I met when I started working at BelPres over 8 years ago was Arlene Darby. I originally thought she might have been a staff member. She was always around the building working on something: making copies, passing out articles, collecting prayers, dropping off notes, preparing things to mail and checking out everything in the narthex.

At that time we had those rolling cubes in the lobby where the departments put information and brochures for people to pick up or look over. Arlene made sure we had current information and enough available.  She would do her personalArlene Darby inventory and let departments or the front desk know what was needed.  She cared that we had what people may be looking for.

Add to that Arlene’s meticulous and faithful management and leadership of the monthly collection of food and funds for Local Food Relief, it’s easy to understand my confusion about Arlene’s role as part of the church staff.

The longer I was here, however, I realized that Arlene had a much greater role than her opportunities serving as LFR coordinator, prayer warrior, fact checker and copier. Arlene is our BelPres family care taker and historian.

More than those things she does around BelPres, Arlene knows and loves the people who make up and are connected to this church.  She scours the local papers—Bellevue, Seattle, Kirkland—daily to see how her church is part of what is happening outside of the church building. Maybe it’s one of the many articles about the Jubilee REACH Center and the way it is impacting lives of families on the Eastside. Or perhaps it is about how the Jubilee Service Day has changed the way churches and schools come together, or perhaps it is an article about the importance of our food banks and the need for providing food in a place and time where many families find it hard to put enough food on the table each day.

But most often, it is a photo, article or mention of someone—member, grandchild, pastor, child—who is part of BelPres that she cuts out, copies and hands out to various staff members.  Many of us have a very large ARLENE folder in our file drawers filled with these mementos. Like a proud aunt or grandmother, Arlene wants to share the news and brag about her family.

Such a gift for all of us; to have someone who sees the BelPres community as her family and gains joy from finding and sharing those snippets of life.  She knows us, too.  The names of our children, their activities and accomplishments.

She cares for us and about us. She cares about the things we do and she cares about who we are as a church.  Her care for that role as a church has helped her share the word for over 25 years about Local Food Relief, a BelPres partnership with Hopelink and the Emergency Feeding Program which has raised over half a million dollars and delivered many tons of food.  She cares that BelPres is making a difference in lives in her community by helping families put food on the table.

Arlene is beginning to step away from some of these things.  She is starting to hand over some of the Local Food Relief responsibility and she is finding some fellow prayer warriors to share those prayers, but she is still caring for her family—bringing in articles and stories about BelPres—the church and the people she loves.  I wonder who may be next to step in and follow some of the many footprints Arlene has left all over this church. And I hope that we all take a piece of that caring, loving and celebrating that Arlene encourages in our church community.

Wouldn’t that be awesome, awesome, awesome!

Medical Teams International–Volunteers Bring Hope and Healing

Roxanne was late for her appointment at the Mobile Dental Clinic stationed at a low-income housing facility on the Eastside. She was fatigued, stressed and concerned that she had missed her chance to be seen that day. For her, this was her only option and to lose it could mean months more of debilitating pain she had been dealing with for over a year now. She was late because she had been at the hospital that morning with her brother who had just been diagnosed with cancer. For most of us that would be a call to the dentist office to reschedule but when this is your only option you fit it in around a family emergency.

These stories are uncomfortably commonplace at our Mobile Dental clinics but here is the good news…

Dr. Karr, who volunteers his time locally with MTI aMTIPicture1nd leads dental missions overseas, was able to fit her in. About thirty minutes and a couple of extracted teeth later, Roxanne finally felt relief and had the highlight of an otherwise difficult day.

The reality is children and adults from low-income families suffer from more dental decay and are less likely to receive treatment than those in higher income brackets. The situation is precipitated by high levels of poverty, coverage limitations of low-income insurance options, lack of insurance altogether and a shortage of accessible locations. Left untreated, dental problems lead to chronic pain, difficulty eating, speech problems and severe and debilitating health conditions. Healthy, pain free teeth and mouths increase confidence and can prepare patients for jobs and job searches.

Volunteers like Dr. Karr and many others bring hope and healing to people such as Roxanne by partnering with Medical Teams International and their Mobile Dental Program. MTI has eleven fully equipped mobile dental clinics that travel throughout Oregon and Washington caring for patients. The clinics are in high demand and are regularly booked out several months. In order to care for these patients, we rely on dental professionals with hearts for those in need to come along side and make a lasting impact.

If you are a dental professional there is a place for you. Dentists, hygienists and assistants regularly volunteer their talents around times that fit their schedules. We have people that volunteer from once a year to once a week and it all goes a long ways. We’ll have all the supplies and equipment you’ll need to be successful. Retired dentist? Washington has some incredible benefits for retired dentists who volunteer their time up to and including insurance coverage, license renewals and more at no cost.

Roxanne could have easily moved on to the next thing in this demanding day but she wanted to express her thanks for Dr. Karr and the other dental professional volunteers who were there that day. With gauze in her mouth and a smile on her face she insisted that we shoot a video on our phone. “I’ve never experienced care this good. I am thankful. This makes my day better and I am very thankful for the dentists. I want them to know – thank you, thank you, thank you”.

Never experienced care this good? How could that be?

My guess is because it came as a gift wrapped in compassion and generosity on a really hard day.

To volunteer contact GetConnected.

What is God Calling YOU Into?

Have you noticed that the last several Lenten seasons Pastor Scott has suggested that rather than giving something up for Lent we take something on? Well, your Mission + Serve department has been listening. We’ve compiled some ideas for service and prayer in this Season of Lent. Of course this list is not exhaustive. In fact, if you come up with something from the list, OR something you’ve dreamed up on your own, would you please let me know? Shoot me an email at Nan Van Zwol. Read on for ideas and links, and Take Something ON for Lent!

  • Serve a meal at a day center or winter shelter, helping our neighbors who are unhoused, in transition or escaping from difficult situations. Opportunities with New Horizons, CFH, and others.
  • Register for the Discover + Live Your Purpose Webinar Re-Broadcast. Register HERE
  • Correspond with a Bellevue Presbyterian Church Missionary living abroad. Contact Nan Van Zwol
  • Pray for a First Responder through Bellevue Police Prayer Partners (BP3). Read more about it and sign up HERE
  • Give up 1, 2, or even 5 lattes a week in order to increase your gift to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
  • Volunteer with Club Jubilee at Chinook Middle School.
  • Join the Fireside Knitters, meeting first and third Thursdays, 9am-12pm in the Welcome room
  • Pick up a copy of Seek God for the City 2016, a Lenten prayer booklet specifically for Revival, available in the Lobby, or download the app HERE
  • Choose a Community or Global Outreach Partner to pray for every day. See our Mission + Serve Directory for a list of partners and missionaries
  • Prayer Walk your neighborhood daily, or weekly, or as often as works for you. Let us know what you did, below!
  • Pray daily for a Winter Impact Team. Pray for Haiti with Crossworld, Guatemala with Nicolas Fund for Education, and Dominican Republic with Children of the Nations. Contact Nan Van Zwol
  • Become a KidReach tutor or an Eastside Academy mentor.
  • Read Roadmap to Reconciliation by Brenda Salter McNeil (available in the church library), and join the Justice and Reconciliation discussion group.
  • Read a selection from the Lenten resources on display in the 1st floor Welcome Room Library
    Check out the Library’s Online Catalog for more Lenten resources
  • Join the Usher Team.
  • Join the Flower Committee.
  • Send a care package to a Missionary or BelPres College Student.
  • Pack a used handbag–in good condition–with toiletries and snack foods. Keep it in your car to hand to women in need you encounter.
  • Stop by the Mission + Serve office (on the 2nd floor of the Lower Campus) and pick up a Family Prayer & Action Journey pack. 30 days of prayer geared toward families wanting to pray together for issues of Justice. Produced by Steps of Justice

Fill out this Form to find out more, or let us know what cool thing you’re taking on in the comments section, below!

BelPres Serve Service Opportunity Contact Form

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

 

KidREACH Celebration

It is a known fact that BelPres seeks to actively serve others – bringing revival to the Eastside and around the world. This past year, I have personally seen God’s love manifested through many of you here at this church. God’s heart for His people is so evident to me at BelPres.  Tutors, students and families involved with KidREACH have shown me this. If you are not familiar with this tutoring ministry, you may ask yourself, “how is helping a struggling student with homework a part of Kingdom work”? The first words that come to mind are those of Jesus Christ instructing His disciples “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). These words spoken by God’s Son are powerful, yet humbling. In order to bring God’s Kingdom we must humble ourselves as Jesus teaches.

Tutors, volunteers, parents and students—the KidREACH family—have taught me that humility and dependence on Christ are absolutely necessary in order to be an effective worker for God in building His Kingdom. As children and youth, ranging between the ages of 5-18, begin tutoring often overwhelmed or lost in their studies, I see tutors exemplifying Christ by giving themselves up for these children. That being said, learning disabilities or lack of motivation do not disappear overnight or even over the course of a year, making the consistent commitment by tutors and families a necessity. The challenges are real and complicated for many of these students, but through relying on God and humbly sacrificing time and energy, volunteers are slowly seeing new confidence, motivation and interest in their student.

I am so grateful to God for His faithfulness to this amazing ministry!  In this ministry, much more than solving tricky math problems or preparing for a vocabulary quiz takes place. God’s Kingdom is alive in so many little things: the energy and joy tutors find by serving at the end of their busy days, the smiles and laughter of the students, and the peace seen in the entire family as a result of this supportive community. God’s Kingdom – a place where God is known, loved, and worshipped – is not only being built in the lives of the students and families that come for help, but in the lives of each volunteer as well. Lives are being transformed through snack time, talking about classes and life, and celebrating the culmination of another school year.  Tutors cement the truth that “it is better to give than receive” and that together, by humbly giving ourselves up for others, God’s Kingdom is brought to Earth.

Earlier this month KidREACH celebrated its 14th end-of-year party. The following pictures are proof that God’s Kingdom is alive and tangibly felt in this community.

If you would like to learn more about this tutoring ministry or would like to be involved, please contact GetConnected.

Impact Team Reflection: Why go?

Becky Gonzalez
BelPres Director of Global Outreach

We often wonder what is the impact of short-term mission experiences (or as we call them “Impact Teams”)? At BelPres we typically only send individuals or groups to serve with Ministry Partners where we already have a relationship, so it is usually not just a one-time experience. But the question remains, what impact are we making?

“I sat…wondering what I could do as one person to make an impact in the lives of the 27,000,000 people enslaved around the world today. I’ve gone on lots of mission trips, but do those really make a difference?” Read more of this reflection on Why Short-Term Missions Matters for Social Justice and how Isaiah 61 has changed one person’s perspective short-term missions.

To learn more about opportunities to engage in Impact Teams through BelPres click here.
Learn more about Adventures in Missions, click here.

Acres of Diamonds Provides Hope for Women

Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Homeless women are finding hope and developing critical life skills at Acres of Diamonds, an outreach ministry supported by BelPres.
While the name may puzzle you, Acres of Diamonds — or “Acres” for short — is a transitional housing organization that operates on large piece of property in Duvall. With a house and apartment complex, it can accommodate up to 16 homeless women and their children.
Acres of Diamonds takes each woman on “The Path to Graduation” which helps her rebuild a solid foundation for independent living. At Acres, each woman receives personal counseling. Staff and volunteers also provide parenting and budgeting workshops, employment coaching, tutoring and other services.
Acres is also distinctly dedicated to helping women learn to walk with God, and ensures that each woman has a home church community and attends a regular Bible study either onsite or within their community. Uplifting Kids, the children’s program for residents, also provides an introduction to Jesus and opportunities for relationships with tutors and mentors who encourage the children in life and school.
While Acres has experienced some challenges in recent years, it is now moving forward. Jen Paddock, former BelPres Community Outreach Director, became the organization’s executive director a year ago and sees God clearly at work in the life of Acres. Volunteers are vital to the operations at Acres Diamonds—working on projects, providing supplies, being a mentor, tutor or child care giver—all help the ministry expand and enrich its programs to the women and children. Jen says volunteers and community organizations have rallied around the ministry, enabling it expand and enrich its programs to both women and children. A number of area churches, notably Timberlake Church and BelPres, have come alongside Acres to provide vital support.
You and your friends can learn more about Acres of Diamonds at their spring fundraising event on March 7 at Efeste Winery. Come nibble gourmet pizza, sip a glass a wine, and hear what God is doing at Acres. Click here to sign up online!

4 Things Every Volunteer Should Know

By Rev. Rich Leatherberry, Associate Pastor for Mission

Helping others is one of the best ways we can demonstrate the love of Jesus. Here are four principles that will make you a better volunteer and improve your experience.

1. Relationships come first.  We live in a task-oriented culture filled with micro-wave fixes to multiple source problems. We rush to solutions, try to fix or change something without really getting to know the other person. Relationships are God’s stage for life change. Regularly meeting with someone, loving them, listening to them, earning trust, staying with them no matter what is going on in their life, help us find out where someone is really aching and where they are faking in life. That’s when we discover what people really need. Relationships come first.

2. Come as a learner. We are lifelong students in God’s global classroom. We have so much to learn from the people we serve. They expand our hearts and help us become more compassionate people. They show us more about Jesus and what it means to be one of His followers. They teach us about love and grace and forgiveness. God not only uses us to make other people better. He uses other people to make us better, if we will let Him.

3. With not for. Jesus’ ministry was about empowering and releasing others. The feeding of the 5,000 is a great example. The disciples told Jesus there was a problem, i.e. there were lots of hungry people who needed something to eat. But instead of solving the problem for them, He did it with them. Jesus collected the food they had, blessed it and then gave it back to them to give away to the masses. The miracle happened as the disciples gave the food away and everyone was fed. Jesus didn’t do it for them. He did it with them, empowering and releasing them. Whatever you are doing to volunteer and serve, find ways to empower and release. Do it with others not for them.

4. All About Jesus. There are lots of reasons why we volunteer. One reason is because it feels good, i.e. “I do it for me.” A second reason is because it helps someone else, i.e. “I do it for them”.  These are great reasons but they can also have a dark side. For example, when “I do it for me’ then I am in danger of exploiting other people for my benefit and my greatest concern becomes whether this is working out well for me. Similarly, when “I do it for them”, I am in danger of placing all my expectations on them. They need to become who I think they should be, do what I think they should do and improve according to the timelines I have set. But when this happens, burn-out, frustration and deep disappointment are not far behind.
A third reason to volunteer is for love of Jesus, all that He is and all that He does to rescue this world. (I do it for Him). There is no dark side here.  Jesus is the reason we serve and the one who serves through us. We serve with His love and compassion, act as His hands and feet, accept and forgive others with His grace. And when it’s all for Jesus then everyone gets better; the volunteer and the people we serve .

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Let me know what you think. What has been your greatest challenge as a volunteer? What principles have helped you the most?