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Ministry Moments Blog
Devotion written by Raquel Williams, Statewide Director of New Life Pregnancy Center
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And the recognized that they had been with Jesus. - Acts 23:13
Read Acts 23
In Acts 23 we see how God is using Peter and John to teach and proclaim the name of Jesus all while facing persecution. As we read this passage, it comes to a point where the council calls them out and asks Peter and John “by what power or name do you do this?” It is then that Peter and John boldly respond without hesitation nor fear as to what further persecution they could face. With boldness, they proclaim the name of Jesus Christ and that salvation is found in him and no one else. At that moment the council recognized that these two ordinary men are true Jesus followers; they have clearly spent time with Jesus as they spoke in boldness the things that they had “seen and heard.”
As we go along our day, week, year, what are the things that we are seeing and hearing? What is our source? Peter and John spent time with Jesus; he was their source. They learned from him and it was clearly recognized that they spent time with Jesus as they spoke boldly when confronted. When people see and interact with me can they recognize that I have spent time with Jesus? Do my life, my words, and actions reflect Christ?
Let us learn from Peter and John’s example. Let us be people of a BOLD faith. Let us delve in God’s word and spend time with Jesus so that we may make him known.
“Almost five years ago, I was lost, confused, fearful and contemplating abortion. Pregnant with twins and with two preteens left me speechless. I was ashamed of myself. I did not know how I would raise four children alone. That all changed because of New Life Transitional Program. I was able to redefine my relationship with God in my life and I had a team of ladies to help me in some of the hardest years of my life.”
“After graduating from the program I had new goals, new strength and I found my voice again. I was proud of myself. God blessed me with a home, a new career and I was accepted into the ASU School of Social Work graduate program. Fast forward to now, I have two teens and two toddlers. I will be graduating from ASU with a Master’s Degree in Social Work this May with a 3.5 GPA. My twins will be promoted to kindergarten this August. My second oldest is beginning high school as a freshman and my oldest will be a sophomore. I am always asked, or the statement is made, ‘I don’t know how you do it?!’ I just simply smile and say if it were not for my support system, prayer and trusting that God will make a way, I’m not sure I could do it. My life has had many difficulties, but I am a survivor, I love my life and my healing. Without New Life Transitional Program, my story couldn’t be what it is.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.“
The New Life Transitional Program has been a ministry of ABCS since 2012. Nearly 30 individuals have graduated since the ministry began. The program requires a one to two year commitment, as participants receive Christ-centered mentoring, counseling and life skills.
Many families say they could never “do foster care” because it would hurt too much to see children go back to less than ideal circumstances. While there is truth in this fear, there is also another way to view foster care. When families open their homes to children in the foster care system, their choice to serve allows these children to experience God’s love. We believe that the Church is God’s plan A to care for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), and that the call for Christians to care for orphans and widows found in James 1:27 is a mandate to His people.
A family of five originally expressed interest in fostering a newborn baby. The family later became aware of a sibling group of three who needed a home and went to school with their children. This family could not turn a blind eye to their need, knowing that they could meet this need. The couple decided to put the children first, and changed their license from being able to foster just one child to being able to foster three children! This was not an easy decision as it stretched their family in ways they never expected. The family faced difficult situations with their own children, their foster children, the birth family and everything in between. Despite the challenges, they firmly believed that they were supposed to care for these little ones and pressed on, “exhausted yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4).
Over time, the family started seeing positive changes that enabled them to make better connections with the children they were fostering. One of the boys asked to “pray the pray” at dinner. Later, he climbed into his foster mom’s lap and cried in her arms as she held him like a baby. One of the little girls, who had been teased at school, asked her foster parents to teach her how to tie her shoes and to quiz her on her spelling words so she would no longer be bullied. Their older girl, who was at one point very angry and distant, began to warm up to her foster parents. She even asked them to keep her room set up for her “just in case.” As they prepared to be transitioned home to their biological father, she also asked how she could take care of herself and her siblings if there was no food in the home.
One day, as the family prepared for the children to reunify with their biological family, the foster mom went into the children’s room to help them pack their bags and witnessed a very special moment. The three foster children were huddled together praying with one of the biological children, who was leading them in prayer! A little voice said, “We did it. We did the pray.” The children had prayed, unprompted, for their upcoming departure from their current home and for Jesus to be with them as they transitioned back to their family. The Arms of Love team is grateful for families who open their homes to children in foster care, and to witness lives changing as God moves in hearts.
Arms of Love Foster Care is a ministry of Arizona Baptist Children’s Services & Family Ministries. We are a licensing agency contracted by the state of Arizona to work with foster parents. Our goal is to develop and maintain open, supportive relationships with foster families as they serve hurting families with the love of Christ. We view foster care as a mission field and foster families as missionaries. Opportunities to show the love and hope found in Jesus are endless as families serve not only children, but all those involved in their lives. We encourage foster families to support and minister to the children’s birth families while they work to break destructive family cycles. Please visit abcsfostercare.com or call us at (800) 678-0648 for more information on how you can support children in foster care.
From Josh Hodges, Leader Care facilitator in the metro Phoenix area. For more information, visit leadercareaz.com.
Recently, heart breaking news surfaced. The lead pastor of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California, Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, committed suicide. This is devastating news anytime it occurs. But, it is especially difficult when it is a fellow pastor. Honestly, I’ve thought about this for several days, uncertain of the appropriate response. However, I am certain that I should respond to this tragedy in some fashion. This story hits a little too close to home. So, for that reason, I thought I might share a brief portion of my story…
Nearly 19 years ago to the day of Pastor Andrews death, I sat on the end of my bed as a senior in high school, sobbing, waiting on the news that my father, a pastor, had killed himself. That news never came as police were able to take my father into custody before he was able to harm himself or anyone else. By the grace of God my father is alive today.
You see, my father had been struggling with depression and anxiety for months. From reports on social media, it appears Pastor Andrew was suffering from similar bouts. Chances are at least some who read this can reflect on a time when they endured similar struggles. Fortunately for me my father is still alive, but our family has never been the same. Andrew’s wife and small children have a different battle to face now. Pray and pray with deep conviction for this family as they grieve.
Pastor, though it may be difficult to see today, your service has eternal value. If you are currently struggling under the weight of some dark thoughts, don’t carry that burden alone. Would you please reach out to someone, anyone?! It doesn’t make you less of a pastor, less of a Christian, less of a father, husband, or even a man. You’ve accepted a calling on your life to serve the image bearers of the one true God, and to serve the body of Christ. It may feel lonely in your pursuit of peace, but you are not alone. It’s time to let others serve you during this difficult season.
By God’s grace and mercy, if this doesn’t currently describe you, please consider reaching out to a pastor friend today. In the army we never did anything alone. Everywhere we went and everything we did was with a “battle buddy.” Brothers it is time to stop waging war with the enemy on our own. It’s time to lock arms and confront the enemy head on, connected and united in brotherhood, for the sake of your own personal health, your family, the congregation you lead, and the kingdom of God!
We’ve continued to ask different people to tell us about their “why” in their ministry area, today we hear about Parent Aide from Kayla Walker, Parent Aide Team Supervisor.
. . . 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. - Luke 12:48
In Parent Aide, we often find ourselves in situations where we see, hear or feel things that cause pain, anger, frustration or other uncomfortable emotions. For a helping heart, this can be a very confusing role to play. Parent aides often take on the brunt of families’ frustration and anger, and observe the severity of unhealthy family dynamics, yet have the least amount of control or influence on the decision-making process. This can frequently lead a parent aide to ask, “why?” While supporting parent aides through those moments is never easy, I'm reminded of stewardship and the Luke 12 parable of watchfulness. We do not belong to ourselves, nor do the gifts we've been entrusted with belong to us to use at our discretion. The lives and stories of the families we serve are special to God and should be handled with care. So I often thank God for using the eyes He gave me to see the hurts of His people. I thank Him for allowing me to hear the stories and feel the pain with His ears and His heart. I ask Him to help me with stewardship of those gifts lest I never take for granted the reason He entrusted me with each conversation and hard story. So then the question shifts from “why Lord?” to “how Lord?” How do I used what you've entrusted me to see, hear and feel to bring You glory? That is the responsibility with which we've been entrusted.