Let us share your perspectives and insights surrounding our monthly discussion theme. Watch the video to get started.
Let us share your perspectives and insights surrounding our monthly discussion theme. Watch the video to get started.
BY PASTOR RON HAMPTON
The Takin’ It to the Streets community outreach ministry traveled from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to bless the recent flood victims with items of necessity. The team of 12 prayed, uplifted, listened to stories and shared the love of Jesus to more than 500 in attendance.
Free Methodist Church – USA, state Rep. Denise Marcelle, Rickey McCants of the Renaissance Center, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center Director Cheryl Ford, New Vision Community Church Shreveport, Light Christian Church Bishop Terrance Trammell, Deb Brittan Team of Keller Williams Realty, Calvin Johnson (box truck driver), Keisha Richard, Councilman LaMont Cole, Congressman Cedric Richmond, the gospel groups, Rick Massey of Massey’s Music, and the entire Takin’ It to the Streets team for their support, we thank you for your support.
BY PASTOR RON HAMPTON
With strong support from the Free Methodist Church – USA and Gulf Coast Conference churches, Takin’ It to the Streets conducted its annual June community outreach event in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving water to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless, providing items of necessity and sharing the love of Jesus to more than 1,500 people in attendance were the primary focuses for more than 50 community resource organizations and ministries that partnered together.
BY DANIEL ZAMBRANO
On a recent sunny, pleasant Saturday morning, an excited group of about 20 members of Light & Life Christian Fellowship’s North Long Beach Campus sorted and packed themselves into several vehicles already loaded with boxes of leis, music equipment, “island” decorations, craft supplies and assorted games and activities.
Ninety or so minutes later, the small caravan pulled onto the campus of Mountain Shadows Community Homes in Escondido, California. Mountain Shadows is a unique, 5-acre, 18-home community serving the mentally and physically disabled. Residents live in six-bed, family-style units clustered around a parklike recreation area. About 80 percent of the 120 residents are in wheelchairs or rely upon some other medical device for mobility. All need some type of assistance with daily activities. They range in age from 18 years old to their mid-60s and their disabilities range from mild to severe. Some have no family at all while others have families that simply live too far away to make regular visits, so the Mountain Shadows Community is their home.
Within minutes of arriving, the small traveling group from Light & Life began to quickly and joyfully set up audio equipment and decorations that would transform the centrally located gazebo and surrounding area into a festive, temporary luau space with artificial palm fronds, cardboard tiki torches, the obligatory plastic parrot, ribbons of fake flowers and, of course, lots of balloons.
Expectant residents had been watching for the arrival of the caravan. Now, the curious and excited ones slowly began gravitating toward the sounds of laughter and busyness — some in motorized wheelchairs, others being escorted by caregivers but all with broad smiles. Many called out greetings from the distance as soon as they recognized various Light & Life members from previous visits.
The shyer residents watched the whirlwind of activity from screened porches or partially concealed behind window drapes.
Some of the residents immediately filled the wheelchair accessible gazebo area and joined in a fun and laugh-filled karaoke session. Hits of the ’70s and ’80s with solid, memorable choruses seemed to be the songs of choice. Others waited patiently as their fingernails were painted or hair was styled. Many proudly flaunted colorful leis, temporary tattoos or new decorations to their wheelchairs. A loud and raucous game of checkers ensued at another table while some of the quieter residents sat with a new friend from Long Beach and worked on puzzles or coloring projects.
As the afternoon bounced along, a spontaneous “dance” competition broke out with wheelchairs and sneaker-clad feet moving in unison to the beat of island music.
Laughter and friendly competitiveness ruled the moment during several group games — adjusted, of course, to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility-limiting challenges. Cell phone pictures were snapped in profusion.
As the sun moved toward the hills to the West and the afternoon breeze picked up, the entire party assembled beneath the shelter to sing a few hymns and conclude with prayer before clusters of happy residents began drifting off to their respective homes.
The youngest member of the Long Beach team, Mia, officially closed the day with a powerful and heartfelt prayer far beyond her 8 years.
The spirit of “aloha” and fun had prevailed. Bonds of friendship and fellowship were forged ever stronger, and a few folks down the road from Long Beach learned that they truly have a forever family.
Daniel Zambrano is an associate pastor of Light & Life Christian Fellowship.
BY DAVID WAID
Early last fall, Kaye Delamater suggested that Lakeview Free Methodist Church have a fundraiser for missions involving weight loss. At the time, several individuals in our church were losing weight, and she thought we could use that as a way to generate funds for missions. The Missions Committee talked about the idea, and decided to begin Jan. 3 with an initial weigh-in and then end April 3 with a final weigh-in. Fifteen people, including both pastors, signed up to lose weight and gather sponsors to raise funds.
These fifteen people first set a weight loss goal, and then began to gather their sponsors. Individuals, both within the church and outside the church, agreed to sponsor them at either a set amount or an amount per pound lost. Overall, 89 people signed up as sponsors (some for multiple individuals), 42 church attendees and 47 non-attendees.
When January 3 came, the program started. Different ways were used by people to lose weight. Some followed the Weight Watchers program, some TOPS, some joined our local Wellness Center, and some just did their own thing at home. Over the course of the next three months, these people worked hard at losing weight. By the time of the final weigh-in, the 12 individuals who finished had lost a total of 193.5 pounds – ranging from 3 to 42 pounds a person. The pastors were the biggest losers (no pun intended), losing a combined weight of 77 pounds.
Not only has money been raised for missions, but people have become healthier. One person who had high-blood pressure has been taken off the medication and is regularly seeing blood pressure results of 110/70. Another failed the first attempt to pass an insurance medical test, but has since passed that test. It is something that any church can do and profit from.
By now you are probable asking: How much did you raise? Let me say first that it has been awe-inspiring to watch the funds come in. The initial pledges came to just over $1,800. One person, however, who pledged 25 cents per pound gave us a check for $100. Another who pledged $40 also gave us a check for $100. Many others have also given more than what they initially pledged. With 10 individual pledges yet to come in, we have in hand $2,213.19. For that we are praising “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
David Waid is the senior pastor of Lakeview Free Methodist Church in Lakeview, Michigan.
Louis and Misty Smith were wed in holy matrimony at the 2-year-old church plant with family, friends and church membership in attendance.
The wedding culminated with an outdoor reception for the newlyweds where everyone in attendance celebrated along with the heavens.
Ron Hampton serves as the congregation’s pastor.
Kansha Creamery offers more than a scoop of its homemade, all-natural ice cream from its location at the end of an L-shaped small business plaza facing the bustling Western Avenue in Torrance, California. The Free Methodist family-owned business also donates its tips and 50 cents of each sold item to charity.
Unlike most popular ice cream shops, Kansha offers a small menu of flavors. The daily classic four flavors are: Macha (green tea), house vanilla, Mr. Universal (caramel and oatmeal cookie) and chocolate sorbet, which was replaced recently by shaved ice for the hot months. Instead of the varieties of colorful flavors offered by many shaved ice shops, Kansha offers just one – a fresh fruit based flavor like peach or grape syrup. You can add a topping of Japanese An (a sweet red bean paste) and/or Shiratama Mochi (small rice cakes made from pounded sticky rice). Besides these, two special flavors of ice cream are added weekly. At the time that this article was written, four of the last eight specials were: honey (from quality avocado blossoms), Witherspoon (peanut butter cookies and chocolate), strawberry and cornbread, and salted caramel. There are more Kansha offerings.
The owners of Kansha are the sister and brother team of Elaine and James Marumoto, 24 and 21 years of age, respectively. Elaine loves music and enjoys being a praise team leader (she plays the keyboard and ukulele and sings) at Anchor South Bay (Free Methodist) Church. “It’s never about you, it’s about God,” she stated.
James loves the craft of cooking and began by helping his mom from the age of 6. He also took great interest in making ice cream, a first for his family and relatives. Then about two months before opening the ice cream shop, he began developing techniques in making many flavors, seeking not to make them overly sweet or too rich and making the right feel of texture. He is careful to understand what people desire in terms of taste. He noted that many of his flavor ideas come from walking around the farmer’s market.
As for the word “kansha,” Elaine explains, “In Japanese, ‘kansha’ encompasses a feeling of gratitude and love. We wanted to choose a name that would ultimately be our motto for business. It’s all about giving thanks and imparting the blessings you receive to others. Giving was the reason we started this whole venture.”
By early September, after seven months of business, Kansha has donated more than $23,400 to the Children’s Hunger Fund. From the beginning, they both decided to give 50 cents out of every item sold to charities such as Children’s Hunger Fund and Gospel for Asia. They have also donated the tips received to the same Children’s Hunger Fund. Part of their donation has gone to help the victims of the earthquake devastation in Nepal through the CHF. James expressed that he likes to measure the success of this business by how much they can give to help the needy of the world.
It’s surprising the number of people who walk in and out of the shop during the business hours of 2 to 11 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays and Sundays. But James says that during the hot summer weeks they closed early almost every evening, at 8:30 or 9:30, because they ran out of ice cream. The reason is that their ice cream is made fresh daily with high-quality ingredients in small batches. As a result, some known latecomers are now coming in much earlier.
Despite her lack of business training, Elaine did much research and even some logistics and planning before opening the business. She attended two business seminars for assistance in opening small businesses, but admits she didn’t get much help. She also felt they “discouraged the business plan I spent months writing.” She also said that she had talked individually with three of the advisers of that second seminar, and they basically counseled her to take more business courses in school and raise more capital funds before starting their venture.
Elaine also volunteered at two family-run farms in North Dakota and Colorado to learn more about local and organic food through the World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers. She affirms that it was a great learning experience. Naturally, her special interests were cows and the production of milk and cream. They now order quality cream for making ice cream from a family-run dairy in Northern California.
Both of them worked hard to save money for the start-up funds. James worked at two jobs as a cook at two restaurants, and Elaine was tutoring English, teaching piano, babysitting and waitressing to save money. Even with all the sacrifices and hard work they couldn’t save enough and ended up asking their Dad for a loan. They rejoice that they have just paid off their dad’s loan after six months and are now free of debt.
Their parents, John and Michiko Marumoto, were initially skeptical of the venture because of their children’s ages. But as plans began to take shape and they witnessed how God was providing for them, Elaine says, “Mom started to pray in earnest and even asked her friends at church to pray for us too.” Gradually, Dad also came around in support. All four of the family members are actively involved at the Anchor South Bay Church.
If not for the sense that God was leading them, they would have given up this venture.
“There were countless times,” Elaine says, “when things were provided to us out of nowhere in a time of need. During the planning stages, there was no way we could’ve taken credit for what went on before opening day.”
The siblings’ humble attitude of giving all credit to God is certainly admirable. Elaine reflects, “Because we are young, we were able to show God’s power through our weaknesses. The doubt that people had in this business quickly turned to glory toward God. It was a lot of work to get it together, but we knew from the beginning that we weren’t in control, so it took a burden off of our shoulders.”
Elaine adds, “God always exceeds our expectations. I’m happy with where we are right now, but I’m excited to see what God has in store for our little store.”
You can find Kansha Creamery online at kanshacreamery.com.
Ray Narusawa is a retired pastor helping at the Anchor South Bay Church and a member of the Pacific Coast Japanese Conference of the Free Methodist Church – USA.
This story isn’t about me but about a man who wholeheartedly believes in sharing the good news and good works with all in his community. His name is Pastor Mike Maleski, and he is the pastor of Living Hope Community Church in Nescopeck, Pennsylvania.
Four years ago, God gave him a dream of reaching those in need of food, clothing, household essentials, medical supplies and much more. He along with a small group of people prayed for God to bless this dream and He did. In miraculous ways, God put it on another man’s heart to donate a building and equipment to give birth to the idea. Today the building houses what is known as the Hope Center of Nescopeck, Pennsylvania. From this building, people who are in need of clothing can receive clothing for free from Doreen’s Closet. People in need of food can receive food for free from the food pantry, along with free medical supplies from the Good Neighbor Project and free household items from the household essentials department if they were part of a natural disaster. The Hope Center also houses a Pregnancy Care Center that offers free pregnancy counseling. The center also has a program called NUTS (Neighbors United To Serve) where volunteers go out into the community and do service projects along with the Handyman Ministry through which senior citizens, who are unable to make small home repairs, can get these projects done by the volunteers.
All of these ministries have been blessed beyond our imaginations and supported by the community who donates the items needed. Most importantly, everyone who walks though the doors of the Hope Center is given the message of the gospel, and free Bibles are handed out. This can only be done by the blessings of our one true God and the faithfulness of continued prayer that takes place on a regular basis in the evenings at the Hope Center.
BY WANDA SIMPSON
Whitehouse Free Methodist Church in Smithfield, Pennsylvania, started a new ministry program in 2014 when members of the congregation began talking about their experience working in local elementary schools. Many of the children would come to school hungry during the week, and there was a real concern for them not being fed over the weekends.
Surrounding school districts had implemented a backpack program that sent home kid-friendly food items to make sure the kids were eating over the weekend. Pastor Kenny Rockwell contacted the local school district and found a significant need in the community.
Currently we support two schools, and what started out as 12 backpacks grew during this school year to 48. The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive. The children look forward to the weekends because they love their goody bags. They are happy. We also discovered that some of the children were sharing their food with younger siblings, which touched our hearts greatly. So we added six bags for the preschoolers, and now we have 54.
In addition to the food ministry, we extend invitations to attend children’s ministry programs such as skating parties, VBS and Easter egg hunts. We have had children attend and love the opportunity to minister to the families. A committed band of workers shop, pack and deliver food every week. It is a great time of fellowship when we come together each Wednesday to pack the bags. Prayers are said while packing the backpacks and while shopping for the supplies. Our faithful delivery squad makes sure the backpacks make it to the schools.
It is estimated that Whitehouse spends $400 per week to supply weekend food items for local children. The congregation supports the ministry through donations of cash and food supplies. We have received two separate $500 donations from churches outside of the Free Methodist Church and have had many inquiries about financially supporting this program.
It is our objective to continue growing this ministry and supplying for additional students and schools as the need arises to include school supplies and winter outerwear. Whitehouse maintains a food bank for the community and hopes to be able to provide our backpack to kids through the summer on a monthly basis as well. We love this opportunity to care for kids in our community and appreciate your kind donations to support this effort.
If you would like to donate to this ministry, we have established a GoFundMe account for contributions. Please visit our page at gofund.me/whfmcbackpacks
The atmosphere was alive with the spirit of celebration in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, as the newly planted New Vision Community Church – Shreveport of the Free Methodist Church – USA Gulf Coast Conference participated in the annual Krewe of Harambee Martin Luther King Jr. parade.
Promoting community outreach through Takin’ it to the Streets Inc. — a community outreach program headquartered at New Vision Community Church – Shreveport — thousands were served with Bibles, laminated copies of the Ten Commandments, stuffed animals, beads and toys. It was great exposure for the church and its mission of service in the community.
New Vision Community Church – Shreveport Director of Ministries Beverly Paige was the parade’s citywide organizer and chairperson. Ron Hampton is the church’s pastor and the founder and president of Takin’ it to the Streets Inc.
Some people only attend church services on Christmas and Easter. They venture out just a few times a year to remind their families that they have some semblance of religion. Most don’t have a saving faith in Jesus. Many don’t even retain much respect for the Church. Nonetheless, the pull of tradition draws them to their nearest place of worship on these rarest of occasions.
What will your church do to capture the attention of these infrequent guests? How will your church capitalize on the opportunity of seeing these people, in your neighborhood, sitting in your church, potentially hearing the gospel for the first time or the first time in a long time?
One Free Methodist church — Citizens Church in Phoenix, Arizona — is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to reach neighbors and reveal Christ. Their hope is that the momentum generated by a large Christmas event will snowball into a season of growth.
On Dec. 21 at two special service times, Citizens Church is hosting a “FROZEN Christmas.” They will have “real” snow made onsite (a rarity in the Phoenix desert) complete with mobile sledding hill. Additionally, characters playing Queen Elsa and Princess Anna will be making guest appearances for photo opportunities and even a special performance.
During these services, children and adults will be exposed to worship and an impactful gospel message. After the services, guests will participate in the sledding, photos, prizes and treats.
At a similar event for Easter 2014, Citizens Church saw its numbers swell from 100 to 371 on a single Sunday. But what’s better is that 12 people committed their lives to Christ that day with two of those 12 still being discipled in the church.
There are a number of ways your church can maximize the impact this Christmas season. The same ideas and tactics may not produce the same results for every ministry, but it’s up to us – the church – to lead the way in drawing people to hear the gospel and become disciples.
We hope this example will encourage you to think outside the box and give your community members the best gift they could get this Christmas, the gift of the gospel.
To find out more about Citizen Church’s “FROZEN Christmas,” visit: www.lookoutforsnow.com. You can also help Citizen Church members reach their event giving campaign goal by making a much appreciated donation at http://www.gofundme.com/frozenchristmas.
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All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.