Hi Church Family,
One more week until the STM team leaves for the Special Needs Camp! GCC found more nurses to join and people to teach for the week, so everything is set in motion. Thank you also for your continued support in prayer and the fundraiser that took place this week. The team had another opportunity this past Sunday to meet and be further equipped for missions.
Per Teddy's facilitation, we sought to answer the question, "What are the 2 most important things for us to understand in ministry and evangelism?" The first is that God is sovereign in both our salvation and sanctification. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 states, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." We can devise all the clever church-growth strategies or present a perfect point-by-point gospel, but in the end it is God who changes hearts. God's purposes will ultimately be fulfilled, as can be seen in Isaiah 55:10-11. Even if we were to have a "bad day" in ministry or evangelism, God's strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10); despite our shortcomings in these areas, God is glorified because we know that fruitfulness in ministry is not of our own abilities. God's sovereignty in our salvation and spiritual growth is an important thing to remember, especially when ministering to the special needs population. The world considers it crazy that those with special needs are loved and made in the image of God. In this world, people's worth is often measured by what they can physically accomplish. However, scripture directly opposes this notion; in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul states that the members of the body who are considered weaker or less honorable should be given greater honor. We ought to love one another in this way because this is the love that Christ showed to us. While we were spiritually dead and unable to save ourselves from God's wrath, God sent Christ to die on our behalf. There is nothing that we could ever do to earn it, and yet God gives it freely to us. It's possible that someone with special needs or disabilities may never reciprocate love or "return the favor" in response to our service, but in loving them we prove that we understand God's love for us.
The second crucial thing in ministry and evangelism is to have a right understanding of our circumstances, specifically in regards to suffering. James 1:2-4 states, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." No one likes to suffer; if anything, we do what we can to avoid or alleviate it. However, Christ promised us that living a godly life will cause suffering. Thankfully, God uses these circumstances to ensure our growth in perseverance and to make us more like Christ. Our response to trials is an excellent opportunity to share about God's faithfulness in our lives. As the STM team serves next week, difficulties such as fatigue, rejection, bug bites, irritability, and other unpredictable circumstances are expected to come up. Pray that they will persevere through it and use those experiences as an opportunity to share the gospel.
Speaking of prayer, there are several things that you can be praying for. Pray for the camp overall, that God's word will be preached and that souls will be saved. Pray for Teddy and Ted, as they will not only serve as shepherds for the team but also as teachers during the camp; pray that they will have the wisdom and strength to lead the team, their families, and the campers. Pray that the team will honor Christ through their service and love towards the campers and each other. Lastly, pray for the safety of everyone involved during the camp. Let's send off the team well!