Category: Foreign Missions (page 1 of 7)

Stacey and Gary

There’s a Toot ‘n Totum gas station and convenience store on 15th and Washington, about two blocks west of our church building. I’m in that store almost every morning getting my large iced tea and, when I’m having a certain kind of day, in the afternoon for a Diet Dr Pepper. Stacey is the manager there and Gary  is one of her clerks.

The location of that store means there are all kinds of people who come in: those experiencing homelessness, the economically disadvantaged who live in the area, the transients coming and going on I-40, and all those on their way to and from work. It can be a three-ring circus in there sometimes. There’s the occasional drama in the parking lot. And Stacey and Gary consistently demonstrate grace and kindness to everyone.

Everybody knows Stacey and Gary by name and they know all their customers by name, too. It reminds me of the TV show “Cheers.” Everyone is warmly greeted when they walk through the door, most by name, and everyone is made to feel welcome. It’s a great way to start the day.

The #sentbycentral missions envelope I received in church Sunday contained a $10 bill and I used it this morning to provide a hot breakfast for Stacey and Gary. Ten dollars is not going to change anybody’s life, but it’s all I needed for a Christian act of God’s grace. So with the temperature outside in the teens, I took Stacey and Gary a classic Whataburger breakfast: egg and sausage sandwiches on jalapeno-cheddar biscuits and bacon and sausage tacquitos. And a large Diet Dr Pepper for Stacey.

I told them how they reflect God’s glory in the way they treat all their customers. I told them how they bless me and everyone who walks into that store with their kindness and generosity. I expressed my appreciation for the way they show such concern for their customers and how they try to make and maintain connections. I told them that what they do gives everybody in this neighborhood a place to belong, a sense of community, and that’s also in the category of what our God wants for his children.

When I got to the church building I called the Toot ‘n Totum headquarters here in Amarillo and bragged on Stacey and Gary and their store at 15th and Washington. I told the woman on the phone that the way Stacey runs her store is a blessing to all of us. I told her that store is a tremendous asset to the neighborhood. The woman said she was glad to hear my compliments because she normally only hears complaints.

So, yeah. It seems really, really small. It’s breakfast in a bag on a random Wednesday morning. My prayer is that God uses the breakfast and the compliments to bless Stacey and Gary, to give them a small taste (literally and figuratively) of the goodness of our God and of his love and grace for them in Jesus Christ.

I pray that folks all over Amarillo are being blessed in similar ways this week through Central, in the name and manner of Jesus. Praise him.

Peace,

Allan

#sentbycentral

How do you make every member of your church understand that all Christians are missionaries? How do you adequately communicate, so that it sticks, that all children of God are called to join his salvation mission? Yesterday at Central, we distributed $15,000 among every one of our members and guests in the worship assembly and asked them to use the money to bless somebody this week in the name and manner of Jesus.

The $15,000 came from our foreign and local missions committees — $7,500 from each — and was split up and stuffed into the envelopes on Thursday. Forty-five of the envelopes contained one-hundred dollar bills, forty contained fifty-dollar bills, and the rest ranged from $40 down to $10. And when the time came toward the end of the sermon yesterday, the shuffled envelopes were handed out to every one of the surprised congregants with a charge to use this money to further the salvation mission of our God.

I don’t know what’s going to happen this week in Amarillo. But the pictures are already being posted and the stories are already being shared on social media with the hashtag #sentbycentral

Families are having important missions conversations. Some of our small groups are combining their money to make a significant Gospel impact in someone else’s life. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the ten dollars I received, but if I believe what I told our church yesterday, that money has been provided by God and I am a missionary equipped and sent by Central to proclaim the Good News.

The truth is there are men and women and young folks in our church who know people I’ll never meet. The circles our people run in contain circumstances I’ll never know about. Every child of God is uniquely equipped to minister to somebody the bigger church just isn’t. Or can’t.

Not everybody can spend two weeks in Kenya every summer. Not all of us can volunteer at HopeChoice or Bivins Elementary every week. Maybe there’s no way you could go to Brazil or teach a class at The PARC or join a medical mission to Guatemala. So you don’t feel like a missionary. You don’t see yourself on mission.

The Bible calls us ambassadors for Christ. It says we’ve all been given God’s ministry of reconciliation. Jesus says on the last day the King will judge all of us according to who’s on mission and who’s not.

I hope that yesterday we equipped our people and inspired them to see themselves as missionaries. I pray that, as a result, hundreds of people in Amarillo and beyond will be blessed by our God this week to experience his love and grace through his children at Central.

Peace,

Allan

Missions Sunday Videos

The Lord blessed us with a really fabulous Sunday at Central. Not only did he provide more than $396,000 through our generous church family for local and foreign missions, he filled us with a true sense of his great faithfulness through the Grand Opening of our grand opening. You’ll find here the two videos we showed to our church on Sunday. The first one is the Revelation 7 reading by our local and foreign missions partners, speaking from different contexts in different languages, all wearing white. The second is the time-lapse of our construction project.

$396,890 and Counting

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen!” ~Philippians 4:19-20

We are still riding the wave of Spirit energy and enthusiasm generated by our God’s actions with his people on Missions Sunday yesterday here at Central:

~ $396,890 was generously given to fund our local and foreign missions budget for 2020, far surpassing our set goal of $360,000

~ Amber, Tamara, and Craeceola publicly confessed Jesus as Lord and put him on in baptism

~ Jared Odhiambo, all the way from the Alara village in Kenya, inspired us with his powerful testimony and godly vision

~ Stephanie Goins and Robyn Terrill, from Downtown Women’s Center, honored us with their gracious words

~ The new west entrance, the play space, the coffee bar, Guest Central, and the Central Commons were unveiled to great acclaim with an open house and reception

All of this Sunday morning at Central — proof that our God is working in and through his people for the sake of his Kingdom; testimony to our Lord’s faithfulness to his salvation plans; evidence that the old has gone and the new has come!

As blessings pile on top of blessings, we are increasingly convinced that our Father is keeping his covenant promises to Central and to all of his creation. May he be glorified and may his Son be exalted for ever and ever. Amen!

Peace,

Allan

Fasting for the Lamb

Today is our annual Day of Prayer and Fasting at Central in preparation for our Missions Sunday October 27. Our whole congregation abstains from food on this day in order to — all of us together — focus our minds and our bodies on God’s mission for his world and our roles in that mission. Our hope is that we will find a deeper connection to our God today, that we’ll become more aware of and focused on his great mission in the world and our roles in it, and that we’ll be refreshed to enter into that calling with renewed energy and a deeper faith.

Our chapel is set up today with prayer stations and prayer guides to help. I love praying in our chapel on this day. The images of our foreign missionaries and our local missions partners fade on and off the screen — these people we love so much, who have offered their very lives in service to our Lord and his Kingdom. The Scriptures on the screen remind us that our God is reconciling and restoring all of creation and we’re somehow privileged to be in on it with him. The chapel feels extra sacred today as folks quietly come and go.

When our stomachs growl today, we’ll be reminded that we are “Living for the Lamb.” When we say “no” to lunch and  snacks throughout the day, we’ll be saying “yes” to bringing our selfish desires in conformity with our Lord who came not to be served, but to serve. And when we break the fast as a church family tonight with a congregational dinner, we’ll be reminded that we’re all in this together.

Peace,

Allan

4Amarillo Week 2019

What a joy to come together with our Christian brothers and sisters from the other three downtown congregations for four days of outreach programs and service projects. This is our fifth annual “4Amarillo Week” in Amarillo, a collaboration between First Baptist, First Presbyterian, Polk Street United Methodist, and Central Church of Christ. This week we’re running a morning Vacation Bible School at Margaret Wills Elementary and an evening VBS at San Jacinto Elementary. We’re feeding all the kids from those two communities lunch and dinner to go with the Bible stories, the games, the arts and crafts projects, and worship times. We’re also working in the San Jacinto Neighborhood Garden.

 

 

 

All four churches are gathering at San Jacinto tonight for the annual 4Amarillo Ice-Cream Social. For the past five years we’ve hosted this at Central and judged all the homemade ice-cream and gave out trophies in a bunch of fun categories. But this year, we’re taking it to the community. We’re going to make hundreds of ice-cream sundaes for all the kids who are attending these neighborhood VBSes, their families, all the volunteers, and everybody from the four churches.

Praise God for the blessed privilege of joining him in breaking down the walls between his people and his churches and taking the Good News of salvation in his Son Jesus to our neighbors in Amarillo.

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Our Central missionaries in Bogota, Columbia — Byron and Sandra Cana and their two sons, Diego and Derek — arrived in Amarillo late this morning and will be here with us for almost two weeks. I was honored to join them and Steve & Debbie Cearley and Tom & Janice Grant, four members of Central’s foreign missions committee, for a good ol’ Texas lunch at Cracker Barrel. It was great hearing Byron and Sandra’s improved English, it was encouraging to hear about the Lord’s work in Bogota, and it was entertaining listening to Tom try to explain to the Canas what exactly is a Sod Poodle.

Peace,

Allan

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