2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
President: Jason DeVries (New Thing)
Vice President: Bob Wierenga (Wisconsin)
At-Large Members: Dale Buettner (Illiana-Florida), Scott Stephan (Illinois), Chad DeJager (Chicago)
Flourishing Churches Grants: (Deadline in 2 days) There are six $50,000 grants available to help congregations repair or improve their building for outward-focused ministry to the community. Last year, seven congregations were served out of over sixty applications. More information can be found at www.rca.org/flourishing-churches-grant. Please consider applying for this grant and get your application in before May 15.
The RCA and the CRC are collaborating to Equip Churches for Renewal – The Reformed Partnership for Congregational Renewal (RPCR), a collaborative effort between the CRCNA and RCA to focus on equipping and supporting congregations as they journey through renewal. The RPCR is considered a “third space” for the denominations; as of January, it became a separate legal entity, with neither denomination holding ownership. Learn more about this exciting partnership by clicking HERE.
Discover/Connect/Reimagine at Inspire 2019 – Inspire 2019 is an event designed specifically for ministry volunteers and leaders from Christian Reformed and Reformed churches across North America. Following the success of Inspire 2017, it will be an exciting and uplifting three days. To learn more information or to register, click HERE.
The 2019 General Synod Workbook is now available online by clicking HERE.
Faithward – a new RCA resource for propelling faith forward. At Faithward, we’re helping Christians expand their imaginations for loving and following Jesus. We’re offering tools and models for discerning God’s invitation to us as Christians. And we’re encouraging and equipping Christians to live differently in every area of their lives—for the sake of the church and for the sake of the kingdom. Click HERE to check it out.
The RCA’s Board of Benefits Services Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential Christian counseling either at at an outpatient clinic in your area (Pine Rest in Grand Rapids), or via an online telehealth session. Up to 3 sessions per issue are provided at no cost to any employee of an RCA church. Some common issues addressed are depression, anxiety, work-related problems, marital issues, family issues, substance abuse, and others. The 24 hour hotline number is (833) 244-2490. For more information click HERE.
News from Camp Manitoqua
Calling all adventurous soles, we are having a 12,000’ run. This is a dirty, gritty, yet family-friendly obstacle course through the grounds of camp. Obstacles will range from crawling under ropes, running through mud, stepping in between tires, carrying logs up a hill, to running through our pond. The run starts June 1st at 9:30am and is for adults and kids, aged 5 and up. There will be a post run raffle, refreshments and a t-shirt for the participants. To register go to Manitoqua.org, adults are $20 and kids 5-11 are $15. After the run, stay for our FREE Spring Into Summer event. You and your family can swim in the pool, play lots of games, go on a tour of camp, get your face painted and eat grilled food. Spring Into Summer begins at 11am and goes through 4pm. For more information go to Manitoqua.org/SpringIntoSummer.
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Brazil Vision Mission Trip…
What an awesome life-giving experience! About a week ago I returned home from a life-changing vision mission adventure in Manaus, Brazil. I participated with a group of seven other people who were linked together through RCA Global Mission. Brazil has the largest economy in South America and the land mass is equivalent to the continental United States. The Amazon region of Brazil is larger than the state of Texas and is still inhabited by many unreached tribal people groups. Because of the dense rain forest the best way to reach these people is by boat or air travel.
Early Saturday morning our group landed in Manaus and after a few hours of sleep we were introduced to some of the pastoral staff and leaders of the Igreja Presbiteriana de Manaus (IPM) which translates to the First Presbyterian Church of Manaus. IPM is a large church of about 10,000 attendees whose passion for outreach includes medical boats for medical and dental care to the small river villages in different tributaries along the Amazon River, church planting and leadership training in outlying areas of the city of Manaus, children’s ministry, sports ministry, a homeless ministry, a refugee ministry and many other forms of evangelism. We arrived at the church just in time to see the final and eighth presentation of their Easter musical – “Passion for Life” – a musical about the life of Christ involving about 1,100 church members. During the eight-day presentation of this musical approximately 14,000 people came to watch, many invited by their Christian friends. After each presentation there is an invitation for people to decide to commit their lives to Jesus. This year 2,513 people decided to commit their lives to follow Christ, be reconciled with Him, or study the Bible with one of the church’s disciple-makers. Even though the musical was in Portuguese, it was a fantastic moving experience.
IPM’s vision as a church focuses around four seasons based on the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. The first season is Sowing. This season goes from February to April in the life of the church where everyone and everything in the church focuses on reaching lives for Jesus. The Passion for Life musical is one of the main events during this season. The second season is Cultivation or Nurturing (May to July) which is a time for caring for new believers. It’s a time for discipleship and spiritual growing involving studies like: Knowing Jesus, Knowing Your New Life, and Knowing Your Faith which centers on understanding God, mankind, sin, salvation, the church, etc. Only after 8 months of this type of study and training are people invited to be baptized. Integration is an important part of this discipleship period as people are paired up one on one to be disciple makers. The third season is Harvest (August to October) which emphasizes the building of relationships as new members come into the church body. In this season the entire church invests in community building and building relationships in small groups and the family of God. The fourth season is called First Fruits (November to January) where the focus is on giving thanks to the Lord for the fruits harvested. It’s a season where people celebrate the victories and blessings of God. They celebrate by working on community projects or ministries involving praise, worship and social action. The overall key word to the vision of the church is INTENTIONALITY. 90% of the people involved in IPM are a part of a small group. Our American churches could learn a great deal from our Brazilian brothers and sisters.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, our group had the opportunity to board one of IPM’s medical boats to reach out to the people living in some of the remote tributaries of the Amazon River. One of the staff mission pastors, Djard Cadais deMoraes, joined us in this river ministry. A medical doctor, a dentist, a dentist assistant and some nurses were a part of the crew on the boat. Each IPM boat is equipped with a doctor’s office, a dentist’s office, a surgery room, and a pharmacy well stocked with medicine and equipment. As we docked in various villages, we had the opportunity to sit down and hear the stories of these loving people through a translator. We had the opportunity to pray for people and celebrate what they were doing in their families and community. There was an opportunity to distribute clothing, medical supplies, dental needs, hats, and of course soccer balls. Each night we were able to assist in a two-hour worship service, celebrating communion together with such diverse native people who God allowed us to connect with in a personal way. What an unforgettable blessing!
I could share so much more about a visit to the “Potter’s House”, a rehabilitation facility being build for homeless and drug-addicted people living on the streets of Manaus. I could share more about visiting IPM’s training center where they are training indigenous people to be sent back as missionaries to their indigenous tribes. Brazil has over 340 indigenous ethnic groups, in which 150 of them have the presence of indigenous churches. Approximately 121 indigenous ethnic groups have never been evangelized and 147 ethnicities have no missionary workers. I could share about our visit to one of eight houses that are home to Venezuelan refugees: 60 moms, dads, small children and babies live there and are fleeing from the terrible conditions in Venezuela (over 800 miles away). IPM is passionately feeding, caring and loving these refugees and helping them find work and get re-established in Manaus or other places in Brazil. To hear the story of these people is heartbreaking.
After returning home from this mission experience, I have renewed hope for the church of Jesus Christ and renewed passion for the power of the Gospel and its impact to transform people’s lives and permeate the diversity of cultures – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son…” If you would be interested in pursuing a personal Brazilian Mission Trip or if you’re interested in having a group from your church experience and serve in missions in Brazil, please contact me and I will connect you with the RCA Brazil Mission staff.
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
Overcoming the Fear of Failure – We have all experienced failure and the fear of failure. However, if we allow this fear to control us, we may never become who God meant for us to be. Playing it safe causes our lives to become a barren wasteland that could have had so much potential.
The Characteristic of the Best Leaders in the World: Love – Melinda Gates discusses her book and solutions to the world’s biggest problems, like poverty and inequality. She said the same principles of leading with love can extend beyond politics and into the workplace. She highlights leadership lessons the worlds greatest leaders have displayed.
Sometimes, Congregations Must Back Up and Start Again – When some things are no longer working, it takes courage to decide to back up, undoing a previous decision and beginning again. This move is especially complicated in congregations, complex social systems in which power and authority are often shared. Getting hundreds of people to back up at the same time is rare.
5 Things You Already Know, But Don’t Always Practice – With big titles and greater responsibilities it can easy to lose sight of the real definition of power. You can choose to exert your power. But, it’s important to realize that you become the best leader possible when your people chose to exert theirs—the power to chose to follow you..