Monday, August 6, 2012

Living into the Kingdom

The Gospel of Matthew the 25th Chapter contains the following words
34-36 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.'

 37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.' The Message

Sometimes people ask a question like this….“ I want to make my faith count locally and around the world. What can I do?” Being a member of the Chapelwood community I get the opportunity to work with some amazing and aware individuals who are serving and making a difference. Before you hear from them ask yourself  this….. Who are these in this passage the “overlooked and ignored” Are they not those with little clothing, food and drink (the under resourced). Strangers (outsiders) sick (powerless) prisoners (those with few or no rights).I think Jesus has them in his mind in this passage. Now hear from some amazing servants who are helping transform lives locally and around the world. Listen to what they have to say about this and how they are responding to the invitation that this scripture lays out....
“Pay attention to our school system.  The question I ask myself is are we educating all of our children?” Camille Bryan

“As a parent to school age children, I schedule time consistently to coach teams, bring supplies to classrooms, tutor and mentor in after school or in-class activities.  What I can do is practice a matching program policy, so that for every special activity or program I commit to for my own children, I provide a like, needed service for a Spring Branch area child.”  Allison Gower

“Pray "Oh God, create in me a willingness to respond to what I see." My prayer partner while I was in Haiti shared a great quote with me:  "God does not ask your ability or your inability.  He asks only your availability."  ... Mary Kay Ash “I will give unconditional love to children at a local elementary school” Carleen Woods

“I am hoping that my efforts will help in the development of underprivileged areas (education, health, standard of living) in countries that have limited resources to support it.  I am hoping my efforts will provide hope and love to those that are in need and will show them the love of God in their lives”. Dave Luther

“I don't believe there is any one solution to the many problems of our community, our country and our world.  But I do believe that a good education will solve many problems for many young people.  I have seen educational opportunities change the lives of not only individual students, but also of their families.  Every time I see a life changed for the better it's payday for me.” John Grubbs

“I believe that the single most profound investment I can make in the lives of others is my time and attention. It is an investment that pays both the giver and the receiver. There is nothing that blesses me more than to see someone I have come to care about blossom and grow due to, if even in the slightest degree, to my involvement in their life. Whether it's a young girl learning to play volleyball with the help of my coaching, or a student learning math, or someone that simply needs someone to really listen to them, in each and every instance I am enriched by the experience. Every time I show love to one of my brothers or sisters, I show love to Him.” Joel Hall

“I believe that the best way for me to make my faith count  is to be true to where God is calling me. I have found that by being still and listening, I come to understand where and how God asks me to serve. When I am faithful to his will, my faith truly counts for "the least of these". Ted Desforges

I ask you to consider this….How can you offer yourself to the under resourced, outsiders, the powerless and those with few or no rights here in our community and around the world? Jesus words remain Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jeremy Hall: Embodying grace through training others

Chapelwood member Jeremy Hall continues his updates from SIFAT

It's good to be able to report on the things God has been doing these last couple of weeks here, but the sheer amount worthy of reporting is a daunting task, so this is an attempt to mention some highlights.
The appropriate technologies that SIFAT  teaches are world renowned and are leading the way in producing solutions to many of the problems faced by the developing world, such as malnutrition, impure water, sustainable shelter, etc. Community leaders from 87 different nations have been trained in and have taken back to their homes the various technologies that SIFAT specializes in, and the results have been overwhelming. It's because of these results that SIFAT  is regarded as one of the top organizations in the nation addressing third world community development. It goes without saying, then, how much of a blessing it is for these students to have the opportunity to learn the exact same material regarding appropriate technology that is being taught to international community leaders. These students are being equipped with this knowledge not so much to use in their own communities, but more so to expose them to the idea of "appropriate technology"; to show them the difference between helping people and empowering people to help themselves; to get them thinking about what it means to live appropriately.

                                 Jeremy Hall leads a group of students at SIFATS training campus

Along with the technologies, SIFAT offers the opportunity for students to experience life in a rural developing nation environment through the global village located on campus. This village, which holds ten different living environments from different developing nations around the world, gives the students an opportunity to live out a period of time similar to how it might be lived out in the nation being represented. Its one thing to tell a student how families live in Ecuador, but when the student gets to feel the same feelings and experience things an Ecuadorian experiences, the student finds empathy, which equipps and motivates, rather than sympathy, which doesn't require much action, for 85% of the world who live in a situation similar to that.

SIFAT offers more moments of refreshment than anywhere else I could imagine. It has been a wellspring for my soul thus far, and I am confident in the fact that it will continue to be so for myself and those coming here after me. More to come
Love always
Jeremy Hall

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More from Jeremy Hall as he continues his mission work at SIFAT

It might be of interest to know in detail more about the programs our students are participating in. The very first thing that the students do is experience the slum simulation. The challenge set before them is to attempt to live in the slums located on Sifat's property as families, with the end goal of then better understanding a lifestyle that is lived out by over 1 billion people on the earth (that's 1 out of 7 people on the planet in case you were wondering). The next program that students participate in is appropriate technology rotations. The students are given an opportunity to be taught the very same material that Sifat offers international community leaders regarding water purification/pasteurization, fuel-efficient cook stoves, appropriate nutritional supplementation, sustainable agriculture, shelter construction techniques, community mapping, and community development. After the students are exposed to the lessons regarding appropriate technology, they are given an opportunity to put what they have learned into practice within the confines of Sifat's global village. The students are challenged to survive in a rural developing nation setting and to ultimately better understand a lifestyle similar to 85% of the global population. After that experience, the students are then given the opportunity to go into the community surrounding Sifat and partake in service activities. Every step of the programing is surrounded by different worship settings which are meant to connect the programming side to the biblical ideas of loving God and neighbor. Most importantly though, the worship gatherings are an opportunity for the kids to connect what they've experienced to our Lord and respond to whatever He may be putting on their heart. The most rewarding thing for me is being present in the moments when a kid connects the lifestyle he hated living out in the slums to the love that God has for those living that out everyday. I laugh sometimes about the fact that they pay us to do this job, because the real reward is getting the opportunity to share life with these kids for a week.

Jeremy Hall

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mission SIFAT: Here is more from Jeremy Hall a Chapelwood college student who is sharring his experience at SIFAT (Servants in Faith in Technology). Jeremy was selected to be an intern at SIFAT for the summer to engage other youth teams and mission teams in learning about sustainable and appropriate technology among the poor.

We had our second batch of campers this week. Around 130 kids left yesterday absolutely on fire for the Lord and empowered to do something about it. I am humbled in knowing that every student who comes through here is equipped to love his or her neighbor with a greater intensity. Sometimes that looks like teaching kids about the appropriate technologies that SIFAT is known for worldwide and them using that in their lives. Sometimes that looks like just showing a kid what agape love is. Either way, God is glorified by the fact that each student is receiving an opportunity to love. As am I. Every day while I'm with these students a new opportunity is presented to me to show God's love to those around me. It's a unique feeling knowing that God is using you directly for the furthering of his kingdom in the lives of these students. The sense of accomplishment you receive from that knowledge coupled with the humbling fact that God is the one making it happen just amplifies my desire to be his vessel here.

Regarding the technologies being taught here, I really couldn't say enough about how astounding it all is. The information these students are learning is the same information that is being used to provide food, water, and shelter to the needy in 87 different nations. The opportunity for Americans investing in communities abroad to make a legitimate longterm impact is achievable with the technology of SIFAT.

Click HERE to find out more about the work of SIFAT.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Summer at SIFAT

Below is an update from Chapelwood college student Jeremy Hall speaking of his experience at SIFAT (Servants in Faith in Technology). Jeremy was selected to be an intern at SIFAT for the summer to engage other youth teams and mission teams in learning about sustainable and appropriate technology among the poor. Check in for more updates!

It might be helpful to start with what it is I'm actually doing this summer. I am working as a counselor for SIFAT's “learn and serve program”, their summer camp for middle and high schooler’s. As a counselor, my responsibilities revolve around loving the students that I'm working with as Christ does all with the intention of allowing them to catch even just a glimpse of the love God has for them. The camp incorporates many of the teachings regarding appropriate technology and global experience that SIFAT provides to international community leaders. This gives the students the opportunity to become better equipped to meet the needs in their own community, to empathize with the needy around the world, and to possibly commit to serving them in the name of Christ.
Jeremy Hall and Andy Humphrey at SIFAT in 2011 for the CUMC youth Spring Break mission.
This is not an ordinary place. It is abundantly clear that God, from the very beginning, has had a unique purpose for SIFAT community. And community really is the right word. A solid description exists for this place, somewhere in the 2nd chapter of Acts. Just as that community was, it seems that the only true possessions anyone has around here are God's love and each other. No one is in need for any specific thing because if I have it, so do they. It's a beautiful reciprocity that can only be grown out of a foundation of Biblical thinking, prayerful discernment, and Christ-like action. This is indeed a strangely wonderful place.

We had our first week of students come through. It was awe-inspiring to see the transformations within them. They had the opportunity to experience life in an urban slum environment and in a rural Global village. They were exposed to appropriate technologies regarding food, water, shelter, and community development. Maybe most importantly, the students had the opportunity to authentically worship God in a loving environment. It was an unbelievable sight when the students collectively challenged themselves with the idea of the “kingdom of God” and what it means to belong to it. Seeds of faith were planted, watered, nurtured, pruned, and exposed to the light that is our God, and the fruit born from that continues to reveal itself.

 As for me, I've been taxed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in ways I have never been before. And I love it. This week definitely was one of those moments when you realize you chose the opportunity that was right for you. God is working, leading me down some unfamiliar paths, but I'm not afraid of that, I trust that whatever way he guides me down will be the one that I'm meant to be on. More to come!
 Love always, Jeremy Hall.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mentoring: Making a difference

Chapelwood has many members who are engaged in the arena of public education as a volunteer. They are tutors, readers, mentors and friends. They serve in Elementary, Middle and High Schools all throughout Spring Branch. One of Chapelwood longest serving mentors and community friends is Jim Byerly. He was recently recognized as Volunteer of the month for February here in SBISD. Here is a video of Jim being honored. He is one of many who is helping to inspire minds and shape lives in our community.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rebuilding Homes, Rebuilding Lives

Chapelwood volunteers with Rebuilding Together Houston each spring and fall. Below is a video that tells the story of the Chapelwood team that shared their second-hour with a local Houstonian.