Saludos de nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Cristo de la Iglesia Nueva Vida en Durango. Or, in vernacular you can probably better understand: “Greetings from our brothers and sisters in Christ from the New Life Church in Durango.” I just returned from a 7-day mission trip to Mexico. Our team of nine Lynn Haven members assisted the New Life Church with Vacation Bible School and built a handicapped ramp for their sanctuary. It’s worth noting that since I was a part of the construction team, it was even “less hardly able” than our own crew that builds ramps here in Bay County.
In addition, I had the opportunity to preach on two occasions and my wife, Lee, led a women’s Bible study. It was a productive week of ministry as we renewed our partnership with that congregation and their pastors, Jorge and Yulimar Martinez. They are doing great work for the Lord and making a difference for Christ in their community and world.
The VBS we helped with had about 75 children in attendance on Monday. But by Friday, that number had grown to over 200! Many of the families represented said they planned to return for worship. Not only are they touching the neighborhood around their church property, the New Life congregation sent out their first mission team last fall to a village in the mountains and they regularly take offerings for the poor in Venezuela. It was exciting to see a Body of believers that understands its mission is to “go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15 NLT)
Clearly, that is the case for our Lynn Haven United Methodist Church as well. We have committed ourselves to RiskTaking Mission and Service so we “offer ministry opportunities that stretch our congregation, causing us to do something for the good of others out of our deep desire to serve Christ.” As a result, in addition to the Durango trip, we sent a youth mission team to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and participated in two medical mission teams to Honduras in July. We want everyone involved in ministries of service and outreach, so please prayerfully consider joining us for our “Back to School Bash” at Southport Elementary on August 7. There is also still room on our Family Mission Trip to Gretna, Florida, September 23-25. Children ages third grade and up can participate with their families and younger children can come on Saturday for the day. For more information or to sign up, contact our Children’s Minister, Mary McQuagge (MaryMc@ MyLHUMC.net). Last, but not least, we are sending a team to Uganda this fall to build a church. We need servants to help with the construction, along with financial assistance for our two resident missionaries that will lead the effort, Jack Williams and Dale Jones. Contact Jack (jdjwill3@gmail. com) for more information and you can purchase mission shares at the table outside the Transmitter sanctuary.
I am thankful to be the pastor of a congregation that understands one of the great things about following Jesus is the chance to participate in the Great Commission. Let’s continue to “go and make disciples” in Jesus’ name.
To God be the glory!
Lead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC
Rev. Rudy Olivo is joining our church staff as an associate pastor this month. He is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and an ordained elder in our annual conference. After serving two United Methodist churches for a total of six years, Rudy became a full-time chaplain with the Air National Guard in 2014. Since last fall, he has been on active duty as a Tyndall AFB chaplain. Beginning July 1, he will continue his Air Force chaplaincy on a part-time basis (about one day a week) and will function on our church staff as a Teaching Pastor, working about ¾ time. He will become the primary preacher at our Fusion campus, while carrying out other pastoral leadership duties.
In studying the Jabez prayer recently, we have talked about what it means for God’s hand to be with us. Clearly, the hand of God was at work in bringing Rudy our way. While we were not actively seeking to add another pastor to our church staff, this opportunity presented itself and provides us with a variety of benefits. For one, we now have a pastor to do the teaching and worship design at Fusion on a consistent basis. This, in turn, frees our Fusion Campus Minister, Julio Samayoa, to do what he does best – develop and carry out effective ministries that reach a broad range of persons and ages. In addition, Rudy’s experience and continuing presence on Tyndall AFB will enable us to reach out to the military community in a more effective manner. Many of you already know Rudy, his wife, Starr, and their three children, Miriam, Walker, and Esther, as they have been participating in our congregation’s ministries for the past year or more. We will officially welcome them in their new role with a reception on Sunday, July 17, from 4 – 5:30 pm, at Fusion. Refreshments will be served. I look forward to a fruitful partnership in ministry with Rudy as we become fellow workers for Christ. I don’t how long this relationship will continue, but it will be for at least one year as I have been reappointed to serve the Lynn Haven UMC once again. I don’t know how you feel about that news, but I am excited about the opportunity to continue to serve this fine congregation. In addition, I am glad that Terry Tatum will continue in his role as Executive Pastor and Cathy Byrd has been reappointed as Deacon-in-Residence.
Speaking of appointments (how’s that for a smooth transition?), former Lynn Haven pastor, Doug Pennington, will become our District Superintendent on July 1. In that role, he will oversee the 60 churches that comprise the Marianna-Panama City District of the United Methodist Church. Doug will preach at our Transmitter worship services on July 24 and then we will host a district-wide reception in his honor that afternoon in our fellowship hall from 2:30-4:30 pm. Please stop by to welcome him and Sandy back “home.” I am grateful to be able to serve Christ and His Church among such outstanding ministers and fellow believers.
To God be the glory.
At last month’s ONE Worship services, we celebrated our recent and upcoming mission endeavors. We are living out our core value of “Risk-Taking Mission and Service” that compels us “to offer ministry opportunities that stretch our congregation, causing us to do something for the good others out of a deep desire to serve Christ because of the love He has shown us.” Over the next several months, our congregation will send mission teams to minister in the local area, Gretna (Florida), Louisiana, Honduras, Mexico, and Uganda. Persons engaged in these efforts need your prayerful support and financial assistance. If you haven’t already done so, please consider becoming a “mission shareholder” and invest $20 or more in any or all of our mission teams. You can make your donation on-line at mylhumc.net/ give or at the display table in the Transmitter lobby.
To demonstrate the value of these undertakings, let me describe the impact we have had in one location. For the past two summers, we have sent teams to minister to Haitian pastors and their families serving in the Emmaus Fellowship of Churches. We have taught the pastors, encouraged their wives, and cared for their children. As result, these persons who serve in very difficult conditions have returned to their places of ministry with renewed vigor and helpful information. While the Lynn Haven congregation is not entirely responsible for what is taking place among the Emmaus churches in Haiti, we are partners in God’s work in that country.
In 2015, the year after we sponsored our first pastor’s conference, the membership grew 40% to a total of 14,693 in their 65 congregations. In addition, they recorded 3572 decisions for Christ and 2246 persons were baptized into the faith. Praise the Lord! God is clearly at work in Haiti and I feel privileged to be a part of what the Lord is doing there. I hope these facts and figures demonstrate why we go to the expense and trouble to send out mission teams from our church. As the Apostle Paul once said, we are “God co-workers” and the strategic partnerships we form with believers in other places makes us “fellow laborers” in spreading the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1).
There is no telling what the Lord is going to accomplish in and through our 2016 mission efforts. One thing is certain: “God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” possible (Ephesians 3:20). Dream big and ask God for a great harvest for His kingdom!
In February, I participated in a Walk to Emmaus, an extensive 72-hour spiritual retreat. During that weekend, God spoke to me in some profound ways and my relationship with Him was renewed and re-energized. It was very clear the Lord was powerfully at work, not just in my life, but in the lives of everyone who participated. Many of you can testify to similar life-changing encounters with God during your “Walk.” As God’s Spirit moved during that weekend at Blue Lake Camp I wondered why then and there. One thing I observed was that the entire event was bathed in prayer. In particular, every time we gathered for worship or teaching, intercessors were in a nearby prayer room.
So I returned and wondered, “What if we did the same thing here at Lynn Haven?” As a result, I proposed (some say “demanded”) that we enlist persons to pray during our Sunday morning services. For the past month or so, there has been at least one person in the prayer rooms at Transmitter and Fusion while worship has been taking place. These intercessors lift up the pastors and worship team prior to the service, then pray throughout the service, and are available to pray with folks afterward. At Transmitter there are three shifts: 7:45-9:15 am, 9:15-10:45 am, 10:45 am-12:15 pm; while at Fusion there is one shift: 9:15-10:45 am. When I first introduced this idea, I mentioned I feel so strongly about it that, if no one is in the prayer room, I won’t preach. So far, it hasn’t come to that, but we need everyone’s support to carry out this vital ministry. I know some folks are reluctant to sign up, not sure what to do or how to do it. We have put together a prayer guide for intercessors to follow and, if needed, training will be provided. The bottom line is: there is no right or wrong way to pray, it’s just communicating with God. Some folks sit, others stand or pace. Some persons pray out loud, others do so silently. Some intercessors prefer to be alone, others like to pray in tandem.
Several persons have already testified they sensed God’s presence in the prayer room in an unexpected, yet unmistakable manner. We have also seen the Spirit of God working in our services in significant ways in recent days. I am convinced this is all a result of our obedience to Jesus’ commands to “ask, seek, and knock” through persistent prayer. Won’t you join in this effort and at least give it a try?
You can sign up on our website, www. mylhumc.net, by going to the “Connect” tab and following the “Prayer Ministry” link to the “Speaker’s Prayer Chapel” volunteer spot. Or, if you prefer, sign up on the table outside the prayer room. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any of our coordinators: Irina Terrell (irina@mylhumc. net; 265-5231), Tommy Tew (firstname.lastname@example.org; 866-5807), or Frank Smith (fsmith2134@ juno.com; 867-3123).
Craig CarterLead Pastor, Lynn Haven UMC
At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit… Always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me. Pray that whenever I speak, the right words will be given to me. (Ephesians 6:18-19a NIRV