Life Fulfilled on an Empty Stomach

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“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
By Lauri Brunner, Mission of Hope Haiti, Food Packing Event at KUMC

Last August I participated in an incredible food-packing assembly line for Mission of Hope Haiti. Stations with plastic tubs of rice, soy, vitamins & minerals and dried vegetables were set up. Every ingredient was measured exactly, weighed, sealed, flattened, counted, placed in boxes and loaded on a truck. Members from our church, including families and youth gathered to make more than 55,000 meals for the people of Haiti.

Witnessing this monumental effort gave me pause. I have been blessed to have gone to Haiti twice. It was life changing. The first time I saw a baby with a distended stomach, orange tipped hair and the vacant stare…I cried. Our team had children and adults come up to us begging for food. When we spoke with our Mission of Hope intern, we were told not to share our food because it could make them very ill. I felt overwhelmed. It was also a harsh reality to witness coming from a world of so much.

I’m reminded of God’s word in Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” It’s not about me. It’s about my relationship with Christ and how His Glory can be revealed. Christ tells us to feed the hungry, both their physical and the spiritual needs. Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). I need to do nothing more than open my heart, my mind and my eyes. God will provide the “food”.  All I have to do is be willing.

That August day of joy in the newly constructed KUMC Commons, we exceeded our goal of 55,000 meals. In November, when I returned to Haiti, we gave those meals to families. I witnessed the hope of Haitians. They are a beautiful people with beautiful smiles and a beauty that radiates from within. Christ is alive in Haiti and He is feeding them one meal at a time.

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“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

 

Over the last weeks, KUMC members have given testimonies of their mission experiences our church supports. As a family of believers, we are given an extraordinary opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Just as He walked and shared the Good News, we are able to do the same by donating our time and service, financial support, and continued prayer for the so many people who do this daily. Christ wants us to be bold. He will prepare the road ahead. All He asks of us is to trust and follow.

For me, the Lenten season is a time to renew my spirit, reflect on God’s promises and deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pray for:

  • God’s presence would continue to grow and strengthen in Haiti 
  • The people of Haiti and the continued recovery from the earthquake for both their spiritual and physical needs
  • The many missionaries and volunteers who give so much to the Haitians

Did you know:

  • August 2016, KUMC assembled 56,900 meals
  • KUMC used more than 160 volunteers working 2 shifts in teams of 12 persons

Contacts:

See previous posts of the Mission’s Lenten Journey:

Week 1: Feed My Lambs

Week 2: Joy in the Harvest

Week 3: Society of St. Stephen

Week 4: UM ARMY

Week 5: Living Water International

Week 6: Helping Hands

Week 7: Aleluya Mission of Hope

Choosing a Different Exit

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18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 18-19 (NIV)
By– Gladden Lawrence, Aleluya Mission of Hope, Piedras Negras, Mexico

KUMC mission teams have regularly traveled all over Mexico to serve the least, the last, and the lost; sometimes even twice a year. Working in Nuevo Progreso at a little Methodist Church, I remember during Saturday night Worship our local missionary (Willie Berman) ending his lesson by telling us the most important sign in a Church was the Exit sign! HUH? Must have been Willie’s attempt to get everyone to leave with a bit of humor.

Not exactly, Willie explained later. The Exit sign analogy was his way of telling us that when we’re in Church, then leave, it’s where we go afterwards that’s important. Where’s the direction the Exit sign is taking us?

It wasn’t long after that trip, safety concerns quickly put a halt to taking teams to serve in Mexico.  Recently however, God showed KUMC an Exit path back to a small Methodist Church in Piedras Negras, Mexico, appropriately named Aleluya Church.

My hope and prayer is others might come alongside us and pass through their own Exit sign to serve the Christian brothers and sisters in Piedras Negras. But, if serving in Mexico is not the right path, take time to reflect during these final few days of Lent and listen to your heart and pray for God’s wisdom, clarity, and encouragement to help you find a different Exit sign.

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Meaning does not come to us in finished form, ready-made; it must be found, created, received, constructed. We grow our way toward it. (Ann Bedford Ulanov)

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Pray for:

  • the hydroponics farm can be completed and up and running  
  • God will bless the Aleluya Church with new families who will share the good news of Jesus to the city of Piedras Negras
  • Flavio’s house can be completed so his family knows they have a place to call “home”

Did you know:

  • The Aleluya Church services 2 local orphanages: House of Mercy and Casa Bethesda.
  • The caretaker of the Church, Flavio, offers handmade crosses to help fund a Hot Lunch and Devotions program for more than 70 children.
  • A hydroponics farm on the church property will be used to grow fresh vegetables for the Hot Lunch and Devotions program.

Contacts:

See previous posts of the Mission’s Lenten Journey:

Week 1: Feed My Lambs

Week 2: Joy in the Harvest

Week 3: Society of St. Stephen

Week 4: UM ARMY

Week 5: Living Water International

Week 6: Helping Hands

Next Week: Mission of Hope, Haiti Food Packing Event

 

 

 

 

 

Many Hands Helping Others

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1Each of you should use whatever gift you received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace…Peter 4:10
By –Gary Ramsey, Helping Hands

My desire to work with the Helping Hands mission outreach began in September of 2008 when hurricane Ike roared through Galveston and East Texas. Shortly after the storm, a group of men from KUMC dedicated their time and talents to the repair of a parsonage in the Beaumont area. They traveled to the site a couple of days a week for what seemed like a very long time to repair the home. From my viewpoint, those men were the ultimate servants.

I believe the Holy Spirit came into my heart at that time and planted a seed. I began to feel that I wanted to be one of those guys. I wanted to help, although, I felt bad that I did not have the time to serve yet.

I never lost the desire to serve the Kingwood area in the KUMC Helping Hands organization and now I have the time. If they need a hand, I am here for them. I had the very basic carpentry skills, but I had confidence that the men involved in the program would be willing to take me by the hand and teach me what was needed. That’s what I love about this ministry; not just one helping hand, but many joining together in service.

How might the Holy Spirit be leading you to lend a helping hand? My prayer for you is that you find a way to serve others, and make that service a priority in your life. If you like the idea of work which involves heat in the summer, wearing sawdust home from time to time, and working with appreciative clients all for the Glory of God, we would like to have you join Helping Hands!

Please pray:

  • Helping Hands can meet the needs both spoken and unspoken of our clients.
  • God will guide us to find “a way” to meet the need of those that call.

Did you know?

  • Helping Hands is always confidential
  • No job is too small for Helping Hands
  • Helping Hands serves beyond Kingwood and welcomes referrals
  • No experience is required to be a Helping Hand

Contact for support:

 

See previous posts of the Mission’s Lenten Journey:

Week 1: Feed My Lambs

Week 2: Joy in the Harvest

Week 3: Society of St. Stephen

Week 4: UM ARMY

Week 5: Living Water International

Next Week: Aleluya Mission of Hope, Piedras Negras Mexico

 

 

…the least of these

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By -Pastor Kenn Munn, Living Water International

In this Lenten time of introspection, I am reminded of these words from Jesus in Matthew’s gospel. But if you are like me, I tend to put myself in the shoes of the ones who DO for the least of these brothers. I seldom put myself in the role of the LEAST of these. Let me explain…

This time last year, I was preparing for my trip with five team members from KUMC to help drill a water well with Living Water International .  On our first hour in this village buried in the mango jungle of Northern Guatemala, I was overcome with the heat and the humidity (and possibly too much blood pressure medication) and I fainted. When I say I fainted, I did not daintily swoon like a lady in an Elizabethan novel. I passed out and fell on the ground!

When I came to my senses, I was surrounded by a dozen well meaning and concerned faces. I had been moved to a delicately woven reed mat to keep me out of the black wet soil, and a tiny elderly lady was tentatively wiping the sweat from my face. Aside from the embarrassment, I suffered no further issues.

It took approximately four days until we hit water and completed the well. Toward the end of our time there, the villagers began to take us into their homes for the evening meal each day and we often saw that they lived in simple dirt floor and bamboo walled huts. On our last evening, my “guardian angel” wanted me to see her home. It was approximately 15’ by 20’ and housed 16 people. In the middle of the room, I recognized the finely woven mat that had kept me out of the mud. Our translator shared how proud she was of this “store-bought” bed that came from the big city. It was likely the only one in the village and even her husband did not get to sleep on it.

I began to cry. While I am comfortable seeing myself as the one who cares for “the least of these”, it is quite another thing to realize that when this beautiful lady saw me, she responded to my need as if I were Christ on her doorstep in need of the very best she had to offer. I have seldom been humbled to my core, as I was that evening.

While she was ministering to me she was ministering to Christ Himself!

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Pray for:

  • The 663 million in the world who are still without access to an improved source of drinking water.
  • Those in our own lives who are truly “the least of these”.
  • Those times when we need to humbly accept that WE are the ones in need of the love of Christ. “Help me, Lord, to be ok with receiving as well as giving.”

Did you know?

  • Water- related diseases cause 2.2 million deaths a year.
  • Many women spend 20 hours per week collecting water, some walking 7 miles a day for contaminated water.
  • In the past 20 years, 2 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water.
  • For Living Water International it’s all about Jesus. It’s about demonstrating God’s love, announcing His kingdom, seeing Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters, offering a cup of water in Jesus’ name and proclaiming His gospel, the living water.

Contacts:

See previous posts of the Mission’s Lenten Journey:

Week 1: Feed My Lambs

Week 2: Joy in the Harvest

Week 3: Society of St. Stephen

Week 4: UM ARMY

Transforming Servanthood

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2“In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, would I have told you.  I go there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:2-4 (NIV)
By– Andy King
KUMC U.M. ARMY Coordinator

When I read these verses about “mansions,” I often imagine a magnificent, grand home with an enormous foyer, huge bedrooms and all the trappings a mansion might offer. Even though we strive for the same here on earth, I believe Jesus is sharing this as what His followers will receive in heaven one day.

The great thing about U.M. ARMY is I get a chance to move away from the blessings of Kingwood to realize what others have, or more likely don’t have in this world. It’s a reality that can be unsettling at first, but I soon find that the clients who we serve are not unsettled at all. They share a faith that is stronger than anything we encounter most days in the Livable Forest, and I soon became aware that I’m the one who is being served.

I start to see that for the clients it’s about having young people milling around their home for a few hours each day and engaging with them when so often no one ever visits. It’s sharing a sack lunch a youth made for them and being part of a devotional, which reminds them what a community of faith is all about. For many clients, they recall that they can make a difference in young people’s lives by sharing their faith and how God supports them daily.

Amazingly, I quickly realize the “mansions” are not the material scenes pictured in my mind, but more a place where loving spirits gather, sharing God’s love constantly. These “mansions” Jesus prepares for us are filled with those who focused on His teachings and strived to be like Him each day. Jesus prepares these places with the spirits we encounter at U.M. ARMY, spirits who are living their time on earth with their focus on sharing their faith in Jesus Christ and not on material items they don’t have. Their faith is contagious and something I treasure every year I attend.

It’s very rewarding to see participants shed their worldly views and begin to encounter Jesus in meaningful ways.

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“U.M. ARMY has had a huge impact on my life. The love from the adults, both clients and participants, and God during the week is unreal and can’t be explained through just words. I can truly say from my own personal experience it’s life changing. You have to have great people that are surrounded by God in your life. The love you get from adults, fellow campers and clients at U.M. ARMY is awesome. Their hearts are open to hear your testimony and they fill you with God’s word and their love.”
Matt Ellis, current senior at Atascocita High School

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Pray for:

  • our Church to continue supporting U.M. ARMY through active participation, prayers, and financial support;
  • our youth and adults to continue growing with a deeper, meaningful understanding of the greatness of God’s love, knowing that through His power anything is possible;
  • those who participate in U.M. ARMY will feel the love of God and His presence in their lives through this mission.

Did you know:

  • U.M. ARMY’s Mission Statement reads:   provide Christ-centered, quality youth work camps that serve people in need, and promote spiritual growth and leadership development in youth.
  • U.M. ARMY is committed to helping those in need who have neither the physical nor the financial means of doing needed home repairs themselves.
  • U.M. ARMY’s primary focus is on low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals.
  • U.M. ARMY provides opportunities to grow spiritually and to develop leaders.
  • U.M. ARMY began in 1979 when 36 youth and adults from Houston-area churches decided on a mission project near their homes.

Contacts:

 

See previous posts of the Mission’s Lenten Journey:

Week 1: Feed My Lambs

Week 2: Joy in the Harvest

Week 3: Society of St. Stephen

 

Next Week: Living Water International

Society of St Stephen – ‘Service from the heart’

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19 We love because he first loved us. 1 John  4:19 (NIV)
By –Lynn Harper, Director
Society of St Stephen

When we open the door at Society of St Stephen each day, we pray for patience, understanding, compassion, and mercy for ourselves and for everyone who walks through our doors. We are many people’s last resort, people who are at the end of their rope to obtain food, clothing, shelter, medicines or physical comfort for their families. We make every effort, with the resources available to us, to provide physical necessities and offer hope for a brighter day for them and their families.

One of the most valuable gifts anyone can give to the Lord is their time in serving others. It can be a tremendous sacrifice to choose service to the Kingdom over other activities that might seem more appealing. At SOSS from preschool age to retirement age, we value EVERY minute of donated time and effort and the friendships forged through these experiences of serving others will surely last a lifetime.

One year, a woman came into Society wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day- not a good sign. Through her tears and broken English, she was able to tell us she needed help. In the privacy of the coordinator’s office, she removed her glasses to reveal two black eyes.  She told of her husband’s abuse and her desperation to protect herself and her children. He had beaten her, kicked her out of their home and taken everything she owned. We were able to connect her with a local women and children’s shelter. 

On another occasion, a woman came into Society desperate for assistance with her electric bill. She had maxed out her available funding assistance from other agencies and didn’t know what else to do. Fortunately, we were able to help her, and she cried, saying she had come in with a cross in one hand and a rosary in another and just knew God wouldn’t let her down. We are always in awe of how God uses people at just the right time and for just His perfect purpose to touch the lives of others through His love and compassion. It is our joy and honor at Society of St Stephen to be a conduit of the generosity of our community to help others in need.

Society of St Stephen began in the minds of a handful of determined women with a donated closet space in the church gym for canned goods many years ago and  has grown to our SOSS family today. Society of St. Stephen is alive with stories of people and faces, laughter and tears, joy and heartache, service and sacrifice. Are you looking for a place to serve? What are you willing to sacrifice in service to the LORD? What is your time worth?

Whether or not you join us at SOSS as a volunteer, please pray and find a place God is calling you to serve. You will be a blessing to others and be blessed in the process.

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Pray for:

  • God to bless all our efforts to help our SOSS clients.
  • God will provide all the resources needed to provide the services at SOSS- funds, supplies and volunteers.
  • The light of Jesus and His love in our hearts to multiply our service to His Kingdom.

Did you know?

  • SOSS was started in 1981 by 12 members of Kingwood UMC, two of these ladies still serve at SOSS today.
  • The first SOSS pantry was a closet in the men’s restroom of the church gym.
  • SOSS has more than 200 volunteers and no paid staff.
  • SOSS has volunteers as young as 3 years old and as mature as 95 years old.
  • You may donate clothes, small household appliances, linens. food, time, and money.

Contact:

  • Lynn Harper, Director Pharper5@embarqmail.com 281-358-7722
  • Society of St. Stephen, 2307 Crystal Springs, Kingwood, Texas 77339
  • Volunteer Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays  9-11:30 am

 

Next Week: UM ARMY

 

Finding Joy in His Harvest

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When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Matthew 9:36-38

By — Hal and Sue Hoege

For the past two years Sue and I have represented KUMC at Joy in the Harvest in Kigoma, Tanzania. Joy was founded 24 years ago by Lowell and Claudia Wertz.

We went to Africa not knowing what God had planned for us. Friends at KUMC reminded us that God prepares us for whatever He calls us to do. And He did!

We devote most of our time to the Friday People program, a ministry to help the poorest of the poor deal with hardships. We provide food aid, help with back rent and home repairs, or assistance in getting medical care.

Recently, we were blessed to help a young boy who from birth was unable to open his eyes. Apparently the muscles that controlled his eyelids were not properly attached. We were told this condition was relatively easy to correct with surgery. Supported by a prayer team which included his family, village church members, missionaries, Joy workers and us, we sent him with his mother to Dar es Salaam (600 miles). The first doctors examined him but could not correct the problem. Our prayers continued as we sent him to the Tanzanian national hospital where a visiting ophthalmologist from India led a team of doctors to successfully perform the surgery.

When the boy returned to Kigoma, we took a picture of him as he stood at a window, looking up to the sky, and holding out his hands as if he was thanking God for his new-found world. Praise God!

The Lenten season is a time of preparation. People may fast, “give up” a special item, or pray. A friend once asked if Lent is a time of preparation, what are we preparing for? We have all been called to be disciples and witnesses of the Good News. So during this special time – reflect on what God is preparing you for. How will you be used in the harvest field?

Please pray for:

  • The people of Tanzania so that the seeds we are planting will take root and they will accept Christ.
  • The ministries of Joy in the Harvest that they continue to flourish so the people of Kigoma may know Jesus.
  • The missionaries, staff, visitors and the many supporters of Joy in the Harvest.

 Did you know?

  • Kigoma is almost 8,500 miles from Houston (as the crow flies) and is located on the western border of Tanzania on the shore of Lake Tanganyika (the longest and second deepest fresh water lake in the world).
  • The people in the Kigoma Region are 40% Christian, 40% Muslim and 20% unchurched or influenced by Witch Doctors.
  • If a person can get hired as a day worker, the pay is about 5,000 Tanzanian Shillings per day (which at the current exchange rate is less than $2.50 USD); enough for one month’s rent of a one room mud-brick house, probably with a grass roof and no running water or electricity.

Contact us:

 

Next Week’s Post:  Society of St. Stephen